Stan Lim

Chief Creative Officer, Creative Group, dentsu Singapore

Businesses will crash if our planet continues to burn. How can creativity and innovation help?

In the words of David Bower, “there is no business to be done on a dead planet”.

14% of the world’s supply of food is lost on the way to retail itself[1]. This is not just devastating for a world that seems to be overpopulated, it is also damaging for any company’s operating expenses.

Imagine what an extra 14% of food can do for 700 million people across the world who are living with less than USD2 a day? These are individuals and communities living in poverty, who will find it hard to care about or pay for what companies want to sell. Similarly, they will find it hard to gain the necessary skills to solve the talent crunch, or help you create the next innovative breakthrough.

It isn’t about charity. Bad-for-planet practices are bad for businesses.

Companies with sizeable and unsustainable footprints will leave huge problems in their wake. Unsustainable practices will significantly impact a company’s bottom line, but they just do not realise the extent of it. The only way for businesses to grow sustainably is to grow alongside the planet.

What’s love got to do with it?

Current sustainability challenges are a result of mindsets and behaviours derived from many centuries ago. It started from the coal-fuelled industrialisation of the 1700s, and has led to this great acceleration of human activity that we see today.

We can only change the situation by re-examining our relationship with the planet itself. Just like love, if only one side gives and one side takes, it is not going to last very long. Similarly, if companies that plunder purely for profit, or operate by giving to charities at a loss, will not last very long either.

A balanced and sustainable relationship. That’s what love is and that’s what creativity can do.

Creativity can help us change the minds of consumers, business, and governments, to start to think about how they can enter a more balanced relationship with the planet.

After all, ideas that people fall in love with is what will change the world.

What about innovation?

Love means nothing without action, and innovation takes us from virtue-signalling to actively seeking and creating better ways to co-exist with the planet itself.

For a company that is trying to activate its ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) plan, they must consider how to convince and partner with many stakeholders including its customers, internal stakeholders, communities, regulatory bodies an investors. The best innovators can bring considerable expertise in design thinking to foster radical collaboration around growth-through-good strategies - by really understanding how these big societal and business challenges overlap, and from there, reframe the problem, create new solutions and design sustainable solutions for all of us to enjoy.

Inspiring the world to a new way of living

It is as simple – collaborate with the best innovators and creatives. Find those big overlaps between societal and business problems. Figure out a new model of growth, reframe those problems, brainstorm on how to act with real impact, and inspire the world to a new way of living because that’s how we can all grow with love.

[1] * UN, SDG 2021 report