Creative People in Business

May 27th, 2009

fastcompany_100creativesThe June issue of Fast Company Magazine features a very interesting list you’ll want to check out: 100 Most Creative People in Business.

Clearly such a list begs the question “according to whom?” since the subjectivity and bias of lists like these usually renders them predictable and useless. As well, magazines often use TOP lists as an excuse to get as many famous people on their pages as possible in order to generate sales. Both of these indiscretions are just not cool when it comes to creative people and so this list deserves a critical eye.

Believe it or not Fast Company got it right on this one (almost). The editors and staff did a pretty good job keeping the “who’s who” out and focused on people behind the people; which gets them props for sure. Though it’s not hard to lead-off with Apple, Chuck Salter’s snapshot of creative superhero (#1) Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, is clearly a great start. Anyone who contributes so much to the success of a brand and its products and then calmly steps aside to let Steve Jobs bask in the glory belongs on such a list. Besides, Ive’s started in that role at the age of 29… all you can say is WOW.

A couple others stood out. Facebook’s Dave Morin, Senior Platform Manager, sits amoung good company (#16) with his evangelistic approach to the discussion of open-identity standards - which is cool. Morin is a creative guy who’s helping his and many other companies, and that makes him a solid addition to the roster for sure. And despite his fame and fortune, J.J. Abrams (#14) should get all the praise in the world for the way he warps time and puts the adventure back in action television and injects mystery into car chase movies.

There seems to be only a couple blips on the radar when it comes the list and they both get bad marks for two very different reasons. (#18) Susan Athey, Chief Economist at Microsoft, is being hailed for her adult-oriented questions about designs’ affect on the platform. No wow there. The few words written about her leave you wondering if they were looking harder than they should have in order to drop a Microsoft bigwig onto the list. Just because she’s asking good questions doesn’t quite make her a creative business person. That being said, Microsoft seems to be working hard on reinventing themselves so we’ll give her a little slack assuming we’ll hear more from her very soon. The amount of praise Fast Company heaps on Tyra Banks (#49) is a bit awkward. Sure she’s got herself quite the fashion media empire but her “hyperactive hand in creating” her world seems to justify adding her to the Top 100 Divas list. Again, maybe she deserves the credit; creativity does come in all kinds of crazy, Fast Company just didn’t provide much evidence on this one.

Now what about us? What if we made a list of our own? Who are the great thinkers and rising stars of business we’ve heard of or have worked at? Leave a comment below with your Top 5 Most Creative Business People and we’ll combine them to make our own CREATIVMIX Top 100 (or fewer, depending on the comments of course; besides nothing says social networking quite like a Top 17 list).

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