Sparking Creativity with a Multidisciplinary Approach


Dennis Lenarduzzi

At icona, we're led by our values, and those values are not just aspirational. They are a practical way to find solutions towards the greater goal of making places that matter.  

While there are many theories about how to foster creativity, we believe that creativity is sparked by collaboration and interaction between people who represent different perspectives, disciplines and experiences.  

What is creativity?

Creativity is the ability to make or invent something new—a new idea, a new artistic object or form, a new approach or method, or a new solution to a problem. At icona, our creative practice is informed by three core beliefs.

Creativity belongs to us all. Creativity is a trait that we all possess. When we're young, we all use our imaginations freely to navigate, explore and sometimes re-invent our world without worrying about whether we're creative or not. But as we grow older, many of us begin to believe that people can be categorized as either creative or uncreative. But while art is a learned discipline, creativity is inherent. Specialists and experts may have more skill, knowledge and craft, but everyone possesses creativity, and everyone has a right and a responsibility to use it to make the world a better place.

Creativity is practical. Too often, the word “creativity” is used as a synonym for “artistic.” Design is an important part of icona's placemaking process, but creativity is not just about fresh and thought-provoking design. Creativity goes deeper by nurturing original thought and new ideas that are useful and beneficial. Creativity sparks unexpected ways of looking at things and solving problems, giving us the ability to solve the practical, day-to-day problems we all face, and leading to meaningful innovation that moves us forward from the status quo. As Edward de Bono put it: “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.”  

Creativity is a collaboration. Being exposed to new experiences, contexts and ideas is a catalyst for creativity. By interacting with people who represent different backgrounds, disciplines and belief structures, we enhance our ability to think differently and generate original ideas. As a result, we are committed to a creative practice that is driven by diverse and multidisciplinary viewpoints.

Benefits of creativity

The benefits of creativity in a business context are myriad.  

Creativity fosters innovation. Research shows that there is a clear connection between creativity and innovation. Companies that prioritize creativity are measurably more innovative. Creativity supplies the spark of a new idea, and innovation turns the idea into a reality using unexpected materials, approaches and processes.

Creativity improves financial performance. According to McKinsey, creative companies outperform their peers when it comes to several key financial metrics, including organic revenue growth, shareholder returns and net enterprise value. For a company like icona, it means creativity enables us to maximize the impact of our investment in our communities.  

Creativity has a ripple effect. Creative companies can raise the bar for their industry and infuse the disciplines they represent with deeper sources of energy and inspiration, which amplifies the benefits across the wider community.  

icona's approach to creativity

We believe that now, more than ever, the world needs fresh thinking and unconventional solutions, which is why we have structured our company to support collaboration and creativity.

We do it by bringing together multidisciplinary teams so that our thinking reflects the convergence of different perspectives, life experiences and expertise. By consciously building this kind of diversity into our core team, our partner network, our advisory body and even our community engagement practices, we can prevent "groupthink," question the status quo and ensure the communities we build reflect the diversity of the people they are built for.  

Creative leadership

icona's executive leadership team includes representation from a broad set of disciplines, including global property and business management, politics, city planning, architecture, urban design, rezoning, public consultation, development, and financial strategy and management.  Bringing creative minds from different disciplines together is enabling icona to redefine the potential of masterplanned communities throughout B.C.

Diverse advisory

icona structured its advisory council to include thought leaders, creative icons and innovators from across the spectrum of business, the arts, sustainability, advocacy and more. From Christopher Gaze, Founding Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, to Kim Baird, Chancellor for Kwantlen Polytechnic University and former Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, to Hon. James Moore, a five-term Member of Parliament, these individuals were selected for their breadth of experience and unique perspectives, and because together, they challenge one another to apply these assets in new and powerful ways.  

Multidisciplinary partnerships

icona also expands its disciplinary footprint through partnerships with progressive placemaking experts. These globally recognized consultants specialize in areas such as landscape architecture, environmental stewardship, technology, engineering, recreation, retail and more. Examples include icona's partnership with housing diversity expert Carol Mason, recreation and community services pioneer Brian Johnston, and Copenhagen-based SLA, a nature-led design studio that inspires community and diversity through landscaping, public spaces and masterplanned communities.

Co-creating a better future

On both a local and a planetary scale, humans need to come together in a spirit of curiosity and with open minds and ears in order to address the challenges we face and create the communities we want to live in. At icona, we are contributing to this vital conversation by bringing together people with different perspectives and experiences to collaborate, learn and co-create a better future through thoughtful, sustainable place-making.  

More insights by icona