Cofounder, Fahrenheit 212
Payne started the New York–based innovation consultancy with the intention of developing new concepts for clients such as Samsung, Coca-Cola, and Capital One, and then delivering new business models to support product innovations.
"Innovation is fashionable these days, but the reality is that innovation is really hard. Failure rates are absurdly high, and we think it's because the processes in place are just completely broken. Conventional wisdom says that companies aren't creative enough on the front end. That approach is necessary, but not sufficient. Creativity should make a business strategy bigger, bolder. And the commercial side shouldn't bring creatives down to earth; it should propel them to better outcomes and feasibility.
We split our team into two groups: money and magic. We don't use an assembly-line model; money and magic collaborate in real time through every step of every project. We want exceptional creativity and serious financial acumen to coexist. Our office space supports that thinking.
When you walk into reception, if you take a left, you go into money, and if you take a right, you go into magic. Surfaces are made of glass and have markers handy, which makes every wall a whiteboard. Whether a person from the money side drifts over and starts riffing with someone on the magic side, or vice versa, you're in a space where that interaction can be visualized. Later, people can come back and see something they sketched out the day before, to revisit it and morph it. The office has an open plan too. We encourage wandering around, a lot of what I'd call spontaneous combustion.
There are moments, of course, where we'll force collaboration. We have 15 milestones for each project where we have to come together, chart our progress, and ensure we're moving forward as a unit. But I also believe you need gestation time. That's how creativity works best: You need a stimulus, but also you need to go away as an individual, to think and then come back to the group with a more fully formed idea. After all, the Mona Lisa was not painted by committee."
A version of this article appeared in the February 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.