Creativity in the Year of the Tiger

Creativity in the Year of the Tiger

Fun & Games
Published On:
May 22, 2023

Last week, we celebrated once again Chinese New Year. On the first day of February, we started the Year of the Tiger, specifically the Water Tiger. The tiger is the third of the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Chinese culture and folklore regard the tiger as the ‘king of beasts,’ and the written Chinese character for ‘king’ (王) is believed to go back to the pattern on a tiger’s head. Today, let’s explore what creative inspirations we may derive from the tiger to set ourselves up for business success and prosperity in the Year of the Tiger. (And with today’s article, I also conclude my creative journey through the Chinese Zodiac that I started at Chinese New Year in 2011.)

Play to the zodiacal character traits of the tiger

Chinese astrologists assign the traits and behaviors observed in each animal of the Chinese Zodiac to describe the personality characteristics of people born in the corresponding year. The tiger stands for power, strength, bravery, and ambition and embodies majesty, justice, and integrity. People born in the Year of the Tiger are said to be confident and courageous, competitive and combative, unpredictable, and always good for a surprise.

Creative Inspiration

In the Year of the Tiger, consider emulating some positive ways and characteristics ascribed to tigers and people born in a Tiger-year. Ask yourself: In 2022, will we have the courage and confidence to overcome the inertia, prudence, and fear of the past two pandemic years? Will we have the bravery, strength, and ambition to actively restart the economy, our businesses, and personal lives even if the COVID-19 threat isn’t entirely over yet? And when would now be a great time to start working on those innovation projects that will allow you to shine bright in the upcoming post-pandemic upswing — and perhaps even let you ride the Sixth Wave of disruptive innovation (ca. 2020-2045)?

Size matters.

The American zookeeper and zoo director Jack Hanna believed that, “The most magnificent creature in the entire world, the tiger is.” Tigers are the largest amongst all the wild cats and are even bigger than lions. A male tiger can measure up to 3.9 m in length and weigh up to 300 kilograms (or, in other words, five times the global average weight of humans). Interestingly, male tigers consistently outsize females and can be up to 1.7 times bigger than a tigress.

Tigers can outmuscle almost all other predators by sheer size. They have been seen preying on (or taking prey away from) other predators such as leopards, wild dogs, wolves, crocodiles, pythons, and even bears. And it is said that one punch from a tiger’s front hand is enough to kill an animal or even a human, or at least break their bones. As Rob James-Collier noted: “If you rile a tiger, he’s going to show his claws.”

Creative Inspiration

In the Year of the Tiger, how can you win business by playing on size? How can you “outsize” what others are doing and offering to win business? How can you come up with much bigger and better ideas than your competitors?

Take your prey by surprise.

“There is nothing like the thrill of walking through the jungle looking for a tiger and knowing they could be watching you already,” said the American journalist and entertainer Ashlan Gorse Cousteau while shooting a documentary on tigers in Nepal.

Tigers are solitary hunters who kill large prey in an ambush, often at night or at dawn. Typically, they slowly approach their target from behind before launching their deadly surprise attack. Like other big cats, they are capable of great speed and can sprint up to 60 km/h, but only over short distances. A tiger must be close to its prey before ambushing it, using body size and strength to overpower it. These cunning hunters even use mimicry by imitating the call of certain animals, which lures them into the trap of getting pounced by the tiger.  

Creative Inspiration

In the Year of the Tiger, consider playing on the competitive principle of a surprise to win business and surpass other competitors. So, ask yourself: How can we use a surprise attack to capture an opportunity? How can we hunt down new business by surprising the market or our targets?

Rule your territory, and expand your home range.

Native to Asia, the tiger is primarily a solitary animal. They establish and maintain territories of up to 100 km2 but roam in much wider home ranges of even more than 1,000 km2. A dominant male rules supreme within its territory, although it tolerates other, often younger males and females. Tigers typically avoid each other but have been documented freely sharing kills.

Creative Inspiration

Think about the tiger, and ask yourself: What is our territory, and how do we establish and preserve dominance over it? And what is our wider home range that we also want to roam for prey occasionally?

Hunt in unusual ways and places.

“The tiger will see you a hundred times before you see him once,” noted the American-Canadian writer John Vaillant. One reason for this is that thanks to their distinct vertical stripe pattern, tigers enjoy almost perfect camouflage in vegetation with strong vertical patterns of light and shadow such as long grass or dense forests. Moreover, zoologists maintain that their orange color provides further aid in camouflage as their prey are dichromats and thus perceive a tiger as green and blended in with the vegetation.

Creative Inspiration

How might the principle of camouflage help you win in the Year of the Tiger? What kind of activities (such as perhaps certain innovation initiatives that you’re working on) should you better camouflage for some time before it’s  time to attack? How can you better blend into the changing business environment at the end of the pandemic and the beginning of the Sixth Wave of disruptive technology innovation?

Showcase your true color and unique pattern.

Undoubtedly, the distinctive stripe pattern of tigers is their iconic trademark that tigers are famous for. Interestingly, just like every human has one-of-a-kind fingerprints, so does each tiger have a unique pattern of stripes that signifies its unique identity. Even more, interestingly, you can still see a tiger’s stripe pattern on the skin if you shaved off its fur.

Creative Inspiration

Brand design is one of the modern innovation types that companies often overlook. Once you have created one or more winning value propositions, you can magnify their value (and probably double your profit margins) by designing an iconic brand with playful design elements and unique patterns.

So, in the Year of the Tiger, ask yourself: How iconic, and unique is our brand? How can we express our identity in a more striking, distinctive icon or pattern? Is it time for us to simplify our brand logo? Or refresh our brand identity with some unique patterns and design elements?

Conclusion: Kung Hai Fat Choy, Happy Chinese New Year 2022

Are you ready to get creative and seize new opportunities in the Year of the Tiger? Then follow the advice of the Noble Prize-winning Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka: “A tiger does not shout its tigritude, it acts.”

  • After being in pandemic-induced hibernation for two years, the tiger-year 2022 is the time to restart your business and innovation activities. So why not start the year dynamically by enrolling your team or business unit in one of our creative Thinkergy training courses (which we offer both online and, preferably, face-to-face)?
  • Or consider doing an X-IDEA innovation project to create new value offerings and innovations with us in 2022.

© Dr. Detlef Reis 2022. This article is co-published in the Bangkok Post in the coming days.

Credits: Photos by Vignesh (title photo) and George Desipris from Pexels as well as  Joshua Lee, Deb Dowd, and Rae Wallis on Unsplash