Society is evolving at a rapid pace and with that comes a much more complex competitive landscape for businesses. Competition continues to be redefined and barriers to entry are being eroded in many industries. Being creative and innovative is the only way organisations can thrive in this new dispensation.
Communications agencies are not immune to this phenomenon. Being a creative agency does not absolve you from the need to actively inculcate a creative and innovative culture within your organisation. “Doing creative” is not the same as “being creative”.
Doing vs being
Doing creative means producing creative work to solve a business problem. Anyone, including non-creative people, may produce creative work. Doing creative is a job or a function; it is not a way of being. It is not a philosophy or a belief. It is not a product of self-definition.
Being creative is a state of mind, a state of being and a way of life. Anybody may be creative, from lawyers, accountants and engineers to town planners, politicians, you name it. Being creative is about the way you process things, the lens through which you view life, the way you express yourself, the relationship you have with your thoughts and feelings, and that way you solve problems.
My biggest revelation in moving from the client side to the agency side is that creatives don’t only reside in creative agencies. Creatives are everywhere. You just need to study people and understand what makes them tick and how they experience life.
How do you identify creative people, you might ask?
Creative people are crudely referred to as non-conformist, rebellious, contrarian, sensitive, crazy, lawless, irresponsible and needing to be reined in or managed. Creative people are often expected to spot brave hairstyles, multiple tattoos, body piercings and party excessively. Nothing could be more misleading. I have met a lot of creative people who don’t fit this stereotype.
Creative people are optimists. They are not deterred by obstacles and barriers. They believe in possibility. They believe in dreams and magic. They are constantly reframing the world around them to fit a vision of how they would like life to be. They dream in colour and they live life abundantly. They love to engage your thoughts and feelings. They want to move you and challenge you to eat life with a big spoon. Theirs is an energy you want to bottle and release into the world so that more people believe in the art of possibility.
Liberate in order to create
This energy needs to be cultivated, nurtured and encouraged. They are independent thinkers and free-spirited individuals who need to be liberated in order to create. The important thing is to ensure that they use their passion and craft to deliver value creation for your organisation. Value creation includes a pursuit of topline growth, margin enhancement and cost-containment:
- Topline growth means developing ideas that win new accounts or using proactive to get more revenue out of existing clients
- Margin enhancement means coming with bigger ideas that attract bigger budgets
- Cost-containment means being efficient in how we work and being responsible in how we use our resources
That’s all the clarity creative people need. They are responsible, smart, accountable professionals who know they need to deliver results. They are not here to blow client budgets. They are here to solve client problems by developing awe-inspiring ideas that capture people’s imaginations.
No rules and regulations
They are driven by a need to move people. They don’t need rules and regulations. Allow them to figure out how to get from goal to success and from objective to glory. Trying to define this journey for them kills the very spirit that fuels their creativity. Telling them how to behave, how to dress, how to speak, when to work and when to chill simply drives them up the wall.
At the end of the day, everything boils down to trust. Non-creative people need to trust creative types to deliver value creation. They love being empowered and trusted to join the dots between your vision of success and their craft. They hold the key to success, so allow them to feel important and valued.
Create a culture and an environment that’s conducive to ideating. Reward courage, celebrate failure, encourage independence of thought, embrace diversity, have patience, be tolerant, allow ideas to grow and develop and, most of all, have faith in the creative process.