We are Boutique

Creativity and Culture

Posted In: Hidden by Dan Howard,
May 6, 2015


I watch TED all the time. If you don’t, you should. It’s wonderful for the daily commute as the presentations tend to be around 10 minutes long, so it’s a better use of time than trawling Facebook or playing games, which most people seem to do on the 30 minute commute between Leeds and Harrogate!


TED, for those that don’t know it, is a platform for people to share knowledge. I’m not sure that’s how they position themselves but that’s how I see it. They cover all sorts, from business strategy to data on mountain ranges, from people talking about sexualisation of media to those who grew up in war torn regions (all of which I have watched in the last week).


When I watch them I try to relate the topic to me but because the subjects are so varied I tend to look for one nugget of thought I can share in the business, hold in my head for the next pitch or use to educate my children.


Often you find that subject matter is inadvertently related to you or your business. I watched one by a professor from Michigan who was talking about how great creative businesses are creative. It seems somewhat obvious to me because I’m in a ‘creative’ sector and, as a strategically led agency, creativity is a core asset to our business. Clearly in other industries creativity rarely exists so whilst it wasn’t really focused on helping me, it did provide me with enough ammunition to create a Venn Diagram about creative thinking:


When we deliver creativity, we have three core elements: Creative Abrasion, Creative Agility and Creative Resolution.


Underpinning the above points is the core statement that ‘the expert isn’t always right’. Sometimes, human behaviour and gut instinct should be considered (though I am not sure I would say that to a creative director).


Keep in mind that this isn’t about ‘creativity’ as an agency in terms of producing creative; pictures, adverts, packaging, branding et al. It is creativity in your approach to challenges, identifying problems, finding solutions.


Creative abrasion is about when people think differently. Fortunately, we do, and varied opinion leads to a variety of ideas. Allowing for creativity to flow will always result in creative abrasion. When you don’t have it, you have a problem because people are probably scared to offer an opinion.


Creative agility is about trying things and learning. This is a common practise for the paid search team who will test ad copy, measure, learn and respond accordingly. If it doesn’t work, bin it. If it does, roll it out. We have to create a culture that allows for the creative thinking but always be mindful that evidence (and most often ROI in our business) will ensure agility.


Creative resolution is about how we find an ultimate answer in a position of conflict. It isn’t about a ‘middle ground’, it’s about deciding on a path and everyone engaging. We’ve recently gone through a rebrand. Our full team was part of creating an internal brand story and there were conflicts in opinion. Mostly we went with my decision obviously (I think I’m half joking!) but a middle ground is not always feasible. You need clarity of mind and leadership to make decisions and everybody must join you in agreement. The best creative minds will not sulk or hold on to a ‘mine was better’ mentality but agree to commit to the decision for the greater good.


What really strikes me in all of this is that culture is critical. If you create a culture of creativity (Pixar and Apple being probably the best examples) you will create outstanding results. It’s not just the end creative ideas that should be applauded, but the internal culture and commitment from every person involved to ensure that creativity is living and breathing in a business.



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