I sat next to one of Burberry’s top ‘interior architects’ at lunch recently. He’s a European high flyer, well connected and reports directly to the main man.
After being less than favourable about his own country (France!), we soon got in to a roundtable discussion about creativity – and what actually makes people creative. He referenced Sir Ken Robinson (a Launch client) as someone he admires, listens to – and reads a lot of.
I’m often asked what makes people creative, and I’m soon to publish a paper on Creativity in PR, but strip everything back, put the books and diagrams aside, and I think it comes down to five pretty simple things:
It’s an increasingly used word in PR. I was watching an interview with the CEO of Blippar this week and it was his ‘word of the day’ at SXSW. Not rocket science you may say. But to keep your creative mind fresh, you need to constantly challenge what you see and hear (keep it in your head if you like, you don’t have to verbalise it!) And apparently 82% of what we see controls all our senses. Make sense? Be it a promotion, a new colour range, a magazine article, something different that catches your eye today (and didn’t yesterday), new labelling on product, new price point, a CSR initiative, new buzz word, new mobile trend, new spokesperson or cuddly brand hero. Whatever. Critical is to have a view on it. Good / bad / neutral / agree / disagree. A natural curiosity lies at the heart of creativity.
Not Square or Bob or even Pants, but soak up as much up as you can. The ability to store tiny bits of information, perspective or a fact in your brain will come to play at some point. Trust me. Read everything you can – online, offline – anywhere. My downtime often involves what I view as ‘pleasurable work’ (it’s genuinely both as you have time, but one day, it will influence a piece of work) – mass amounts of reading (in quiet) the stuff I never usually get the time to do. Womens/mens glossies, management magazines, retail titles, travel mags, weekend finance pages, interior pages, property, new website launches, new feeds, new niche titles. Soak up as much as possible. It will play out in your thinking process.
I find people who are happy with silence are often good people to think with (I know there’s an argument the other way), but for me, the ability to quietly reflect is terribly important. Not feeling pressurised in to having to come up with something. I always start my sessions by saying ‘zero pressure to come up with the solution.’ Remove the pressure and you open up the pipes for everyone a little more. But, we’re all different, so you could probably equally replace SILENCE with NOISE! Not to say you can’t have a quiet energised atmosphere …
Making time, with no interruptions has to be the goal, however you’re running your creative thinking (not covered in here). Rush time and suffocate creativity. That simple. Protected time (an uninterrupted amount) feels like a session down the pub with your mates. Total heaven.
And finally, the boring one. The wildest creativity requires a process to get there. Even if it’s a loose one. Creative Inc. written by arguably one of the most interesting creative minds of our generation, was deep down rooted in process and planning. Plan it and test the creative process. Creativity does (as bizarre as it sounds) require a plan. And if you’re leading the creativity, you 100% need to know what that plan is – for when it’s going well, and also, when you’re not quite getting what you want. Which of course does happen!