Stimulating Creativity

I was approached to write this blog on stimulating creativity from the point of view of an external agency creative director “out in the field.” Like anyone else confronted with this sort of challenge, I immediately Googled “stimulating creativity.” That brought up a treasure-trove of writing on the subject—most in the form of lists including “six ideas to promote innovation in your workplace this year.” Among other things, it calls for taking ample time off. I’m a huge believer in taking ample time off (that’s one of the reasons we started our own agency) and so am passing that bit of advice on as my first suggestion.

I considered my own experience—the ways I’ve tried to inspire creativity and be creative over the years—and realized that it’s the fundamentals of churning out good work that need examination. There’s little point in belaboring the fact that creative people tend to be a difficult bunch. Everyone already knows that. Stimulating creativity and navigating egos is achieved (or not) largely by how mangers set up teams, define goals, deliver feedback, and run interference against the forces aligned to undermine the creative process. Here are three other fundamentals of creative management that help set the stage for stimulating creativity.

Never let a creative team start with a poorly written brief. Bad brief = creativity buzzkill. When the team knows the manager has their back by first collaborating with account service to strip down and fine-tune the brief, then creative kick-offs can stimulate, instead of aggravate.

Don’t micromanage. Give teams what they need to do their work—then let them do it, while holding them to a consistently high standard. Restrain yourself from jumping in; nothing undermines the potential of a creative team more than the assumption that they’ll just end up executing their managers’ ideas in the end.

Put special emphasis on preparation for creative presentations, and set the bar high. Multiple reviews and practice help the whole team better craft and articulate the strengths of different creative solutions and increase the chances of selling one or more of those ideas. And there’s nothing like success to stimulate creativity.

Looking for more ways to stimulate creativity AND get recognized for your work? Enter the IHAF Awards by July 15th—celebrating creative excellence across over 30 print and digital categories. Winning entries will be announced at the IHAF Annual Conference & Awards Show on November 11-12, 2015.

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

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