Welcome to Episode 28 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity and marketing.
My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, to talk about 10 Great Myths of Creativity. I was going to say 10 Great Lies of creativity, but it’s hard to prove intent, and it’s a sunny day outside, so, I’ll lighten up a bit.
1) Innovation = Creativity
These two words aren’t synonyms. And they certainly aren’t antonyms. They’re complementary. Their relationship can best be described as this…Innovation is the implementation of creative ideas. Google didn’t create algorithms, but they innovatively applied them in a beautifully functional way.
2) You’re Either Born Creative or Not
Some people are born more predisposed to be creative, but constantly exercising your creative muscles will make you more creative. And whether you’re a designer or a salesperson, you can stretch your creativity. Are you committed to living a creative lifestyle? If so, creativity will seep into all you do.
3) The More Important the Project, the More Teams You Need
When a major assignment like a new business pitch comes in, the usual approach is all-hands-on-deck. Everyone runs around like chickens with their heads cut off, and still the work doesn’t crash together until the last possible moment.
Why is that?
First off, when everyone is working on it, no one is really accountable. People give up because they figure “someone will crack the code”.
Secondly, when a project gets dumped on top of your regular load, you don’t have a lot of time to focus on either. And because your regular work is going to be there regardless, you’ll pay more attention to that then something that at best is a “maybe”. Makes sense.
The best way to win is to choose 2-3 teams and put it all on their backs. Free their time. Give them the support they need. And let them bring it home.
It’s a lot of pressure, so you better pick the right people. Trust them and watch them rise to the occasion.
Keep in mind that less is more and the bigger the assignment the more focus beats fragmentation.
4) Everyone in the Room Has to Have a Speaking Role
Yes, clients often say they hate having anyone in the room that either won’t be working on their account or won’t have a prominent role in the room that day. I get the spirit of that request. Just don’t follow it out the window.
It’s your meeting, too! And how will people pick up experience if they’re never allowed to observe how it’s done?
Don’t bring a caravan of people, but at least one slot should go to someone who has worked on the assignment and will learn not only the ins and outs of being on the big stage but will come to understand more about the client and the client’s business as well.
That doesn’t mean that they should just sit there. Observers can help the AV people. Serve as runners. Whatever it takes. Just as long as you take them. Gotta invest in our people, even if that means picking up their airfare and hotel room.
5) Those Who Created the Work Should Present the Work
Would you rather present the work or sell the work? That’s what I ask when inexperienced or bad presenters feel adamant that they deserve to present their work.
Number 1, they don’t own the work. It belongs to the team. To the agency. Still, I appreciate the pride that goes into the creation of work. Also, the desire to show what you’ve got and move up the ladder. In fact, I like that attitude. But I love when creatives understand when they’re not quite ready. Perhaps there’s a secondary role they can take.
That said, nothing should get in the way of making the sale. And selling in your work is way more important than if you’re the one who presented it. Agreed?
Creativity is a team sport, maximize the collective strength of your entire team. You may need every ounce of strength your team has got.
In the meantime, practice presenting. Create opportunities like lunch & learns. Join a club. Whatever it takes. Waiting for a presentation training class ain’t going to get the job done. To become a presenter, you’ve got to present. Constantly.
6) Longer Deadlines Lead to Better Work
If only we had more time! Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this said. My usual thought upon hearing that is…If only we hadn’t wasted so much time!
Then we would probably have had more than enough time. Everyone needs to become more efficient and keep the momentum going. That also means better ways to work together. You’ll find some of these methods in episodes 8 & 9, especially episode 9.
When it comes to creativity, overthink is a bigger killer than time.
The best in the business are the best editors. That’s true of creatives. That’s true of Planners. And it’s true of Account people, too. Know when you’ve got what you need. Know what to drop and drop it like it’s hot. Then move on.
That’s what’s called being decisive. That decisiveness, that ability to edit takes confidence.
Cut the overthink and improve your team’s collaboration and you should have time for nearly any project. Again, check out episodes 8 & 9.
7) Open Office Spaces Increase Collaboration
OK, by now you’ve heard or read that it is now scientifically proven that open
offices are not what they were cracked up to be. People can get distracted. Feel unstable. Even hostile. Many get lost in their headphones or detach with their teammates by increasing the number of emails they generate. Sometimes unexpected consequences undermine the best laid out theories. Not that collaboration was the only intention of such open plans. Saving on walls and furniture have played a role as well.
8) Open Office Spaces Are the Work of the Devil
The opposite is not completely true either. Open office spaces aren’t necessarily Hell, either. Some people, myself included enjoy them. Find them more stimulating. And productive. Research shows that those who are highly mobile and autonomous can thrive under such conditions.
The best space I’ve ever worked in was created by two guys named Tim Murphy and Tom Hansen. They combined the best of both worlds. Keeping things primarily open but adding a combination of conference rooms and smaller closed spaces that provided comfortable levels of privacy. The office was set up like an oval racetrack. The inside of the oval was where all the smaller rooms stood, while the outside was still open. Not surprisingly, the one open space everyone could agree on was the massive bar. No complaints there.
9) Technical People Are Exempt from Creativity
Um, no. Everyone needs to bring creativity and innovation to what they’re doing. Some may see this as an unwelcome invasion of their areas, while the smart ones will see that their handcuffs are off. They, too, are appreciated as original thinkers.
10) Innovation Requires Significant Resources and Funding
For years Microsoft outspent Apple in its R&D efforts. At one point it was an 8/1 ratio. Yet, Apple easily out-innovated Microsoft. The difference was in their cultures. The Apple culture was more open and encouraging of pushing the envelope. Today, however, thanks to new leadership and priorities, Microsoft has begun to catch up. Some things you can’t buy. Innovation is one of them. Of course, an innovative culture with money to spend is certainly an advantage.
Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)
…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m your host, Wegs, with one final thought on the myths of creativity. Common knowledge is often common thinking and best practices look too much to the past instead of the future. Push your passions and see where they take things. Sometimes you’ll kick up a bunch of dust, sometimes you’ll strike gold.
Well, that about wraps up our 28th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.
Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you for listening in. And if you’d like a full transcript of this episode or any other, please check out NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing all you’re doing. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.