Creative is not a department.

Creative is not a department.
Jill Holden
September 10, 2014
Colorful socks

Marketing agencies, by nature, have various disciplines under the big marketing umbrella. Each department has a specific expertise – research, planning, creative, media planning, account services, production. Each individual has unique strengths. But we all have one goal – to create ideas that deliver results for our clients. And that, above all, takes creativity. 

As an account manager in Chicago, I used to claim “I am NOT creative.” I felt my strengths were in client and project management and that the real creative work should be left to the “creatives.” But I realize now, as I develop the role of strategic planner, that this statement was wrong in so many ways. We may have our different silos and various role expectations, but we ALL have a responsibility to be creative.

You may remember, at the end of last year our team had a little fun with a personality test. The personality types were incredibly vast. There were the thinkers, the charmers, the critics, the inspirers, the creators and so many others. It brought to light our strengths (and our flaws!) and opened our eyes to what makes each of us “tick.” We understand each other better and have identified the unique ways that we can all participate in the creative process. We don’t have the stats to prove it (says the “critic”), but we feel that it has already and will continue to lead to stronger collaboration and a culture of creativity that all of us can be proud of. 

So, even if the word “creative” isn’t in your job description, there are ways you can help build collaboration and foster creativity within your organization.

10 Ways to Foster Creativity

  1. Don’t let the definition of your job define you. Explore new skills and develop aspects of your position or your career that interest you. 
  2. Big ideas don’t have to be big. Even small ideas can have a big impact. 
  3. Step out of your everyday routine. Do something different. Go somewhere new. Reach out to people you might not have before. 
  4. Build diverse teams with different backgrounds, experiences. Entertain and embrace varied perspectives. It will help you see things differently. 
  5. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Ask people for ideas. Brainstorm together. Ideas get better when they are built upon. 
  6. It is important to get into the shoes of the people you are talking to. Try to see it from their eyes. Think of new ways to look at an old problem.
  7. Start with an idea. Don’t settle too quickly on just one idea. Take the idea apart to build new ones. Poke holes in your ideas and consider ways to make them stronger.
  8. Don’t immediately dismiss an idea that is risky, or not “in the box.” You just may need to consider fresh perspectives to get people to think differently, to get attention or to break down hard barriers. It may not be the right idea in the end, but it can spur other ideas.
  9. The idea doesn’t have to be perfect. Work together with your team to build it, make it better. “Nuggets” of thoughts can grow into ideas. And it can energize your team and create a sense of ownership. 
  10. There is NEVER just one answer or one right way to do things. Try to be flexible to other approaches to solving a problem.

Creativity is not a department. Or a person. And it’s not a case of either having creativity or not having it. It is a way of thinking that can come from anywhere and anyone. Challenge yourself to discover ways you can foster a culture of creativity within your own job or organization. Share your ideas here and keep the conversation going!