As Creative Team Leader at my last job, I attended many brainstorming meetings as the “creative” consultant. The scenario generally went like this:
- Everyone around the conference table would throw out their ideas
- People would politely argue the merits and shortfalls of each idea
- One or a few ideas would begin to emerge
- Someone, usually the person leading the group, would turn to me and say, “So, what would you do with that idea creatively if we decided to go in that direction?”
- Silence…. Crickets….. Drum roll, please…
I would usually throw out a few initial reactions to the idea/s and then go into my standard explanation about how the creative process really works.
This scenario illustrates a common misconception among people who say they are “not creative.” (Actually everyone IS creative.) They seem to think being creative is a magical way of seeing the world that produces flashes of brilliance that no one else can achieve. However in actuality, creativity is hard work!
I just read an article with that exact title, from David Edelman who leads Digital Marketing Strategy for McKinsey & Company out of Boston, a global management consulting firm. He talks about the process his staff goes through to stay fresh and relevant and to find creative ways for their clients to connect with their customers.
Notwithstanding the rare few who can come up with amazing ideas in isolation, most creative people work better in collaboration with other creative people: the brainstorming continues; somebody looks at what others are doing in similar situations; someone else researches recent trends; we consider our budget and our abilities—”Yeah, that’s a great idea, but can we pull it off?” Then, if we’re doing our jobs correctly, we’ll mock up some things and go try out those ideas on members of our target audience.
In Edelman’s article, the Creative Team was even sent to the mall to observe people and consider how their ideas might impact the shopping experience for their target population.
It’s no wonder, when all is said and done, oftentimes no one is quite sure exactly whose idea it was and how it came about. The creative process IS a process and it IS hard work.