This was the subject for our ‘Creative Spark’ seminar on Tuesday 26th April, in association with Leon Black. The evening took the form of four short presentations by speakers from different creative fields and a lively open discussion with our audience of around 100 guests.
“Only 1 in 4 people believe they are creative at work” was a startling opening fact from Jill Ellul, Founder of Innovation Consultancy, Mojoco. And yet “Creativity is a survival strategy” proposed Designer, Charles Leon. It is optimistic and helps us to cope with the future and whatever it may bring. Children have amazing imaginations as they are wired for learning, in tune with their emotions and do not fear failure. As we grow into adults, we learn conformity and are rewarded in business by not making mistakes so creativity can become hampered. There are techniques and practices however, that can help.
“Take notice of when we have our best ideas” is one suggestion. For Jill Ellul it’s doing the ironing, but it could be while driving, in the shower or taking a long walk. When doing activities that allow our mind to wander, we delve into our sub-conscious which is the magic key to creativity. When our sub-conscious leaks into our conscious this is intuition or feeling. This is just as valuable as our conscious mind which is more likely to judge, refine and apply logic.
For author and lecturer, Reverend Bob Mayo, brutal constraints produce results. He begins with thousands and thousands of words which he then strips back to distill and refine into a work that will meet his agent’s brief. Jill also gives the example of Twitter, which by imposing its maximum 140 character limit, forces the writer to be creative in order to present an idea.
Managing Partner of MBJ London, Julian Baladurage, has identified 3 common threads that account for 90% of the start-up companies he invests in. Their ideas are born out of extreme frustration, open innovation or day-dreaming. He firmly believes that for every 100 people gathered in a room, there are 500 good ideas.
But it’s okay to procrastinate was a view put forward by Designer, Charles Leon. “Think of an idea and then do nothing”, Bob Mayo agrees. And yet there is generally a common thread of structure and even discipline throughout many of the examples we heard. Bob may experience writer’s block and relish the vacuum he finds himself in, but he is nevertheless sitting at his desk for an hour at exactly the same time as he does every day. So can you in effect schedule ideas? Well not really, but you can nurture them.
Jill advises her clients to think of creativity as a muscle that has to be exercised and new stimulus is one way to unlock ideas. She gave the example of a pharmaceutical company who were looking to market a new treatment for psoriasis. None of the team had the condition or knew anyone who had it. By getting a make-up artist to simulate the complaint it taught them how it felt to have psoriasis and resulted in marketing ideas that they would otherwise never have had.
Another case study example was from masters of the smoothie, Innocent. Their weekly meeting held by the managing director encourages anyone in the company to raise their hand and contribute. This is where the idea came from for woolly hats on bottles from an unlikely team member. It resulted in the Big Knit campaign and a great cash injection for charity Age UK.
Many small and medium business owners may not see themselves as creative but yet they have to regularly exercise quick decision-making and problem-solve in order to keep the business on track and profitable. This is creativity. These thoughts were from Rodney McMahon, our Managing Director who rounded off the debate and thanked everyone for their input and enthusiasm.
Thank you to all our speakers, guests and the amazing Gazz LeWars Jazz Band that shared the evening with us, we hope it gave you some creative sparks to take away with you. See you at our next event, during CDW, if not before!