What Makes The Creative Process Tick?

Pencil Vs Camera - 48 © Ben Heine

Photo courtesy Ben Heine

A reoccurring theme on Tracy Wong’s blog is, and I quote, “the belief that anyone can have a good advertising idea. Not just a creative. And that everyone needs to be invested in the creative process, including account folks and clients. It’s just one of the paths to better creative.”

I love the way Tracy Wong thinks and love the idea of exploring paths to better creative.

In fact, I would reiterate that everyone has the innate capacity for creative thought, not just the “creatives” in a typical marketing/advertising agency. Nor is “creativity” the exclusive domain of CDs, ACDs, ADs, or anyone else donning a black turtleneck, thick pair of black-framed eyeglasses, and the latest MacBook Pro.

While everyone has the natural ability to leverage creative thinking, the creative process still carries with it a sometimes mysterious aura that left-brain oriented individuals may be quick to scrutinize or feel compelled to compartmentalize. Though the creative process can’t simply be reduced to a simple set of black and white elements—however convenient—contrary to popular belief.
Creativity lends potentially greater power if we loosen rigid procedures in favor of a more flexible shades-of-grey-esque approach to solving the problems at hand. A good example might be the single creative brainstorm meeting intended get ideas rolling or as my PMs used to say, “get the creative juices flowing”.
While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, ideas can’t always be “scheduled-in” for predefined blocks of time. The dreaded “you’ve got 30 minutes to come up with 10 solid ideas we can use” rarely yields interesting results. This technique, in my opinion, will only produce default run of the mill solutions.
A more fluid way to invite not only more, but a higher caliber of ideas, might be smaller less formal ideation sessions dispersed throughout the day and combined with other seemingly unrelated tasks.
I couldn’t tell you how many times really promising ideas surfaced at the most unexpected moments: in the shower, driving home, grabbing a coffee, while preparing dinner. Creativity doesn’t check-out at 5pm then check back-in at 9am the following morning.

But where does creativity come from? How do we control, quantify, and measure it? How does our creative factor in to ROI in a business communications context? Some people might even go as far to say creativity is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of any discernible logic or defined process.

These are all valid questions and concerns.

Well guess what, if you ask me, rigid processes and formal definitions don’t necessarily work in helping us better understand what makes the creative process tick.

All you really need to make creativity work is an open mind, imagination and curiosity. That’s about it. Toss out the manual.

The truth of the matter is that we can all be champions of creative ideas; we all possess the ability to fuse seemingly lateral connections and divergent insights into what could only be characterized as a creative solution.

Jason Theodor invests a lot of time exploring creative thinking techniques and various methods for getting more out of the creative process. A few slides from one of his recent presentations speak to our tendency to want a neatly defined and categorized explanation of creativity, but:

“Unlike many phenomena in science, there is no single, authoritative perspective or definition of creativity.”

The Scientific Method is expressed from the outside in, trying to understand existing things, and put them in a tidy box.”

“Creativity is not like that.”

Brilliant! Makes me think perhaps it’s better that way.

2 thoughts on “What Makes The Creative Process Tick?

  1. This morning I found an inspiring example of creative thinking. A man who devised a way to use old plastic soda bottles as a light source in low-income housing developments where electricity has become cost prohibitive. Check this out! [video] http://twitter.com/#!/AndreaNordgren/status/114704837798662144

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