Creativity seems to just come naturally for some people. The “left-brainers”, as many like to call them, don’t always conform to society’s strict cultural norms and often gravitate toward the arts. Especially in the business world, these “creative types” often get lumped into different silos where they can be alone with their ideas to build, create and innovate.
But the fact is, everyone is creative. Whether you consider yourself a truly original artist, or if you think you live a pretty vanilla lifestyle, each person has a unique perspective and original ideas to add to a project. While there are many tools we can use today to help spur the “creative” inside us all, one of the greatest and most exciting engines for creativity is collaboration.
Have you ever heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? The same is true about products, strategies and other creative works. It takes a community to raise a truly interesting and creative idea.
Sometimes working on a creative idea by yourself works just fine. But you may notice it’s not until you verbalize the idea with others that an idea truly comes alive. When that initial idea evolves and grows, it often has the potential to reach its intended audience more effectively. Whether it’s an advertising campaign, a social media plan, or a multimedia project for your website, collaboration and community are key to creativity. It can’t be overlooked.
Take a look at this Creativity Checklist to be sure you and your company are getting the most out of your ideas and work:
What’s your creative strategy? How do you come up with ideas as an organization or business? From inception to implementation, you need to make sure you integrate communal elements to the plan. For example, give your team the word “fundraiser” and see what pops up in a group brainstorming session. You’ll be amazed at how one idea can lead to all sorts of new ideas. Of course for any creative endeavor, individual tasks and alone-time must be part of your strategic process because people need time to work. But if you don’t plan for collaborative sessions, creativity and new ideas get stifled. Just be sure your company’s creative process doesn’t get delegated to one “creative”. That can be a lot to take on, and it can limit your reach.
Is your work environment a place where new ideas flourish? Do people feel welcomed when they offer suggestions? There are a couple ways to improve your company’s overall creative environment. The first is attitude. Be sure your business, from the top-down, has an open-door policy on new ideas. When people feel their opinions and perspectives matter, the “old ways” of doing things often improve and become more efficient. For example, scheduling regular meetings to actually ask your team questions is often more effective than constantly dolling out tasks. This can stop problems before a project gets too far, especially in creative work. The second environmental improvement is physical. Be sure your workplace isn’t just filled with cubicles. Open spaces and lounge spaces are vital to creativity. Stance, for example, eats together. Its headquarters also has a modern, laid back facility (with a basketball court) which spurs more organic, frequent meetings.
As a company or brand, who can you partner with? Especially for smaller companies, you may not have the resources to get certain ideas done. However, you need to stop thinking of your competitors as enemies. They can be allies, business patterns, even friends. Check out your competitors’ websites, and ask them questions. Find out how they come up with creative solutions. More often than not, you’ll get a response, and they may even be flattered you asked. Live networking events, such as local meetups can be huge for striking effective partnerships. Even digital chats can be really helpful. The point is, pairing yourself with an unlikely partner has the most potential for creativity within and outside your company. Some of the most original music videos ever created came from OK Go‘s partnership with Honda, Range Rover and most recently Morton Salt. You never know how a collaborative partnership can bring your brand’s creative side.
In order for an idea to truly flourish, you need to think of all perspectives and sides. When only one or two people are working on a project, it’s easy to fall into an echo chamber and assume you’re not missing anything. But you don’t know what you don’t know, right? A diverse team can help bring different perspectives to get out of your regular ruts. They can also be vital to help see how a product or idea will be received by the world. The iPad for example probably wouldn’t have that name if a woman was on the branding team. When you come out with a new promotional video or website, have a range of people give input. You never know what you might be missing to make that idea more creative.
Do you have a creative work environment? How do you keep the ideas flowing? Comment below with your tips on creativity and how a more collaborative environment has helped you.