Keeping the creative juices flowing

Creativity and the ability to generate ideas form the cornerstones of our business. This would explain why our attention was drawn to a recent article by Adam Gale, Editor of Management Today entitled: “How to have good ideas when you can’t go to the pub” – we can’t think of any other possible reason why!

In the article, Adam states that: “If we’re not careful, lockdown will narrow our creative horizons”. He goes on to say that (paraphrasing here); whilst for some, creativity happens in the quiet moments like walking the dog or taking a shower, for others great ideas almost always emerge from social interaction.

That’s an interesting statement to a business like ours, one committed to pushing the creative boundaries for clients, as we work together to move their businesses beyond mere ‘business as usual’.

Since lockdown on 23 March, we’ve not only had to plan to remain operationally viable, we’ve also had to consider how to maintain an environment in which everyone’s creative juices keep flowing.

Adam goes on to suggest that: “If ideas come from conversations and we’re having fewer conversations, and if they come from stimulation and we’re visiting fewer stimulating places, then this is narrowing our horizons and potentially hurting our creative endeavours”.

Well, like Adam says: “Necessity is the mother of invention”, and that’s very much our mantra. As an inherently creative bunch of people, we’ve utilised our skills to overcome the challenges posed by lockdown. We’ve found much-needed ways to keep people connected and to keep inspiring conversations and group brainstorming sessions going – “two heads…” and all that. In a previous blog, ‘It’s still business as (un)usual’, we provide details of some of the ways in which we’ve achieved this.

We’ve also embraced other online solutions, including Trello and Miro. Miro, in particular, has allowed us to conduct some highly productive creative sprints which, in the absence of our enormous boardroom whiteboard, has allowed us to fling virtual post-it notes around, capturing creative thoughts and ideas from team members and clients alike.

These are particularly challenging times, but what this period has encouraged us to do is to expand our horizons still further. It’s presented us with opportunities to take more creative ‘risks’ and to explore and embrace new, innovative and different ways of doing things. If this lockdown has proved anything, it’s that we need to keep finding ways to push the creative boundaries still further, however challenging the environment for that might be. We’re firm believers in the fact that creative solutions to problems always exist!

Our Top 10 tips for keeping the creative juices flowing

1. Be brave

Take risks – simple as that. Those that continuously play it safe, never succeed in pushing the boundaries and grabbing the attention needed.

2. And relax

The author of a Harvard Business Review once wrote: “When creativity is under the gun, it usually ends up getting killed”. Research studies show that increasing levels of relaxation give rise to creativity and ideas. If you’re currently working from home, it should be easier than ever to take a break from your desk, to go for a walk and get yourself into that much needed, relaxed mindset.

3. Notebooks (or phones) at the ready

Sadly there’s no ‘on’ and ‘off’ switch for ideas. More often than not, they pop into our heads when we least expect them to. We appreciate that this isn’t new advice, but it’s always worth reiterating – have a means of taking notes, or practice ways to visually memorise your ideas for recall later.

4. Great minds think alike – or do they?

Where one person fails to see the potential in a thought or idea, another may see a whole host of opportunities. Never be too afraid to sound out friends, colleagues, or your creative agency. Through our own internal team and client discussions, new ideas always transpire, leading to something wholly new and exciting. Even in lockdown, we haven’t lost the ability to meet and converse with one another via phone, email, Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp etc. There are also virtual whiteboards that allow you to capture various thoughts and ideas whilst you speak.

5. Create the right environment

OK, the pubs are shut. If it’s a stimulating environment you need to generate ideas, then recreate it at home. There’s never been a better opportunity to turn your new homeworking space into one of stimulation. Surround yourself with inspiring things, books, ephemera, art, etc. Crank up the music, invite friends/colleagues to a Slack or Zoom meeting, even to open a beer – not that we condone drinking on the job, and certainly not until the sun is over the yardarm.

6. But it’s not a new idea

It’s a fact, nothing is truly original. Remember, creative people are like editors with sponges for brains who’re constantly absorbing, collating and curating existing thoughts and ideas. Don’t ever be put off by thinking something’s been done before. The question you need to ask yourself is whether a new, more interesting or better way of doing something exists? Originality is often born from bringing together different elements to solve a unique challenge, to address a particular audience, or scenario.

7. Don’t overwork it

Never spend hours poring over an idea. Overworking a great idea will often only result in dumbing it down. Know when to take a break. Who knows, when you return in a different state of mind, you might just think through it differently. Our creative team often finds that having two or three projects on the go at the same time helps. At least when you hit a ‘wall’ with one, you can pick another one back up.

8. Map it out

Build mind maps. They really do help to take you on an amazing voyage of discovery, where new trains of thought can uncover all sorts of unexpected, creative destinations.

9. See things clearly

If the past +25 years have taught us anything, it’s that the best ideas and creative solutions result from very careful analysis and understanding of the problems and challenges faced. In other words, make sure you’re not wasting time generating ideas that treat the mere symptoms, instead channel those essential thought processes into making sure you’re generating ideas and creative solutions that address the underlying cause.

10. Challenge convention

Henry Ford once said he was looking for people who had “the infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done”. In other words, challenge convention and those who’re insistent that we do things in a certain way “because that’s the way things are always done around here”. That includes relying on the pubs to be open in order for the creative juices to flow!

If you’re looking for an agency to provide you with creative ideas and solutions designed to address your next communications challenge, then please contact us.

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