Now you've had time to think about it. You really are creative.
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
We're living through the dawn of a new creative era. The lockdown has triggered the creative gene in people who never thought they had it. From cookery and dance classes to reading clubs and virtual pub quizzes - folk are 'having a go' at activities they never previously thought about. Facebook challenges have been more elaborate, TikTok films have appealed to a broader demographic than ever.
The question is, how will this newly found creative confidence find its way back into the workplace? After all, you've shuffled through enough turgid meetings to recognise when they need a 'spark' to get people thinking differently. What could you introduce to lift the mood, incite some different thinking, fire up the imagination or at least give meeting participants something to go away and explore. Here are four thoughts to make sure you continue to bring your best creative gene to the workplace:
Stay curious: You've had time to actually read social posts and explore new podcasts. Keep doing it. Make time for reading, if you're not suffering the commute - then make it 'curious time'. Listen to podcasts you wouldn't usually entertain. Share new perspectives - show new ways of thinking - don't just tell. Social platforms are now full of new products, services, views and opinions - share them with colleagues. Save them with apps such as Clipboard, Instapaper or others. Break 'meeting monotony' by playing one on the screen as people arrive for the next meeting.
Be the grit in the oyster: I had an ex-colleague who was a 'yes' man. Anytime a leader in the organisation gave a view - he agreed. Every time the leader questioned an idea, he agreed. Every time a client made a request he said 'yes'. He didn't process the question, challenge or push back. If the client had all the answers they wouldn't need a partner to help them solve a problem. If organisational leaders wanted everyone to agree - they wouldn't have any managers. What do you want to be remembered for? Agreeing with everyone or having an opinion?
Find another way: Don't settle for the everyday. There's nothing exciting about existing in a 'sea of sameness.' Start discussions with 'What if...' When I first came to London as a fresh faced graduate, I was fortunate enough to spend several months being taught by the legendary Paul Arden. He would say, 'Surprise me' when my art director partner and I would go off and work on a brief. Paul wanted to get excited about seeing something that no one else had thought of. A different way to exaggerate a product or services value. It's why he was brilliant at what he did - a legend. You haven't done the same thing day in, day out during the pandemic. Don't accept only one way of doing things back in the workplace.
Stick to the golden rule: In advertising there has long been a golden rule - that there are no rules. Sure you need some rules to adhere to, a badge to get into the office, a contract of work etc. Who said meetings needed to be an hour? I really enjoyed Zoom conferencing during the lockdown where most small businesses had a free account. It meant you got 40 minutes free but then had to subscribe to get longer. Meetings finished earlier. Decisions were made quicker. Rules are there to guide, but there's nothing wrong in questioning - or even evolving them.
So there you have it. Despite being told that Gen Z are more creative than any other generation - I disagree. Yes they've been born into a digital age with a smartphone in their fingers - and yes it is more powerful than the computer on the first space shuttle. However, the lockdown has shown that with or without tech - ideas are still king - and anyone can have them. That smartphone is an enabler - it has sophisticated recording, smart editing, a powerful camera lens on your phone that allows anyone willing to learn to be more creative than ever before. An ex-client of mine found he had all of this on his smartphone without realising it - he used his discovery to create mini stories of colleagues that he met on his travels around the world. Capturing their stories and sharing them through social channels combined with films of a higher-production value was a nice blend of brand expression. It's about us all applying the mind and exercising that creative gene that can all too often be abandoned once we leave childhood.
So take advantage of the creative spring you've put into your step. Get on the front foot and share ideas. No longer use the words 'I'm not creative, but....' instead, think differently and provide creative sparks. Who knows, you may actually help people to enjoy meetings again. You may even be the one who originates some fresh thinking to boost your organisations performance.