Friday, September 17

How large is the creative team?

Sounds like a simple question, doesn't it?   How many people should specialise in creativity at work, either full-time or part-time?

My first instinct was that this is something for everyone - so the team size is the same as the size of the organisation.  But in fact that's neither very helpful nor terribly accurate.   More useful to suggest the following answer:

Anyone in the environment can be creative in their thinking, if suitably stimulated and supported.

So assuming for a moment that this really is a pearl of wisdom, let's decompose it to see what emerges:
  • Anyone ...
I happen to believe that we're all capable of original thought.  But sadly our industries have specialised and standardised to such a great degree that thousands of organisations only encourage creativity in certain small pockets.  We've forgotten what it was like to be six years old, and think something out for ourselves.
  • ... in the environment ...
This one's carefully worded.  It's not just your team who can think on your behalf.  If you're in Sales (UK), why not enlist Marketing (UK), R&D (Global), and Marketing (Asia-Pacific) in helping you to arrive at new ideas?  Further, why not consult your customers and suppliers, or even the general public?
  • ... if suitably stimulated ...
Critically, 99% of people will need to be woken from the corporate slumber - a malaise which has already encroached pretty significantly into our personal lives too.  There are at least 100 ways to do this (more on which later) and you won't get half the resistance you might expect.  We all have dim-and-distant memories of free-thinking, and most of us remember rather enjoying it!
  • ... and supported.
It really doesn't help to be told we're not paid to be creative - but it still happens.  If we're not paid to be creative then what on earth are we paid for?  Doing things by rote, just like a computer perhaps?  Or maybe we're paid to do things just like our competitors, but somehow magically for a lower price?  So the first step is for everyone to rise-up, and actively resist this pre-industrial revolution viewpoint sometimes espoused by managers wherever managers are still repressing originality instead of rewarding it.

That just leaves one nagging worry: If "innovation" becomes a free-for-all then unhelpful competitive and political behaviours can emerge.  To ensure collaboration, best always to have an impassioned-but-unassuming champion of creativity, or a network of localised champions.

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