by Jonathan Cross, Touch Design
Is creativity a gift that some people have and some people don’t? Are some people ‘naturally creative’ or are you someone ‘who does not have a creative bone in their body?’ The simple answer is that we are all creative. And we are as creative as we allow ourselves to be.
We were recently given a brief by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) who wanted to show the benefits of working at EMAS to student paramedics due to graduate. One of the biggest issues facing the NHS, locally and nationally, is the ability to recruit and retain staff. We played around with images and then we played around with words… ‘EMAS is an amazing place to work’ became ‘EMAS is amazing’ which became ‘EMAZING’. Often there is enough complexity in organisational structure and mission that our job is sometimes just to make things simple. #EMAZING is spreading around the organisation, invoking real pride in the job and inspiring colleagues to spread the word.
Is this itself inspiring creative or is it simply just us doing our job. The job that we’re paid to do. What is ‘being creative’? Is it a trait that is assigned to some, and not allowed for others? Do we all have the permission to be creative?
Creative sometimes means taking a step back from the norm. There are many tasks in our everyday working lives that we have done countless times before. It is easy to replicate what we did the previous time. It saves time, money and effort. But taking a creative approach can reinvigorate a piece of work, add a new dimension, and spark a light on a new way of working.
One thing we’re sometimes asked is ‘how can I be more creative?’ or ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ We can provide some hints and tips but there’s no one answer. You have to give yourself permission to be creative. You have to find the time to be creative. And you have to believe you have the ability to be creative. Given time and an open mind, ideas will flow. And where there are enough ideas, there will be a good idea.
Here are some thoughts to help you with your creative thinking:
- The creative process is aided by a good brief – if you are the client, try to provide as much relevant background information as possible.
- Consider the ‘framing’ of the issue – thinking about the issue as a problem to be solved may be one way. But all issues can be considered in different lights. Is there another way of looking at your problem?
- Come at the issue from a different angle – place your issue in another context – what would happen if you wildly exaggerated it, what would a child think of your issue, how would it work in the countryside, what if it was coloured orange, could you build a Lego model of it? None of these approaches are likely to produce the campaign you need but they will help you gain different perspectives.
- Play with an issue – and have fun. Here at Touch we like to have fun with our work. A brief came in yesterday for a falls awareness campaign and there’s now a doodle of a banana skin on the desk pad. That’s too throwaway for a serious campaign – the campaign needs not only to be fun but functional and suitable for the audience – however, it gives us a starting point. And who knows where that will take us to? At the last point that banana sketch had been safely disposed of in the bin and transformed into ‘Steady Eddie’ – the wise cartoon man who knows all about how to prevent slips and trips…
- Close the door and open another – there’s only so long you can play around with a certain idea. At some point you’ve got to close the door on that idea, walk down the hallway, and open another door, to another idea. Open and close enough doors and you will discover a room of surprises.
- Take different approaches, put yourself in a new context – sometimes the best idea will come when you least expect it – when you’re in the shower or walking to work, from out of the blue inspiration will strike. If you’re still waiting for inspiration, put some dedicated time and effort into it. A cake will only come out of the oven if you put the right ingredients in the tin. Creativity sometimes needs a recipe.
- You may not have the solution – sometimes despite the best efforts and the most dedicated thought, you may not find the answer you want. That happens, it’s just the way things are. However, you are not alone. Ask the person across the desk. Phone a friend. Ask a stranger. Form a focus group. Listen carefully. The answer is out there.
- Still stuck? Leave the office, get some fresh air, come back, then give us a call. We’d love to talk through your ideas. Something #EMAZING may well result.
This post was written by Jonathan Cross of Touch Design as part of their support for #commscampnorth. They are good people. Very good people. Seek them out at the event where they are looking to pitch a session on creative play. Or via @teamtouchdesign on Twitter.