Creativity: where, when and how


Sources for this include: ‘Creative Confidence’ by Tom and David Kelley, co-founders of IDEO & Real Business

So we’re a creative communications agency which means we are always looking at new ways to be creative – seems obvious but how do you develop a creative environment? Well, we’re certainly no Google (yet) with 160,000 square feet of cutting-edge design that offers a decidedly quirky take on the traditional office and for good measure a space called Granny’s Flat with furnished with chintzy chairs and fittings that wouldn’t look out of place in an elderly relative’s lounge…

But that doesn’t stop us from giving everyone a chance to be creative from Curiosity days (curiosity is encouraged all the time but everyone takes at least a day to go and be curious somewhere different and then share it) but we also have to develop a creative environment. So how can you be more creative?

Creativity starts from the moment we are born with ideas on what to play with and when. Everyone has just as much creative potential as marketing executives, and just as much to gain from it. You might not think of yourself as a ‘creative type’ and you might not be in a creative profession, but unlocking your creative capacity is essential to fulfilling your potential – here are some of the Kelley brothers’ strategies for doing just that.

  1. Choose creativity – To be more creative, the first step is to decide you want to make something happen.
  2. Think like a traveller – Like a visitor to a foreign land, try turning fresh eyes on your surroundings, no matter how mundane or familiar. Don’t wait around for a spark to magically appear. Expose yourself to new ideas and experiences.
  3. Engage relaxed attention – Daydreaming has a bad rap. But new findings in neuro-psychology show that flashes of insight often come when your mind is relaxed and not focused on completing a specific task, allowing the mind to make new connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.
  4. Empathise with your end user – You come up with more innovative ideas when you better understand the needs and context of the people you are creating solutions for.
  5. Do observations in the field – If you observe others with the skills of anthropologists, you might discover new opportunities hidden in plain sight.
  6. Ask questions, starting with “why?” – A series of “why?” questions can brush past surface details and get to the heart of the matter. For example, if you ask someone why they are still using a fading technology (think landline phones), the answers might have more to do with psychology than practicality.
  7. Reframe challenges – Sometimes, the first step toward a great solution is to reframe the question. Starting from a different point of view can help you get to the essence of a problem.
  8. Build a creative support network – Creativity can flow more easily and be more fun when you have others to interact with and bounce ideas off.


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Henry is an experienced online communications consultant who has worked with a number of FTSE 100/250 companies, helping them to communicate with their key stakeholders whilst maximising their use of data to generate informed decisions and increased engagement with customers. He heads up our Digital and Corporate Reporting teams, and is interested in all gadgets that make life simpler. Recent projects include an international product launch across Europe, Middle East & Africa as well as leading a large data integration project in the UK. A fan of all sports, he is often seen supporting the Exeter Chiefs most weekends but without the headdress and tomahawk!


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