Inside the typical ad agency there’s often a pretty narrow definition of who is creative. Historically it’s been the writer and art director who come up with the concept. Or the designer who makes things look beautiful (a very narrow definition of design if you ask me).
These days it could also be the creative technologist whose sense of what’s possible with applications, API’s or mobile platforms inspires cool creative executions. And, of course, there’s the animator, the motion graphics person, and the film editor who bring essential craftsmanship to the project.
But in the last month I’ve witnessed a couple of really cool exercises that should make us question the premise that ideas and their executions are the exclusive domain of a creative department.
At our Making Digital Work workshop in New York last week, Made By Many’s Tim Malbon helped run an exercise to demonstrate the “lean startup” approach to conceiving, prototyping and actually building something.
We asked nine teams of eight people (strangers in most cases) to develop new business ideas. Tim gave each team: a brief — make a new product for people over 55 that will have millions of them using it daily; a set of instructions — come up with the proposition, develop two variants, write three epic user stories for each, generate keywords; background on the segment – their lust for life, financial situation, etc.; and finally a template – shown above.
Less than an hour later we had nine new business concepts that included digital to analog family magazines, platforms to keep users better connected with their doctors, and another that connected less then tech-savvy seniors to willing and knowledgeable 14-year olds who could help them navigate non-intuitive buttons and wires. Many of the participants didn’t have titles that labeled them “creative.” They were account managers, strategists and project managers as well as writers and designers. But in a day when the definition of creative is less tied to craft and more to ideas that you can actually use, we should all consider ourselves creative.
A few weeks earlier I sat through start-up presentations from students at BDW in Boulder. Same thing. The kids went from zero to launch in three weeks. Built out ideas, got them online, and in the process learned how to make something. Not how to say something or communicate something, but how to make something.
Inside Mullen I watch with glee as brainstorming sessions now include media, tech and strategy as well as the usual suspects. I get even more excited when the mobile person and her social media partner grab a planner and start generating ideas rather than waiting for the “creative team” to emerge with the big idea.
The BDW workshop proved what many of us have always believed: we’re all creative. We just sometimes forget.
So, if you’re still sitting on the sidelines jump in. In the digital, social, mobile, make-stuff-rather-than-advertise-stuff age, everyone can play and learn and best of all, do.
What do you think? Do you need creative in your title to be creative?