Let’s take a trip down memory lane. You might not remember, but you used to love to draw. Every kid drew. They drew constantly. Art class was everyone’s favorite class. Right up until that jerk Tommy colored the sky meeting the grass in his picture. You recognized his brilliance immediately. The teacher applauded his observational skill. Fed up with your own drawing (and let’s be honest, Tommy’s stupid face), you quit. Art wasn’t so magic anymore.
This plays out across classrooms the world over. Each new leap in skill drops more children out of art. Creativity becomes a dirty word. Something out of reach. Unattainable.
All human beings have the following in common. This is true of the whole of history in every culture:
We need to eat.
We need to sleep.
We need shelter.
We need to procreate.
We need to create art.
Everyone is creative. Cavemen were creative. Look at the Lascaux cave paintings. They are stunning. I hate to quote the old Geico commercials, but even a caveman can do it.
As Creative Director, I hear about how “uncreative” people are more than I’d like to admit. It’s disheartening. And it can lead to divisions in your organization. The best ideas might not be coming forward. Or the creative team may even act like a group of intellectual bullies. They may perpetuate the myth that only they can do what they do. Let’s dispel some of this myth.
Designing, drawing, and writing are skills developed over time and practice. They are teachable skills. You should use these people’s skills. That doesn’t mean that others don’t have good ideas or creative solutions. As a manager, that means fostering creativity. How do you do that?
I try to assemble different departments when we’re working on a new project. Different perspectives are invaluable. I don’t have a usual spot in conference rooms. I try to sit somewhere different each time so there isn’t even a perception of a “power chair.”
There are no bad ideas during a brainstorming session, but it’s my job to keep everyone focused on our goal. The first draft sucks. It always sucks. I live by the rule of failing fast and often. I try to get all of the bad work out of the project as quickly as I can to get to the good stuff. From there, it’s careful refinement.
And the biggest thing you can do? Get your team free of roadblocks. Your job is to tackle those and keep them thinking. A worker with no frustrations is a more productive worker. I’m always delighted and surprised by our employees. And I think you’ll be amazed at what your teams come up with following these simple rules.