Since starting my career in 1990, there have been a lot of changes, the most shocking is how technology has advanced the way creative ideas come to life. From video production to print production to consumer engagement to the way agencies do business, technology has changed everything. We use it to both create and deliver our outputs.
However, something’s missing, especially with young executives joining the world of creative development. It's the simple things that I don't see enough of and that I encourage in my organization. Technology has made unimaginable things possible, but there are still a few "tools" every creative needs to embrace — even if they don't come in a form you can download.
1) Use a Pencil and Paper
Put down the laptops, tablets, and phones, people! Grab an oversized sketchpad, a pocket flipbook, or a scrap of paper, and start using it. Draft thumbnail sketches and cartoons. Draw what you see around you. Craft funny stories. Capture thoughts and fragments. And do it all the time.
It’s a lot easier to kill weak ideas when you’ve only invested a small amount of time. At the same time, it’s equally easy for a quickly sketched idea or thought to blossom into an award-winning campaign. The beauty of a pencil and pad is that you can iterate like no device can. Don’t give me crap about some app that’s way better — because it just isn’t. Snap out of it! If you put down your device and focus your attention on the world around you, capturing a free flow of ideas, magic happens.
2) Get Out of the Office
You know how you always have great ideas in the shower? Well it’s got nothing to do with the shower and everything to do with the fact that you’re not in the office. Think of the world outside your office as a great big shower and turn the nozzle on full pulse mode. Soak it in, and watch the ideas flow.
There’s not enough encouragement to go to museums, movies, or your clients’ offices. People are so consumed with sitting at their desks all day and staying on top of emails that they never pick their heads up. There’s a whole, great, big world out there filled with inspiring people, perspectives, art, and science. Go see it. Experience it. It will make your next creative brief, thumbnail, idea, design, or strategy 10 times better.
3) Engage in Conversations
How often do you sit around with your colleagues talking about the products or services you represent? Or better still, just discussing how something you saw in the outside world might help with a creative project. Sure, we all see our colleagues every day, and we probably do some water cooler chitchat, but do you get to the meaty stuff? Do you dig into a real conversation about what’s going on? I’m not talking about a “meeting” with an agenda and a bunch of people praying it ends soon. I’m talking about meaningful and purposeful, yet unstructured, conversations. Give it a shot.
As you explore these practices within an agency or department, you’ll uncover amazing benefits. The return on investment for each of these suggestions is outrageous. No major capital expenditure or payment plan required. Just start sketching, venturing outside the office, and sharing real conversations with your colleagues.
Originally published Sep 29, 2014 8:00:14 AM, updated July 28 2017