What is creativity to you? Do you picture interesting photography? Ground-breaking design? Life-improving machines? That one painting of the soup can?
Creativity is one of our five values at WWDG. It’s huge to us. (The other four are humility, engagement, energy, and reliability, by the way).
As a firm that does a lot of design, I’m sure that the instinct is to assume we mean creativity in our design and projects. You wouldn’t be wrong, but that’s only half of the equation.
We expect our people to be creative in all aspects of their jobs. Creativity, to us, means approaching every problem with fresh eyes, in an attempt to always find the best solution. The moment you assume that the previous way it was done is the best way it could have been done, you’ve stopped learning. You’ve stopped improving.
How do you create (ha) a creative environment? It requires two different factors:
1) trusting and encouraging your staff to try new approaches, and
2) leaving a margin of expected error, and allowing or embracing failure.
For some examples, let’s look at some creative things we’ve tried at Westwind, and what happened:
– Designing a new shelving system for a client because previous and existing systems weren’t good enough to meet the client’s needs. Outcome? Happy client, but too much R+D time meant a loss of hours. In the future, we may be able to go back to this system though. Lesson? More room in the budget for specialized R+D, if needed.
– Designing a Canada 150-themed marketing campaign (cost – roughly $1000). Outcome? Not much. We tried a creative way to reach out to ‘big fish’ like C-suite oil execs and decision-makers at telecom companies, with a low conversion rate. But every person we talked to said we got noticed, which is a good sign. Lesson? Creativity is key in our campaigns to stand out, but change the approach.
– Hiring a journalist as a marketer. Not that we weren’t blown away by her personality, but most journalists aren’t your first thought as a marketing team addition. That being said, I think we’re all glad that Melissa, our Marketing Specialist, is on the team. Outcome? A big old win on the staff side of things. PS: journalists make great marketers, just teach them about the 4 Ps and they’re set.
Creativity isn’t just for design and designers. Encourage your team to speak up, try new things, and be given room for risk. You may just find your next big idea or profit centre. At minimum, you’ll learn what doesn’t work real, real quick.