According to a survey, creativity tops the list of qualities that clients look for in media agencies, closely followed by data and analytics. While creativity is at the top, these numbers reveal the tightrope that marketers are walking between a desire for innovation and the determination to win. A well and carefully considered creative idea should be able to achieve both.
There are myriad ways to spark creativity. Here are some suggestions:
- Do something creative for two minutes the moment you wake up in the morning. This could be some kind of output which engages free-thinking and connections, including writing something, composing a melody, outlining an idea for a lyric, singing an original song in the shower. Elliot Sloane composes a one-minute musical meditation every day. “My morning musical meditation allows me to slow down and get my fingers to unlock the free association that is necessary for problem-solving. Some chief executive officers kayak or rock climb to get to the same place. Maybe there’s a happiness and satisfaction element that impacts the work.”
- Schedule a few minutes sometime each day to write. Carl Richards, author of Want to be Creative on Purpose? Schedule it, says this is the exact opposite of waiting for inspiration to strike.
- Find inspirations. They’re all around you if you’re open to spotting them and then allowing them in.
- Do things out of your comfort zone.
- Read science fiction, watch sci-fi movies. I have a very successful PR friend who swears her best ideas were sparked by these futuristic stories.
- Find quiet time. The inventor Nikola Tesla believed that being alone was the secret of invention. “That is when ideas are born.”
- Do nothing. The psychologist Amos Tversky had his own version of this point. “The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed.” Another supporter of this method is George Shultz. As reported in a New York Times article, when Schultz was secretary of state in the 1980s, he liked to carve out one hour each week for quiet reflection. He sat down in his office with a pad of paper and pen, closed the door and told his secretary to interrupt him only if one of two people called: “My wife or the President.” His hour of solitude was the only way he could find time to think about the strategic aspects of his job. Otherwise, he would be constantly pulled into moment-to-moment tactical issues, never able to focus on larger questions of the national interest. And the only way to do great work, in any field, is to find time to consider the larger questions.
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