Get your crayons back!


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A quick review of creativity and how to be creative. Slant is towards those working in large organizations such as government and big corporations, which may have a risk-averse culture.

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Get your crayons back!

  1. 1. Get Your Crayons Back! Creativity in communications Rosetta Public Relations Inc.
  2. 2. What do we mean by ‘creativity’? <ul><li>My preferred definitions </li></ul><ul><li>The process of developing new, uncommon or unique ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Being imaginative or inventive </li></ul><ul><li>The power to invest with new form </li></ul><ul><li>The ability to create new associations between existing ideas or concepts </li></ul>
  3. 3. But seriously… what is creativity? <ul><li>The how of communications (as opposed to the what ), often reflected in the vehicle for the message </li></ul><ul><li>Not an idea but how you use ideas and combine them with others in a novel arrangement </li></ul>Duchamp’s ‘readymade’ art
  4. 4. Are you born with it? <ul><li>Both an innate talent and a skill </li></ul><ul><li>We all have the same brain – some have more creativity in theirs than others </li></ul><ul><li>It can be cultivated, honed and taught… or it can atrophy through disuse </li></ul><ul><li>The myth of the creative genius – legacy from the explosion of the advertising age </li></ul>
  5. 5. Get your crayons back <ul><li>You were creative in kindergarten… what happened? You put your crayons away and studied serious stuff </li></ul><ul><li>Did you grow up and get boring? Probably </li></ul><ul><li>You can be creative again Just take your crayons back and make creativity a part of your life and work </li></ul>Superman by Robbie, age 4
  6. 6. Where does creativity come from? <ul><li>Many sources </li></ul><ul><li>GETS – good enough to steal </li></ul><ul><li>Small is beautiful – take the little ideas and combine them (don’t waste your time chasing after the big idea ) </li></ul><ul><li>Serendipity – the art of finding something while looking for something else </li></ul><ul><li>Subverting convention – think different (sp) </li></ul>WS Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch and father of the GETS principle
  7. 7. An example
  8. 8. Originality <ul><li>Vastly overrated </li></ul><ul><li>Your idea thefts are likely to go undiscovered unless blatant </li></ul><ul><li>The key is taking ideas from wherever you find them and combining them into something new of your own making </li></ul><ul><li>Juxtaposition is good! </li></ul><ul><li>Originality only applies to your own specific situation – if your context is new then your work is original </li></ul>
  9. 9. Argument for creativity <ul><li>Delivers value – like heightened audience interest or a shortcut to intuitive understanding (the aha moment) </li></ul><ul><li>Surmounts noise in the communications channel by getting you invited into the audiences’ mindspace </li></ul><ul><li>Conveys desirable brand attributes in addition to the message </li></ul><ul><li>Can support positioning (or re-positioning) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Creativity for large organizations <ul><li>Every organization can be creative </li></ul><ul><li>Some choose not to be… historically governments, industrial companies </li></ul><ul><li>Typically risk-averse, approval-seeking organizations have problems with cultivating creativity </li></ul><ul><li>Often the corporate communications folks are the problem – </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ creativity is for the marketing department” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ we outsource that to an agency” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Conditions for creativity <ul><li>Capacity – sufficient horsepower (internal or external) to drive project </li></ul><ul><li>Will – champion(s) who believe in the project </li></ul><ul><li>Buy-in – appetite among senior management </li></ul>Who would’ve thought BK management would back this?
  12. 12. Are there limits to creativity? … yes
  13. 13. Disciplined creativity <ul><li>Must support brand </li></ul><ul><li>Must be on strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Simply means an orderly process to generate creativity </li></ul><ul><li>Warning – this is hard work with limited shortcuts for the lazy </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>“ You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” </li></ul><ul><li>- Jack London </li></ul>
  15. 15. Basic principles <ul><li>Suspend judgement – no nay-saying </li></ul><ul><li>Resist the usual </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t stop at one idea, keep going </li></ul><ul><li>Allow sufficient time… but not too much that ennui sets in </li></ul><ul><li>Consider repeated creativity generation sessions to prevent burnout </li></ul><ul><li>Never ignore hallway conversations – doctors do it, why can’t you? </li></ul><ul><li>Capture everything </li></ul><ul><li>Focus </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t turn off creativity – sometimes good ideas come outside of office hours </li></ul>
  16. 16. Eating the tangerine <ul><li>Forcing focus </li></ul><ul><li>Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, teaches this to generate mindfulness </li></ul><ul><li>Eat a tangerine </li></ul><ul><li>What does it taste, smell, feel like? </li></ul><ul><li>Resist the abstract, the urge to categorize </li></ul><ul><li>Less about thinking than experiencing </li></ul><ul><li>Now do the same with your ideas – experience them, record them, don’t evaluate them… yet </li></ul>
  17. 17. Try three types of thinking <ul><li>Blue-sky </li></ul><ul><li>Realistic </li></ul><ul><li>Critical </li></ul><ul><li>Should be applied separately </li></ul><ul><li>One should not dominate </li></ul><ul><li>If you have more time to explore, look at de Bono’s Six Hats model </li></ul>
  18. 18. Perspectives <ul><li>Fresh eyes </li></ul><ul><li>Who is in your organization? What about outside? </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine – what does this look like from their position? </li></ul><ul><li>Find the connections </li></ul><ul><li>Instead of being a professional communications person, look through the lens of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Parent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteer hockey coach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community activist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Amateur photographer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whatever you might be </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… or imagine “what would my brother/sister/aunt (circle one) the [insert career here] think?” </li></ul>
  19. 19. Generating ideas <ul><li>The What If exercise </li></ul><ul><li>What if there were no barriers to realizing our objective? </li></ul><ul><li>Identifies ideal goal </li></ul><ul><li>Lists obstacles to realizing that goal </li></ul><ul><li>Obstacles can then be challenged and sorted as </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Insurmountable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Surmountable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Imaginary </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Workaround solutions can be found to realize the goal </li></ul><ul><li>Imaginary obstacles can be dismissed </li></ul>
  20. 20. Generating ideas <ul><li>Story-telling </li></ul><ul><li>Tell the story/problem differently </li></ul><ul><li>If this is usually conveyed through text, draw a picture </li></ul><ul><li>If this is typically told from the government’s viewpoint, tell it from a different perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Tell/show/act it to a 4th grader </li></ul><ul><li>Similarity exercise </li></ul><ul><li>What’s this like? </li></ul><ul><li>What could you borrow from other sectors? </li></ul>
  21. 21. Do we have to brainstorm?
  22. 22. Brainstorming <ul><li>Creativity-sparking concept with a bad reputation </li></ul><ul><li>Useful if structured </li></ul>Phase Thinking type Generate ideas Blue-sky Share them Blue-sky First sort Realistic Short list Realistic/critical Best idea Critical Refine (process)
  23. 23. Sample brainstorming structure <ul><li>What is this about? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the opportunities and obstacles? </li></ul><ul><li>Who are we talking to? </li></ul><ul><li>What do we want to say? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we want to be seen? </li></ul><ul><li>What channels are available? </li></ul><ul><li>What opportunities exist/could exist? </li></ul><ul><li>What other noise is there in the environment? </li></ul><ul><li>What could derail our efforts (worst-case scenario planning)? </li></ul><ul><li>What other ideas do we like that could be stolen and applied here? </li></ul>
  24. 24.
  25. 25. Paul McIvor 416.516.7095 416.906.1276 C [email_address] Contact