Trying to fit creative skills into a corporate structure is like trying to fit water into an envelope. To some degree it is possible, but for the most part it’s messy.

That’s because the creative process is a personal process and there’s no one size fits all solution.

Instead, treat creativity like the river that it is. It is going to flow in a certain direction, and it is going to fill whatever container it comes into contact with.

All you can do is learn to recognise its direction and force in order to set up containers at the right places to catch it.


Here’s how:


Think of brainstorms as rehearsal, not practice.

Band members have to learn their parts on their own during practice, then bring it all together during rehearsal. Research, stylesheets and inspiration should be gathered individually. When the team meets, then the best ideas can be brought forward. Without that initial incubation period, people come to meetings without being properly equipped to tackle the problem.


Create limits

A blank canvas has a paralysing effect on creative work. There are so many things things that you can do, that often time you’re not sure where to even begin. This poses an obvious problem when working on tight deadlines.

Limits will be unique to the project, but can include demographics, colours, word counts, sketches and user interface steps (how many steps it takes to achieve a goal) for example.


Set goals then let them happen

Creatives need to feel a sense of control and validation. Micromanaging their every move only leads to frustration on both ends. Working on a project where you’re not sure what is expected of you is very stressful. People need to know exactly what they need to do to fulfil their role, exactly when it is expected and in exactly which format.

Once these are satisfied, it then leaves room for additional thinking and creativity outside of what is expected. Additional ideas also need to be recognised, rewarded and encouraged.

There are good ideas, there are bad ideas. Your team needs to feel comfortable to express both, because often, one person’s bad idea can be the spark to another person’s great idea.

Set goals with timelines and assign them to your team. If the timeline spans over a long period, then have regular check ins to report on progress.


Keep it Consistent

In the same way your body knows that the kitchen is for cooking and the bed is for sleeping, it can learn where and when to be creative. Some people describe creative spaces as having and energy or a vibe. That energy comes from consistently creating ideas within that space. If you can, dedicate a space to ideation and thinking. Set brainstorming meetings for the same time, every time (preferably in the morning when the brains are fresh). For things like logos, the development requirements are actually pretty standard. You can use a checklist like *this one* to guide the thinking.


Create Validation Parameters

The single HARDEST thing about working in any creative environment is how to validate a good idea from a bad one. This comes with experience and a wealth of learning about different topics. It is up to the team leader to develop and share these parameters at the beginning of the project. Telling your team that it ‘feels right’ helps no one.


Why does it feel right? What are you looking for? You need to write these down and communicate them to every member of your team to guide their thinking. If they can independently sift through bad ideas, it saves everyone time and energy, making the entire team more efficient.


While written from the viewpoint of managing a creative team, these techniques can be applied to your work as a freelancer as well.

Many times, a creative project requires a conversation, even if it’s with yourself, to ensure that the goals are fully understood.

Effective communication is the spine that holds it all together. The sharing of an idea from one person to the next is a beautiful thing, but we tend to fragment it, losing parts along the way.

In developing ideas, it’s better to over communicate than not to say enough. Especially with larger teams, the backgrounds and experiences of each member varies greatly.


Keep it fun, keep it enjoyable.

Ideas change the world.


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