Like never before, there’s a need to be creative. Lawyers, accountants and other left-brained thinkers are not all natural at this. But what can they and their leadership teams learn from those with creative backgrounds? Here, we share tips on ways to stimulate and harness creativity.
Does ‘creative’ come to mind when you see a bunch of lawyers? Probably not. It’s not a characteristic normally associated with most lawyers. Like many left-brained thinkers, lawyers often struggle (well, some of them) with creativity.
But right now, it’s very apparent that creativity is something lawyers and other left-brainers are drawing upon (or should be): from how to prep and deliver a winning pitch to developing new products in anticipation of market opportunities as we emerge from the crisis. Building a creative mindset is a top priority for today’s leadership teams.
So, if creativity is a key business resource, how can you develop and encourage it?
Here at Soukias Jones Design, creativity is what we do every day. It’s what we sell. We believe it’s important to exercise our creative muscles because they need constant stimulation. We asked five people from creative backgrounds to share their tips on how they have been able to unlock and develop creativity.
Maeve, art director: “Look for outside input – and champion creativity”
“It’s so important to have somebody there to champion and drive creativity. As art director, I ensure my team rise to creative challenges daily.
“This happens on different levels and it includes setting and maintaining a culture of curiosity and inspiration to push boundaries. It also involves working individually with people and teams to inspire and guide them. I seek and encourage outside stimulation in this, visiting new environments (such as libraries and museums) and attending talks by inspirational and challenging speakers from different backgrounds.”
Maroulla, copywriter: “You may need to waste time to unlock a creative solution”
“Coming up with a creative solution to a brief isn’t something that can necessarily be achieved in an office environment or during a 9-5 working day. In my four decades of being a commercial creative, I have often wasted entire days staring at a blank sheet of paper (virtually or on the table) and coming up with nothing.
“The lesson I have learned is to totally familiarise yourself with what you are required to do, and if you find you cannot do it, stop trying. Switch off. Go and do something that will completely fill your mind and heart. For me, that’s usually a visit to the RA or the Tate, or to Sadler’s Wells to see contemporary dance. Sometimes it’s simply a great meal with friends. Releasing myself from conscious thought, coupled with inspiration from what I see, often prompts a solution to the brief. It will pop up in my head, seemingly out of nowhere.
“Creativity is not always a conscious expression, so don’t force it. Allow it to happen. The best creativity comes from deep within us and not from our thinking selves.”
Nigel, designer: “Create an environment that inspires your staff and clients”
“We expressed our creativity by investing in our studio space from the beginning and making it a canvas for our personality. We made this visible to clients with messages to welcome them in obvious areas such as reception, but also in less obvious areas: a poster at the top of four flights of stairs, for example, encourages visitors to pause for breath before entering the studio.
“These messages are more than just pasting our values on the walls. They challenge, provoke and engage employees and visitors with a creative attitude. We have hidden messages under sinks and words that reveal themselves in mirrors. We even toyed with painting a big red dot on the roof, visible only to Google Earth. Your environment should embody your brand, and be a place that inspires staff and clients alike.”
David, strategist: “Go offline and challenge yourself with creative exercises”
“Allow your imagination to imagine. Going offline helps in this. Explore your day in a more traditional way.
“As kids, we loved to play and pretend. We learned how to create imaginary worlds. Give yourself the time to let your mind wander, to explore and to daydream, and then use the ideas that surface as part of your brainstorming.
“Challenge yourself with creative exercises, such as doodling in a sketch book or writing. I keep a journal of my ideas. Give your mind time (and freedom) to create and problem solve. It may feel a bit scary to let yourself off the leash like this, but it’s a great way to develop your creative muscles.”
Ranjit, illustrator: “Display your sketches as a catalyst for brainstorms”
“Putting visuals, sketches and sticky notes on boards and walls helps to inspire me and others. This makes my ideas transparent, sparks curiosity in my team, and starts new conversations.
“For example, I created a variety of hand-sketched visuals and made them a prominent part of the project space to serve as a catalyst for brainstorming and discussion. Sharing sketches with a variety of designers from a broad spectrum of disciplines made my work more transparent and helped establish a common language, allowing ideas to grow organically within the team. I make this approach part of my working style.”
Arguably it is easy to develop and harness creativity in a design agency, where you’ll find more ‘right-sided’ thinkers than in a national firm of accountants. The raw material is different. But creativity is present and can be developed in (predominantly) ’left-brained’ organisations, too. The drive to create this mindset is a theme right now in professional services. It’s also a challenge for most leadership teams.
Developing creativity is a good habit. As with all habits, it needs to be practised and managed in order to become established and keep everyone moving forward. The tips and techniques mentioned above are some ways to do this. Clearly they will need tweaking in response to the varying demands of professional services, but as tried-and-tested techniques (which have served five senior ‘creatives’ over many years), they will give you creative headspace at a time when the need to be creative has never been more urgent.