MAY 30, 2024

Creating creativity

By Epoch 5 President Katherine Heaviside

Following right on the heels of “a new dishwasher makes a great Valentine’s Day gift,” the next big myth is that creativity dust is sprinkled on a chosen few, like those whose eureka moments created the Nike logo or Geico gecko.

True, creativity comes in degrees, but we all have some of it. Creativity in business isn’t the domain of the founders of Microsoft, Google, and Apple. All businesses benefit from creativity. Whether finding new ways to distribute your product, new markets for your services, or a better inventory system, solve a problem, and you’ve flexed your creative muscle. And, like any muscle, the more you use it, the more it develops.

Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The fuel for creativity is the excitement of stretching skills developed through experience. In a company where creativity is valued and recognized, good stuff happens. Happy and challenged people are much more likely to be creative than those who worry about being downsized, work in competition with co-workers, or find themselves on constant deadlines. 

But what about those times when you need to jump-start creativity? Let’s say you’re facing a particularly knotty problem or a product launch that threatens to be a snooze-fest. At Epoch 5, we call for a creative session when we need some drop-dead creative ideas.

The first step is to invite people from all areas of the agency. A few days before the session, we distribute a memo outlining the issues and the session’s goal. More than seven people is unwieldy; fewer than five doesn’t provide enough energy to generate some of the best ideas.

Two people — a moderator and someone to record and organize the suggestions — manage each one- to two-hour creative session. To keep the group focused and on track, we use techniques like rapid-fire thought association or group passing, where participants build on the idea of the person before them. Most importantly, no “bad” or “wrong” ideas are generated during the session. 

Sometimes, a creative session mines a mother lode of surprising and innovative solutions; sometimes, just a few creative nuggets. But, they always create fresh energy and promise for that next eureka moment.