Room for ideas

We’ve said it before, but ideas are informed by other ideas – they can’t exist in a vacuum. Ideas can occur at any time under any circumstances. But that doesn’t mean it’s an uncontrollable or unpredictable process.

The process of generating ideas can be effortless and spontaneous, or it can be hard graft, but it almost always benefits from the exchange of ideas with others. Workshops and other mediated environments can be fantastically productive, bringing together creative thinkers from various disciplines to respond to each others’ ideas. Sharing work with people who have completely different viewpoints can draw perceptive comments. Cultural or philosophical gaps can also bring about a friction that can lead to incredible leaps of imagination and huge shifts in the creative process.

All of these things flourish when there is room for experimentation, error and the display of works-in-progress. Unfortunately, commercial pressures often prohibit these ‘luxuries’. Too often, creatives will be put under ridiculous time and budget constraints by clients who have delayed their own creative decisions to the last moment.

A major manufacturer may spend millions of dollars and many years researching and developing a new product. After extensive trials and focus-group feedback, they’ll fine tune the manufacturing processes before setting up distribution networks; but they’ll leave the marketing and promotion design until the absolute last moment, thinking that the creative ideas required can be dialed up like a home delivery pizza.

Good creative work takes time and effort and needs space to breathe. A good creative manager will provide that space and defend it from those who understand less about the creative process.

However, there is one important caveat to bear in mind; creativity doesn’t rise exponentially with freedom. Re-mixing that album for a fifth time doesn’t always make it better. Deadlines and budgetary constraints create focus and speed up decision making. As usual, a healthy balance is required and a good manager needs to be skilled at providing it.

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