At creative agencies around the world, the relationship between creative, account and strategy is under constant examination. Which should lead? Is everything in service of creative, or is it a balance? If you’ve ever worked at a creative company you’ve probably witnessed the tension that can exist firsthand: the creative team want to change the world and create something awe-inspiring, and the account team or producers want to make sure the idea is something that can actually be made and that it’ll meet client expectations.
when you have the right combination of people who create and people who question, the results are magical.
It sounds like a nightmare, and indeed these relationships can become very fraught, especially when viewed through the framework of ‘creative reviews’ as opposed to collaborative sessions to improve the ideas. However, I believe that when you have the right combination of people who create and people who question, the results are magical. By going through an iterative process of creation and questioning, ideas become more interesting, more innovative and often more relevant. The tricky part is getting the balance right so that process doesn’t kill creativity.
At first I thought it was a case of the right balance of people, and that is true to a certain extent. However, after several years working alongside both creators and questioners, I realised that it’s more a question of timing.
Essentially, the people doing the dreaming and creating need enough time and space to develop and nurture their ideas so that they’re robust and big enough to withstand the probing questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’. However, if left alone for too long, there is a risk that the ideas will become unrealistic and unachievable. It’s very hard to know when the right moment to start questioning and refining is, but when it works well it’s often because the people on either side of the equation trust and respect each other.
the people doing the dreaming and creating need enough time and space to develop and nurture their ideas so that they’re robust and big enough to withstand the probing questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’
In a workshop, this process is often condensed, and it’s up to the moderator to spot the best moments to break down what has been created and then build it back up, as well as identifying the people who tend towards creation and those who tend towards questioning. Ideas created in workshops risk not being questioned enough, which is why iteration is embedded into all Well & Truly creative sessions. It’s also one of the reasons that short periods of meditation are very helpful; they calm the group’s energy levels and help everyone re-focus.
Creating and questioning are two of the cornerstones of innovation and progress. By embracing the tension between them and working hard to balance them, we ensure that companies leave our creative workshops with ideas that are both inspiring and achievable.