It's a deliberate process for the brand and for any agency tasked with creative work for a brand.
There is no one person that has a flash of inspiration and produces a campaign, platform or design system — it takes a lot of people a lot of hours, over a long period of time to create great work.
For agencies that need to deliver creative thinking and campaigns on behalf of a multinational, dealing with many people in many different countries (both from the client and within the agency), it can take longer and require more collaboration around different thinking and creative styles.
Innovative agencies are communities that have three capabilities: creative abrasion, creative agility and creative resolution.1. Creative abrasion
Creative abrasion is about being able to create a marketplace of ideas through debate and discourse. The aim should be to amplify differences, not minimise them.
Creative abrasion is not about brainstorming, where people often suspend their judgment of others' ideas; it often means having very heated arguments that, in the end, work to create a portfolio of alternative ideas — but these arguments should always be constructive.
Team members in innovative agencies need to inquire — they need to actively listen while advocating for their point of view because innovation won't happen unless there is both diversity and conflict. 2. Creative agility
Creative agility is about being able to test and refine any portfolio of ideas through quickly pursuing the idea, testing it out and then reflecting and adjusting where necessary.
It's about discovery-driven learning where an agency acts, as opposed to plans, it is a way to the future. It's about pushing for design thinking and working with a combination of scientific methods and artistic processes.
Agencies should see this as a series of experiments, and not a series of pilots. Experiments are usually about learning. When there is a negative outcome, it's a learning curve. Pilots are often about being right. When they don't work, someone or something is to blame. 3. Creative resolution
Creative resolution is about decision-making in a way that can combine even opposing ideas to reconfigure them into new combinations that produce a solution that is useful.
Creative teams should never go along to get along; they should never compromise. And should never let one group or one individual dominate (even if it's the boss or an expert). Decision-making should be a patient and inclusive process that allows for both-and solutions to arise, and not simply either-or solutions.
No creative team will be successful across regions, no matter the brand they’re working on, without these capabilities.
Creative agencies should also remember:
- Collaborate. Collaborate. Collaborate — Collaboration improves the way teams work together and solve problems. Collaboration and a sense of community lead to creative innovation, efficient processes, increased success, and ultimately, improved communication.
- The process is never simple — Throughout the strategic and creative development, concepts can (and do) evolve. Work doesn't always flow in the order in which it was planned and suppliers and client needs to be managed on delays and deadlines. It all depends on how vexing the challenges are so take everything one step at a time.
- Don't fall in love with solutions — When stress-tested in other markets, solutions might not resonate, and may then need to be let go.
- The job is not done until the job is done — Whatever challenges you face, dig deep and keep going until the best solutions are found for the brand you serve.
- When unsure, collaborate again — With teams and clients. Collaboration is an incremental process before it becomes a breakthrough.
- Creative innovation takes a collective — Leading creative collaboration is about creating a space where people are willing and able to do the hard work of creative problem-solving.
- Talented people don't want to follow, they want to co-create the future — Agencies need to unlearn their conventional notions of leadership. It's not about creating a vision and expecting others to follow it.
To the TBWA collective in Africa, success in creative collaboration means creating a world to which people want to belong. A world where the community is living at the frontier; where everyone is a disruptor, everyone has a voice, where everyone — no matter their level or role — can voice their thoughts and feelings about ideas or creative executions and is heard.
That’s the only way to deliver creative innovation that matters.
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