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Creativity is best done in a crowd

18 September 2012

Everyone is familiar with that horrible sinking feeling when you’re staring at your screen or note pad, scratching your head and waiting for a genius moment of inspiration to arrive. As Elizabeth Gilbert beautifully describes it; genius was originally thought to be a little creature that visited you with good ideas if you were lucky, and when the ideas were not forthcoming inspiration had wandered elsewhere.

Perhaps the nicest part of this idea is the fact that it leaves you completely void of responsibility for your creative output and genius, it is something outside of you, and outside of your control. Nowadays we tend to think of creativity as a part of us, listed on the CV as an essential quality and talked up in meetings, but maybe there is something to be learnt from the Ancient Roman approach Gilbert describes. We should look again at the idea of creativity – maybe it is not a solo task, but in fact its best done in a crowd.

Managing group creativity can be difficult. Who is the right person to bounce ideas off? How many people make for an optimal brainstorm session? Should you only invite marketing people or should it be people from every function of your organisation? How do you convert outrageous suggestions into sensible project for your budget, time and resources? How do you encourage people to see things in a different light or from someone else’s perspective? Central to all these questions is the fundamental quandary of what makes a good idea and who can impartially come up with the answer to that?

Perhaps just as genius is outside the artist, maybe the inspiration you need will come from outside your organisation. That doesn’t mean you need to outsource your creativity altogether and task an agency to come up with a winning idea. But maybe the agency has a role to play helping to bring out your own good ideas. Forster frequently facilitates workshops for charities and businesses both big and small. By taking you out of your everyday setting, asking the right questions and offering different prompts that give you an insight from different perspectives, often the challenge you’re facing starts to look very different.

As an agency with 16 years experience in branding, campaigning and high profile PR, we can help you to draw out that brilliant idea. We can’t claim to be the little creature that visits with the killer idea out of the blue, but our heritage enables us to work with you to bring out the best for your organisation.

So next time you’re staring at the blank screen waiting for inspiration to strike go find someone else to work with, irrespective of whether that’s us, another trusted partner or even a friend. Go see if you can find genius hanging around with someone else. To talk to us about facilitating workshops contact Peter Gilheany on Peter [at] forster.co.uk