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Creativity’s worst enemy: saying nothing
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Creativity’s worst enemy: saying nothing

It occurred to me today that one of the worst enemies of good creative and good creative process is… saying nothing. It is easy sometimes to be thinking and feeling that something isn’t right or needs to be a different way, but unless we actually state the concern it can flag to others that you condone the request or the situation. 

Given creative process is such a collaborative experience it is important that all parties speak up where it matters. Everyone involved in the process of getting good work out there needs to speak up, and when it matters. We all rely on each other in a tangled web, with each of us a crucial part in the flow of creativity and creative efficiency and if one of us doesn’t do our part then the best possible work doesn’t get out there or we waste well needed funds on process that amounts to no benefit to the work and no profits for the business. The trick is in knowing when it is our turn to speak up and how to overcome feeling like an idiot to do so.

No matter the role we play we should all raise a concern if we have one. That small inkling of doubt that comes up into our bellies in the moment is often founded in validity. For those of us with much experience this gut feeling is actually based on a subconscious level of knowledge that we may not be fully accessing in the moment, but enough to respond in a visceral and auto-responsive way. Much of this is as is explained in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, where the feeling we get or the first impression is our subconscious responding many times faster than our conscious mind is capable.

Much of the advertising industry is so hell bent on putting down our colleagues and clients we’re becoming too afraid to speak our mind in an authentic way and the best creative is suffering because of it, or our process is failing the best creative.

The very first thing we all need to do is to take responsibility for that deep rooted gut feeling and acknowledge it. We need to feel comfortable we can speak to each other authentically and openly even if we don’t fully understand it at the time. There should be no such thing as a stupid question or a stupid feeling – it should all be allowed and then others too can be free to raise their own concerns and doubts or ideas to make things better. I’d like to create some kind of ‘safe zone’ to be able to raise a concern or a suggestion for improvement that allows for ridicule free consideration by our peers and clients. A little like raising a white flag and calling for a judgment truce.

The best thing that I can do to support great creative being made is to ensure the best process is in place, the right people have the voice they need at the right time, and the ‘magic’ that I often refer to is allowed to flow. This starts from a judgment free zone. It also comes from getting to know each other and having open dialogue about what we each need to get the best work through.

I can guarantee one thing though – if you are part of the creative process and you’re saying nothing, then the best creative doesn’t get through, or your process fails in some other way. It is a delicate balance to juggle though, as we can also mistake that feeling with the one that comes with inexperience or unfamiliarity. Being able to have authentic discussions with other experts and team members is how we validate and differentiate.

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