Creativity 2.0: being more ‘uncreative’ to focus on creativity when it really counts

6 years, 7 months ago


Today’s communications challenges call for a new creative approach. And there’s a useful 80:20 rule for prioritising creativity when it can make a difference, argues Andy Green.

Warning! Your world and its creative challenges are changing but you’re still responding by using old ways; making you stressed, unfulfilled and forever chasing the deluge of demands placed upon you.
Most of us are familiar with the technology revolution that has inspired new social media channels, creating new dynamics and relationships between producers and consumers of content. 
Many however, are failing to recognise the change in the very nature of the problems they face, requiring different creative strategies to meet these challenges.
In response to a Tsunami of demands you need new approaches to ensure you are not like rabbits staring into the headlights of an impending destruction.
How do you cope?
Flexible thinking
The solution: more flexible thinking grounded in smarter analysis and question framing skills, while developing better creative habits: where you listen with your eyes, ears and an open mind. You need to seize available opportunities around you 24/7. Crucially, you need to be more comfortable in managing paradoxical solutions.
Welcome to Creativity 2.0.
Creativity 1.0 was largely a world where creativity was a desirable bolt-on. Most of your problems or challenges were defined as ‘Critical’ or ‘Zone 1’. They were ultimately solvable, with a neat beginning, middle and end, often following a well-trodden path.
Typically, you had a PR task at hand where, if you were able to add a dash of creative mix to your ingredients, it would be regarded as a bonus. As a result creativity was largely tactically driven – predominantly generating ideas for new photocalls, news angles or short campaigns.
Solvable problems
Now, your world has changed. You live in an environment where most of your previously ‘Critical’ problems have migrated to what is called ‘Tame’ or ‘Zone 6’. Here, your problems are still solvable, but have more complexity. 
What was previously sorted by, for example, a press release now requires a multitude of activities across different channels. 
And what’s more your clients or bosses are all demanding more with less.
And it gets worse. The most challenging types of problems are ‘Wicked’ or ‘Zone 10’. These are inherently complex and chaotic: if you solve one part of the problem there’s a danger this might create other problems. 
And we live in an age dominated by ‘Wicked’ problems – global economic crisis, global warming, having to deliver in our work more with less time, resource or people.
Only by adopting Creativity 2.0 responses have you any hope of succeeding.
In the first instance you actually need to be counter-intuitive; you need to embrace ‘uncreativity’. 
Vital checklists 
Here you need to make more use of checklists – or űberchecklists as I call them; more ‘painting-by-numbers’ responses to a core of your tasks. (Most PR departments each year could actually re-issue 40% of their content with just a new date added.)
Only by embracing uncreativity on 80% of the things you do can you then create time and resource to use 20% of your time to explore more profound creative thinking.
In the world of greater complexity, paradoxically you need to have more simplicity in what you do: what is your coherent, compelling brand story, where you exercise brand exposition to deepen the reality and engagement of your brand through every action?
This is often mistakenly labelled as ‘The Big Idea’. In reality it is an idea that has a powerful narrative, where it works better when part of a sub-text of an over-arching series of brand stories that enable you to tell your story better.
So, start getting used to the world of Content 2.0, where you need to do most of what you do more uncreatively, but with 20% even more creatively.
Warning! If you don’t adapt or learn to live with greater complexity by embracing paradoxical, flexible thinking you’ll get left behind.
Author’s Details
Andy Green FCIPR was voted ‘Outstanding Public Relations Practitioner of the Year 2013/4’ by members of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. He is author of six books on creativity and communications which have been translated into eight languages. His latest book ‘Tubespiration!’ shows how you can use the London Underground as a creativity tool. He is the organizer of ‘Tube Kultura’ which showcases unofficial maverick brand content creation on the London Undergroun

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The Author

Andy Green

Andy Green is a leading expert in brand storytelling, creative capacity building in communities or teams, and PR strategy.

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