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What are the various roles that may be adopted during the creative process, and illustrate with examples from the course or your own experience.

This is preparation for an exam on 24th April on OU MBA Module B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’ that I elected to do to contribute towards an MA in Open & Distance Education while I was working at the OU Business School. Some followers of this blog have done ‘B822’ which has now been running for 16 years; should you have any thoughts please respond as this will help hugely to fix the right ideas in my head.

My brain dump/plan might take 10 minutes to get down, and then I’d write like fury.

I feel certain that this process is necessary as often it is only once you have started to think through the question that the answer emerges and some useful ideas and examples formulate.

People & Pluralism

Drawing on Kirton Adaptor Innovator and personal experience I recognise the need for ‘types’ to get an idea through, so an ‘ideas person’, an innovator and entrepreneur, which in turn take you from the far edge of the innovator spectrum into the zone of adaptors.

Someone who has ideas, someone who turns them into a product or service (or process) and someone to monetize the thing. Money makes the business idea ‘go round!) i.e. there needs to be value from innovation or it is pointless (Damien Hirst excepted, but we’re discussing creativity in business here)

The kind of people (skills, de Bono) and problem solving

  • Motivation/Energy
  • Curiosity/Passion
  • Positivity
  • Playfulness
  • Passion
  • Persistence
  • The Organisation (examples)

Examples I may draw on:

  • advertising (copywriter/ art director in distinct teams), even the difference between Maurice and Charles Saatchi. (The business strategist vs. the ideas person)
  • BT (a distinct ‘Think Tank’ which I was seconded to)
  • experience in relation to publishing
  • the BBC and manufacturing/logistics.

On a personal level I have always required at least one other person, typically someone who loves sales, who can take my crack-pot ideas and turn them into money.

My experience is largely where the creative roles are set, so in the ‘creative industries’ they have a ‘creative’ department, the model of the advertising agency typifying this, though in web agencies we added to the writer/visualiser combination a programmer … then to realise and manage a project you have a project manager or account handler. i.e. what seems simple initially, ‘someone has an idea’, becomes far more complex and dependant on many roles across management, HR, leadership and finance. Even the lawyers might get involved if IP is involved.

There has to be a ‘problem’.

Some say a gap, or opportunity, or issue. The industries I come from always say ‘problem’ i.e. if there isn’t a problem selling a product or service, or informing and persuading an internal or external audience, then the promotion, even, training, video, commercial is not needed. Someone has to be responsible for ‘measuring’ this problem, summarising it and writing a ‘creative brief’. i.e. ‘problem formulation’ is at the beginning of the creative problem.

In advertising, beyond the creative department (where there is a creative head), ‘planning’ does the research to shape the creative brief and does research afterwards to check effectiveness. Specialisms to execute an idea include producers (TV and interactive web), print, radio, posters production departments and buyers. All are required and need to be managed (motivated, led, coached) to prevent a ‘mortality of the idea’, which in ‘business’ equates to ‘killing the project’ as a series of gatekeepers dilute the idea rather than facilitating it.

At 3M they recommend keeping divisions small, tolerating failure, motivating champions, staying close to the customer (knowing or intuitively guessing what they want: Akio Morita at Sony, Steve Jobs at Apple, need, their problems and possible fixes), and ‘share the wealth’ (which I equate to salary, bonus, working environment and intrinsic rewards from the work and recognition).

Do I need to draw on Rothwell’s ‘History of the Innovation Process’ perhaps as the ‘technology push model’ indicates a sequence of roles required while  ‘systems integration and networking’ relates to what I am saying above: the creative process in business and the roles required to realise an idea and see it through is complex.

Is there even a role for someone to create a crisis if one doesn’t exist?

People and organisations sometimes need a clear and present problem to get their creative juices going. In which case I need to mention Charles Handy and his Sigmoid curves.

Of course, I have now run out of time thinking about the question 🙁

And I may have got the wrong end of the stick!!

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