Creativity is a funny little friend that can show up when you least expect it and, on days when we feel in a rut, can be elusive and hard to come by. Working in a creative field doesn’t guarantee a free flow of ideas at all times. We have to find it, foster it and make room for it. And while there’s no formula for welcoming in the magic, the following are a few ways we’ve found at Bellmont Partners to make room for creative thinking in different settings and for different projects.
Bring in a new perspective. We use this approach quite often at Bellmont, both among our teams and our client teams, and it rarely fails us. There’s a time and a place for a core team to stay focused on a project, but when it comes to needing a little extra creativity, we also welcome an opportunity to see from a new vantage point. At our agency, we all wear different hats every day, and the learnings we glean from one client or industry can infuse new thinking into another. The same can be true across departments in a corporate setting – from product development to customer service, sales, the C‑suite and beyond – we all bring unique insights, subject matter expertise or customer interactions to the table that can bring those much-needed new perspectives. Shuffling the deck and inviting new people to a meeting can be a great way to shake out new thinking.
Talk to real customers. We’ve all been guilty of being “too close” to a brand, product or service in a way that can hinder clear and creative thinking about engaging with the intended audience. Getting on the phone with a customer or end user is one of the best ways to better understand their reality and revitalize strategic thinking when it comes to marketing and communication. We find that no matter the reason for reaching out to a customer or user, we always leave these conversations creatively refreshed and feel closer to the heart of connecting a brand with its stakeholders.
Host a brainstorm. We love an all-team brainstorm at Bellmont Partners, especially when we can sit in person around a table together. Our rules for brainstorms are that there are no bad ideas, and a “half-thought” is always worth sharing. We never want to limit what people feel comfortable offering up and we find that this freedom and vulnerability in sharing ideas is what sparks more ideas and ultimately the “storm” of creativity. They can be great venues to allow ideas to be thrown against the wall, before the strategy team can figure out what might stick. And with appreciation for each other’s communications styles, we do our best to give context to the brainstorm ahead of time, to give people who do their best thinking on their own, time to prep and still contribute.
Employ the communication tools you have. At Bellmont Partners, Glip (Ring Central, but still affectionately referred to us by its former name) is one of our greatest allies. This internal comms platform is used informally to stay up to date on each other’s schedules, news of the day, and more. And we also use it for “Glipstorms” — the more informal version a brainstorm that allows for quick feedback or ideas on a project, or even votes or likes on some existing ideas. These work best when we have a single question or creative input that’s needed, for example brainstorming a name for an event or voting on a tagline. The benefit of using a platform like this is that it allows for spontaneous “gathering” for those who have time to add their two cents, and it’s a major perk that GIFs are a way to weigh in.
Make it a happy hour. Not every meeting is best for 4 p.m. on a Friday, but sometimes gathering with a little bit of sugar or bubbly when the day is winding down can be a great way to tap brains when they are in a more relaxed or social mindset. Beyond adding food or beverage to the mix, a happy hour can lend itself better to a different setting like a patio or porch which can inspire new thinking in new settings. There are even times where we’ll take a brainstorm or meeting completely offsite to really get out of the everyday norms and let the creativity flow.
Refer back to the objectives. This one may seem duller in comparison, but there are times when we get far down the path of an initiative, when it may serve us to take a step back and revisit the objectives of a project or campaign to re-center ourselves around the goals. Parameters can be our friend when thinking creatively, and one of the most delicate things about managing creativity also has to do with knowing when to pull back, reign in, simplify or focus. Having clear objectives and goals always serves us in our path towards creative work.