Having worked with Rod before, I knew we’d be in for a thought-provoking session on creativity as an important leadership quality… ‘and the ranting starts now. Creative is not a personality type, it is not a choice or a habit or an inherit trait. When I hear someone say, ‘but I’m not a creative person’ it not only makes me sad, it makes me angry’ - my expectations were instantly met.
Rod is Head of Marketing at The Borders Distillery, and he has spent all his adult years working in the drinks industry. Rod works with Lego, he writes, he’s hyperactive, allergic to process - he’s a stereotypical creative (his words, not mine). I think that’s why some of us have that creative insecurity, because compared to others, perhaps our creativity is less obvious.
So, there’s creative, and then there’s useful creative which Rod defined as the putting together of insights and information in novel and interesting ways. It sounds quite simple doesn’t it? Less scary.
Rod talked through his way of finding useful creative which is about filling your head with 3 buckets of information.
Now your buckets are filled with facts, insights, observations, sit back and give it time (said no senior manager hardly ever!). But it’s true, letting things work away in your subconscious is important. We often feel the need to be chained to our desks, but Rod reminded us how important it is to give yourself the space. His way of doing this - skelping a tyre with a sledgehammer.
And when the good ideas come to the surface out of the 100’s of bad ones, Rod shared some rules to help direct these ideas into useful ones. He attended a talk by Doug Chiang (because we couldn’t let May the 4th go by without referencing Star Wars) and shared 3 rules.
It is easy to get caught up in the day to day, the stakeholder management, the deadlines. I have found working from home a real challenge to my creative thinking, I like to go away and ponder, scribble on a blank sheet of paper, talk to people, bounce off their energy, and then go back to my scribbled bits of paper to refine my thoughts. It is not only ok to take a step back, it is important that you do. And don’t forget…
Rod’s passion, energy and openness came at a much-needed time for many of us as we navigate our roles from the confines of our homes. Creativity can come from anywhere. Our creativity might not be as obvious as the person next to us, but it does exist. And it’s our useful creativity that will really help along the way.
Review by Jaimie Anderson (@jaimie_s), European Marketing Planner at Whyte & Mackay