DO WE NEED CREATIVITY TRAINING MORE THAN EVER?
As the industry descends on Cannes, the talk about creativity getting lost in tech and measuring its effectiveness is getting louder. So do we need creativity training more than ever?
Diageo certainly thinks so: the brand has just introduced an internal creativity training programme to ‘challenge and inspire’ its 1,200 marketers.
A big issue with creativity is the fact that it is shrouded in mystery and myth.
In fact, when most think of the creative process they conjure up notions of artists, endowed with magical powers, channelling some other-worldly inspiration with a manic glint in their eye.
This feeds a damaging belief that it is innate; born not made. And that there is some kind of alchemy involved. Both are wrong. But when you look a bit more closely it’s understandable why these mistruths are still so pervasive.
Creativity is seen as an invisible process, where ‘the creative’ conjures a transformational thought out of thin air with an implied “ta daaaah!”. In fact, that’s how we present our work, fully formed and gleaming as though it were born that way.
But here is the thing: the process is invisible partly because it goes on in our heads, yes, sure. But also because we deliberately obscure it.
Michelangelo burned his notepads. He was concerned that if people saw his early iterations, the scribbles, sketches and half thought through ideas (and knew how hard he worked) they would not see him as a genius. And this is Michelangelo. If that dude isn’t a genius, no one is.
This ‘creative magic’ is a destructive myth that makes most people think they are not creative. The truth is rather more prosaic. That people strive and sweat to get better at what they do, including creative people.
We need to see creativity more like a muscle to be exercised and acknowledge the work that goes into honing creative skills. In this sense, I’m intrigued to see what kind of a workout the Diageo training provides.
I’m somewhat sceptical about any uniform method applied across a whole organisation. The lifeblood of creativity is diversity, after all. But I will raise a glass to the drinks giant for introducing the programme. As a bare minimum I think it will help to democratise and demythologise creativity generally, and widen access and belief in the idea that anyone can be creative.
To me though, when we ask if creativity can be taught, we’re asking the wrong question. We should focus on how it is unlearned in the first place. We need to keep the habit of play, improvisation and fearless creation that is so synonymous with children, alive in adults. The most creative people often have that in spades.
In the end, in a world of algorithms and tech, creativity and its ability to make connections between people may well be the only thing we can do better than machines.
Paul Valentine, Creative Director at Tin Man