We need to make more room for creativity — here’s how

Graphic with the words: We need to make more room for creativity- here's how.

I recently stumbled upon a session hosted at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where Scott Belsky, Adobe’s chief product officer and Debbie Millman, the host and founder of the “Design Matters” podcast, discussed the need to give creative teams more freedom to create, take risks and encourage not just success, but failure too.

The ongoing need to create personalized, visual content at a rapid pace has made it challenging to stay creative. In fact, 80 percent of people in a recent report stated an increasing pressure to be productive, rather than creative at work. But what if they weren’t mutually exclusive?

It’s time to make room for creativity. We need to address this massive gap in the creative process – and provide the wiggle room that your creative team needs to create something truly brilliant. But extra bandwidth needs to come from somewhere – and adding hours to your employees’ day is not the solution. With that in mind, here are three easy-to-implement ways to add breathing room into your team’s workflow.

Automate uncreative tasks

How much time is your creative team spending on uncreative work? If you took the time to measure it, the results could be shocking. According to ScreenDragon’s State of Creative Operations Report, creatives spend an average of two days per week (each!) being uncreative. With this in mind, bandwidth gains can come from identifying these productivity-diminishing tasks and evaluating how they can be eliminated or automated.

Spoiler alert – the problem tends to lay with administrative tasks. Repetitive, busy-work, like sending files to other departments or uploading final designs to a file-sharing system, that takes up a significant portion of the day that could be spent being creative. Finding solutions that help reduce the burden of these tasks can help free up creative time for exploration and discovery.

Provide breathing room with deadlines

Here’s another opportunity — How often are you passing tasks to your employees, knowing that the timeline is tight? If I were to bet, I’d say it’s likely most of the time. Creating breathing room with deadlines is critical, not only to provide room for creativity, but to prepare for unexpected hiccups as well. There are two key opportunities to enable this breathing room.

The first is to set boundaries and advocate for your team with other departments. As a creative leader, setting expectations for briefings and deadlines with the teams you support is your first line of defense for protecting your team’s creativity. Can you deviate from these guidelines? Sure. But only when you have the bandwidth to do so without sacrificing quality.

The other is to analyze your team’s workflows to identify unnecessary steps that can be removed. Are multiple approvals needed? Is there a way to automate project hand-offs? Restricting the number of steps to only those that are absolutely necessary can result in massive time savings that can be lent to creativity.

Reduce their technology stack

The final opportunity to free creative bandwidth for your team comes from reducing their technology stack. Not to overhaul the technologies used, but rather to see if there are technologies that can be hidden or consolidated using integrations. In an IDC survey, over 80 percent of business leaders agreed that problems often arise because their systems don’t talk to each other. When solutions are integrated, it enables your team to work out of 2-3 applications, while still staying linked to the other tools they need to be productive, secure and connected.

Another value-add of integrating your technology stack comes from enhancing your workflow. In the same IDC survey, 43 percent of employees sited needing to “copy-paste” information across multiple platforms. When all your applications connect and speak to each other, tasks can be streamlined or automated, saving time from having to duplicate efforts across platforms.

Benefits of providing room for creativity

I get it – when it comes to your projects, time is of the essence, and if you want to go to corporate to ask for more of it, you better have some good reasons. So, I’m here to help. These are a few tangible business outcomes that organizations experience when they prioritize creativity.

Increased profits: Too often, businesses fall into the trap of doing something because it works well – not because it works best. The age-old saying “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply to creative work – and can actually leave a considerable amount of money on the table for your organization. This study from McKinsey even found a correlation between companies recognized for creativity, and overall revenue growth. Providing room for creative exploration and risk opens the opportunity to discover and learn from successes, failures, competitors and other creative leaders. With a deeper understanding of your audience and design comes a deeper understanding of what your market responds well to.

Reduced burnout: Burnout has been identified as a top contributor to employee turnover. 95 percent of HR leaders in a recent study even sited that “burnout is sabotaging workforce retention”. Continually operating on a just-in-time schedule with your creative team is running the risk of losing great talent. Not only does this mean you’d be operating with a reduced workforce until that position is filled – it also means you’d be wasting budget on recruiting people using 3rd party organizations and recruitment sites.

Let your team be creative: At the end of the day, creatives just want to be creative. It’s where their passions lie and where they’re going to contribute the most value to your organization. By providing them with breathing room and keeping them in the tools they love, doing what they love, you’ll not only have a much happier workforce – you’ll also derive true business results.

CreativeSPACES™ is a tool to help creative teams stay in their flow. It combines the benefits of working from a local server or remote computer with those of the Cloud, to secure and manage creative files while accelerating the creative process.

With CreativeSPACES, your team can: