Revolutionary Times

Creative auto-da-fé


In truth, I can think of only one thing to chuck onto the bonfire. Creative brainstorms. I can’t think of a more useless waste of time – even though (or maybe because) large companies use them in an attempt to solve problems. It’s typically the Marketing Department which comes up with the idea of a creative brainstorm.

In 35 years of running creative projects, I have never met a creative marketing person. I respect what marketing people do – but they are good at understanding and framing the problem – not solving creative problems.

Let’s outline how these creative brainstorming sessions work.

Imagine a room of 15 people, several from marketing, someone from HR and IT, the marketing director’s personal assistant, a PowerPoint operator, a project manager or two and if you are lucky a Planner. The only common denominator in this group is that not one of them (except the Planner) solves creative problems for a living. Everyone thinks it would be a good idea to speak, even though what they say might be neither useful nor practical. Everyone thinks there should be consensus. This means that everybody will attempt to agree with everybody else. The end result? Compromise and fog.

“In 35 years of running creative projects, I have never met a creative marketing person.”

This is all wrapped up in the politically correct misconception that by going through this tortuous process, everybody has been involved, so it must be a good thing, which is patronizing twaddle. After two hours the meeting breaks up and, because no single person has the responsibility for a solution, everybody forgets the whole thing and gets back to the day job, until the next creative brainstorm.

What is it about solving creative problems that is regarded by those who control the budgets, but have no skill or ability, to think they have to make a contribution to solving these problems? Is it because ‘being creative’ is regarded as being superior, and being uncreative inferior? Those of us who earn our livings by providing creative solutions to commercial problems don’t see ourselves in that way. Particularly as other useful life skills seem to pass us by, like process management, figures and organization.

So I want to see creative brainstorms on the bonfire. Let the marketing people do their marketing, their personal assistants carry on being personal. Let human resources do whatever HR does. And leave creative people alone, to take carry the can in solving creative problems to improve commercial outcomes.

Sign up to be kept up to date