The Dangers of Anti-Creativity

This year’s Innovation Week kicked off with a fantastic (if not bleak) talk by Alex Jenkins, Editor at Contagious Magazine and the award-winning Contagious I/O, about the threats of creativity.

Innovation and creativity are intrinsically linked. At Contagious, they believe that Creativity is key when it comes to selling stuff. Research tells us that creative work is six times more effective than non-creative work. Despite this, we’re constantly faced with a struggle to be creative.

Rather than simply celebrating creativity (as is common in marketing), Alex encourages us to look at the threats in order to tackle them Hulk-style.

As we all know, clients are the first to resist creative thinking. They might not realise this, often saying one thing and doing another. This all stems from uncertainty. From CFO’s to managers, we all want to be certain, and when it comes to making money, it’s obvious that certainty is the more appealing option. The problem is that creativity is inherently uncertain.

Instead of seeing them as barriers to creativity, we should look at our clients as partners, as solid partnerships give us the space to create fantastic work. While we can’t all have clients as creative as Nike, we can all try to push our clients to be more creative.

Sounds easy enough, right? Maybe not.

We’re increasingly being asked to do more for less, and with threats such as ad-blocking on the rise, the technology exists to shut us out. However, simply prohibiting users from reading content won’t help – we need to be creating content that people don’t want to block.

We’ve failed to create a response to these threats. It’s not fight or flight anymore – we’ve frozen. As rabbits in the headlights, we’re destined to get knocked down. Instead we need to be agile and jump out the way. Agility underpins creativity – it allows us to be creative, which will allow us to survive.

We should be asking the questions that create the biggest uncertainty. We should be using creativity to solve our problems. We’re mired in a situation where we know it can help, and yet we prize efficiency, chisel away at our partners and compromise our ideas to death.

So what’s the answer to all of this? Alex suggested that at the start of Innovation Week, we consider this definition of innovation:

“The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” – Charles du Bos (19th-century French literary critic).


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