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What Makes a Great Creative Team?

In this WOI 101, we look at what elements make up a strong creative team.

All brands, businesses, and organisations look to build strong teams. Having a solid team and consistent leadership makes work more enjoyable and increases productivity, boosting the bottom line.

What makes a strong creative team?

A creative team works together, they have shared values and common goals. They know their respective strengths and weaknesses and work as a mini ecosystem to achieve the best outcome (for the business). They have a guiding light of strong leaders and systems that support, progress, and develop them. There are no bad ideas in a creative team and its leaders understand that it is their responsibility to create an environment that feels safe to foster creativity. A happy, high-performing, creative team is one where each member is confident of their place, value, and contribution.

“When employers operate in a blame culture, employees are fearful, and creativity is the first thing to die. If brands want their employees to be forthcoming with creative ideas, innovative concepts, and outside the box thinking, they need to create a safe, trust-based culture that welcomes new, potentially “bad” ideas!”

Why is creativity important?

The demand for creativity is on the rise. The World Economic Forum in 2020 announced that creativity was ranked third in the top ten key skills that employers look for, compared with 2015 when creativity was ranked at ten.

Creativity is much more than being artistic. It is a style of thinking that when applied to business solves problems, seeks out opportunities, and allows brands to stand out from the competition. It is a skill that helps bring innovation and thinking outside of the box solutions. Whilst graphic designers are traditionally creative, so are software developers, teachers, even accountants. Complex problems require creative thinking and working as a team to collectively find new solutions.

A common misconception is that creativity is innate however, this is arguable. Creativity is a skill that can be cultivated, refined, and honed the skill. People may be naturally “better” at writing or drawing than others, but their ability to improve and apply creative skill can absolutely improve with practice and the right support.

How can a team become more creative?

To encourage creativity in a company culture, there are some basic factors to consider.

  1. A Vision

All great creative teams have their own vision which they collectively agree on and work towards. A defined vision helps keep everyone on track to deliver what they set out to achieve. Take Apple, their vision statement is defined in one key line: “To make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it.”. This simple, yet powerful message is a vision which clearly resonates through Apple to everyone who works there, and that vision can be seen reflected in their products. When setting a vision, it is important to involve all members of the team; the vision must be something which matters to everyone and something that each team member will value. The end goal is a shared vision that everyone wants to achieve because they believe in it and can see the benefits.

creative teams - apple

The iconic Apple had visionary leadership from the likes of Steve Jobs

  1. Communication

To have a great team, one of the fundamental characteristics is good communication. Communication is important, particularly to be creative, as it not only allows a business to keep track of goals and workflow but also allows constructive, creative debates and conversations which can make the output more creative. Businesses such as Gym Shark that have open communication see increased innovation and creativity through challenging the norm and coming up with ideas.

  1. Leadership

Whilst there are many different methods of organising a team, good leadership is always essential. A good team needs a leader that they trust and respect. The leader, or leadership group works as the glue holding the team together and should be responsible for setting the pace, offering encouragement and motivation, and keeping all members of the team updated. Whilst a leader may not always be involved, it is important that they are a strong figure who can lead the team through times good and bad.

  1. Diversity

Diversity is an important characteristic of good, creative teams. Often individuals from a variety of background bring unique ideas, characteristics, and skills to their team. Good teams utilise everyone’s strengths and their preferences to assign tasks, and ultimately to boost performance. Collectively, a diverse skill set, way of thinking, experiences, idea generation and problem solving helps to create a creative team.

Diverse opinions coming together can foster creativity and lead to truly innovative ideas and solutions

  1. Risk taking

With all the characteristics mentioned above, risk taking is one of the most important characteristics in making a team creative. Teams must be willing to make calculated, informed but sometimes daring risks. Take Elon Musk, for example. Musk founded the popular e-payment service PayPal and sold it in 2002 for $1.5 billion. Rather than reinvesting that into another e-payment service Musk decided to take a big risk and invest in two companies which he was passionate about and saw potential for- Tesla and SpaceX. Though his attempt at operating these two ventures at once nearly sent both companies into bankruptcy, the result of Musk’s risk and perseverance have led to SpaceX and Tesla thriving and to become iconic companies within the business world.

Elon Musk’s legendary “risk” on Tesla

If a company or team already embraces these factors, it is likely that they have great employees that truly understand what being creative means. As the world becomes more automated, the importance of such skills within employees is essential as traditional roles evolve and may become obsolete. Process-oriented roles are becoming rarer. Using the media industry as an example, we can see that during the old days of newspapers, it took teams of people to set the layout of the paper, create the printing press, print the paper and then deliver it to readers. Today, with most news dispersed electronically, virtually all of that process-driven work has become automated.

What is left? Journalists that can see nuance and tell news stories that cut through the noise and connect with people. That takes creativity; aka a relevant and novel solution. They must constantly think “What are the stories that aren’t being told already that people want to hear?”.

That same phenomenon is happening across every industry and every function. Software companies do not just want someone who can write code, they want someone who can dream up new software to fix old problems. Companies do not want business analysts who just crunch numbers; they want analysts who can think of creative solutions based off what the numbers are telling them.

Creativity leads to finding the solution and it is key for employees in the future job market

Thank you for reading this WOI article which was written by Xavier Christopher.

You may also be interested in reading Why creatives are moving to Wong Chuk Hang


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