Category: Kate Canada Obregon

30
Jan

Wake Up and Go to Sleep

 

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Are you yawning, eyes struggling to focus, as you settle down to read this? Or perhaps you’ve just refilled your coffee cup for the third time in an effort to “stay focused.” For many of us, the workday stretches well into the night. Last minute emails sent during dinner, presentations tweaked before bed and early “pre” work-work to jump ahead of the day.  If rumors are true, many now disgraced public figures are floating the excuse that it was a lack of sleep and grinding schedules that contributed to their bad behavior. 

For the rest of us, continuous work cycles carry lots of risks and relatively few rewards. According to sleep researchers, bad decision making in business begins, in part, tended to happen when participants showed poor impulse control or let emotions run wild. Without a good sleep schedule, people make poor decisions, are more irritable and tend to be uncreative and imaginative.

It may boost the ego to feel in demand but the quality of work, clarity of mind and decision making suffer when we keep our minds spinning rather than taking rest, float into downtime and sleep.

Francis Bacon said, “silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom” meaning our best selves need regenerative nourishment.

 Recent studies have confirmed that Americans do not get enough sleep, with more than a third of adults getting less than seven hours a night, which may be just as bad at not sleeping at all.

Many bad decisions in negotiations we may very literally be working ourselves to death.

Even Arianna Huffington, the queen of productivity, has gotten onboard. Her latest book, “The Sleep Revolution,” touts the benefits of getting more shut eye in order to be more creative, productive, and even happier. In her 2010 TED Talk, where she advised attendees to “sleep their way to the top,” Huffington tackled the culture of “sleep deprivation one-upmanship” that has led people to brag about how little rest they’re getting and how much they’re doing.

We’ve adopted a culture where we struggle to recognize or justify our own value unless we’re in a constant state of being in-demand. When we’re too busy, have too many conflicting deadlines and back-to-back meetings, it’s easy to trick ourselves into believing that just compromising on a few hours of sleep is the best answer. But ongoing sleep deprivation, even losing just a few hours a night, can lead to health risks, lowered creativity, trouble concentrating or even an inability to function through the workday. And, according to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is something that can’t be caught up on later.  

What can we do? Powering down all electronics, at least one hour before bed may be our biggest goal. By signaling to your brain that it’s time to relax, it can start the necessary process to prepare for sleep. Having a nightly ritual, like meditation, reading or putting on some extra comfy pajamas, can help ease your mind to make the transition from the busy workday to the world of Morpheus.

So, next time you’re getting lost in your work at 2 am and feeling that charge that comes from knowing your ideas are flowing and you’re bringing value to the table, just remember how much you’ll suffer for missing those extra zzz’s tomorrow. Or as Huffington says, “I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us, to shut your engines and discover the power of sleep.”

31
May

Don’t Be A Futurist Faker

Luigi Russolo, 1911, The Revolt (La rivolta), Gemeentemuseum Den Haag via Wikipedia

Luigi Russolo, 1911, The Revolt (La rivolta), Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (via Wikipedia)

When Kevin Roberts recently told Business Insider that gender equality was “over for him” and his advertising agencies, saying “(he)… rarely thinks about the problem,” many commentators howled at his indifference. While ad agency employment data shows women make up about 50% of the industry worker force, there’s rough parity within the ranks; 80% of men at big agencies hold leadership and creative director roles according to research from the 3% Conference.   

And if 2016 lawsuits filings are any measure of disparity, patterns of abuse seem to be running rampant in some of the world’s biggest agencies with allegations of racial and gender slurs and inappropriate sexual advances. To be fair, ad firms are but microcosms of society, reflecting larger structural patterns of gender discrimination. From technology to the sciences and across media and entertainment, companies are finally striving to do their best at managing the vestiges of gender discrimination, including promoting and keeping female executive talent.

So why would Mr. Roberts casually elude this reality and go on to describe women as temperamentally ill-suited for executive leadership positions? The answer doesn’t lie in whether or not sexual discrimination still goes on — it does — but in what this says about Mr. Roberts’ status in the media industry, which is even more troubling than his casual dismissal of social ills. As a “coach” to executive talent and expertise, a mentor such as Mr. Roberts should not believe these things. Or should he? Mr. Roberts, I argue, has fallen victim to futurist fakery. That’s right, fakery.

As a society, we’ve become too enthralled with idea leaders. We’re drawn to the men and women who write, blog, teach and educate — crossing the TED stages and traveling the lecture circuits — about the importance of Big Ideas. I’m not suggesting fakers are everywhere. Many of these futuristic insighters bring plenty of real-world context and knowledge to our industry. What I am saying is that while we’ve become accustomed to these educated, talented, and creative men and women to raise our awareness, we’ve let in a few fakers along the way. It’s hard not to.

We’re much better informed and well rounded when talented people step out of their labs, classrooms and offices to share with all of us. But we shouldn’t be idea-complacent or even idea trend-driven. While ancient philosophy has taught us to be respectful of thinkers, we should also use our own powers of reason when it comes to idea hucksters. Ideas for the sake of ideas; concepts without connections to everyday and real problems in search of solutions is simply posturing. And that is what Mr. Roberts seems to be doing. He’s bought into his own ideology, projecting that he’s successful in no small part because he “knows” trends and can connect data and information; therefore, he’s putting himself in a position to constantly seek a connection, no matter how far fetched.

To give some historical context, I use the term “futurist” as it comes to us from the anti-traditionalist art movement in Italy and the Soviet Union in the early 20th century. Futurism was committed to rejecting all established art techniques and styles that depicted the “dynamism” of technology, industrialism and automation. Futurism wanted only art that put people in the experience of machinery, the then-future of economic and cultural progress. Because futurism was so thoroughly unforgiving of tradition and history, as a movement it had little depth beyond a love of industrial machinery. What it did have was an unyielding commitment to projecting the idea of progress — a future people see only in art. And as a result, by the 1930s, it had devolved into propaganda art for totalitarian regimes.  

Unfortunately, Mr. Roberts is the sort of “thought” leader who has adopted the futurist role model for audiences and, in so doing, wiped away any concern for the real, the here and now. What concerns futurists are ideas, trends, disruptions and data points pointing to something… and if they’re not able to back up that something with context or evidence, well, there lies the fakery. But I don’t believe that it’s intentional deception on his part. Mr. Roberts, and many like him, believe they can’t delve into the real-world issues of today as, in their minds, they’ve already crossed over to the other side into tomorrow. Our devotion to the prophecies of industry futurists sets us all up for failure as it’s an unrealistic expectation that thought leaders can consistently think beyond what everyone else can even imagine.

Truth is, we’ve grown a bit complacent and perpetuated these sorts of idea leaders and their sometimes misguided or downright ridiculous projections that have no recognizable bearing on our industry. I admit, I’ve been known to pore over “white papers” and beg favors for tickets to hear giants in science and technology speak on the state of blah, blah, blah. I follow every MIT scientist interested in neuroscience and technology. I’ve got a PhD in political science, but I’m obsessed with the behavioral science of decision-making as I am design thinking applied to… anything.  So I’m not pointing fingers. I’m saying let’s not delude ourselves. Using Freud’s observation that humans are extraordinarily good at deceiving ourselves, especially when chasing their own ideas, leaders like Mr. Roberts seem all too silly. Let’s not be fakers.

07
Oct

Five Minutes With – Kate Canada Obregon, PhD

As the Co-Founder, Partner and Director of Strategy and Research of Oishii Creative, Kate Canada Obregon has been with the company from the beginning, since co-founding it with her business partner, and now husband, Ish Obregon, in 2006. Read on as she offers her insight into what the company’s philosophy, “Think Like a Tourist,” means for her, what inspires her, and what she really does all day.

How do you “Think Like a Tourist” (how do you embody that philosophy for yourself)?
For me, “Thinking Like a Tourist” is not only our company mantra, but truly my experience coming into this industry. I had such an outside background that I feel I’ve been able to bring some fresh perspective and understanding to the world of branding. I originally studied political philosophy and culture at university. The more I studied and researched, the more I began to see the small, but powerful, tools people used in culture, language, and perspective — how culture and institutions in society are in a perpetual conversation.

While working in a basement library archive, researching and examining a replica of the Bayeux Tapestry and William the Conqueror’s attempt to win over his new English subjects after defeating the beloved King Harold in 1066, a friend gave me career advice. “You should try out the field of brands,” she said. I looked at her, and we both had a good laugh. “Why not apply your knowledge to different kinds of problems? You know history and science,” she urged. “You should think about applying your skills and passion to more contemporary problems.” And as I completed my PhD studies, I began meeting with creative agencies doing interesting work in strategy, and I was curious and inspired. Around this time, I met Ish, and we immediately clicked. He wanted to shape “branding” into a standalone and serious discipline for his clients, separate from the function and process of marketing, and I wanted to apply social science to study audiences and culture. I wanted to be a “social” scientist, not just study culture for science.So, luckily for me, I still apply my background and outside approach to the industry, and I get to “Think Like a Tourist” everyday — creating actionable strategy and insights using science and good data for companies and brands committed to understanding what their audiences or clients like, want or value.

What do you do when you’re feeling creatively blocked?
Get outside! Even if it’s just for a short walk, getting yourself moving and exposed to fresh air, sunlight and a new environment can jumpstart your creativity.

What three elements would a perfect day include?
Definitely time with my family, a project that I can sink my research teeth into, and maybe a really good cup of coffee.

What do you do all day?
Today, my days are spent working on the strategy and research side of projects at Oishii. As each client comes in, I study their brand, goals, and needs, and help them figure out where they want to go. It’s been a great fit, because like any academic, I’m obsessed with pursuing good knowledge whatever the project or outcome. In my former academic self, I couldn’t have understood English history using hearsay or bad science, and today, my clients deserve no less. Strategy for me is the ongoing pursuit of what makes companies and brands pleasurable for audiences, and that should always involve history, science and rigor.

Do your family understand what you do all day?
Well, my co-founder, Ish Obregon, is also my husband, so I would hope so!

21
Aug

Think Like A Tourist: Why Tedium Boosts Your Creative Work

Photo courtesy of Splitshire.com

Photo courtesy of Splitshire.com

Researchers continue to uncover secrets of creativity and in the process, make sense as to how innovation occurs. This new information is applicable to organizations and individuals alike. Anyone who works in the “creative services” industries needs to pay attention to this research.

In a recent study conducted by teams at MIT and the University of Toronto, which was featured in the New York Times, researchers studied 6,000 Kickstarter projects, looking at the relationship between time and the effect on “innovative” ideas. Over the course of nine months, researchers observed patterns of heavy ideation work and administrative or execution of idea work. The study suggested that ideas need robust doses of “non-creative” or process time to help the original idea along. In other words, good ideas need these “uncreative” administrative tasks to become great ideas on the market.

While the study was small, it has implications for creative workplaces. Most directly, it challenges prevailing notions we generally hold about creativity, innovation and how we work.

Ideas Need Process
The big takeaway challenges our mythical attachment to ideas. Most of us love and value creativity, and we see and want the effects of innovation. A singular idea disrupts markets. A visionary with her strength smashes through to markets with the power of her idea. We find ourselves drawn to the story of Newton’s “apple falling on his head” story. We get lost in the romance of the marathon brainstorming session where an idea magically comes to life. However, as the study suggests, there are processes that do the heavy lifting for intangible ideas.

Nurture Ideas
Ideas, as the study suggests, develop through a company pipeline only if encouraged by way of company policies, structures, processes and culture. There is a value to ideas only if they are kept in motion. As many companies proclaim to pursue innovation, creative workers need to continue raising awareness and helping to make tangible the benefits, for example, of innovation hubs to test out ideas. Companies, too, need to invest in idea think-tank teams with dedicated resources and people to keep ideas at play.

Brain Rest
The study pointed out what neuroscience is already telling us: our brains are more creative with lots of time spent relaxing and daydreaming. Obsessive focus yields nothing in the way of creative breakthroughs. Most creatives don’t lack ideas, they are deluged with them. It’s the connecting of different types that yields a new idea or improves an idea already churning through the brain. That’s because the brain needs to go into default mode. As neuroscientist Rex Jung has noted, taking time off doesn’t shut the brain off so much as it gives it license to yield into the unconscious. As the study implies, there was a lot of work going on while the Kickstarter owners went offline.

I hope you’ve found this topic useful in your work. What’s your experience with the generation of creative ideas? How has the power of process helped or hindered your work?

17
Jun

The State of the Industry Remix

Can you see your humans in the clutter of brand work? Photo courtesy of Thomas Brault via unplashed.com

Can you see your humans in the clutter of brand work? Photo courtesy of Thomas Brault via unplashed.com 

While waiting for the venerable Lee Hunt and his annual New Best Practices talk at PromaxBDA, a quote came to mind:

“Branding is the manifestation of the human condition.” –– Wolff Olins

How can a vague psychological term relate to the future of television, let alone programming, bumpers, IDs and promos? But we see a connection between this concept about the human condition and Mr. Hunt’s strategy-oriented observations and analysis of our industry.

The truth is, industry best practices and the state of design spool out from the invisible thread of us humans. It always starts with a curiosity and drive to aggregate and distill information into something usable.

People want to be more than facial hair. Photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire via gratisphotography.com

People want to be more than facial hair. Photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire via gratisphotography.com

The future of television depends on how well we understand all that is knowable about us humans, particularly the ways science, technology, education, social science and demography tell the story of us.

Do you know how to untangle the thread?

24
Apr

Oishii Creative Welcomes EP Danixa Diaz

Danixa Diaz at the Oishii Los Angeles offices.

Danixa Diaz at the Oishii Los Angeles offices.

Oishii Creative Welcomes Danixa Diaz as Executive Producer

Los Angeles, CA – (April 23, 2015) – Oishii Creative is excited to welcome Danixa Diaz as Executive Producer. She joins the company with two decades of creative, production and design industry experience. In 2012, Diaz founded representation firm “iartists” after spending seven years leading business development at Imaginary Forces. The addition of Diaz represents the next growth phase for Oishii, which has proliferated from a traditional design studio to a multidisciplinary full-service creative solutions studio since it launched in 2002.

“The natural ebb and flow of our industry requires us to constantly adapt,” remarks Ish Obregon, president & chief creative officer, Oishii. “Having known Danixa and her admirable work for many years, I know her blend of energy, vision and direction will compliment Oishii well. She brings invaluable experience and understanding to our team. It’s built on her appreciation of great art and design – and a keen sense of what’s happening in our industry now and what’s on the horizon.”

Likewise, Diaz has long been familiar with Oishii’s award-winning pedigree. She got to know the team better after experiencing their “visually arresting” multi-platform branding package for last summer’s PromaxBDA Conference — an organization for which she served on the board while fostering many professional connections through the years. Pointing to recent branding projects for television networks The Hub and E!, she is eager to parlay Oishii’s talent and capabilities for even more visibility and future success.

“Oishii offers clients a truly collaborative partnership,” adds Diaz. “That comes with not only exceptional creative, but also depth of knowledge and experience in brand strategy. Their long list of repeat clients, like the NFL Network, are a testament to their success in design, but also their ability to merge the disciplines of branding, design and business strategy. As more and more people recognize Oishii as a go-to name for the kind of big-thinking, top-notch creative that elevates brands, my goal is to keep getting that message out.”

From executive producing to business development, Diaz’s deep industry experience spans commercials, broadcast, feature film, gaming and experience design. Her career began in Miami in the mid-90s and took off in Los Angeles when she became Executive Producer at Three Ring Circus. She fondly remembers this period as the birth of today’s mixed-media companies, as they were combining creative solutions from motion graphics to live action – all across new media platforms.

“I simply fell in love with the design and production geniuses who were reshaping our industry back then, many of whom are still leading it today,” says Diaz.

Continuing to align her career with industry pioneers, Diaz went on to lead business development for Imaginary Forces. During her seven-year tenure with the award-winning creative studio, she remembers taking the first call with “Mad Men” Creator Matthew Weiner, who was looking to commission the show’s now legendary, Emmy-honored title design. Diaz would eventually sit on the Emmy Title Design Executive Committee.

Other highlights from Diaz’s diverse and accomplished career include an American Express campaign via Ogilvy, which introduced her to Joan Gratz – one of her biggest influences. The Oscar-winning artist would go on to participate in an all-women creative panel that Diaz organized for the annual PromaxBDA Conference.

In 2012, Diaz spread her wings and launched iartists, which focused on business development for mixed-media clients, including longtime colleague and design luminary Kyle Cooper, (founder of Prologue and co-founder of Imaginary Forces). Following three successful years at the helm of her own company, Diaz found herself eager to return to the stimulation of a collaborative creative environment and fully embed herself within a collective.

“I wanted to go back to my roots and work with a team that had excellent strategy, branding and creative talent, which is what I’ve been invited to be a part of with Oishii,” she concludes. “Between all of our creative goals and mutual perspectives on the industry and its future, Oishii was the obvious partner for my new journey.”

About Oishii Creative:
Oishii Creative is a full-service creative solutions studio. From ideation and strategy to design and production, we distinguish our clients through the relentless pursuit of the next BIG idea. While no ambition is too big or too small, it all boils down to the RIGHT idea for your brand. Our award-winning team is ready to dream with you and create with you.

http://oishiicreative.com

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17
Apr

From The Oishii Ideation Lab: Is Your Creative Passion Killing Your Team?

Harness the Power of Creativity with a Dash of Kindness

photo courtesy of magdeleine.com

photo courtesy of magdeleine.com

Mark Twain once said, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Replace the word “kindness” with “creativity,” and it’s easy to see that these unique forms of expression are remarkably homologous to the human experience.

No wonder kindness plays such an important role in the creative field –- from the collaborative environments in which we work to the paths we choose to find the next big idea.

Look at the captivating process of brainstorming, for instance. We tend to approach it through an overly optimistic and empowering lens. It make us feel like innovators in action – unleashing the power of our brains, attacking the problem while developing something new.

You could say that brainstorming is an art in and of itself. After all, you’re setting the stage for success while managing collateral damage that we humans are seemingly wired to instill in one another. It’s a high stakes environment: team members, peers, and bosses who are watching, listening and evaluating our ideas.

At the same time, like any human activity, we’re both at our best and worst when idea-generating. This usually means reality blends with our own fictive understanding of ourselves: what we think we are capable of in a whiteboard session. As Friedrich Nietzsche so exquisitely described us humans, “In conversation we are sometimes confused by the tone of our own voice, and mislead to make assertions that do not at all correspond to our opinions.”

At some point, kindness has to find its way into the process.

On a practical level, Alex Osborne, founder of the modern brainstorm work session, believed that idea-generation required rules to ensure people participated and felt a part of the group. Why? Because empathy and kindness are gateway traits to working well together. It’s a theory that’s well-documented by neuroscientists today. Kindness fosters an open, collaborative and alert mind, allowing us to think at a high level. It let’s us go beyond petty differences and transcend resentment and everyday slights.

Playing Nice with Nanci Besser

photo courtesy of IMCreator.com

photo courtesy of IMCreator.com

Convergence is tricky. Working towards a common goal, creating a prototype, a beta project or campaign means people must work together. But convergence is tricky.

As emotions, feelings and temperaments merge – and, even, collide – neuroscience shows us the value of empathy to offset it. We’ve asked author and teacher Nanci Besser to shed some light on this through the value of emotional intelligence in the brainstorming session:

A common misconception is that kindness equates with being “nice” and granting another his or her “way.” Looking within the parameters of emotional intelligence and mindfulness, it may be ascertained that kindness involves solving problems and fulfilling needs by creating space for an outcome that is bigger than any individual ego.

Being kind is meeting someone where he or she is at, in terms of his or her state of mind. The ability to expand your perceptions to include the ideas of another requires an empathic approach. To many, the notion of conflict tends to convey a negative connotation.

However, conflict in and of itself is a neutral state. It is only our interpretations that assign a negative or positive attribute to its existence. Passivity is not the gateway to promote innovation and creativity. Only through sifting through seemingly conflicting perspectives with kindness do we answer the greatest of creative enigmas.

It is possible to garner support for your point of view without negating someone else’s dreams. In an ideal collaborative environment, there are no inherently “wrong” ideas in a brainstorming session. Some conceptions are a better fit than others and, like cream, they will rise to the top without external manipulation.

Regardless of the industry or group demographics, if everyone embraces the process of conflict, rather than attempt to usurp the outcome to favor his or her position, the possibility for genuine synergy exists. Through employing constructive empathic communications motivated by an intention of kindness, the sum might be bigger than its individual parts. In other words, 1+1 could equal 3.

Author, Speaker, Teacher
“Go Kindly (TM)”
E: nancibesser@gmail.com
Visit http://www.nancibesser.com
Connect http://www.linkedin.com/in/nancibesser/
Twitter: @nancibesser

30
Dec

Audiences Want Stories With Context & Connection

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Oracio Alvarado

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Oracio Alvarado

Co-Founder & Director of Strategy and Research Kate Canada recently wrote an article for MediaPost about how brands can authentically provide context and connect with their audiences.

You can read the full post here, but we’ve included an extract:

Today’s audience is craving a real connection, and authentic stories that represent the changing demographics of the American landscape are one of the most powerful ways to establish that connection. Stories tap into the emotions we all share. Stories are universal ways of telling our personal view from the individual and tying it all up with what’s going on in the city, country and globe. Our job is to create stories of possibility and resonance.

I see two related opportunities for brands to meaningfully connect with audiences using story: as content for context and as content for everyday storytelling.

Content as Context

2014 was the year for telling the Big Family story, content as context. The 2014 Coca-Cola America Super Bowl spot and Honeymaid’s This is Wholesome commercial are examples of telepathic compelling campaigns; piquing our emotions without running too much in the way of sentimentality. In these spots, we see the “wide screen format” of storytelling as context. It gives the reader the emotional landscape.

Content for Everyday

The smaller but nonetheless still potent pieces of the story are what I call snap-shorts of everyday life, the smaller bits that make up our big picture. P&G’s Tide with a Problem-Solving Dad doing laundry and French-braiding his daughter’s hair; the Thank You Mom featuring kids and falling and learning with lots of support from mom; Chevy Malibu’s The Car For The Richest Guys On Earth piece or the Cheerios Here’s To Dad where the narrator looks straight into the camera and says, “We make the new rules… this is how to ‘Dad.’”

As advertisers, we are responsible for taking the constellation of social dots of demographics, sentiments and media connectivity and turning them into tactics and actions, shaping the data into meaningful ways of reaching out and engaging with consumers. In so doing, we will be able to, as David Ogilvy suggested, respectfully and empathetically become trusted partners with consumers, smart and savvy social beings who live in the world.

07
Nov

Agency Post Profiles Kate Canada Obregon

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 10.22.30 AM

Our Co-Founder/Director of Strategy & Research Kate Canada Obregon has written extensively about the power of data in helping brands to better understand and connect with their audiences in authentic ways.

Agency Post recently profiled Kate on the marriage of social science and research in Oishii Creative’s work for both design and brand clients.

Here’s an excerpt:

Should creative ideas always be based in research and data? How does this foundation provide brands with a more impactful strategy or campaign?

The best creative emerges from a conversation with qualitative and quantitative data sets. I like to know the facts and the big picture that numbers can readily tell us. With that said, numbers do miss the subtleties of opinions, perceptions, and desires. This is where semiotics, ethnography, or other social science methods are extremely valuable tools. The best campaigns I’ve worked on are those where I’ve been able to dig deep into all sorts of data and turn up something unexpected and new. These campaigns end up being the most timely and talked about beyond a quarterly life cycle or the next ad buy season. I like partnering with clients who want to be relevant and let the research lead them beyond trends and into real meaning and relevancy. Audiences and consumers want this, too. 

Check out the full interview here!

19
Sep

Congratulations, You’re A Creative Strategist! Now What?

Attribution: Flickr: Tunisia-3433

Attribution: Flickr: Tunisia-3433

My former life in academia and my current one in branding have taught me everyone has the skill set within them to be what I call a creative strategist. I believe strategy is a creative skill, requiring our whole brains; the logic and rational working effortlessly with the non-verbal, passionate and the visual. A creative strategist knows how to use data, ethnography and trends to tell a story for clients. To talk about what’s going on in the world without vague platitudes. (Millennials want authenticity and honesty!) Creative strategy sets into motion a brand study or brand integration that is both granular and deep.

Creative Strategist: Person who uses several types of data and applies to a problem or project.

While we should all be strategists, the fact is our work environments and thinking habits get in our way.

In our work lives we must hit metrics, make deadlines and take back-to-back meetings at the office. Our days are consumed with finding ways for everyone to do more with fewer resources, money, people and time. We spend our waking working hours thinking small. And by that I mean we grow accustomed to solving operational problems rather than the big creative knotty ones. We don’t allow ourselves the time to contemplate a project with depth or rigor what I call, thinking big skills.

And thinking small isn’t necessarily bad.

It’s a necessary part of running a successful creative work environment. But, when thinking small preoccupies us and becomes a fixation, it diminishes the culture, business and eventually, the people around us. People start getting in the way of their own thinking and creative capabilities; they look to what others have done before them or try formulas. People begin to believe it simply takes too much energy and time to think big for clients. The work culture and individual habits form a dysfunctional quality, where changing demographics, consumer tastes and technological disruption become a blur of problems without solutions.

What is the relationship between strategy and creativity?

  • Some would say they have little in common. But I think they are more interconnected than many assume. Strategy involves combinatory thinking. Combinatory thinking looks to data, but to other sources disciplines and trends. You’ve got to read up, mix and match, and spend time listening, reading, doing and applying to creative work.
  • Creative Strategy uses a visual thinking toolkit. Visual thinking combines our imagination and drawing or visual techniques. A toolkit has exercises to stimulate ideas and take you out of your ordinary brain strengths. We tweeted about one such exercise: Sit in your chair and imagine the buildings behind you. What are people doing there? Go to the building behind the first building. What are people doing there? Write down notes and draw pictures.
  • The best strategy comes from operationalizing creativity into the office.  Tag on 15-minute work sessions after other less creative meetings. Research shows creative work sessions after “boring” meetings can spur divergent thinking, the fuel for creative work.
  • Strategists daydream. When tackling a creative problem, and after you’ve met with other people to collaborate, give yourself time to process the information. Creativity flows from the unconscious and once you’ve stuffed your brain with the food of data, trends, information, books and thinkers, let your unconscious have its way with the problem.
  • Creative Strategists have disciplined individual habits. As much as I’ve talked about unleashing your talent, the best work comes from a disciplined set of work habits. Work at the same time every day, produce visuals or writing with set goals, and fuel your imagination with quality books and movies.

How do you think big? I’d like to hear how these tips work for you!

— Kate Canada Obregon

 


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