Guest blog: Productizing – Martin Richardson, Ten Thousand Hours

tthsolo copyOver the years we have seen many leading agencies ‘productise’ their creative offering. Distilling what they do into a process – and as such, implying that anyone can just follow that process and create an amazing event. But creativity isn’t like that.

I believe that everyone can be creative, it’s not reserved for the monocled, curly moustached ‘quirky’ individuals in Shoreditch. It’s not a dark art that only the trendiest ad agencies are privy to. And it’s not about design and pens and paper. Anyone who takes a problem and figures out how to solve it is creative. Creativity is a behaviour, it’s having a natural propensity to ask questions, to want to find out more, to have the urge to look over the wall and see what’s on the other side. Following a ten step process may take you on a journey but it doesn’t make a person curious. Creative people have a natural intrigue, an intuition to want to find out more and keep questioning until they have collected all the information they need.  Forcing a creative person to follow a rigid process will stifle their natural curiosity.

To label someone as ‘a creative’ is an outdated notion because everyone can be creative and creativity is used to solve all manner of problems. The most commonly used way to demonstrate this is the ‘waiter in a restaurant’ analogy. A customer arrives and asks for a table for four, but they only have tables for two. Insight and experience combine to allow the waiter to think on their feet and simply put two tables together – they don’t need to follow a process to think creatively and solve the problem.

The best events and experiences come from questions; from people who question the brief, who keep challenging the beliefs and then adapting the idea over and over again to create the solution. Maybe all that’s needed is a few tweaks, maybe the whole brief needs re-writing.

Having a process may make an agency look more attractive or reassuring to the bean counters or the procurement department who have a need to see everything in its own little box, but creativity just isn’t like that. It comes from employing the very best talent, from listening and thenthinking. The personality of your creative team should shine through.  If we continue to pitch creativity as a standard process then we will hinder our natural originality. If you dull the individual imaginative spark by making your team adhere to a process, then every agency morphs into the same, and when that happens you start looking at price; which in turn undervalues the art of creativity.


Martin Richardson, managing director, Ten Thousand Hours

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