It’s really hard in a business environment to be strategic and not be creative at the same time — and the reverse is also true. Strategy and creativity are interrelated and interdependent forces that feed and support each other. Recognizing that duality is crucial to your success.
Strategic endeavors plot a course from your current state to your desired state. This requires you to change the way you are doing things to chart a novel and thoughtful path to your future. Unless your desired state is just a near version of your current state you must think creatively to evoke change.
Creativity exists when you fashion something new and valuable. In a business setting, value is generated when you create something that supports your business goals, i.e., it is strategic. But, if you are being creative without a strategic approach and plan you can easily spin off in unrelated directions. Those unproductive efforts may be dangerous to your brand, long term organizational health and ultimately your ability to stay on your charted course. It’s those ideas that aren’t connected to strategy that make us scratch our heads and label them #FAIL.
Why then, do some marketers persist in putting their creative and strategic efforts in separate categories, approaching them sequentially or assigning them to different teams? Making them separate or serial efforts defeats the complementary and interconnected flow of ideas that can flourish in a collaborative exertion. This may be a legacy of old thinking and outdated organizational structures.
Creativity and strategy reside in all aspects of our work and are not the exclusive province of those with it in their job title or department. We’ve seen phenomenal ideas emerge from creative teams, but have also witnessed amazing creative and strategic thinking from media planners or technology teams, among others, in solving problems or recommending solutions that create client value. Given the chance, most people have ideas and want to contribute. If you suppress that opportunity, morale can be impacted. Plus, you lose out on all those good ideas.
If we tether strategy and creativity together (as they should be) we achieve the best results. The most amazing creative campaigns are unfailingly strategic. The notable turnarounds or disruptive launches that drive true organizational change result from creative thinking. Yin and Yang.