Real Creativity Occurs in a Box, Not Outside It

Creative Parameters

If the web has proven anything? It has proven this simple tenet:

Ideas don’t make you creative. Limitations do.

Anyone can create something amazing when they aren’t confined by the burdens of execution and reality. True geniuses, create something amazing with the tools and restrictions that they are given.

This process of refining, strengthening and working around obstacles is what separates people who get paid to think creatively and those that just think they can.

The world has changed.

We don’t have to view a 30-sec spot. We don’t have to view a print ad. We don’t even have to look at a billboard.

We have to check our email. We have to track business in real time. We have to find data instantly.

We have to go online.

It’s this key difference in thinking that may have finally broken the back of traditional advertising. The ability to share, embed and distribute mass amounts of content independently makes all but the best content disappear in the nether.

The internet is not the best medium for “pure” creativity. It may eventually become it. It isn’t now. You are restricted to certain parameters in order to ensure functionality.

Great content is a part of the equation. But that’s just it: it’s a part.

The world has flipped on its head: TV, Radio and OLA are now supporting players to digital and public relations strategy. Community management and design will eventually take a seat at the big kids table as well.

(Digital and PR strategy includes: Search, Engagement, API usage, User Experience and Community.)

No one cares if you have a great idea if it doesn’t work or they can’t find it.

2009 is over, social communication won.

2010 is the year of community.

But creativity is always in style.

Image Source: David Goehring

8 thoughts on “Real Creativity Occurs in a Box, Not Outside It

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  • Really enjoyed this post, Stuart. It's particularly relevant to me as I try to figure out how HS kids communicate and consume/exchange information and ideas. I agree that “the world has changed” but I think you might be better off saying that the world continues to change. I think the real out of the box thinkers will not only identify future patterns of change before others do, but, to your point, also act and utilize those creative thoughts within limitations.

    What I'm curious about is how individuals, small businesses, or even large businesses can remain best suited to act on those ideas? What traits/practices can keep us open and flexible change? How can we expand our boundaries/limits to allow more room to adapt?

  • Truth…the real talented creatives will be able to make something happen with the limitations provided. The out of the box thinking, however, is what allows the creatives to approach a problem from a unique angle, that no one else sees.

    David
    Community Manager, Scribnia.com

  • I saw David Meerman Scott's interview with Seth Godin and he states real creativity happens at the edges of the box. You don't have any resistance outside the box and if you settle for the middle well nothing really happens. If you take the lead and test the waters than when you push against the edges the most creativity happens. Here is the link… http://bit.ly/53Nag2

    I totally agree with you about how things have changed. I would rather sit in on a #journchat than watch the CBS comedies and Men of a Certain Age. The DVR made me realize I can watch them when I want to and when it is best for me with out the commercials. But the thing I know I do is share and share more!!

    There is still a place for traditional media because older people do not jump online and do not see the Internet as we do. I mean I have been online since 97 when I met my first love via a Yahoo IM. There needs to be a way to balance everything but only time will do that.

  • I saw David Meerman Scott's interview with Seth Godin and he states real creativity happens at the edges of the box. You don't have any resistance outside the box and if you settle for the middle well nothing really happens. If you take the lead and test the waters than when you push against the edges the most creativity happens. Here is the link… http://bit.ly/53Nag2

    I totally agree with you about how things have changed. I would rather sit in on a #journchat than watch the CBS comedies and Men of a Certain Age. The DVR made me realize I can watch them when I want to and when it is best for me with out the commercials. But the thing I know I do is share and share more!!

    There is still a place for traditional media because older people do not jump online and do not see the Internet as we do. I mean I have been online since 97 when I met my first love via a Yahoo IM. There needs to be a way to balance everything but only time will do that.

  • Excellent point, Jamie.
    There is a certain quiet trend to say “Think inside the box or you accomplish nothing.” Creative people – rightly, I think – suspect this as a rear guard action by noncreative, status quo types to keep the creatives “down” in teams and organizations.
    That sentiment rises dramatically in times like these when money is tight and business is scarce: don’t just understand tradition and SOP, but pay them full honor and respect by reining in innovative ideas.
    It loses money as often as any other way of doing things, but it makes more people feel secure.
    The creative person, in such times, has to be very careful and diplomatic indeed – perhaps even disguise hi/r ideas as an improvement on tradition, not an ababdonment of it. It’s certainly no time for bright people to just streak their own way across the sky – they’ll only be shot at.
    Creatives might want to read George Lakoff on “framing” – it’s about politics, but isn’t all work politics?

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