90 Digital Culture

Definition for a smart creative

By February 22, 2015 One Comment

I’ve noticed recently, in 90 Digital with been talking about ‘smart creatives’ a lot so I thought it would be helpful to give you some kind of definition on what a smart creative is and why they’re relevant to our business.

A smart creative can be defined as:

“a bright, hard-working person who will question the status quo and attack things differently”.

The term ‘smart creatives’ was coined in a book by Joshua Rosenberg and former chief executive Eric Schmidt, called How Google works. 

A good example would be where a smart creative is asked to improve a process. Instead of referencing what everyone else does, they would look at how the process actually works, the resources available and would then reinvent the process so it worked a whole lot better. In other words, smart creatives are independent thinkers who love making something better.

In the book, Eric and Joshua speak of:

“invigorating the best smart creatives, who are drawn not only to the challenge, but to the honesty of the challenge. Smart creatives love disruption and working closely with other like-minded people.”

“The primary objective of any business today must be to increase the speed of the product development process and the quality of its output. Since the Industrial Revolution, operating processes have been biased towards lowering risk and avoiding mistakes. These processes and the overall management approach from which they were derived, result in environments that stifle smart creatives. Now, though, the defining characteristic of today’s successful companies is the ability to continually deliver great products. And the only way to do that is to attract smart creatives and create an environment where they can succeed at scale.

Perhaps the best thing about smart creatives is that they are everywhere. We have worked with plenty of smart creatives who boast computer science degrees from elite universities, but plenty more who don’t. In fact, smart creatives can be found in every city, in every school, in every class and demographic, and in most businesses, nonprofits, and government organisations: the ambitious ones of all ages who are eager (and able) to use the tools of technology to do a lot more. Their common characteristic is that they work hard and are willing to question the status quo and attack things differently. This is why they can have such an impact.

It is also why they are uniquely difficult to manage, especially under old school models, because no matter how hard you try, you can’t tell people like that how to think. If you can’t tell someone how to think, then you have to learn to manage the environment where they think and to make it a place where they want to come every day.”

Other references to smart creatives:

About Nick Garner

One Comment

  • Daniela says:

    Hi Nick,

    I like the smart creative concept, especially the fact that these people chase the idea that they can highly change and improve the way things are done. However, it isn’t easy for leaders of a company to connect and collaborate with smart creatives. I believe the biggest challenge for most of the managers – especially in non-corporates- is to connect with members in their team who have a vision larger than their own. It requires a specific mentality from the business leaders: “I am lucky to have people working for me who push the limits of discovery and innovation within the same resources”. Easier said than done. what do you think?

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