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Management Series: marketing

Contagious Creativity - pass it on

Professor Vince Mitchell entreats marketers to spread the message of creativity to all areas of a business. Doing so can foster greater understanding of the value that marketing can bring. This article offers a few tips on how it can be done.

Author(s): Vincent-Wayne Mitchell - Cass Business School

Albert Einstein famously said: "Creativity is contagious, pass it on." Marketers should note this and teach or "pass on" creativity to other areas of the business. As well as delivering practical benefits, it can also help those areas understand the value that marketing can bring. A greater understanding could even lead to more robust credibility in the boardroom.

Creativity can be a property of people, processes or products, and be it operations, human resources or R&D, all can benefit from utilising creativity techniques. Creativity thrives on diversity and so people from areas other than marketing are needed in order to create more creative conflict. As fashion designer Donatella Versace has stated: "Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas."

There is a three level approach to this: individual, team and organisation.

At an individual level there are three components to focus on:

  • improve task motivation by rewarding creativity;
  • make sure individuals have the expertise, skills and knowledge to understand the problem at hand;
  • train people in creative-thinking skills, such as guided imagery, or develop their innate risk-taking and desire to not conform.

At the team level, design a creative process and emphasise warm-ups, a playful environment and the suspension of judgement on each other, as well as themselves.

At organisational level there are a further three components marketers should try to influence. These are:

  • management practices, such as aiming to reduce blame culture;
  • an organisation's motivation to innovate and take risks;
  • resources - for example, having enough time and the right space to be creative.

Indeed, research in this area has shown that creativity within a marketing programme is determined by social cohesion, superordinate identity, planning-process formalisation and encouragement to take risks.

So when it comes to using creativity to our advantage, Professor Mitchell makes the plea "let's not just keep it for ourselves. "

A version of this article was first featured in Marketing.

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