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Why (and how) you need to get yourself some Creative Confidence…

9th March 2017

We’d say
Creative Confidence (by IDEO Founder David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley) is one of the best books, in recent times, to tackle the subject of creativity. It’s a go-to book in our studio library and one we always recommend others should read.
But it’s not a book we’d recommend solely to just fellow ‘creatives’. It’s particularly great for those who do not deem themselves to be creative. In fact, that is the main message from the book – everyone has the potential to be creative.
Creative Confidence, unsurprisingly is just that – all about confidence. Simply being, that creativity lies within each and every one of us, and it is confidence that brings it out.
There seems to be this widespread opinion, that you are either creative, or you are not. We’ve never completely subscribed to this viewpoint. Granted, some people are more creative than others, but what you’ll probably notice is that these people are also more confident in their creative abilities – they have creative confidence.

‘I’m not creative’.

When people say that, they are simply saying I have no creative confidence, nor do I want to try and build any. It’s self-perpetuating. So they’ll never unleash their true creative potential.
Now, we’re not attempting to undermine the creative profession, nor indeed our own position as a creative agency. ‘Anyone can do what we do’, is not what this post is about. It’s more about how everyone can be creative and problem solvers; the degree to which they want to be is up to them, and relevant to their profession and career goals.
Make no mistake. Creativity is a skill – and one that all organisations now realise is essential for their organisations to have if they are to not only succeed, but to survive. Therefore it is a skill that needs to be learnt, developed and importantly – nurtured.
In this post we are going to identify the four areas we believe organisations need to focus on, in order to help nurture creativity in their teams. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s leadership where we’ll begin…

1. Creative Leadership

Leaderships is of course rightly evolving. But traditionally, leadership has been about people leading from the front, and taking their place at the top of the hierarchy.
Therefore, leaders would believe that they should be the ones who had the best ideas, and not those beneath them. Similarly, those working under leaders would have the mind-set of not needing to be creative or have good ideas – as that’s the job of the leader.
Thankfully this dynamic is changing. Leaders understand that they are not always right, nor will they always have the best ideas.
The best leaders recognise that their job is to empower others to also think creatively. So as to create an environment where everyone is generating and sharing ideas – only then will truly great, business benefitting ideas, come to the fore.

2. Environment


When talking about an environment conducive to creativity, for many, beanbags, pool tables, and free snacks may spring to mind. These tangible factors, along with other workplace features – such as office design and layout – are important in shaping the desired creative culture. But perhaps more important, are the intangible factors.
Intangible factors such as employee autonomy, freedom, flexibility, the ability to play – yes, the pool table can come in handy for that – and also trust.
The last point is one worth touching upon a bit more. Creativity is delicate. It can also too easily be crushed by negative feedback and criticism. It’s all about confidence, remember?
Therefore, the culture needs to be one whereby team members are not afraid to voice their ideas. They need to be given trust, and to give trust to others. Ideas need to be met with enthusiasm, and if the ideas are not quite right, built upon – instead of just being completely dismissed.
Some ideas simply won’t work. But for continued creativity, a team must understand that failure is going to happen, and they must be comfortable in dealing with it when it does.
They need to be empowered and trusted to think creatively.

3. Collaboration

The notion of a lone individual working away in their isolated office and coming up with brilliant ideas, just isn’t true of real life.
It’s another reason why leaders shouldn’t see themselves as the sole ‘ideas person’.
Great ideas come about from creative collaboration. Someone may have the bare bones of an idea, but others will add the meat to it, to make it brilliant!
Unsurprisingly, collaboration is again another hot topic in the business world, with every organisation seemingly trying to make collaboration the default way of working. You’ve only got to look at the abundance of collaborative tools and technologies continually entering the enterprise market, for evidence of that.
However, collaboration must be balanced with individual thinking. In fact, a recent post of ours (How to Brainstorm, better) sheds a bit more light on the approach to take for when trying to generate ideas.

4. Boundaries

Ask a creative thinker what a nightmare brief might look like, and they’ll probably respond by saying one without any constraints.
It may sound counter intuitive – the thought of being able to do whatever you want, should be music to the ears of a creative, right? Wrong.

Within constraints is where creativity lies.

Importantly though is that you should always be looking to challenge and push these constraints. Often it is clients that have put the constraints in place, and rightly so. But they tend to put the constraints in place based upon the problem they themselves have identified that needs solving.
In fact, often and even worse, clients have identified what they think to be the solution to the problem and so have created constraints to match – constraints that force a specific solution to be worked on.
Great creative thinkers will never assume the problem has been correctly identified. And so they’ll never jump straight into the solution.
The best ideas rise up when you immerse yourself in the stated problem. What will then happen is the real problem will identify itself, and then the subsequent insight will arise, upon which the best idea can be built upon, and executed.
Always be sure you are trying to solve the right problem, and therefore working with the right constraints in place.


In essence, creativity is how you approach and solve problems. It’s therefore little wonder that creativity is now getting the attention it so rightly deserves.
So, if you’ve identified your perceived low levels of creativity, as a bit of a problem, then we’d suggest the first step in your approach to solving it, to be to buy ‘Creative Confidence’ and read it immediately.

Then, focus on the four different areas we’ve identified, and try to ensure these are evident in your workplace – and continually nurtured.
And of course, if you are trying to tackle a creative problem, and would like additional collaborative help with firstly identifying the right problem, and secondly a solution to match, well… we can certainly be of service.
Until next time…


One Comment on “Why (and how) you need to get yourself some Creative Confidence…

  1. Nice write up!
    Also worth watching is David Kelly’s talk on Creative Confidence at TED.

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