Diversity. The not so obvious advantage. By Jonathan Pease, executive creative director at AKQA.
The topic of diversity is an important one and has got a lot of airtime, for good reason, over the last year or so. It’s self-evidently a good thing we’re paying more attention and being more inclusive than ever before in all walks of life.
For me personally I’m often surprised there’s even a conversation about it; it’s just so damn obvious. Of course, we need a wide range of people attacking a problem from all viewpoints in order to crack it. What would be the point of having a uniform group of people patting each other on the back and essentially talking to themselves? Sadly, this still happens all too often.
When it comes to ideas, diversity of race, religion, gender, age, size, sexuality, experience, socioeconomic and thought has always been the key to unlocking better ideas. It’s the ultimate unfair advantage.
Here are five simple ways to inject some more diversity into your creative process, and maybe even your life:
- The unusual suspects
Don’t brainstorm with the same people over and over. Habits form and ruts get deeper. The simplest and most effective way to have better ideas is to change up the people you get creative with. Yes, you can have a core team of regulars, but the value you’ll get from jamming with different people from all walks of life will be huge and immediate.
- Embrace the outsider
Bring people into the process that know zero about the brief. Completely ignorant to what is right or wrong, they’ll usually shoot from the hip and give their natural human response. After all, this is exactly what we’re trying to understand about our real customers. Over the years we’ve had great results from pulling in random family members, people from other industries and even complete strangers off the street. There’s something very powerful about people who don’t know what the rules are (and don’t give a crap about marketing). For most organisations, this is not an easy thing to embrace as it’s a completely anti-human instinct. One of the many reason so many people find it hard to live with Trump… but that’s another story.
- Fight club
It’s so much easier to work with people who agree with you. There’s no tension and lots of your ideas glide seamlessly through the process. But that’s the issue; all your ideas aren’t great. You need to surround yourself with people who see the world differently. I’m talking about the type of people who often don’t get where you’re coming from. You know, those people you need to work really hard to get them to buy into your thinking. They’re the ones you want in the room. As a general practice, when we hire new creative teams we look for people who will fight well together.
- Square pegs in round holes
Put the gamer on the parenting brief; put the gym junkie on the confectionary brief; put the Luddite on the tech brief. Mismatch and juxtapose your people as much as you can. Guaranteed, the natural disconnects will bear fresh ideas.
- Get out more
Several years ago, we created a dedicated space for having ideas in the office. It seemed like the right approach at the time and we had lots of fun creating it. But looking back now, we realise the approach was flawed. As with people, finding different places to do ideas can be very powerful. Try public transport, art galleries, cafes, race tracks, gymnasiums, schools, libraries, and the beach. Basically, anywhere aside from your own office.
Next time you’re nudged to consider diversity, I urge you to see it as not only the right thing to do but also as an open invitation to create bigger better ideas. Better still, don’t wait to be nudged and start doing it right now.