Creativity And Efficiency; Best Of Friends Or Best Of Enemies?

Written by Phil Birss: Group CEO.
· 4 minute read

Being a digital marketing agency in one of the most creative cities in the UK we see first hand how changing digital technology alters how businesses operate. Digital Marketer is one of those job roles that people of another generation might call ‘one of those new jobs’ and they would be right. Trends in technology and online developments over the last decade now mean that all things digital have taken over not just how Marketing works, but business as a whole. But as we wade through this sea of changes, how much do we need to adapt the way we work to the changes in the digital world?


Creativity Is The Number One Asset


In a world that’s dominated by instant communication, information overload and endless streams of video footage, creativity is the key commodity to a successful digital business. Many people’s initial idea of creativity may be art or design, however, it’s much more than this. Creativity is the ability to be given a problem and then have the vision to create something that solves it. In the world of Marketing, the puzzle is a client wanting to grow their brand and the solution to the puzzle lies in the marketing plan. Sounds simple enough right? Yet it got me thinking, in the manic digital world I just described, how do we work in a way where this precious commodity of creativity can thrive?



This question was triggered by a Ted talk I recently discovered that is now nearly 10 years old. The above video of Dan Pink talking about ‘The Puzzle Of Motivation’ put forward a question that is even more relevant today than it was then. How do we work in a way where creativity can thrive whilst still actually being effective and useful?


Dan’s answer is to make the working schedule as autonomous as possible with a clear purpose of the end product and a path of self-development. Dan Pink discussed this again recently with now internet sensation’ Ed Milliband on his podcast ‘Reason’s To Be Cheerful,’ reiterating the point that in 2018 more so than ever, the most effective way to work in our changing digital world is to spawn creativity through those such methods.



The most famous implementation of this free-thinking philosophy was Google’s ‘20% time’ policy. Staff were encouraged to spend 20% of their working time on any project they liked, as long as it was relevant to the company. Furthermore other tech giants such as LinkedIn host regular ‘hack days’ where creative environments are set-up to give staff the forum for developing new ideas. In a digital world where creativity is the largest commodity, free-thinking opportunities are the greatest facilitator of this. This is why at Run2 to ensure we are continuously developing new ideas and fresh offering for our clients, we attribute a proportion of our time to creative projects based around our Run2 brand. It’s this that allows us to continuously develop the creative element of our digital marketing offering. Whether it be video, web design or SEO strategy, creativity is at the heart of it all.


How Do We Marry Creativity With Efficiency?


Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking, creativity alone won’t make a company more money and see their brand grow to internet stardom. Digital Marketing isn’t all mind maps, cartoon drawings and Soy Milk Lattes. The second part of being a successful Digital Marketer is effectively and efficiently implementing the creativity into the real world. Creativity isn’t a commodity on it’s own, it needs effective implementation in order for it to be of real value. But how do we take the shiny new creative ideas we’ve worked hard on and make them actually useful? Well, this is where we have to encourage a little bit of love and get the new to embrace the old.


If we go to the far end of the spectrum and visualise the modern philosophy of working hard as luging down a slide at Facebook HQ with an iPad in one a hand and a tub of homemade hummus in the other. Then we visualise an old philosophy of hard graft as sitting in a box room with an array of HB pencils, five thousand ring-bound folders and once plain cream cracker for lunch the other, the happy medium lies in the middle. We need these two mindsets to go on a day out, have some fun and come to an agreement which takes elements of the old and combines them with the new.


As much as we all want to believe that if we jump around on a bouncy castle all day shouting names for new vegan themed tech companies at each other we’ll magically make a million pounds, this obviously isn’t reality. The truth is, we need our traditional friend to bring some sense to the creative endeavours we embark on. Creativity is nothing without implementation. Even the Google Gang have to get a little bit serious every now and again and luckily they provide us with software to do this is the modern, digital world.


Tools such as Drive and Docs facilitate fast communication to enable implementation and communication of ideas. Social media scheduling software such as Hootsuite allow creative content to be optimised through the planning of publishing times and daily organisation of schedules. Creativity is the bedrock of success in the digital world, however, we still need to bring our old friend along for the ride to ensure our creativity doesn’t go to waste


Pomodoros Lead the Way


The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. It’s a very simple system of breaking up working hours into 25-minute segments in order to fuel efficiency. Even though created nearly 40 years ago, this simple method is still talked about across the internet with various videos describing its uses racking up millions of views.



For me, The Pomodoro Technique represents nicely how to work best in the digital world. By all means work in alternative ways, in environments that would seem alien to our marketing predecessors and yes, most definitely keep generating creative ideas. However, no matter how far our ability to develop the creative commodity becomes, we will still always need some of that traditional mindset of organisation and efficiency to make our shiny new creative ideas worth something. Bill Gates once said ‘I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.’ If prioritising efficiency is good enough for the founder of one of the most creatively successfully companies of all time, then it’s good enough for me.