4 Steps To Becoming More Creative
June 17, 2014
I have yet to meet a radio manager or programmer who complains their staff is too creative, that ideas are bursting forth at such a rate they feel overwhelmed.
To the contrary, whether it's consolidation, work load, or that all the super-creatives are now working on Internet companies, radio has spent a generation recycling old ideas.
So, is it possible to make your staff, yourself, more creative? Absolutely...
Step 1: MAKE THE STATION AN "OPEN ENVIRONMENT"
The less structured the time within the walls of your station, the more time people will have to daydream and play.
Jean Piaget, the famous Swiss psychologist, once said, "Play is the answer to how anything new comes about."
If you fill every moment with duties and structure, how can anyone have time to play? A playful mind thrives on improvisation and ambiguity.
And isn't play one of the things that attracted you to radio in the first place? It didn't seem like real work, did it?
I'm not suggestion you manufacture "fun" by having clowns drop by, or sticking a popcorn machine in your building (though that's a fun idea). I'm suggesting you relax the structure of your work place, at least occasionally, and just see what happens.
Step 2: PROVIDE FLEXIBLE TOOLS
As children, we can play with almost any object. And who has ever gone to Macaroni Grill and not used the crayons to doodle on the paper table-cover?
If you want to stimulate the creative areas of the brain, provide some "toys" that enhance that possibility. You could even have a "game room" with actual games, like pinball machines, or iPads, or easels with paint, or video cameras, or musical instruments, or even play doh.
In other words, do something concrete to encourage playfulness inside your station.
Step 3: MODIFIABLE RULES
It's very hard to feel creative when you're worried about being judged. The truth is, most of us got into this business because we're rebels. If we weren't, we'd have become hedge fund managers or insurance agents.
Encourage your inner rebel by throwing the rule book away occasionally.
Let your staff know that every rule is made to be broken, and then show them how to do it -- safely. I'm not suggesting you throw away your license and scream profanities on the air.
But staging a surprise birthday party on the air, and interrupting format for two minutes might be a great thing, even on a SOFT AC station.
So this week, try to break at least one rule, and encourage your staff to do the same.
Step 4: AWAKEN YOUR SUPER POWERS
When we're young, we aren't bound by physical laws. We imagine we can fly. We imagine we are invulnerable and heroic.
Think Superman and Harry Potter. Think Twilight and handsome vampires.
If radio wasn't limited the way it has been the past 20 years, by format, by ratings, by convention -- 'this is way its always been done' -- what might be possible?
Awaken your inner wizard. Award a really cool prize for the best, most imaginative idea inside your building. Try it, even if you think it's goofy. It will foster other ideas even if it doesn't work out well.
You say you want to become more creative?
Make your station the most fun place to work in your town, every day, and watch what happens.
I predict a rise in ratings, too. People can't resist being near others having so much fun.