Tobias on February 28, 2018:

Is your team also full of Smart Creatives?

I guess so..

Smart Creatives

Smart creatives are the ones who can have a huge impact on a company’s success because they come up with unexpected and innovative solutions to unsolved problems faster and better than their peers. They’re the ones pushing the boundaries and moving things forward. In teams. In communities. In companies. In the world.

Do you know Elon Musk? Yeah ok, so that’s an extraordinary example of a smart creative. But there are many different types.

“The only way for businesses to consistently succeed is to attract the best smart creatives and create an environment where they can thrive at scale.”

– from

You probably do already have lots of different smart creatives in your company for many jobs that need to be done: programming, designing, managing products, creating content and so on.

Smart creatives have an advantage in finding better and more efficient ways to solve problems. Teams of smart creatives will outrun the competition over time and survive while old school companies will continue fading away.

Hmm.. but who exactly is a smart creative?

Smart Creative Unicorn Literary Swag by Mister Bumbles — Volume Two by Amrit Pal Singh

If I read “Smart Creatives” I think of some sort of Marvel’s Xavier’s School of Gifted Youngsters who are coming in with super-powers like magical creativity and hyper-intelligence.

Sounds amazing, right? But who really sees him- or herself like some flawless hero with superpowers? Well, other than the narcissists..

“For me, you know, I’m a creative genius and there’s no other way to word it”

– Kanye West

Let’s try and do it the old-fashioned way and have a look at the dictionary (ok, not that old-fashioned, I don’t actually own one, let’s check online).

  • smart (informal) means “Having or showing a quick-witted intelligence.”
  • creative as a noun defines “A person whose job involves creative work.”
  • and creative as an adjective describes “Having good imagination or original ideas.” from

And now, let’s see what the guy who invented the term meant.

The term “smart creatives” was introduced by Google’s Eric Schmidt who referred to the smart creatives working at Google. In the book “How Google Works” he mentions four key ingredients for smart creatives:

They must be business savvy, have technical knowledge, creative energy and a hands-on approach to getting things done.

Still sounds a little bit like people with superpowers?

Let me tell you something.. if we take a little step back from Eric Schmidt’s definition and look at a broader definition, smart creatives can be found everywhere. And they haven’t necessarily graduated from an Ivy League college, or any college, to be honest.

We are humans and we are designed to be creative. We are born creative, even if unfortunately a lot of us forget or suppress our own creativity on the path to growing-up. But if you put us in the right circumstances, we can be creative again.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Everybody who tends to be smart, having a good imagination and original ideas from time to time can be described as smart creative. You probably can be, too.

But wait, when we’re all surrounded by smart creatives why aren’t there more companies as successful as Google?

What’s often missing is an open and inspiring environment that nurtures creativity.

Smart Creatives Environment

陪伴这件小事 by Yan Chien

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

– Albert Einstein

You not only need the right people. You also need to put the right people into the right environment. You won’t find creativity in an uninspiring and reserved environment like, well, lots of the old-fashioned companies. And believe me I know what I’m talking about – I’ve been there, but that’s a different story…

So what’s needed for a creative working environment?

Let everyone in your team find their flow.

Smart Creatives Flow

Adobe Creative Cloud by Jean-Charles Debroize

“It’s like everywhere I look, and everywhere I go

I’m hearing motherfuckers trying to steal my flow”

– Snoop Dogg

What do you need to find your flow? The flow is where the magic happens, right? It’s where you can exceed your own expectations, it’s the home of creativity. Do you perform best when someone tells you to do something, or when you have all the space needed to be creative and smart?

Feeling organized and making conscious space for deep work helps the creative juices start flowing. Creativity usually doesn’t happen when we feel stressed or get constantly distracted. Being aware of all your distractions (like smartphone notifications)[] is a first step.

Getting enough sleep or at least managing your mental energy more consciously also helps to set the right environment for creativity.

Everybody has their own preferred ways of working. Some are early birds, some are night owls.. Have you ever seen a night owl in a 7am meeting? And then tried to talk to them before they had their first coffee? Yeah, let’s not go any further.

After becoming aware of our own mental energy we should be aware of the mental energy of our co-workers as well. Not everybody prefers to work in an office because being surrounded by others can drain energy.

Btw.. Stiki helps people synchronize their work without forcing them out of their flow zone. Sounds great? Meet me where the magic happens.

Letting everyone find their flow should be your ultimate goal when you strive for more creativity.

We don’t find flow when we..

[…] walk through our days unaware and out of touch with our emotional lives.”

— from the excerpt of Finding Flow

Don’t let interruptions like meetings, hangouts, “do you have a second?” and @channel distract you from being creative. Give yourself all the space needed and offer it to your employees as well. Find out what’s needed. Everyone’s different. Become creative within the possibilities of your company. But please don’t hold back because of fears and what if’s. Try new ideas and see if they work. I’m sure you’ll be surprised.

We’re born to be creative but unlearn it in school and university on our way to a “solid” job.

Find your own flow and then help your co-workers find theirs.

That’s when the magic happens.

That’s when work is finally fun again.

Credits header image: Reach Perfection by Kevin Roodhorst