How Do You Define ‘Creativity’?

Last week’s Roll Call column brought news that Billee Howard has been appointed creative development officer (CDO) and head of Allison & Partners’ newly formed Creativity Council. “Creativity” is a word that gets tossed around plenty, not just in PR, but in other industries as well, essentially turning it into a catchphrase that seems to mean nothing and everything all at once.

“If you look at the definition of creativity,” Howard told us today, “it’s to make the complex simple in elegant fashion.” (Here’s a Merriam-Webster definition, in case you’re interested.)

In the face of the “complexities” we face in the world, such as information overload, Howard says creativity has taken a more important role in business.

“That’s why creativity has emerged as this critical area that all of us have wrapped ourselves around,” she said. “Amid these changes, how we communicate has become more important than ever before.” It has taken creativity from something that is “driving awareness to true innovation itself,” which can spur growth, she added.

All that said, the prevailing associations with creativity have more to do with the arts, and the constant use of the term in other areas have reduced it to jargon.

“We’re going to need tangible concrete results that are demonstrative,” Howard told me. To that end, she reminded me about the new Naked Culture blog that will discuss the day-to-day associations the firm has with the creative process, the initiatives the firm has planned for its 10th anniversary celebration will address the issue, and Howard says the firm is investing in research that will further define the term and move it away from the “creativity-washing” (like “green-washing”) that has happened.

“[You can’t] just slap a buzzword on something,” she said. “You have to deconstruct it and make it a part of your corporate culture in ways that drive you forward and really re-imagine what the future looks like.”