Creativity – The Secret Sauce for Inspiring Transformation

/ Laura Luciano

Creativity can be defined in an infinite number of ways.  

For us it’s the ability to see things from a variety of angles, then solve problems in new ways. This is critical to breaking old habits and forming new ones – an essential pillar in our change management practice. 

If you use creativity to help drive change you can: 

  • Help people digest complex and perhaps overwhelming information. 
  • Cut through the noise and amplify the message to change behaviors. 
  • Give readers/viewers/users a sense of optimism through visualization.
  • Build trust by recognizing a shared human experience.
  • Inspire people to take action.  

How to do it well 

Creative ideas can be executed in any number of ways, but at the core of any successful effort is the creative concept. It’s the heartbeat of the change. It articulates the purpose and the call to action. It is the foundation for the messages, the methods and the media.  

Think of the messages as stories that describe how the change journey will move people from Point A to Point B. We use “message maps” to identify the why/how/what/who/when of each change, carefully crafting the words and phrases that will be repeated consistently over the course of the change. Because this level of consistency is critical, the message map plays a very important role. 

The messages may go unheard or unviewed without colorful, human-centered visuals that simplify the complex and illustrate a world of possibilities. To ensure key messages find their targets, we align with the company’s brand – from colors and fonts to templates and tone – and elevate the message in that space to make sure everything is communicated clearly and purposefully.   

The media used to convey the ideas is constantly changing, but the purpose remains steady: get the important information into the hands of the people who need it. Over time, that mission has shifted from a bulletin board by the water cooler to a flashy company newsletter to dynamic, tech-enabled content that stakeholders can access at the push of a button – wherever they may be.  

What not to do 

There are a few ways you can kill creativity and stifle interest in your best efforts. Here are a few things to avoid: 

  • Corporate speak and industry jargon actually lose credibility with your audiences. Strive to be authentic, not ostentatious. Overly complicated materials turn people off right away. 
  • Word walls (think of a PowerPoint slide covered with text) are deadly, especially when time is at a premium. Keep your messages short and to the point. Get in, get out, get on with it.
  • Inconsistency will kill your very best efforts. Make sure your messages are aligned up and down the org chart.
  • Forget the “why” and your audience will likely forget what you’re trying to tell them! Let them know what’s going on. Tell relatable stories about the purpose for your change. Focus on the people and their experience – the WIIFM.
  • All head, no heart (or all heart, no head) just won’t work. Try both intellectual and emotional appeals, especially during times of change. 

On balance, remember the golden rule: your creative communications are meant to connect stakeholders to information.  That’s the only job your writing and design have to do. Nail it, and it can be a difference maker for your organization. Fail it, and you may be facing the same hurdles every time there’s a change on the horizon. 

Categories: Change