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The secret to innovative office minds is working beyond client projects

This content is produced by a member of The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

Whether you’re a small or mid-sized agency, the ability for your team to work beyond job specs when the need arises makes for a more fluid, dynamic everyday work environment. Opportunities to contribute outside of our traditional roles offer a greater variety of viewpoints, and often unearth unexpected gems. If you want to create work you’ve never done, arm yourself with diverse opinions.

It’s creativity that exists beyond the creative department and great ideas can come from anywhere; whether you’re a developer, a designer, an art director or a suit, being immersed in the creative process as both a professional and consumer means that you have an opinion, a voice, and very likely, ideas.

When you hear the words “let’s get to work on an ‘extra-curricular’ project”, you wouldn’t think anyone would be overly eager about it if it isn’t part of the job spec, but it’s important to occasionally set yourself tasks off topic, and off the client strategies. Generating your own creativity and fashioning ideas from a different angle – not just in what you’re an expert in – is significant in widening your creative horizon.

The best way to generate new ideas is to bring everyone in the office together. You often get people working with the same team and therefore know the dynamic well. Creating a change of scene will not only get new people working imaginatively but will develop some fresh perspectives. Be spontaneous with brainstorms or organise ‘boiler sessions’ – time booked in every fortnight that’s dedicated to creating something, learning a new technique or pursuing a new skill. This gives everyone a regular opportunity to indulge their creative sides, whatever they may be. From app building and animation to flat-pack furniture and photography, taking time across our departments to pursue wider interests promotes an agency culture that’s based on collaboration, which ultimately leads to better work. Or so we’ve found. It’s the perfect opportunity to set the team’s imaginations free.

Naturally, there is no better place to demonstrate this than the Chip Shop Awards. For us, the rallying cry of ‘creativity without limits’ means exactly that – an opportunity to flex the creative muscle of the entire agency, regardless of day-to-day job titles. Usually, when you are working towards a client spec, rules must be taken into consideration: you must be careful not to over-step the boundaries of stereotypes, research other companies’ campaigns that introduced a similar product and only reveal what is permitted by the client. Of course, this is the job we all know and love, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But working on projects without limits, where you can stretch the boundaries of humour to its absolute edge, explore different means of grabbing attention and use reality as a base for a brief, cuts through the guidelines of the usual projects and stimulates a new enthusiasm in the team.

Here are a few examples of what can be produced when the mentality is adopted:

Our advice on creating a new dynamic? Bring your whole agency into the fold; it’ll make for some seriously interesting (not to mention controversial) ideas. And who knows, the results may even be worth a nomination.

Impero is a creative, digital and social agency that has worked with The O2, Campo Viejo and Beefeeter Gin.

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