Creative Thinking in the COVID-19 Era


Almost everything we do outside our home is different today than it was at the beginning of the year. Everything is slightly cumbersome, slightly awkward, slightly messy. Most of the normal systems we’ve automatically followed are now different. It is in this altered world that I have seen small business owners display an unprecedented level of creativity—and not for the sake of flourishment or adornment—but for the sake of survival.

In the early days of the shutdown in March, every local business owner that I spoke with had serious doubts that their business would survive. Each conversation inevitably led to “How are we going to…?” or “I don’t know, maybe we can…”. This was really a scary time but no one I spoke to was willing to give up. That was when I began to see interesting examples of creative thinking; finding ways to operate safely, or sometimes operate at all.

My local hardware store rigged up a roll of plastic wrap over the credit card keypad. After each transaction they just roll out a fresh section of plastic wrap for the next customer.

My favorite coffee shop now sells everything out of a window. How do they keep waiting customers from milling around it? They simply stuck a big round table in front of the window to allow enough room for one customer at a time.

The world’s best pizza place (that I know of) now has all their tables out on the sidewalk, cordoned off with temporary fencing along with a labyrinthian path to the take-out door marked with a series of signs and sidewalk chalk.

What I love most about all of this is that none of it—with maybe the exception of the sidewalk chalk—is pretty or perfect. It’s cobbled together with what is at hand or easily obtained. It’s about using things, seeing things, and doing things in a different way. If it doesn’t work, let’s just try something different. All of it is temporary. Nothing has to be perfect. Nothing has to be forever.

Everyone seems to be okay with that. Our collective expectations are way lower than they were six months ago. We are okay with the awkwardness and messiness. We aren’t looking for perfection, we are just thankful to be able to enjoy something today that we couldn’t enjoy yesterday.

As a Creative Director, this new world reminds me that creativity is much more interesting than perfection and that everything is temporary, really. Perfection is the tantalizing ideal we all tend to strive for. The perfect words. The perfect decision. The perfect idea that will live on for eternity. But when we give ourselves permission to change it later, we give creativity the chance to take root and thrive. After all, if something is truly creative, it is new, it is unique, it is untested. We don’t know yet if it is perfect. Honestly, it probably isn’t. But if it is close we can give ourselves the space and time to perfect it.

While the pandemic may feel like a temporary free pass to put creativity before perfection, I hope it will be more than that. I hope it will allow us all to continue to be more flexible and more accepting—to enjoy creativity rather than expect perfection. But even if this is just a blip in our timeline and everything goes back to the status quo, I will have enjoyed all the ingenuity, creativity and even the messiness I have seen along the way. If your organization is looking for creative direction to elevate your digital marketing strategy, talk to Nowspeed to find out how we can help!

Let’s start accelerating your success.

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