Staying Hungry

Illustration behind the words 'Staying Hungry'

Knowing where inspiration comes from means that our 'creating' doesn't become a factory line of churning out the same old thing.

What is staying hungry?

'Staying hungry' is how we describe the continued passion for what we do. It's not unique to us or me and is widely used. I like to think of it as that drive to continuously deepen our understanding of our art. A belief that leads us to new areas of discovery and improve how we do our jobs.

Why stay hungry?

As an agency, our clients pay for two things:

1. Our time

2. Our minds

What we all do, every day, at work is solve problems with creative solutions. From the most mundane piece of analytics code to the most exciting cutting edge feature, all day every day, we are solving issues.

To ensure that our clients keep coming back and keep paying for our time, we have to ensure we can deliver new solutions and products for them.

That's a commercial reality of our work, but delving deeper it pushes us towards a need to keep learning. To continue exploring new ideas, technologies and techniques.

We feel so strongly about it that one of our company values is 'Progressively Driven'.

Creating Drive in Teams

Years ago, in my naivety, I thought that team drive just happened on its own. Give people freedom and space, and they'll get things done. I believed that the only thing holding back innovation and creativity was time.

I now have a small increment of learned wisdom that has led me to a realisation. That, as with anything we want to be good at, we have to be deliberate in our actions. We need to be intentional about the time spent on staying hungry and the focus of our efforts.

Brightec's main outworking of this is through our monthly Research and Development sessions. We give everyone on the team two days to work on something other than client work. We regularly change the focus of our R&D time, you can read about our latest iteration here.

Creating Your Own Drive

Our R&D sessions are ideal for creating drive on a team level, but what about individually? How do we personally ensure that we are ahead of the game? Even, just up to speed with the industry?

Knowing where your inspiration and creative input comes from is essential.

Inspiration is an elusive beast, and one of the most galvanising books I have read on the subject is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it she writes this beautifully poetic phrase:

"The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them."

Everyone I know who keeps their creative drive alive can articulate where their inspiration originates. Moreover, usually, it's from more than one source. No one has the same list, but some common ideas I've heard are:

· Curated newsletters, such as; Inside Design by Invision or Google Design Download

· Publications, such as; Creative Review or Eye Magazine

· Chrome Plugins like Muzli

· Online Magazines/Curations, Creative Bloq or Sitesee

· Peer Groups and Meetups

· Conferences

· Slack groups, such as; UX Brighton (for those in Brighton) or Designership

What to do when the drive stalls?

If I see someone on my team’s drive stalling the best thing I can do is go out of my way to find something new for them. Sometimes all we need to get going again is a challenge outside of our comfort zone; reigniting them with a reason to grow.

That challenge can look different for different people. Some are inclined towards rapid growth and improvement, wired to desire quick results and steep learning curves. For that kind of team member, it's best to find a big challenge on a tight timeframe, something they can thrive in and see fast results.

Other people are more inclined towards steady linear growth, developing just as much as their ‘go get em’ colleagues but in a different fashion. For those team members, it’s best to be on the lookout for a long term challenge, maybe not so far out of their comfort zone.

The challenge can be a new project with a new technology or client. Other times it's asking someone to research a new area or to do an online tutorial in something that I know they haven't done before. The main thing is to make sure that it's going to stretch them and it’s appropriate to who they are.

Further Reading

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favourite books. I can't entirely agree with everything in it (just like any book), but I love how excited and invigorated people get when they read it.

(This post is part of a series exploring the principles that have helped shape the creative teams I have worked with, as well as myself. Click here to read them all.)

We put a great deal of time and resource into ensuring our staff are happy and supported at work. Read more about our ethos towards wellbeing here.

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