What the commissioner of Mad Men teaches us about kindess

Klein speaking about big ideas and kindness

Klein speaking about big ideas and kindness

Debbie Klein, the CEO of Engine, argues that she agrees with Stuart Murphy of BSkyB that a “kind environment” fosters creativity.

“Creativity is the life blood of our industry in every sense – it’s what motivates me to get up in the morning, and being involved in something that has a great idea at its heart is truly life-affirming.

This was the topic of my conversation with Stuart Murphy at Ad Week Europe. Murphy is director of entertainment channels at BSkyB.  He launched Sky Atlantic and also runs Sky Arts and Sky Living. And he’s the man responsible for our Mad Men addiction (series seven starting soon).

Stuart’s view is that great ideas are best fostered in a “kind environment”, a sentiment I can vouch for from personal experience at Engine.

Creative people can often be shy at first, and truly creative thinking doesn’t necessarily come from those shouting the loudest (or in the loudest outfits), as Stuart told me.  A great idea can start from an aside, something that’s almost so throw-away that you have to listen hard to catch nascent ideas and build upon them.

To get the best creative thinking out of people they need to feel comfortable, in an environment where they can really be themselves; somewhere they can engage in banter and are free to query even seemingly obvious things.

Creativity in progress is not clean, tidy or quiet – it’s often boisterous, passionate and scrappy.

Tempers flare, jokes get made, but respect and kindness need to be at the core of the process. We all know a great idea can come from anyone, but agency leaders need to be confident and humble enough to create an environment where the latest trainee can pitch in their thoughts, knowing they¹re going to be listened to.

At the same time, agency leaders need to be brave enough to confidently seize on those ideas worth pursuing!

That way we can continue to do what clients pay us for ­; coming up with great work that makes their brands stand out from the crowd.”