Brimming with Ideas, Innovation and Creativity: Candid Q&A with Reed Collins, Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong

October 17, 20168:00 am1207 views

Know all it takes to build a creative workplace, from one of the creative adepts in the business – Reed Collins, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong. In this exclusive interview with HR in ASIA, Collin details about the challenges faced by organisations towards inspiring creativity among employees, retaining creative workforce in the team, and helping build a talent succession pipeline of creative personnel. Read on…

  • What are the barriers to creativity and innovation in the workplace?

Speed and constant change are some of the barriers to creativity and innovation in the workplace. Modern marketing moves at a much faster pace that we don’t often have time to stop and think and be inspired. Sometimes it feels like if you blink, the day may disappear. This can be a good and bad thing, as you are forced to think on your feet, but ultimately the luxury of thinking things through doesn’t exist anymore.

  • How important is it to foster a culture of creativity in the workplace? How can managers inspire employees to be creative, while meeting stringent deadlines and quality output delivery?

Fostering creativity in the workplace is extremely important. Being creative is the root of our existence at Ogilvy & Mather and it needs to be fostered in all elements of our business from client relationships to executing work.

Reed Collins, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong

Reed Collins, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong

At Ogilvy Hong Kong, we really try and promote a healthy work-life balance to fuel more inspiration. Working less hours means more opportunities to be inspired – inspired by experiences in our daily lives, inspired to come into work every day and be motivated to bring your best. But to be honest, it doesn’t happen enough.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of creative workplaces, from the management perspective?

Creative workplaces tend to be a motley crew of diversity and personalities. This is great because you deal with exciting people who bring such a variety of ideas every day, which means you’re constantly learning something new. On the flip side, you’re also managing an extreme spectrum of personalities and from a management perspective it can be quite challenging at times.

  • What are some ways by which HR managers and senior business leaders can work towards building creative workplaces?

At Ogilvy Hong Kong, the senior leaders are always working closely with HR to hire the best people with the best talent. The key is strong internal communication and a mutual understanding of what it takes to fill that particular role. It’s important to think outside the box in terms of who may fit the mold for a certain role.

We hire people with a crazy, colourful history of education and experience because that is where creativity is buried. We look for diamonds in the rough. This eclectic mix is what creates a truly creative and dynamic work environment. We want people with ideas and a point of difference.

  • How do you think senior team leaders and HR managers can accurately evaluate creative performance of employees?

Creative performance is extremely subjective. Sure there are all sorts of measures like awards to measure “creativity”, but they only tell half the story. You can only really evaluate creative performance over a period of time, the things that someone produces in different environments with different people. Having the tenacity to keep getting back up off the floor after being continuously beaten down is important. Because let’s face it, advertising is essentially 90% rejection.

See: What should be the “Ideal Office Setting” for Creativity to Grow?

  • With emerging new business models and IoT, how do you think the creative workplace of the future will look like?

Sadly, it is already looking like a sordid sci-fi movie with robots and automated machines.

We live in such a vast digital environment that a computer can now take your profile, understand who you are, what you want to see or do or hear, and generate the perfect tailor made content for you without your knowledge.

Whenever we log onto a website, buy a product, look at an image online or Google for a word, it’s going into a database to ensure you’re reading and looking at content that will lead you to make your next purchase or plan your next day. But thankfully creativity always finds a way to screw with things and keep things interesting.

  • What are the strategies, employers and senior creative heads could adopt to manage the creative workforce in business?

Facilitating a flexible and inspiring working environment; and I don’t mean foosball tables and free soda machines. Those do work, but at the end of the day, it’s only a short-term solution because it becomes tired and gimmicky.

Creating actions that add real value for people’s personal life, as much as for their working life, and ultimately balancing these two things is critical in this work-obsessed part of the world. Staring at a stage play for an afternoon may be far more inspirational instead of watching YouTube on your computer screen at the office, as would trading a desk with someone else in another city for a month.

  • How important is employer branding when it comes to attracting creative talent?

Like any brand – it’s very important. Ogilvy & Mather is in the business of creativity and with that you want your work to be noticed, celebrated and admired. Naturally a company that is held in high regard by the industry and peers will develop a reputation, and people would want to work there because they want to experience and learn from the best. Personally, I’ve travelled across five continents in my career to work at great agency brands and learn from the best.

  • With the global war for talent at its peak, how do you think employers and HR leaders can retain the creative talent pool or build a talent succession pipeline of creative personnel?

It seems common in creative businesses, and perhaps particularly prevalent in Hong Kong, people are promiscuous with their careers. And so they should be. There is a lot of opportunity out there and young people especially tend to jump from job to job. This can be because of an eagerness to explore all the top companies, lure of better pay, benefits, proximity to their homes, a possible disconnect with their peers, it could be anything.

For us at Ogilvy Hong Kong, the key is to embrace this “churn”, because with a consistently revolving door of talent you have a consistently motivated and inspired team because they want to prove themselves.

  • What are the employee benefits that generally meet the expectations of creative workforces in South East Asia?

Everyone can agree on one thing: vacation time!

And we at HR in ASIA couldn’t agree better on this one. Do come back with your feedback and suggestions, hope you had a wonderful read.

Also read: How to Encourage Employee Creativity at Work without Promoting Dishonesty?

Content rights: This exclusive interview content is produced by HR in ASIA. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in this interview is prohibited. You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. 

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