Creativity and the Value of Constraints


Ours is a creative environment. In fact, our company, IDEAS, has always been based on understanding an audience, crafting an engaging story, and delivering that story as creatively as possible. Okay, everybody in our business says that. And, while we’re at it, how about these?

“No idea is a bad idea.”

"Get out of the box.”

“This has to be one-of-a-kind.”

“We want innovation!”

“Just come up with a great concept, don't worry about the budget right now.”

“Get that guy who wrote___; he’d be great!”

Sound familiar? This is the language of people who are in love with the idea of creativity but don't actually have to create for a living. A truly creative enterprise is built on a deep understanding of some key facts: the constraints around a project.

Before we all jump out of some mythical box, lets understand the objectives of the work, the audiences we need to understand, the rational cost of execution that can be expected and, most of all, what kind of amazing “Mission Impossible” team we might need to assemble to get it done. I mean, I LOVE Aaron Sorkin, but we probably can’t afford him. Besides, as we are fond of saying on our team, “the Beatles didn't have a lead singer.”

As I write this, about a dozen of our team members are in Houston, Texas, turning a creative dream into reality. We’re helping our client, The Houston Super Bowl Host Committee, bring to life Future Flight, the world’s first virtual-reality trip to Mars, along with more than a dozen other hands-on space technology exhibits. Set aside for a minute that most of this has never been done before.

About a day later, that same team will install, populate, decorate, and ignite Houston LIVE, a completely new brand activation and immersive-environment that will steep guests in the amazing vitality and energy of a city that many don’t fully understand. We will tell the story of Houston through interactive experiences, media, live performance, food and beverage, and presentations featuring some of the world’s largest and most well-known companies – and they have all agreed to work together collaboratively to ensure Houston shines.

Successful creative work means you have to know your audience, understand your client’s goals, and do a phenomenal job, on time and on budget. If you want to do things that have never been done before, no problem – but you’d better have a great team. Not just competent… GREAT. They have to care about each other, they have to separate personal egos from the bigger picture, and they have to be able to become a singular organism.

That is the simple reason this task is one I believe could only have been accomplished by teaming with GES. You have about a day to make it work when you first start. I’m proud to say that for our IDEAS/GES team, it took an hour. Houston will truly benefit.


About the Author

Bob Allen

Bob Allen is Chief Storytelling Officer for IDEAS, a media and experience design agency focusing on concept development, experience design, and branding. Bob began his career in the entertainment industry as a musician at the age of 16. After graduating from college, Bob held a variety of positions in Disneyland’s Live Entertainment Division. A nationally recognized speaker, Bob has presented to various groups that include the U.S. Air Force, Association of Travel Marketing Executives, Allied Travel Organization, National Telecommunications Conference, and TedX High Point to name a few.

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