Posted: 17 Jun. 2019 8 min. read

Creativity: Start at the end and work backwards!

Last year I was given the challenge of designing and delivering our flagship Global Employer Services client conference in the beautiful city of Prague.

A huge personal challenge, but it was amazing to see eight months of preparation, planning and design, working with a fantastic team of people, finally come to fruition.  Moreover, the reaction from our clients to the conference itself was a wonderful affirmation of our approach.

On the eve of the conference, I was walking through the site showing a colleague the main plenary room and our collaborative, digital space ‘The Park’.  She asked how we’d come up with the ideas for the conference theme, brand and approach, which were, by our standards, somewhat ground-breaking and disruptive.

“I guess it started with a few jottings in the back of my book – thoughts, ideas, sketches…” I started to reply. 

“Hang on, why the back?” she interjected. 

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but explained that in my work notebook I tended to write meeting notes, action points and deliverables at the front, while the back the pages were a series of scribbled diagrams, random words, doodles, sometimes incoherent scrawled phrases… nothing meaningful or decipherable to anyone other than me I suspect.  “It’s just where I capture my creative thinking I guess.  Doesn’t everyone do that?”  Her reaction suggested otherwise. 

For me, it was just something that I had always done.  Following our conversation I pondered whether there was some unconscious ‘left side vs. right side’ of the brain thing going on.  On the commute to or from work, when I open my notebook I immediately turn to front or back, depending on the job at hand and my frame of mind. Front/left diarises the ‘regular stuff’; the back/right reflects the product of my imagination. I guess there must be something in it…

This brings me to another thought – I consider myself a reasonably creative person, or at least I enjoy the creative process, yet I work in tax… surely the two are mutually exclusive? 

Well, no of course not.  Creativity can be found everywhere. People tend to associate ‘creativity’ solely with ‘artistic ability’, whether that’s arts and crafts, writing or design. Creativity is often pigeon-holed as the sole domain of those in the creative sector, and rarely associated with employees in a perceived ‘number crunching’ occupation.

Kirk Valis, Google’s global head of creative capability development, who rightly argues that creativity is a business critical skill, recently spoke at a Deloitte Directors’ Conference.  He provided fascinating insight into how and why creativity must be part of the armoury of any organisation's workforce, but two nuggets of wisdom in particular struck a chord with me.

  1. You don’t have to be artistic to be creative. Exactly! Creativity can be found anywhere – yes, even in spreadsheets and certainly in computer code – it’s really just the ability to free your brain and let it take you in a direction that you have not pre-planned. In a business such as mine, working in a people-focussed function, creativity is everywhere.
  2. You can makes serious points in fun ways. I’ve always believed this. A little gentle humour, or presenting something - even a complex issue - in a different, more compelling way can often deliver greater engagement than more traditional approaches. You have to consider the context of course - delivering a challenging performance review using iambic pentameter may not go down too well!

At our client conference last year, we tried some really creative and disruptive ideas.  Other than a smart contemporary conference brand, we created an engaging and compelling opening video with our digital design agency Acne, introduced interactive and energetic client sessions in partnership with Fieri and Deloitte Digital, and of course had our fabulous interactive area for human and digital interactions with our clients, ‘The Park’.  Creativity really helped us make a differential impact.

And now here I am, about to deliver my second EMEA Client conference – and yes, once again the back pages of my notebook are about to spring to life. I’ve witnessed the benefits that creativity can bring and I’m really looking forward to the conference experience!

So what about you?  Where have you used creativity in your role at work, or on a project? How do you harness creativity within your global mobility programme to enhance your service to your employees?  We’d love to hear – please leave any comments below…

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Danny Taggart

Danny Taggart


Danny is a Director in Deloitte’s Global Workforce team, leading our global mobility technology advisory service, consulting with clients on global mobility technology strategy, business travel services, data analytics and innovation. Danny has 30 years’ experience in the global mobility technology and analytics area, and has worked with clients across all market sectors advising on, developing and delivering innovative technology and data analytics services. He also writes and presents on various global mobility related topics.