“Oh, I’m just not that creative.” Have you or a colleague ever said something like this? If so, you’re not alone. While many people associate the creative process with the arts, anyone can cultivate creative thinking and bring it to their daily work.
As researchers from the University of Central Florida put it: “Creativity transcends disciplines. Whether pushing the boundaries of artistic expression or pioneering innovative solutions to scientific problems, creativity is both a tool and a process—an inspired state of mind that can improve pursuits of every kind.”
When your team is on a mission to meet a milestone, harnessing everyone’s creative thinking skills and perspectives can be a challenge. That’s where Slack channels—a place for teams to share messages, tools and files—come into play. Channels provide a dedicated space for your teammates to put their heads together. From building a marketing campaign for Pi Day to advancing medical research, here’s how five teams are making Slack channels a vital part of their creative process.
Zipcar: Removing silos and encouraging widespread creative thinking
When Boston-based Zipcar had only two months to launch a marketing campaign for Pi Day, it turned to Slack to generate ideas fast. Instead of keeping campaign planning within the marketing team, Zipcar asked the entire company to contribute ideas to its
The winning creative process pitch came from the engineering team. One engineer suggested a contest awarding aRaspberry Pi Zero W mini-computers to 314 lucky entrants. The challenge? Zipcar asked entrants to dream and describe what they would build with the computers if they won.
Forty-five volunteers from different Zipcar departments, like engineering, design, IT and operations, joined forces in a
#PiDay channel and brought the campaign to life.
“I think the trap that all companies can fall into is working in silos and working mostly within their own departments,” said Lindsay Wester, Zipcar’s then-senior brand and marketing manager. “Slack, from start to finish, was able to provide us a way to work across teams, and that really accelerated the program.”
Lonely Planet: Driving creative process collaborations across continents
Lonely Planet’s annual Best in Travel List is kind of like the Oscars for excursions. All year, Lonely Planet’s staff and contributors are out in the world, scoping out the most interesting destinations and celebrations.
To create this year’s compendium, Lonely Planet invited the entire company to submit nominations in the
#every1atlp channel. Lonely Planet’s contributors are based all over the world, so you can imagine that the nominations covered a lot of ground.
After the year’s must-see destinations were chosen, the editorial, marketing, design, social media and project management teams worked together to power the creative process in a single project channel called
“We want to make people think a bit off the beaten track, or perhaps on the beaten track but in a different way,” said Sebastian Neylan, the company’s then-director of online marketing and project lead for Best in Travel.
Darling Recordings: Freeing up time for artists to make art
In 2015, Nick Faidley founded the independent record label Darling Recordings to release his friends’ music. As his Pittsburgh-based company grew, he realized he needed a solid organization system to keep track of all the logistics.
“There’s tons of files: music recordings, videos, contracts, photos, all that kind of stuff,” Faidley said. “If I didn’t save a file on my phone or on my desktop, well, there it went. Keeping up was a daily struggle.”
That’s when he turned to Slack. For each band he worked with, he created a channel to store essential files and information. By using Slack to manage logistics, Faidley gave the artists he worked with more time to devote to the creative process.
“The goal is to start getting artists to tour regularly, get them a little bit more budget to do things like videos and do the recording process more professionally; just help the whole thing scale up a bit,” Faidley said. “The more I can take off their plate, the more they can focus on making great songs and great records.”
The MacArthur Lab: Analyzing medical data in Slack channels
Dr. Daniel MacArthur’s lab specializes in researching and treating rare neuromuscular diseases. In collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., MacArthur’s team searches for signs of disease by sifting through long strands of genetic sequences.
While much of the work happens in the MacArthur Lab’s own software, the team uses Slack channels to analyze results. Slack channels are also used to give new team members a seamless onboarding experience.
“Before new researchers arrive in the lab, I’ll give them a Slack account … so they can see how the lab works,” explained MacArthur. “By reading through a few channels, they can see all the things that people talk about––here are the personalities on display, here are the animated GIFs people like to share––it helps them feel like they’ve got a sense of the cultural fabric of the lab before they get started physically, which I think is very useful.”
UC Santa Cruz and Carnegie Observatories: Uncovering the mysteries of the universe
It was something the world nearly deemed impossible. In August 2017, an international research team captured a gravitational wave exuding light.
“One of the most important things that we can do, one of the most human endeavors that we have, is to find our place in the universe,” said Ryan Foley, an assistant professor and researcher of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California Santa Cruz.
Einstein first theorized the existence of gravitational waves in 1916, but it wasn’t until 2015 that scientists were equipped to detect them. This breakthrough was still sending ripples of excitement throughout the scientific community when Foley’s team discovered something new; they captured and identified an image of a gravitational wave emitting light, all within their Slack channel.
“You can get up to 30 emails a day easily that’s just a name, a coordinate in the sky and maybe a date, which isn’t all that useful,” said Foley. “[Our research team’s] bot grabs all that raw data and combines it with a lot of contextual information from other databases, which then gets pushed right into our channels. If the data passes certain criteria of something we’re looking for, [it’s set up] so that stuff is in bold and easy to see.”
“It only took us nine images to confirm it,” said Foley. “I can now point to the exact image in Slack and say, ‘This is the moment that started a whole new scientific field.’ ”
Slack channels can take your creative process to the next level
It can be challenging to fully harness your team’s creative thinking––or even know where to begin––but Slack channels can help you get started. From breaking down silos, to connecting with an international team, to providing a space to analyze and discuss data, Slack channels are a foundational touchstone for nurturing the creative process within any organization.