The “poetry of a moment,” says Robert Wong, is often in the restraint.
Whether he’s giving his team near-impossible puzzles to solve in no time or hosting endless brainstorming sessions, boxing in a creative mind is his best innovation catalyst.
“I think more limits actually forces more creativity,” says Wong, one of Google’s top creative officers. He gives his people “no time at all to solve big problems” to avoid over thinking, and turns brainstorming sessions into timed sprints toward the edge of the nonsensical.
“They just go with the flow, where they have to solve it … and then that’s when the creativity has to kick in,” he says.
When he’s truly stumped, Wong takes a walk to let his subconscious ruminate on the problem. He doesn’t just sit around waiting for inspiration to land: Hits like the “Parisian Love” Superbowl ad and Arcade Fire’s Chrome project, “The Wilderness Downtown,” didn’t just land in his lap.
“A lot of people talk about it like you sit, and you just be creative,” he says. But Wong believes it’s a combination of getting space and getting down to business. “I think that most of the time the best thing to generate creativity is just like being confronted with an interesting problem. You know, a problem that you actually want to solve.”