AIGA Baltimore

You don’t know Jack: A conversation with Jack Anderson

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information, taking a look at everything from afar – it is often good to get up out of your comfortable setting and listen to others speak to their experiences and have an in-person conversation.  Last week, I had the privilege of attending ADG’s event: Branding With Jack Anderson, which was both motivational and inspiring.

Jack Anderson of Hornall Anderson is one who is inspired by the people at his office and strives to help create new environments giving people the ultimate human experience. He describes himself as a student, a designer, and a strategist – commenting on the fact that designers are not just part of the service department anymore, but that we are vital in the collaboration process. We all can be creative no matter who we are in an organization, and when you foster an environment with no fear and give employees the permission to fail – your people grow.

The Hornall Anderson Experience Lab (HAX) is brilliant. It is a space created for the fostering of creative ideas with multiple technologies and the space to test them. Yes, not every company can have one of these, but we can take the concept and foster creativity by listening to the main ideas Jack commented on in his talk:

• Anyone can be creative. The next best idea for your company can come from the receptionist. Hornall Anderson’s receptionist came up with the idea of a culture wall, a wall of photos of all the employees showing different expressions. Maybe someone has an idea for ping-pong tournaments or company retreats, etc. Letting people be able to express their ideas in an open environment with no fear keeps the moral positive.

• Don’t love your ideas to death. As creative beings, we sometimes try too hard to keep an idea and love it so much it fails. Push for quick no’s and prototyping. Let ideas come and let them go – understanding that not all of your loved ideas are going to be the ones that make it.

• Create your own story. You make your own success. Don’t let others write it for you. If there is something you want to do, go for it. Pave your own way, but understand that it will not always be easy.

• Give the permission to fail. Make mistakes and make them on purpose, giving yourself or the staff the ability to think quickly and effectively. Giving people the permission to fail allows a weight of fear to be lifted and helps open the doors to more creative collaboration and a better flow of ideas. It allows people to take risks they may have been scared to take before.

• Open environments. Get people off their butts and into meetings and out in the open. Take field trips, build space to allow for creative collaboration, and allocate a budget for ideas.

• Even ground. Even though Jack is the CEO of Hornall and Anderson, when in a room his voice does not carry anymore weight than any other person in the department. Allow for good ideas and creativity to come from anywhere.

• Recommended Reading: Good to Great By Jim Collins. This book changes how we think about success, talking about a Hedgehog concept and helps the reader learn how a good company can become a great company.

Thank you to ADG and Jack Anderson for an inspiring and motivational event, where we have grown our knowledge in understanding of creativity, branding, and appreciation for those that inspire us to do more. Here’s to all of our ongoing education that feeds our sense of curiosity.