The Man in Blue


Creativity at scale

A one-hundred strong choir chants at the back of Abbey Road Studios while John Williams conducts the impeccably talented musicians of the London Symphony Orchestra into a frenzied tempo for “Duel of the Fates”.

This is creativity at scale.

Throughout history, archetypes of creativity have focused on the lone artist toiling away in their studio, producing brilliant works of genius that are eventually revealed to the world. Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel; Shakespeare penning Macbeth. But the scale of creativity in the 21st century and the opportunities afforded by new technology mean that now, the most impactful moments of creativity are made possible more by your ability to collaborate and coordinate than they are by manic voyages of self discovery.

Score: A Film Music Documentary provides a wonderful insight into the stories behind the music that unknowingly pervades our fondest memories. John Williams is perhaps the most recognisable figure practising the art form of film scoring, but there are so many experts in this field whose work has made us smile, laugh and cry, time after time. Getting an insight into the way they work, and the intricate processes of film scoring reminded me of just how untrue the notion of a singular genius is (or ever was) in the creation of modern work.

From the germinating seed of a musical idea, a film score passes from the hands of a composer to an orchestrator, a conductor, musical performers, editors, sound engineers, mixers, and the film director themselves. Each of them puts their fingerprints on the work, and it’s the coordination between each of these professionals that produces the finished piece of creativity.

I’m reminded of the insight into fashion design delivered by Dior and I (ok, I might be a bit of a creative process nerd) which looked at the creation of Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection for the Christian Dior label. It was fascinating to see the interplay between Simons’ creative direction and the countless craftswomen whose hands his vision passed through, each helping to shape an idea into something tangible. It was truly the work of a finely honed creative team and a testament to collaboration over isolation.

While I wouldn’t dare to put a sublime piece of art like the theme from Jaws in the same ballpark as making software, great products aren’t made by great people, they’re made by great teams. Having a brilliant idea or a beautifully executed design is meaningless without the ability to galvanise and work with engineers, QAs, marketers, salespeople and support staff.

What one person can achieve by themselves can be incredible and inspiring. But to work on creativity at scale, to realise a huge, audacious idea … it’ll only happen if you’re a master of collaboration.

Cameron Adams Cameron Adams is a co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Canva, where he leads the design & product teams and focuses on future product directions & innovative experiences. Read a bit more about him ›