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The Value of a Creative Work Culture

Debbie Drutz, Director of Innovation at Astral Media
Taylor Keefe
July 8th, 2012
Debbie Drutz is an expert when it comes to out-of-home advertising. As the Director of Media Markets & Innovation at Astral Media, Debbie’s 12 years of media expertise has proved to be valuable as she oversees the development and execution of Astral’s out-of-home products. During a recent conversation Debbie explained the importance of culture and creativity at her company.

5 Questions with Debbie Drutz

1. How do you motivate your team to come up with good ideas?

First and foremost, I’d say motivation comes from the top management. My team is very collaborative, so for us, it’s really about getting in a room, talking about ideas and being creative. It’s about following people on Twitter -- following creative people -- and really finding out what’s out there in the world and in our market, and what can we bring in to inspire us. I can say that everybody is constantly on their toes, they’re thinking and scouring the Internet in our sessions and always talking with cool and creative people. Another great thing about my team is that everyone is very creative and very different; they’re truly a unique group, which allows for good conversation and good flow.

2. How do you spark team creativity?

I really like sending my team to trade shows and conferences. I need to have them experience what's happening out of office in order for them to stay relevant and creative. Recently, the team went to the Digital Brand Activation Summit, we were at C2 and DX3. I like to make sure that each team member gets to experience something because sending the team to events, I think, is worthwhile for them to soak up great ideas and bring them back to share. As long as it’s within budget and reason, I want them out there.

3. Can you describe innovation at your company?

I’d say it’s both a standard process and ad hoc. Innovation is in Astral Out-of-Home’s DNA and the core of our department, Media, Markets & Innovation. We’re always looking for what the next big thing will be and making sure that we bring it to market first. It’s also important to note how often you innovate. You have to consider key priorities from the core business and then think about how to infuse innovation into those. Clear thought and strategy are at the core. So it’s ad hoc but it’s also about being strategic and fusing these innovative ideas. At the end of the day, it’s better to innovate and fail than to not do anything at all.

4. How do you create a culture of innovation?

It starts at the top. The culture is virtually given to you. It’s also very collaborative. Our clients value the creation and ideation that we provide, and when you see their responses and hear that positive feedback, that gets you excited to innovate for them again. We’re constantly coming up with creative ways to innovate using our core products. We understand how they work so it’s easy to do. Innovation is bred into the culture -- it’s in the DNA. So I’d say we have excellent internal support and excellent external motivation.

5. In what ways would you like to enhance you team’s innovation capabilities?

For sure it would be building the team across Canada. We’d love to expand the team to have a point person in each major market -- Montreal and Vancouver. It’s really about having the right people, that care and have the passion for the business. If you have that, you will find success.
References: linkedin, astral