The Creative Hierarchy of Needs

You may have noticed that when I talk about the work Creatives do, I prefer to say “tackling a challenge” rather than “solving a problem.” Creatives solve problems of course, because clients typically hire them when they have the kind of problem that needs a creative solution. So there’s that. 

However, to me the language of problem solving is, er, problematic. It suggests that without an identified problem, Creatives have nothing much to contribute. Oy vey. As anyone who works with them can tell you, Creatives will be contributing something whether it solves a problem or not. 

In my experience that’s because, left to their own devices, the question that Creatives secretly yearn to tackle is definitely not “what’s the solution to this or that problem?” but rather “how cool would it be if…”

IMHO any client that learns to harness that yearning (yes, even to solve problems) will have Creatives giving them the best work of their lives.

And it will be because they’ve stumbled onto something I’ve come to call The Creative Hierarchy of Needs, a Maslow-inspired pyramid that peaks with Creatives asking themselves “I wonder if…”, then diving in to find out

The Creative Hierarchy of Needs


Portland, OR / Santa Rosa, CA / Remote Everywhere


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