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The Value of Non-Hierarchical Offices

Marketing Director at Ikon Arts Foundation, Linda Mateljan

— March 8, 2017 — Business
Ikon Arts Foundation is a relatively new organization that was established to engage with, support and experience Croatian creative Culture. Trend Hunter recently spoke to Linda Mateljan, the Marketing Director for the brand, about how she is able to focus on artistic creativity in her work.

How does your team generate great ideas? Do you have certain rituals to make creativity happen?

Our team is small and located in different cities around the world, so we have to be as flexible as possible. Each of our team members is constantly looking at the non-profit sector, as well as art, design and film landscapes for both gaps and inspiration.

I am a big believer that placing oneself in ‘a discomfort zone’ is a great way to generate ideas, as well as being open minded and having an insatiable curiosity. Much of our innovation comes from a ‘considered randomness’, which we are able to harness and transform into an actionable idea. However, we have that luxury being a small organization.

What are some barriers to innovation? How do you get around them?

In our case, distance is the greatest barrier. We aren’t able to bounce ideas off each other face to face, so digital communication tools and social media are indispensible. Whether it be sharing on our Pinterest board, tagging on Instagram or just simply using Google docs, without these tools, sharing ideas would be impossible for us.

From a broader perspective, I think most barriers today exist due to inflexible cultural norms and technological limitations. On the upside, shifts tend to occur gradually, we just have to work out which direction the shift is headed.

How do you identify trends? What resources does your team use to spot trends and insights?

Although there are many methodologies to this practice, each with their own merits, I’m a firm believer that personal engagement with the world at large is the most effective way to identify trends. From reading blogs and listening to podcasts, viewing exhibitions, attending interesting seminars and, of course, traveling to unique destinations. I push myself to consume beyond my usual scope of interest. Then it’s about connecting the dots, which is often intuitive, but is also aided by group brainstorming and other creative exercises.

Do you have specific rituals for resetting to be creative?

For myself, personally, I need to travel. At times to disconnect, to digitally detox, while other times to immerse myself in a different culture. Hiking in nature is also a fantastic way to clear the mind and reset.

Has there ever been an instance where another industry has influenced an innovation at your company?

We operate in the non-profit sector but really look to innovative brands and media companies for inspiration. For example, operating our digital presence as an online magazine has been a really effective way to promote the work of the creatives we support.

What are some examples of things you can do to create a culture of innovation?

I believe it is important to create a space where everyone understands that his or her ideas are important and valid. Within our organization, we have a flat hierarchy. We share ideas and inspiration. We all contribute our ideas as to how the organization and various projects we undertake should evolve