The Smart Creative: Key thoughts from ‘How Google Works’

Smart creatives CSC Blogs

In my role in the IT industry, I like to learn from the best bits of other organization’s practices and people, improve on them, bring them in house and make them work for me. So when I read a book, I often think about how the ideas can help my organization and our people.

The book “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg left a lasting impression in this way. One section that jumped out to me most was on successful workers of the future, what the writers deem “Smart Creatives.”

“And who exactly is this Smart Creative? A smart creative has a deep technical knowledge in how to use the tools of her trade, and plenty of hands-on experience. In our industry that means she is most likely a computer scientist or at least understands the tenets and structure of the systems behind the magic you see on your screen every day.”

Other important characteristics, summarized, include:

Analytical, business smart, competitive smart, user smart.

A firehose of new ideas.

A curious creative, a risky creative, an open creative, a communicative creative.

Technical knowledge + creative energy.

“Perhaps the best thing about Smart Creatives is that they are everywhere. … Their common characteristic is that they work hard.”

I’d like to add that they play hard, too. They have boundless amounts of energy and love what they do. They are non-gender specific, as I know many men and women who fall in this category. Sometimes you look at them and say, just how do they do it all? The answer is they can focus their energy on the things they love to do.

The last paragraph from the book reads, “We are certain that for every one of these rock stars we meet in our daily work, there are dozens even hundreds more who are doing their best to unseat us from our perch. Maybe all of them will fail, but probably not. Probably, somewhere in a garage, dorm room, lab or conference room, a brave business leader has gathered a small, dedicated team of smart creatives. Maybe she has a copy of our book and is using our ideas to help her create a company that will eventually render Google irrelevant. Preposterous, right? Except that, given that no business wins forever, it is inevitable. Some would find this chilling. We find it inspiring.”

Linking this back to my work and current role, I vow to embody the smart creative point of view and accept the challenge (put to us by Managing Director and VP for CSC Australia and New Zealand Seelan Nayagam) to “all lead with our hearts, minds and souls.”

I wholeheartedly agree to do things differently, to set an example for my colleagues and clients and to not be afraid to challenge the norm if there is a better way to get things done. I plan to support the creativity of those around me in the workplace and be willing to listen and learn from those who are smarter or simply have different ideas. And I plan to raise my head above the crowd and take risks in order to do good.

As those former Google execs know, Smart Creatives have the power to turn entire industries on their head. These are the types of workers we should want to be, want to hire and want to work alongside to drive us all forward.

Sarah James was ANZ lead for Authentic Leadership in DXC and an advocate for DXC’s Women in Leadership and STEM. Prior to leaving DXC in September 2017, Sarah founded the Empowering Future Leaders blog and was its primary author. With over 15 years of experience in the world of IT, Sarah’s specialty is spatial information and includes integration on projects as diverse as mapping volcanoes in Hawaii to delivering high-tech police vehicles.


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  1. Nice blog..all good…surprised they did not mentioned positive / optimistic attitude and critical thinking …essential components of to fuel creativity.

  2. Tim Armstrong says:

    Sarah, Interesting and inspiring blog.


  1. […] Smart Creatives use Google’s machine learning to select and build what it deems is the best combination of creative assets for a user in real-time. […]

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