Controlling Creativity

December 9, 2015 by  Mike Dineen

As Top Drawer’s resident wordsmith, fact checker, and functionality tester, I have a little confession to make: I’m not in love with the term “quality control,” even though I fully believe in its importance.

Don’t get me wrong; I rather enjoy the responsibilities involved with my role as Top Drawer’s quality control person. I get a special sort of thrill scouring all manner of creative and digital to catch the errors, from spelling mistakes, grammar issues, and awkward sentence structure; to design-related issues, visual inconsistencies, and online functionality; to fact checking, name spelling, and price checking – and so on.

It’s more the idea of “controlling” everyone’s creativity that I shy away from – especially when you consider that I work in a space fuelled by free-flowing creative energy.

It might seem that quality control is a straightforward process, one that could be completed by a robot or a computer program – like Word’s spell checker. But robots and programs lack the ability to detect those errors that demonstrate just how human we are, like contextual errors, illogical flow of information, or things that “just don’t look right.”

Would a robot be able to detect what’s wrong with this innocently awkward blunder that graced Toronto’s public transit system?



Or, this Starbucks gem?


I think not.

While quality control might seem like the creativity buzz killer, consider that all creative productions must eventually be sized properly, made consistent, and packaged up to make them accessible to an audience.

Think of the pre-defined boundaries of a poster, or the strict character count of a Tweet. These might seem like obligations, when actually the human-made boundaries have the effect of harnessing the designer’s creativity and strengthening the muscles of the social media writer.

So I’m that guy – the one who insists on adding a hyphen between two words at the eleventh hour. But when you have to find a way to capture the essence of a product or a brand in a short, sweet tagline for example, the only words you can use are the best ones.

There’s simply no room for error.