Ragnarok: permission and design

A set report from the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok gives us a healthy reminder about what creativity really is.

The best line in the trailer comes not from screenwriter Eric Pearson, nor director Taika Waititi. It wasn’t even improvised by one of the actors.

A kid visiting the set suggested the line as he watched the scene being filmed.

The smart move by the director was to let the actors give it a go.

It’s funny and it’s brilliant and there’s a reason why that joke made it to the trailer.

Even now, we tend to think there are “creative people” and “non-creative people”. We even fool ourselves into thinking we belong in one of those two pigeonholes. We think that “creative people” simply conjure ideas from within their own heads. We sometimes think that organisations stifle creativity and we find ourselves saying things like “don’t ask permission, beg forgiveness”.

Yet creativity is truly the freedom to try new things, to allow them to fail if fail they must, to learn from each stage of the process. Our leaders and organisations can also grant, foster, and encourage that freedom.

Take the State Library of Queensland’s FunFace Lab, for example.

This was the brainchild of Queensland Memory officer Jacinta Sutton – who saw the opportunity to take existing faceswap technology, apply it to heritage photographs, and share it with the community at public events.

Jacinta was able to bring the idea to fruition because as part of the State Library’s Fun Palaces offering, we encouraged staff from across the organisation to suggest ideas for community activities.

Jacinta didn’t need to create the faceswap software: she needed the opportunity to make connections between the app, the heritage collections she knows so well, and the community she serves. And she needed an institution whose leadership saw the value of giving permission to bright new ideas, letting them surface and come to fruition.

In the same way, a funny line made it from a kid’s head to the Thor trailer because the director was smart enough to say, “Yes, give it a go”.

Sometimes it’s not about being “the creator”, the source of all bright ideas – and it’s not about the rebellion-permission-forgiveness dynamic.

It’s about being fast and flexible enough to let everyone’s ideas come to light.

For more on creativity in institutions see:


One thought on “Ragnarok: permission and design

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s