An introduction to agile creative — part 1

5 min readJul 30, 2021


The mission

Loops has been in the market for 6 months, but it’s really been 10 years in the making — from Guided Collective to ThinkSprint to Loops.

Guided Collective was built on the insight that great creative ideas can come from wider places than design and marketing agencies — product designers, for example, or data scientists, technologists and digital entrepreneurs — so we brought those brains into the mix too. Diversity of thinking makes for richer creativity.

ThinkSprint was built on the insight that consumer innovation can be slow-moving purely using in-house teams and can become very expensive using management consultancies. But innovators in startups have huge amounts of value to add, so bring those brains into the mix too. Diversity of thinking makes for robust concepts.

With both models, we proved that the brightest minds can be assembled and coordinated over the Internet to respond quickly and brilliantly to complex briefs like: “What does the future of screens look like in 3–5 years time?” or “How can we capture the value back that we are losing to the emerging craft spirits sector?”

However, in retrospect the missing part of the chain was always the lack of any direct consumer input into the development of these creative ideas.

Enter Loops. We’ve taken the same agile principles that underpin modern product development — namely working in fast, iterative cycles — and applied them to a modern creative process, hence the name, ‘Loops’.

I want to share the insights, mental models, and technology we’re developing because if you work in creative commercial jobs, they could genuinely make your life easier and your work better.

Why should I care?

We built Loops because we were frustrated by the amount of energy that gets repeatedly wasted through typical design and creative practises.

Whether it’s the age-old problems like inefficient pitches, last minute stakeholder curveballs that eat into your weekend, or the highest paid person’s opinion carrying the day, even when it’s clearly uninformed, these recurring pain points are fixable.

Strategic, creative, and design jobs should be engaging, logical, and loads of fun. They shouldn’t be frustrating, stressful and a drain. But the pain points above are accepted as the norm so they keep happening.

As Einstein pointed out, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

That’s why we have designed a better way.

Human creativity is a superpower in a machine age, but selling creative thinking is never easy.

We believe that great creative thinking will become an increasingly valuable commodity.

Whilst AI will accelerate many creative tasks and even automate some others, it can’t connect dots in the ways a human brain can. Putting the two together has huge potential.

Ideas that TRULY cut through the noise and RESONATE with your audience are worth a lot of money. But if you cannot PROVE that your audience cares, they may never see the light of day.

This quote sums it up perfectly.

Why now?

1. Attitudes towards customer-centricity are evolving from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’.

To make products, services, and content that people really want, you need to speak to them early on and often.

The problem is that existing research approaches don’t go with the flow of creative development and are often bolted on at the end, instead of being implemented iteratively throughout the process. Furthermore, these approaches are solely owned by insights and research teams, when they should also become part of the toolkit for the people creating the ideas.

This way creators get closer to the insight, and the research and insights teams can be freed up to be more strategic. A win–win.

Empowering strategy, creative, and design teams with instant access to consumer insights throughout the creation process means that progress happens faster because debates are informed by customer data rather than subjective opinions.

As Alec Levin, the founder of Learners (a brilliant learning resource for UX, Design and Research), noted: “We’re seeing the democratisation of research and insights across organisations.

2. AI is removing the limits to learning

Qualitative data is where we find the good stuff e.g. the ‘why’ behind how people think like they do. For creative, design, and innovation, unlocking this is essential.

To get your hands on qualitative data, you’d probably run a few focus groups with around eight people at a time, perhaps along with some depth interviews conducted one at a time. It might take a few weeks to set this up, and someone would need to be available to synthesise the thoughts and opinions, which takes days.

We’re experimenting with deep learning that will do qualitative synthesis for you e.g. You can write any open question like “What are the top 3 things people care about” or “What is the core message” and the AI will understand the question, apply it to the data and give you a contextually accurate answer in seconds.

Therefore instead of slow learning from a handful of people, an AI-powered tool like Loops means you can learn fast from hundreds. You can get results in hours rather than weeks. To be clear, this doesn’t supplant human brainpower, it augments it. We’re only scratching the surface of what is possible, but the big implication of this tech for people who work in strategy, creative and design fields is a ten-fold increase in the ability to understand what resonates with your audiences.

What’s next?

The “agile creative system”.

An end to end creative approach powered by conversation data, crowdsourced concepts, and consumer validation, that any team can adopt to accelerate and amplify their capabilities.

I’ll talk about this in the next post and explain how global clients are putting the ‘agile creative system’ into action.