Part 1 in a 3 part series.

In this post-recession, larger workload, tighter timeline environment where agencies and clients have cut the fat and are still licking their wounds, it’s important to take a step back and remind ourselves of the importance of true innovation – and what it really takes to make it happen.

Innovation doesn’t just mean the next big flashy thing, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, or Pumpkin everything. Innovation means growth – for an agency, client and a creative person and team. It means pushing the boundaries of what we do everyday, even if it’s just a little. And it means producing good work. Impactful work. Work that everyone can be proud of. Work that makes a difference and produces results.

The role of the creative is to be the rule breakers, to think out of the box and to help lead the charge for innovation. Creatives have to let loose every once in a while to get to someplace new, and the truth is that most account services and clients just can’t do that. But that’s OK. That’s why we each have our specific roles.

Where the issue lies, is when creatives aren’t given the chance to have breakthrough moments. It not only inhibits the creatives ability to do a good job, thus causing a cycle of frustration, but also impacts the business. And in the end, no one wants to work with the agency that isn’t doing anything innovative.

In this three part series, you’ll be introduced to some of the leading factors that inhibit innovation, and be given a few tips on how to help stop the bad habits, change the way you work, and create a better, more productive creative process.


CHALLENGE: Too Many Cooks It’s vital to have a clear leadership tree with creative approval roles. The team members reviewing should have experience working with creative, understand creative strategies and how an audience digests creative. Because the most impactful, effective creative often uses symbolism and metaphors to communicate a message, the person reviewing creative should have a solid understanding of visual language, or at the very least be open to it’s possibilities.

When team members who are not visual, do not understand metaphors or are unable suspend personal opinion in order to review creative from a business strategy point of view are the decision-makers, small details often become the distracting focus instead of the whole picture. The work gets watered down or vanilla’d out and the unfortunate, regurgitated product will never be as smart as the original.

SOLUTION: Leadership Training If the account teams have not provided a clear leadership tree, work with the decision-makers to identify one that everyone involved has agreed upon, and enforce it throughout the creative review process. If there is no leadership available that has creative experience, creative should spend extra time walking through the thinking behind the creative decisions made. Always ensure that the reasons align with the initial strategy and address feedback without emotion. Working with the account team will help maintain creative integrity while educating the team, and growing the relationship. So, next time it will be easier.


Continue to Part 2