How about an innovation instead?
David Ogilvy, the most quotable man in advertising, once said: “Make sure you have a Vice President in charge of Revolution, to engender ferment among your more conventional colleagues.”
And while I most certainly agree with the sentiment, as a guy at an agency (with Ogilvy’s name on the door no less) whose job it is to help colleagues and clients innovate, it gives me pause.
What are the simple and digestible ways anyone at an agency can affect innovation starting today? Here are five things to get you started:
1. Creative injection. Nothing strangles innovation like having the same people in the room every time you’re trying to solve a problem. Invite outsiders—those within the agency who don’t work on that business, folks from other disciplines, or even a local startup who might have a fresh, unencumbered perspective on things.
2. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Oscar Wilde took it a step further: “Talent borrows, genius steals.” The lineage of some of the most innovative ideas out there can be traced to something that already existed. Heard of the Rio PMP300? Probably not. But I know you’ve heard of the iPod. The point is that starting with aspirational examples can sometimes be a catalyst for the next new thing.
3. Art of the pitch. Agency floors are littered with incredible ideas that never come to life because they aren’t sold with the same gusto and ingenuity as it took to create them in the first place. For a client to buy innovation they likely have to be shown, not told. Which leads to #4 …
4. Make > tell. One of my big takeaways from this year’s South by Southwest Interactive conference was the growing prevalence of the maker culture. Next time you’re faced with a client or new business challenge, ask your teams to produce a physical artifact as part of the pitch or presentation. It can be anything from a 3D cardboard model to a tweet powered gumball machine. It doesn’t matter, really, what it is. The act of making anything can be a strong catalyst for innovation.
5. Get out! Just a few weeks ago I tagged along with colleagues on a tour of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. The purpose was to get out of our comfort zones and experience things that could inspire different thinking in our approach to client and new business work. Without going into detail, a Flamenco dancer named Wendy Clinard has me reconsidering how to run important client meetings.
[Red Flag: Diego Cervo via Shutterstock]