If idea generation is an addiction then killing ideas is the cure. After spending countless hours developing and polishing ideas, we creatives tend to become attached to those same ideas (whether they are good or bad). The result can be a great deal of wasted energy and effort. It’s time to sever ties with (some of) our ideas and send them to the graveyard!

Most ideas are like bad relationships

You know you have to move on but the idea of letting go seems too unbearable to handle. Our team has heard all the excuses that range from “It’s just a matter of time before this idea succeeds” to “This idea is just too perfect to give up.” But, in reality, the same rule that holds true for relationships should apply for ideas: if it’s going nowhere, it is sometimes best to move on. Many creative professionals feel pressured to hang onto all of their projects. But sometimes we are blinded by our passion for the ideas we have conceived ourselves. We spend so much time pushing all of our ideas to fruition that we’ve lost a sense of perspective. The same passion that drives a creative to succeed can also interfere with judgement. Sometimes, the best idea is to kill an idea that is consuming a lot of your energy.

Much like pruning branches from a tree helps strengthen the remaining branches to survive a brutal winter, killing ancillary ideas will help nourish the ideas that are most critical.

Which takes me to the question every creative agency asks. Do we present three ideas to our client or should we present just the one? A good friend of mine and CEO of a large multinational once said to me “I don’t understand why our team ask an agency to present, they show us three ways to do it and say which one do you feel most comfortable with? Surely we are paying for knowledge and expertise to tell us what is best for our brand”.

Confusing clients by presenting multiple solutions is commonplace in the agency world. Some of the things we say to justify lengthy presentations:

  • “I’m convinced they’ll like something in here, which means we can invoice phase 1.”
  • “Brief was a bit hazy. Lets save on asking complex questions and cover ourselves.”
  • “It´s their product, they need to be comfortable with it.”
  • “They´re paying some decent money so we need to show we’ve spent a lot of time on this.”

Much like a funeral parade, celebrate the ideas that you have buried. If you suffer from separation anxiety, feel free to keep a backburner of ideas to which you intend to return. But be honest with yourself, and if nothing worthwhile is ever going to occur, say goodbye and don’t look back. Send that idea to the graveyard and give clients that one inspired insightful solution they will fall in love with.

Stay focused. Your client deserves it!

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