The value of ideas in the creative industries
In no other industry will you ever find so much talk about ideas as in the advertising industry. The importance of good ideas. The power of good ideas. The value of good ideas. Why is our industry so concerned with good ideas? As if there are no ideas used in other industries. Law? Engineering? Technology? Literature? Somehow the advertising industry is the one bragging about good ideas as if it is all that the industry is made of.
The reality of ideas is that a good idea is consisted of thousands of smaller ideas and decisions executed in order to achieve that big “good” idea. Steve Jobs has said it best:
And as a creative talent myself I can confidently say that despite the fact that we creatives inhale and exhale ideas all day long, the great talents find their happiness in execution!
Yet the advertising industry has an increased focus on ideas. The reason behind that is a bit deeper than the casual over a drink debate – idea or execution. The advertising industry is charged not only with coming up with ideas but also inserting them into people’s heads and shaping communities’ cultures and tendencies.
At the beginning of Popo Creatives I was also so concerned with protecting my ideas. And I was wrestling with legal documents, writing up contracts, consulting with lawyers and asking companies at initial meetings to sign NDAs before pitching them that idea which will change their brand. And the ideas were certainly good but wasting time endlessly pitching ideas to companies brought me to the next question.
Now let me explain what I mean by this. The value of a good idea is priceless, immense some would say. But it also has an incalculable value. So how much is a good idea worth to a multi-million dollar brand? A hundred thousand? Perhaps millions. We would never know with certainty. And exactly because it can’t be calculated, the disadvantage of being incalculable becomes our advantage. Any business that is known for generating good ideas has a value that is inherently higher than it would be otherwise, by a seemingly arbitrary amount. And this is where we reach to the conclusion that it is better to be known for good ideas than being paid for good ideas, as counterintuitive as that sounds.
Once the firm starts growing, success is no longer placed on personal creativity. Increasing the number of great ideas within a company happens through the harnessing of the most important resource – the rest of the team. As you are building a company it is imperative that you give power to the people and trust them to come up with good ideas themselves. Don’t try to be the guru! It is not the individual that helps the company to consistently deliver – it is the team. This is done through culture and process but that is a topic of its own about which many books have been written.
To sum up,
- be known for generating good ideas even if that means giving away ideas with no guarantee for credit
- invest in execution and not protection of your “precious” ideas
- put ego aside and give your team the freedom and opportunity to be part of the “geniusness” of your company