The Big Idea Recognition Tool
After an exhaustive search an agency that will remain nameless selected me to be their Executive Creative Director. I was told the primary reason they wanted to hire me was my “impressive track record of creating Big Ideas”. Undeterred by some initial reservations, I took the job and got right to work.
In less than six months, the ideas coming out of the agency became noticeably better. Clients were thrilled, the creative department was re-energized and there was a general good buzz around the agency. Despite all this success, my methodology of presenting only one idea to clients became an issue. During our weekly leadership meeting, the CEO asked me to explain how I was able to determine which idea out of multiple ideas was the best one.
I thought for a moment and answered her with this question. “Out of all the men out there, how did you know your husband was the one?”
“I just knew,” she replied.
“Ahh,” I said, “It’s the same with Big Ideas. I just know.”
My fuzzy-wuzzy creative director answer wasn’t the one her Spock-like brain was looking for.
“Well that’s great for you,” she said, “but we (meaning herself and the other Vulcans on the agency’s leadership team) need a tool to help us recognize Big Ideas too. I want you to create a Big Idea Recognition Tool for us.”
Notwithstanding the ridiculousness of her request, I agreed to give her a Big Idea Recognition Tool.
“Meet me in my office at 3 tomorrow and I’ll present it to you,” I said.
The next day she marched into my office like a German commuter train – right on time. With my back to her, I waited a couple of seconds for dramatic effect and then suddenly spun around.
“How do you do,” I said reaching out to shake her hand. And then, with impeccable timing, I delivered the obvious punch line. “I’m your Big Idea Recognition Tool.”
Even though I made my point and the creative department loved it, I’m not really proud of how I handled the situation. As the ECD I had every right to assert my authority as the ultimate curator of the agency’s ideas, I just didn’t go about it the right way. If someone wants to know how an agency’s best ideas are selected, “I just know” doesn’t cut it. The truth is, my answer and antics were pretty arrogant. They made me look more like a tool than a Big idea Recognition Tool.
Since then, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what really makes an idea a Big Idea. How Immortology determines whether an idea is a big one or not is much more than a hunch or a feeling. It’s a 20-point checklist.
You just might have yourself a Big Idea if:
- It still feels like a big idea 24 hours later.
- Your customers will find it impossible to ignore.
- There’s little chance it will be forgotten.
If you’re interested in the other 17, click here and I’ll be happy to send you Immortology’s Big Idea Checklist.