Creativity is a double-edged sword, because every good idea generates a mountain of work.
Just ask the sales and operations teams what they think of all the ‘great ideas’ the marketing team is coming up with. Chances are they’ll roll their eyes, and dread all the new projects that will get dumped on their plates.
That’s the challenge. Creativity by its very nature is about creating—new ideas, new projects, new ways of doing things, and new processes. And without structure, a company can sink under the weight of its own creative initiatives.
Put rails on creativity
Rails are constraints or guidelines, and when applied to creativity they focus everyone on clear outcomes.
A great way to understand rails is with a simple exercise. Take out a blank piece of paper, and in 90 seconds write a joke.
Creating a joke on a blank piece of paper is hard. Now try it again, but this time write the joke in the form of a limerick, “There once was a man from Nantucket …”
The limerick is a rail, and it enables you to create far more effectively.
To avoid creating unnecessary work ask your team 3 questions to help define rails for your projects:
- What are we really trying to do?
- What are our expectations in terms of time, quality and costs?
- What does success look like?
Commit to outcomes
To avoid chasing big ideas that may or may not work, I anchor my marketing initiatives on a sales outcome.
I apply the 3V’s to my projects:
- Volume: More leads or increased brand awareness
- Velocity: Faster buying cycles
- Value: Increased profitability or reduced competitive forces
It’s hard to work on all of the V’s at once, so choose one at a time. It’s the ultimate metric. Increasing the workload of the organization is fine if you’re moving the sales needle and growing the business.
Just say “No”
The most powerful word in your vocabulary is “no.” If a project doesn’t have clear rails and well defined outcomes, just say “no.”
The world is filled with more ideas than it can execute. The challenge is to find the ones that will make an impact on your company and justify the increased effort.