Have you made an idea a reality lately?

We all have those ‘aha!’ moments; you’re wandering along, moving about your normal day without any conscious effort when suddenly it hits you – the best idea you’ve ever had. You smile to yourself, thinking how clever you are and how it is amazing that no one else has thought of it yet. Then you race to your next meeting or you get a phone call or someone asks you the time and in an instant the idea is forgotten, lost in the ether only to resurface in a few months time when you see the exact idea executed by someone else.

The point is while ideas are the most important currency we have, even original ideas will eventually be thought of by someone else and if they’re not executed they are meaningless.

I’m as guilty as everyone else (if not more-so, due to my goldfish like memory) of this, but I’ve decided to set myself a few little rules to work on stopping this happening.

1. Carry a small “ideas” notebook and pen everywhere
2. Set aside 30 minutes once a week to review the ideas in the notebook and see if there is anything I can use/action
3. Take time to reward myself when an idea becomes a tangible reality

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The ultimate idea killer

Ideas can come from anywhere. They are not limited by age, race, status or education. A good idea can come from the mind of a 5 year or in the ramblings of a 90 year old. These are facts that are universally accepted, and yet in an industry built on ideas many people allow their ego and sense of entitlement to hinder this process.

The ultimate enemy of ideas is the ego.

More accurately, it is ego which leads to poor leadership that in turn impacts the creative process.

Confidence and self-assurance can be great qualities in a creative thinker, they allow them to be vocal and forward with their thinking, free from the self doubt that can kill an idea before it begins. However these same traits that can make a great thinker can make a person a lousy people manager. Their ego and the feeling that they have earned their way to their current position of power and authority can make them hypercritical and short with those below them. There is an immediate dismissal that anybody with less experience and a lower paycheck could ever possibly come up with an idea that they could not top.

While the immediate impact of this will simply be dis-engaged and unmotivated staff, the long term ramifications for the agency are massive. Firstly, key talent are likely to go elsewhere if they feel they are being unrecognized and under acknowledged. This in turn will lead to a lack of up and coming talent from within the agency leading to the highly expensive need to recruit top talent from outside the business when your mid-top level employees move on. Secondly, the employees who do stay will likely be unhappy and unmotivated, this leads to increased sick days, lower levels of productivity, a generally lower level of moral in the workplace and higher turnover.

These problems are not limited to creative careers such as Advertising and Design, they are however more baffling in these industries as they impact not only the overall mood and moral but they inhibit the very thing that businesses pay for.

I have been fortunate enough to have been nurtured greatly and as such I have been lucky to have had incredible opportunities arise numerous times in my short career. This is perhaps the reason for my passion to help those that are new to the industry flourish and grow their passion. However many I know have not been so lucky, a lot of people will only last 6-12 months in their first role before leaving the industry all together, still more will go sales or client side out of frustration with the way they are treated and a lack of visibility into their future.

There needs to be a resolute and sound focus over the next few years within the media, advertising and marketing industry to check our egos (amazing though they be) at the door and really concentrate on building our people and talent management skills in order to ensure that creativity and free thinking thrive and that agencies are able to retain talent.