Sunday, October 3, 2010

Light bulb installation: How many creatives does it take?

How many people does it really take to come up with the big idea?
(Or just to make sense of the collective small ideas.)

A.) A lone rockstar
B.) A writer/art director team
C.) A select collaboration
D.) A and B with support from C
A.) There's still no "i" in team, but there is in creative.

You have to respect Leo Burnett's 1967 speech, 'When to take my name off the door.' Especially, his tribute to the solitary creative:
"Finally, when you lose your respect for the lonely man – the man at his typewriter or his drawing board or behind his camera or just scribbling notes with one of our big pencils – or working all night on a media plan. When you forget that the lonely man – and thank God for him – has made the agency we now have – possible. When you forget he’s the man who, because he is reaching harder, sometimes actually gets hold of for a moment - one of those hot, unreachable stars."
Along with the Burnett quote, this Gods of Advertising post uncovers some creative reality. Unquestionably, the transmedia revolution requires larger, more responsive core teams. However, there is an overlooked issue in this scenario – creatives are often introverts at heart. They may be masquerading as extroverts, but they still find essential inspiration from within. Usually alone, in solitude.
"Obviously, producing music, films and other forms requires collaboration but chances are the essence of the product belongs to one creator. And chances are that person was or is an introvert." – Steffan Postaer
B.) Two minds are better than one. Even better if they work as one. 

Bernbach's writer and art director team is still effective. Regardless of media execution, the idea needs to be expressed visually and verbally. Consequently, each team member is able to share idea ownership. Pushing the other, igniting new thoughts, and driving project passion. It's more exciting when a shared idea comes to life. Sure, the idea is executed by a larger team of experts, but it usually thrives within the original two people.

C.) With the right mix, group cooperation can trump solo cognition.

A new study co-authored by MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Union College researchers shows that collective intelligence within a group can surpass the individual intelligence of its members. But, the success of this idea depends on the group's social sensitivity. The better they collaborate and sense other team members' emotions, the better the result. And, if one person dominates the group, the collective intelligence goes down.
"Having a bunch of smart people in a group doesn't necessarily make the group smart," concludes Thomas Malone.
Get the right team together for a project and you can exceed an individual's capabilities. The new agency, co:, recently launched their flexible coalition. An impressive stable of thought-leaders and doers at the ready. I imagine they will still have core idea originators and protectors.

D.) My personal choice.

It's a mix between extended team collaboration, writer/art director idea development, and further personal creative thinking time. No matter how big a campaign or collaboration gets, there will always be limited idea ownership. It has to be that way. Without owners, the idea gets diluted or left for dead and chaos ensues.

The idea owners take primary responsibility. They flip the switch and bring the idea to life. Acquainting themselves with the essential details necessary to illuminate the idea as it grows and develops. Vowing to care for its well-being and ensuring it reaches its full, brilliant potential. Until it eventually fades out and gets replaced.

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