It's Time to Burn the Brief

Be fearless in committing to experimentation
Stop the impulse to make first.

One of the most challenging aspects of our industry is to NOT immediately begin making, creating and building. It's not challenging because of a lack of creativity, ambition, talent or intelligence in the people working for, and, with us. 

No, it's difficult because we're solution-oriented and have been primed, trained and, heck, even incentivized to jump into action and start to tinker, develop and work on delivering a THING. We crave that making part of the process.

That thing could be a brochure, a content system, a campaign ad, package redesign or even an app. We often start with dreaming up solutions. As soon as possible.

But I think it's time to dismantle that impulse.
Fearlessly challenge the notion to go create right away.

There is a better and, dare I say, even more enjoyable way to create.

It's time to unlearn this conditioned response to quickly produce over patiently questioning. Intrigued? Good. 

Courageous curiosity.

I think it's time we do something radical at our agencies and with our clients. 

Burn the brief. Yup, burn it up.
Tear it up. Light fire to our sacred process and documents.

Instead, let's make creativity non-denominational. Let's spend (much) more of our power (and resources) investigating the challenges and the experiences of the people we are serving with our creations.

Be resilient in experimentation.
Be gutsy in asking WHY are we going down this path.

Agencies have a unique opportunity to foster a truly democratic approach to idea generation. We can empower media buyers to be designers. We can teach clients how to create WITH us. 

I think our agency leaders and clients can rediscover the magic that brought them to this industry in the first place. By being explorers.

People are innovative.

People are the most fascinating part of our jobs, our lives and our planet. We have our own stories, strife and success. If people are truly who we serve, they should be part of the fables, the data, the email campaign and the narrative. Who is using our product? What are the people loving and loathing? How will they encounter our creative and campaign?

People should be considered throughout every single iteration of every single solution an agency makes for a client.

The people may inspire us to make or find or discover a different, better way.
That is where the joy we seek in advertising resides.

Myths about where agencies and clients should start.

• Creativity HAS to begin with the SECRET sauce. No way! It all begins with, you guessed it, people, and their experiences. Ask for whom this serves and how we might make their day, experiences or interactions more enjoyable or efficient. Provoke and prod the PEOPLE.

• Only a special ELITE are INNOVATIVE and creative. Nope! Imagination is a team sport everyone can play. And should. Bring more minds, hearts, hands and eyes to the table, whiteboard and Zoom meeting—more often.

• Design work is TOO EXPENSIVE. False. Innovation, progress and change is an economic imperative. In fact, I encourage you to consider the consequences of not investing in the move from your existing situations and systems and remaining stagnant. (Oh, and companies that have invested in this way of operating outperform the rest of the S&P 500 by more than 219 percent.)

Burn the library.

The great Don Norman asked how we might "ensure that our technologies are designed with people in mind, more humane, more collaborative and more beneficial to the needs of people, societies, and humanity."

To him, these are some of the foremost issues facing the world.

I couldn't agree more.

But first, we're going to burn that brief.

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Laura Forester
Laura Forester is director of strategy and engagement at Chemistry.

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