How creating a culture of courage leads to ideas with impact
Argyle vice president Terri McBay shares how to cut through fear to uncover breakthrough creative strategies and ideas.

In my role as a strategic planner and leader, I’m tasked with finding new, innovative, and dare I say ‘breakthrough’ ideas that change behaviour, build reputation or grow a client’s business. In an industry where everyone is seeking the next BIG insight or award-winning strategy, how do we ensure consistent success?

The answer is not linear, and creativity is not a science. Success invariably combines deep research, free-wheeling dialogue in pursuit of fresh insight, and an intuitive leap. It’s a beautiful dance of art and science.

Developing cutting-edge ideas that benefit a client’s business requires vulnerability, connectedness, and fearlessness. You need both the willingness to fail and the courage to try again.

Creating a culture of courage.

Have you ever been in a meeting or brainstorm where getting the team to share an idea is like pulling teeth? Usually, it’s fear that holds us back. After all, you’re putting your thoughts and ideas out there for all to judge. It’s often easier to stay quiet because the alternative is terrifying. What we need to remember is that without courage, we can’t create something unique.

Breathe in courage by exhaling fear.

Fear is creativity’s worst enemy. Why? Because fear leads to self-doubt and second-guessing. It’s tempting to rely on strategies and ideas that have worked before than take risks that could be monumental successes or crashing failures.

To foster a culture of creativity, we must first remove judgement, criticism and anxiety-producing interactions from our ideation process. This requires creating safe spaces for ideas to flow freely, openly and collaboratively.

At Argyle, we have a ‘yes, and’ attitude where no idea is dismissed until we take the time as a team to collaborate on its potential. As David Ogilvy once said, “ideas are magical but fragile seeds that require protecting.” That’s not to say we pursue every idea said aloud, but we respect the process and give the appropriate space for divergent thinking.

When it’s time to assess our most loved ideas, we ask four key questions to determine if the creative leap will drive business results:

  1. Relevance – Does the idea align with current culture or public expectations? Is it highly relevant to our audience?
  2. Value – Are we offering value to our audience they cannot receive from any other source?
  3. Knowledge – Does the idea align with our research and understanding of audience behaviour?
  4. Belief – In our hearts and souls, do we believe the idea will have impact?

If we answer yes to these questions, it’s likely a strong idea and worth pursuing. Having a standard evaluation process also helps us build idea confidence, and with confidence comes courage.

When tasked with producing the next big idea, I keep a simple mantra in mind to build a culture of courage:

No reservations. No retreat. No regrets.

  1. No reservations: Do your homework, and then don’t hold back. If your idea is truly grounded in research and insight, don’t let fear stop you.
  2. No retreat: Once the plan is approved, commit to it. Persevere. Do everything in your power to create success, no matter what unpredicted obstacles present themselves.
  3. No regrets: Plan for every possible scenario to ensure no step is missed in the execution and prepared to pivot. Also, be ready to learn from mistakes and failure – because when you take a leap, there’s always a chance you’ll miss the landing.

At Argyle, we work hard to create a culture of courage and safe spaces where idea sharing comes with openness and collaboration, which have proven effective time and time again. We’ll often place small bets with every project to trial new approaches and ideas to continue learning and growing. If you or your organization crave creativity, let us help you create a culture of courage, and the ideas will start flowing. Argyle offers a variety of workshops and ideation sessions to help you and your team land on innovative solutions to achieve strong business results.

“You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.” – Brene Brown

About the author:

Terri McBay is a vice president on Argyle’s newly formed Strategy and Integrated Planning team, where she focuses on supporting teams in the development of integrated and innovative strategies and plans. 

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