Opinion

13 August 2019

Creative departments don’t own ideas - here’s how to own yours 

A step-by-step guide for getting your ideas accepted and executed, from SYZYGY project director Marlen Lutter

I don’t have to tell you that client briefs can be a source of great frustration – especially briefs with great technological and creative potential that come from clients with no money, no imagination and no desire to take risks.

As a project manager, I find that as frustrating as most creatives. Even more so since my ideas rarely get put into the creative mix at all and rarely see the light of day. The fact is, I get bored sometimes. I get bored of delivering other people's ideas over and over again, bored of the same work, the same routines and having to play the same role.

However, I realised a few years ago that fortune favours the bold and that I had access to all this incredible talent that I wasn’t using. So I said, f*ck permission and f*ck job titles; ask for forgiveness, not permission.

And with that in mind I started to simply execute my own ideas with or without senior support, with or without budgets, just because I thought I should and I could. And mostly, yes, I could.


Reach for the top

If I did need senior support I learned to go straight to the top. Mostly because when I did try to respect the line management hierarchy, it slowed me down or flat out prevented me from realising my ideas. Too many people have their own agenda and will get in your way, so it’s best not to let them.

So how do I go about getting stuff done? Well, essentially, I treat it like a start-up trying to get investors, and this can be done by following three key steps. 


Grasp your vision

Firstly, have a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your idea, product, event, service, game – whatever it may be. Why do you think it is a good idea?  How will it benefit your agency or team? Why is it worth doing and investing in? Be able to articulate it in a few words. Practice your elevator pitch.

Next you need to form a plan for how you want to realise it, because there is nothing worse than a vague idea without an execution plan. What skills, time and budget do you need? Know your details. This is essentially your business plan.

Evangelise and diarise

Once the gears are in motion, spreading you vision is integral to giving your ideas the best chance of getting that stamp of approval. Teams offer a greater pool of skills and stops you being spread too thin so you can lead the charge!
Recruit a team, mesmerise them, get them excited and then have them commit their time to you, even outside of office hours if necessary. Bribing them will help.

Once you have your Avengers assembled, you’ll then need to get that meeting in the diary. Get your slides ready to dazzle that CEO or MD of yours and get that money.  Remember, you’re not asking for their permission, you are asking for their support. There is a fine line.

Don’t say, ‘Can I do this?’, instead ask, ‘Will I have your support in doing this?’ 

Execute and enjoy

Finally, treat your project like a baby. No one else will care as much about your idea as you so it’s up to you to make sure it gets born. Do not get side-tracked and do not give up. Daily business can get overwhelming and paid client work will always take priority, but it’s important to stay focused on your end goal.

Most importantly, enjoy the fruits of your labour. Name it, promote it and show it off whilst patting yourself on the back – but never forget to thank the people who supported you on the way.


Lutter initially presented the content of this blog as a talk at the Contagious Summer Bootcamp event.