When you think of creativity at its best you probably imagine complete freedom. No holds barred... Large, healthy budgets... An ability to be everywhere... Plenty of time.
But what do you do when you don’t have those luxuries? Is it possible to use limitations as a catalyst to creative solutions?
When you think of creativity, you probably don’t think communist Russia. The USSR was known for structure, order and doing what you’re told. As in most one-party governments, you are required to adhere to the rules. It was not unheard of that artists that chose to deviate from the expected norms would find themselves exhiled… or worse.
Sounds like a pretty stifling environment to express creative genius, right? Not exactly.
Dance choreographers were demanded to create dances that incorporated Soviet themes and glorified soldiers. And before you start thinking what a yawn that show may have been, consider this: this demand/constraint led to the creation of some incredible dance moves that even today are some of the most difficult to replicate… Dance moves that even now win the adoring applause of an audience. The iconic “goose step” resulted in a move where dancers went into squats using their extended legs as a gun and then found ways to supernaturally leap over their own bodies without missing a beat. Moves like this would not have existed had the original constraint not been demanded.
It’s common to run into businesses that have, shall we say, limitations.
There’s just one person (or a small handful of people)
The budget's small
There’s no time
These constraints are often pointed to as reasons why an organization can’t have a larger impact. But as the Russian dance story illustrates, limitations can often give rise to creativity.
“Limitations often give rise to creativity.”
Now to be fair, in today’s business climate, constraints can and do have an effect.
You may not have enough money to be competitive in the paid media arena… You may have missed the ideal time to launch that new idea... You may not have the right infrastructure to make the big moves you desire…
But before you completely throw in the towel, we’d like to introduce you to another concept: strategic practicalityTM. It means what you probably think it does. And it was such a pivotal part of the Rogue Approach, that our agency actually trademarked the term at the end of 2015.
Strategic practicality is an ability to take a real-life, practical business scenario or situation and apply strategic solutions that work within those established limitations.
Said differently, it’s an ability to reverse-engineer a solution when it’s clear that you can’t do it all and you don’t have the means to navigate a world of infinite possibilities. It’s through this lens that Rogue applies limited resources…to strategic initiatives… in a particular order… at certain points in time.
Time for Businesses to Behave Differently
Too often, Rogue gets an opportunity to meet a new business and they lay out the big outcome they’re looking to achieve. They may share ideas they’ve considered to help them get there, and sometimes tell us of the stops and starts they’ve had that led up to the conversation we’re now having. So far so good.
But then, they put the ball in our court. “Ok, so we’d like to hear your approach. We don’t want to tell you what we have to spend, we want you to tell us what it would cost to do it right.”
Why has this approach been such a dangerous proposition… and why should you stop taking it if it’s been your approach?
The marketing profession may not be as well-regarded as physicians, but in many ways we perform similar functions.
It would be like going to your physician and explaining your problem and then asking for a solution. The doctor suggests an MRI for a deeper look, but you don’t want to pay for that. OK. Doc decides that perhaps you can find relief in medication, so she prescribes penicillin. Only problem is that you’re allergic. An alternative is available but it’s not covered by your insurance. And so the story goes. The far better approach is a candid conversation and medical history that outlines all those constraints and limitations letting the doctor offer remedy options that have a chance of being met with approval.
So far, we’ve had a zero percent win rate of businesses adopting the “what it takes to do it right” plan. We’ve had a whole lot of, “we could never spend that much.” “We can’t afford that kind of time.” And “since we can’t do it ‘right,’ we’re going to keep doing what we have been doing.”
Applying strategic practicality has been a far better approach. Understanding the constraints and limitations from the outset allows this team to get creative inside an organization’s specific limitations. It means the plan that comes back is actually feasible and shows a linear marketing approach where insights are discovered --> strategies formulated --> campaigns executed and optimized.
While our creative approaches haven’t resulted in the invention of any new dance moves yet, we’re not ruling it out.