The difference between process and procedure seems to have struck a chord. The former can help to liberate, while the latter can imprison. One can unleash, and the other can confine. Process is critical – procedure (in our business) is a killer.

Yet we still get it confused. Sometimes we think that there is only one answer, just one way to look at problem solving. If we follow the path, it will lead us to the one and only inevitable solution. Reminds me of a presentation I once saw given, many years ago, by the founder of one of our companies (not Lester). The man was an amazing presenter, a creative juggernaut. When he presented, people listened – and he sold more ideas than almost anyone else I have ever met.

The presentation was in the days before PowerPoint (imagine that!). He used big easels, flip charts and boards. The flip charts were all pre-handwritten and presented the case and argument that led to the big idea; the boards were to show the work.

Bob (that was his name) worked the room brilliantly. He built the case; created anticipation and excitement; played the tension to his advantage. As he worked towards unveiling the work, he began, “And all that I have said leads me to one and only one conclusion.” He paused – I swear we all heard a drum roll (that’s how good it was) – “And here it is,” he said as with a flourish he unveiled the next page of the flip chart.

There was a moment of silence – a pregnant pause heavy with expectation – the client looking thoughtful said, “Bob that sucks.” Not missing a beat, Bob ripped off the page revealing underneath and said, “However you can look at it this way…” and went on to win; he owned the client and launched a great and successful campaign.

The lesson? There is always another answer. If we don’t have it, someone else will. Lock yourself in with fences, and we will never, ever find it – and we will frustrate the hell out of our clients, our people and ourselves.

Now you don’t have to be like Bob, but do be open – consider different views; by all means champion what you think is the best, but if you are going to fall on your sword for just one – it better be damned good and you better be damn sure.

In the end, creativity, idea creation and big thinking are not the result of a follow-by-numbers set that brings everyone to the same place. Rather:

“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” — Albert Szent Gyorgi.

And that is the key. If we all looked at the same problem and thought the same thing, seems to me that our value would be vastly diminished. Think about Bob; think about our clients; think about yourself and think differently!

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