Innovate is defined as: “to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.” Seems pretty simple, but in reality it is hard to be innovative. It’s much easier to be derivative. How many times have you been asked to come up with something new, but deliver something very similar to someone else’s, or even your own previous ideas? The challenge with innovation is that the definition is missing one key ingredient: “time.” It takes time to innovate. You need time to think, to create, to try and try again. Innovation doesn’t just happen. It’s a process of trial and error.

But today, as marketers and creatives we are dealing with the antithesis of innovation – and that is immediacy. We are expected to deliver quality ideas and campaigns in record speed, because the time is now. We have to engage our audiences before someone else does! And frankly, that is not fair to the creative process and disrespectful to the audience – it doesn’t give them any credit. Our audiences are smart and savvy – and frankly they deserve more.

“Don’t go down a rabbit hole. Stay on task.” I’ve heard this too many times. As creatives, we are told not to go off on tangents. To not rack up hours. To not lose focus. In today’s marketing world, we are expected to deliver on time and budget. And while we deliver good stuff, we are not allowed the time to truly innovate and deliver something great. We need our rabbit holes. We need our dead ends. We need to fail over and over. This is what we need to be innovative. Because without the opportunity and allocated time, we will keep delivering the same things over and over. As Albert Einstein said,” The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results.” Which do you want to be – insane or innovative?

Michael Weiss is Vice President of Marketing at Creative Circle. He is a digital strategist, content marketer, and presentation coach.

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