Creative Techniques: The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.

Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat

Sun Tzu

Throughout my adult life, ideas have been my occupation. I’ve studied how ideas work, why ideas work, how to apply ideas in the real world and how to look at real world issues and generate ideas to solve problems. Even though advertising/marketing is my industry, I’ve looked far and wide to better my understanding of ideas.

Apparently though, I’ve been wasting my time. I’ve met hundreds of people who believe good ideas are simply laying around on the ground, as some of us are lucky enough to trip over them and pick them up.

Of course, most of these people have a fantastic, quickly shared opinion about ideas in general, and they usually fall into one of 2 categories….

People who haven’t got a clue about the problem, but have an awesome ‘idea’ to solve it (tactics without strategy).

People who recognise the problem but suggest a totally impractical a flying widget to fix it (strategy without tactics).

These people are full of hot air, and neither opinion gets you where you need to be. The most important lesson I’ve learned over the past 30 years or so, is that Sun Tzu was right. Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

You have to understand the situation thoroughly if you’re going to think creatively, and you have to actually be able to generate solid, achievable ideas to solve the problem.

Hot air gets you nowhere unless you’re a balloonist.