The challenge of choosing creativity

Some of the work I’m most proud of never saw the light of day. It died at the final research hurdle, or worse, it got remade into something forgettable.

I know I’m not alone.

As a trained researcher and a fan of spending time with real people in the real world, it took me a while before I started to really question and doubt this particular type of consumer feedback. I started to learn more about the biases that people have when it comes to creativity. The unfortunate truth is that most people aren’t very good at seeing the potential in originality.

There is mounting evidence that test audiences are bad at spotting good ideas. Familiarity bias – the tendency to like things that feel more familiar – makes us overly rational and critical of things that are new and different. Unfortunately creators aren’t great at evaluating their own ideas either… they’re too emotionally invested.

So who are the best ‘good idea spotters’? Turns out, other creatives, people who have an eye for originality but aren’t too attached. Creative peers are twice as likely to accurately predict the success of an idea.

We can use this knowledge to our advantage; share our thinking and ideas with other creative minds. Balance consumer feedback with creative feedback and arm clients with the evidence they need to choose originality over familiarity.

In his book Originals, Adam Grant puts it like this: “the ability to see the potential in something unusual is rare and needs to be nurtured.”

Written by Fran Clayton, Chief Strategy Officer – DDB Sydney