Tuesday 25 February 2014

Creative Directors and Zen Masters

What is the sound of one hand clapping? If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound? How does the brand own this idea? Is the unexpected part really that unexpected?

What do Zen masters and Creative Directors have in common? Good questions. 

In Zen Buddhism the masters ask these questions called koans. Koans are used to help the Zen students attain enlightenment. They are riddles like the ones above. They are brain hacks that split your mind open for a moment of omniscience (called a satori). Kind of like the green data-stream scenes in the Matrix.

Not unlike Zen masters with their koans, a creative director's role is all about asking the right questions. Questions that, similarly, open up their creatives’ minds and help them get to some truly breakthrough thinking - Questions that delicately nudge an idea towards greatness. 

In our line of work, the right questions also allow a sense of ownership to grow organically within the creative. Compare this to simply giving your creatives the answers; where they lose that sense of ownership, and you’ll discover just how powerful the right questions (koans) can be.   

All the great creative directors I've worked with have had the knack of asking just the right questions. These right questions have lead to the right answers, which have turned out to be the game-changing and much applauded ideas. One handed applause that is.

Christopher Ott. 

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