Biographer Walter Isaacson quoted Steve Jobs: "There's a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by e-mail and iChat. That's crazy."
Jobs knew that creativity came from people meeting spontaneously and having random discussions. That is, when ideas don't come from one brilliant creative person just thinking by herself.
When I was Creative Director at Chevrolet's ad agency in Detroit, we called it "a 360° walk around the problem". It was a technique for revealing every useful concept, and I've used it successfully for many new business pitches.
I realized early on that expecting a potential client to hire your agency based on one or two ideas was almost like daring them to hire you. The odds were terrible.
So we always told a client that we started off by looking at ideas from every point of view. For cars, for example, an historic point of view, a woman's point of view, a family's point of view, a technological point of view, an economic point of view, various social and psychological points of view, and so on.
Once we introduced our "walk", we got over 80% of all the accounts we pitched, large and small.The ultimate test was a few years later when we made our presentation to the Mexican Tequila Producers' Association. Their marketing committee came to visit us at Interpublic's offices in Chicago for their $10-million account and I presented an elaborate version of a "360° Walk Around Tequila". It took a good 45 minutes and the next morning we were awarded the account. That's when I was first told how great that was, because nobody on their committee spoke or understood English.
Steve Jobs was right again. Our agencies' ideas were arrived at nose to nose, pencil to paper. Nothing phoned in, texted, or Skyped in.
I'll drink to that.