The ‘not knowing’ part of starting a project has become the part of the creative process that I look forward to most. Sure, holding a piece of finished packaging or seeing a campaign we have created on social media is great, but there is something really special about ‘not knowing’ and the potential that brings.
When we start with a new client, not having all the answers is the most important jumping-off point. It creates an instant opportunity for learning. If we knew everything, there would be no need for curiosity, exploration, or innovation even – removing the fundamentals of the creative process.
Embracing the fact that we don’t know something encourages us to find out new information and expand our understanding. It enables us to acknowledge our own limitations and find others who may have more expertise in a certain area. This creates valuable partnerships which in our experience at The Agency, can add value for many years.
Not having all the answers encourages humility – a sense of openness to new ideas and perspectives you may not share. It can lead to more meaningful and productive conversations, as we are more likely to listen and engage with others when we are not focused solely on proving our own knowledge.
I am not suggesting that having an opinion isn’t important. Having the confidence to express an opinion is a fundamental part of why people trust you can deliver. But it should be stressed that not knowing and pausing to gain better insight in order to more effectively steer a solution is equally valuable. Not having all the answers can bring a welcome naivety to a process, a simplification of the complex and often, more direct solutions to certain challenges.
When carrying out some research for a project a few days ago I came across an extract from an article by Richard Feynmann titled The Value of Science. He touches beautifully on the concept of “not knowing” in the scientific arena –describing the value of holding a “philosophy of ignorance”. The idea that even the most intellectual of minds should approach questions knowing that no one has all the answers. He also references self-doubt too, as not to be something to fear, but something we should welcome and discuss.
Both concepts felt really relatable to what we do in creative circles. The creative process resets and starts afresh every single day. None of us know what’s going to be thrown at us tomorrow or where the next idea is coming from or where it might take us. That’s what makes this more than just a job. The day we stop thinking that we couldn’t have done this or that better, created something even more stunning or pushed the envelope that bit further is the day we stop doing it. We end up permanently dissatisfied – but in a good way.
The motivation to write this was originally a response to a question from my 8-year-old son about whether starting new projects was scary! You have probably guessed my response from the above. It’s the absolute best time as it provides the opportunity to learn something new. To embrace our lack of knowledge and become better learners, thinkers, and problem solvers. To enjoy the journey, the happy accidents and the discoveries along the way.
Plus, if it means we are working with someone or on something new, then that’s brilliant too. By the time I had said all that though, he had moved back on to Minecraft, so I wrote it down in case anyone else was interested.