A moment of inspiration. A spark of genius. A stroke of brilliance. The creative element that separates the good from the great is often described in transitory terms. It’s there, and then it’s gone. But while the ability to come up with that spark is important for the digital strategist, it’s not enough. What matters is your ability to do so consistently, day in and day out. It’s not enough to be the hare. You also have to be the tortoise. The good news is that there is a method to making the madness work for you consistently.
Why is consistency important? Isn’t it enough to be occasionally inspired? Frankly, no. First, you haven’t been hired to have an occasional good idea or good day. That isn’t something that a business can be built on. That isn’t something that can scale. Resting on your laurels and continuously celebrating an occasional good idea is prima donna behaviour. And no one likes a prima donna.
Second, in an environment where productivity, performance and efficiency are celebrated above all else, you are only as good as your last contribution, and that better have happened recently. Whether they say it or not, everyone is always thinking, “what have you done for me lately?”.
Finally, this is a dynamic environment characterized by constant change. Customer expectations change, so you have to stay ahead of that wave. Never be the guy whose every comment is prefaced with “when I were a lad”, or “this reminds me of the time I won a Cannes Lion”. Nothing is guaranteed to elicit well deserved eye rolling from colleagues than harping back to old glories.
So how do you get to be consistent in your delivery? By following these 5 principles:
First, be clear in your objectives. Knowing what your personal objectives are, or those of your clients gives you an anchor. It gives you a reference point to remind you of what you are working for. It reminds you of the greater reason you have to deliver every day, even when times are tough, when you’re tired, or when you just don’t feel like it. There are days when even a passion project like this blog and podcast can be onerous, but I remind myself what I am trying to achieve with it and it helps me focus and deliver consistently.
Second, never stop learning. Read blogs. Listen to podcasts. Watch videos. Focus on what is current in the industry, what thought leaders are saying about what matters today and will matter in the future. This will ensure that any ideas you have are relevant and innovative.
Third, open your mind to new ideas. We have previously explored the importance of an open mind in digital strategy. This is critical to being consistently inspired. Don’t just look for ideas and inspiration in your field or industry, but always look further afield and think about ways to apply that thinking to your requirements.
Fourth, work collaboratively. If you rely on yourself for all the ideas, you will exhaust yourself. Rather, remember that the role of the digital strategist is to pull others together and help them think about new and innovative ideas. Ten heads really are better than one to deliver consistently over a long time.
Finally, be prepared to fail. An abundance of caution stifles creativity. It means that we will end up just repeating ideas that worked until they are old and tired. Setting up a strategic framework, with tracking that allows rapid feedback on whether an idea is delivering or not will allow you to test unorthodox or innovative ideas, keeping you consistently ahead of the game.
Success as a digital strategist requires consistent long term delivery. This means combining the inspiration of the hare with the staying power of the tortoise like some strange jackalope hybrid. But that’s exactly what the digital strategist is, a hybrid of creativity and data, storyteller and analyst, capable of inspiration, consistently delivered.
Next week on octopus, we will continue to explore the role of the digital strategist. Please be sure to comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Please subscribe for alerts about new episodes and content. Thank you for listening to octopus. I’m Nasser Sahlool.