This week I did my last two significant creative briefings. One was especially fun, since the biggest chunk of stimulus was the funniest interview I've ever seen. I'm sort of pleased with both, it seems like there's lots of potential and they'll totally lock out the rest of the market. Probably wind them up too.
But in both cases there was no blinding flash of insight. It all sort of came together in a fuzzy mess that got less, err, messy. And what I find a bit bonkers is that I had both puzzles solved over a month ago, I just didn't know it. All that time talking, thinking, gathering stimulus and doing funny mind maps didn't get answers, they just sort of helped them to be articulated properly. Does that make any sense?
Psychologists have shown that when human reflexes make them move, your body has sort of decided to do it before you have. You've made the choice, now you have to explain to yourself why. I think lots of strategy is like that. Somewhere in the gut you already have a pretty good idea of what to do, you just don't quite know it yet.
I'm afraid it still requires lots of work for it bubble up to the surface. And I guess it's why some planners never entirely switch off. They're having this odd internal conversation with themselves. They're taking in new information all the time and connecting it to what they know without realising they're doing it.
That's why I really annoy people sometimes. They'll be happily telling me something and I'll be listening with genuine interest - but then they'll see the eyes go all glassy and they'll know I'm somewhere else again. Drives them (and me) mad.
Of course the catch is that when you try to do it consciously you can't. If you play sport you'll know what I mean. I used to know some swimmers who swam beautifully in the heats, but then choked in the finals. When the pressure was on, they began thinking about what they were doing, and found they couldn't swim as fluidly as before. It happens it tennis when a low ranked player falters in the home straight against one of the stars. They realise what they're doing. They choke.