Everyone has a personal view on what creativity is.

Obviously there isn’t a right answer.

If there was, it would be a formula so it would always be true in every single situation without even thinking about it.

You could programme it into a computer, a machine could do it.

So it would be the opposite of creativity.

Because a formula is the opposite of creative.

Rules are a formula.

You don’t have to think about rules, that’s the point.

You just switch off your mind and follow the rules.

And you always get the same result.

That’s good in a job where you always want a predictable result.

In those jobs they say, “We don’t want to re-invent the wheel”.

But for us that’s wrong.

We do want to re-invent the wheel.

That’s what makes us creative.

But there can be guidelines, and they’ll be different for everyone.

For me it’s this: mental agility.

We have to be mentally agile.

We have to have an inquisitive mind that’s hard to grasp and ready to change.

Like a monkey, or a bar of soap.

Picture a gymnast.

They bend and change and manoeuvre, but they never lose their balance.

The balance is the important part.

Without balance it’s just falling around.

The speed of bending and changing while maintaining balance is what defines agility.

That’s why, for me, creativity is mental agility.

Lazy people want to learn formulas, rules that apply in all cases to all situations so they never have to think, because thinking’s hard work.

But that isn’t creative.

Bill Bernbach said “Principles endure, formulas don’t”.

Because a principle isn’t a formula, a principle is like balance.

A principle is what you do, agility is how you do it.

So, for Bill Berrnbach, the principle was always to do advertising that talked to everyone in an intelligent, engaging way.

That’s not a formula.

Because there are many different ways to achieve that principle.

How we do it will change according to the situation.

That’s why we need to be mentally agile.

We need to be able to find new ways to do it, new answers, new approaches to the problem.

Not sticking to some tried-and-tested formula we learned.

We need to be inquisitive.

To find out as much as we can, as fast as we can.

Then to change fast, according to what we’ve found out.

To react, like an athlete, to a new situation.

John Maynard Keynes was one of the world’s greatest economists.

He was once criticised for changing his mind.


He said, “Of course I change my mind when the facts change. Why, sir, what do you do?”