Cracking the creative labyrinth

In Greek mythology, Theseus used Ariadne’s thread to slay the minotaur and crack the labyrinth. But instead of considering that only one route might lead to freedom, Theseus was able to explore all possible routes, knowing the thread would always lead him back to the start.

How does this classic myth relate to creativity? Creative champion Nik Wegrzyn, current CEO of BrandOpus, used this tale in his presentation at the 2014 Cannes Lions festival to shed some light on the creative process, and prove that there’s no single, definable route towards creating something great.

Wegrzyn urged his audience to think pluralistically, and to avoid being singular. Creatives should explore all avenues, and do so simultaneously. It’s no good to take an idea, poke and prod, see what’s there and move on to the next. Instead of this process of elimination technique, it pays to nurture all ideas simultaneously.

In addition, ideas are also autonomous; they can’t be forced. Wegrzyn says that the onus should not be on creatives to “create” ideas. Rather, the ideas are out there already. Creatives need to become better at spotting them and running with them. When folks think they need to create an idea, they can quell the natural atmosphere from which great ideas are born. Wegrzyn noted that ideas need entertainment, not to be put in the inquisition chair, and that paranoia or a zealous drive to find the “right” idea will kill great ideas.

Finally, he urged the audience to “Imagine, don’t dig.” Often times, clients liken the creative process to discovery, of digging until the right answer is found. But there’s that word again: right. Sometimes the greatest ideas are the one that don’t feel right, but the ones that are challenging and disruptive.

Ultimately, Wegrzyn believes that creatives must always remember that the possibilities are endless. Acknowledging and harnessing that notion, much like Theseus did when escaping the labyrinth, is the only way to find truly creative solutions.

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