As some of you may be aware, I’m currently teaching at Skidmore College as the F. William Harder Chair Professor of Management and Business. Being a place of higher education and a fine one at that, there are weekly guest lectures given by thought leaders from both inside and outside academia.

For the most part, these are highly intellectual and interesting discussions. I prefer to think of them as discussions because the Q&A that follow is often more interesting than the lecture itself. Students and faculty engage the speaker with challenging questions. The freewheeling endings, if Skidmore students are a barometer, gives me hope for the future of our country.

A recent discussion led by an extremely well-studied thought leader, presented years of data that pointed to a significant insight in the world of business. I’m not going to try to unpack the topic, my point of writing this post is the use of data.

The data was significant and overwhelmingly clear in what it implied and what could be inferred.

During the Q&A a student asked the million-dollar question. If the data is so clear why is nothing changing…why are the trend lines continuing as they were?

The speakers answer: The data is not enough.

Bingo.

The world has become overly reliant on data as an end point. Data alone is not enough. If it was, no one would ever smoke, Hillary Clinton may have gotten elected and maybe (if this applies to you) more people would buy your brand.

Compelling ideas move people. Ideas that slap folks in the face, stun them into awareness and seep into their hearts, turn ideas into action.

This is the work of creativity. Let’s get busy.

To the untrained observer, walking a tightrope seems like a high-risk activity. To the well-trained acrobatic artist, the tightrope is a platform for their creativity. The risks are well-calculated and the practice so refined, that confidence brings buoyancy to their work.

In the world of ideas, clients and agencies must come to a mutual understanding of well-calculated risk. The goal is break-through creative that challenges norms, animates the brand and motivates the audience.

For many clients, there’s also an additional objective; “not to do any worse than the past brand manager or campaign.” There’s nothing wrong with a good dose of self-preservation.

To the unprepared client, work that appears as if on a tightrope is going to incite fear of doing worse. To the agency, it’s the platform from which to demonstrate their hard-won skills and highly developed talents.

It takes a trusting client-agency relationship to explore boundaries and push the limits of creativity. The goal is to see the tightrope not as a high-risk activity, but as a well-calculated and desirable achievement that will deliver growth for their brand.

Confidence is the glue that binds us to big ideas.