The BIG idea

Image of a light bulb having an idea about cost reduction

The BIG idea

We are all out there in search of that big transformative idea, the one that will catapult our brand or business to an unassailable leadership position. In many cases we are constrained by the budgets and feel a little short-changed at having achieved less than we envisioned.

Here’s a story that helped me flip my outlook on the tussle between the ‘idea’ and the ‘budget’. I used to work on the Maggi business in India, specifically on the sauces, soups, and seasonings business, with the inimitable V Bhaskar Preenja as my wingman on Maggi Noodles. Those days, we were not allowed to go up to the marketing floor at Nestlé office in Gurgaon, India. So, there I was, waiting for my brand manager and batchmate from B-School when I overheard this conversation. The brand manager on Nescafé was speaking to the team from Ogilvy (I think) on a campaign which was personally important to him, however he perhaps did not have the budgets to back it. Here is how he explained it…

<Holding his hands about three feet apart> ‘I don’t want a big idea…’

<Holding his hands about two feet apart> ‘I don’t want a big idea…’

<Holding his hands about six inches apart> ‘I WANT A BIG IDEA…’

No one in my memory has explained the fact that sometimes the importance of a project is not to be determined by the size of the budget. At least not with such passion.

If the ‘idea’ is God, can we stack-rank ideas as if they belong to the ladders of a caste system? No.

Does the fact that the budget is low mean that we do not use the best people or put in the best efforts? No.

Is the budget the only reason that determines the distance an idea travels or the impact it may deliver? No.

Is it not the responsibility of a partner to deliver the best without any restrictions or constraints? Yes.

I believe that we need to retain our innocence and attack each problem with the same gusto. We need to seek our rewards in the process and the outcome equally but not carry the regrets that we could have done better. 

What say you?