I reckon some of the malaise of current advertising is down to a lack of opinion. It seems creatives in most agencies aren't required to have opinions any more. They're just told to execute what it says on the brief. That inevitably leads to bland, mediocre, beige work.
Encouraging creatives to form opinions on the product/problem/situation they're working on, and encouraging them to use those opinions to help form creative ideas will help lead to stronger work, and work with more individuality and humanity.
But on top of this, I think we should always challenge ourselves to prove ourselves wrong. It's easy to form a view or opinion about something early in a project, and stick to it blindly, judging everything by it.
I think it's a lot more difficult and challenging, to constantly challenge our own opinions and views, to try to prove them wrong. I think that's what good clients should do, and good creative directors. Prepare to have your opinions proved wrong. Be prepared to modify or change your opinion.
In science, good scientific method is said to be working hard to prove your theories wrong. This is one of the criticisms of some recent neuroscience – that a scientist will come up with a a great-sounding theory, write their thesis, get a book deal and do the conference circuit – without every really trying to prove themselves wrong. But good science is trying very hard to prove yourself wrong, and encouraging others to do so to.
I think interesting creative ideas can come of out of this method too. You have an opinion on something? Or a view on what will work best? Why not try really hard to do the opposite and make it work? Why not challenge your own assumption and see where that leaves you?
Work hard to prove yourself wrong, and you might just come up with something that surprises you.
“In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.” John Kenneth Galbraith