KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Starting with that fundamental approach, I always try to incorporate as much behavioral research as I can about the audience -- what's their day like? What makes them happy? Sad? Annoyed? Too often we treat people like numbers, imposing systems and approaches often not tailored to them. My belief is we need to give people more credit; they are smarter than we all think. When we start the process believing in our audience and respecting them, the end result will be a more relevant solution for them, not for us.
I am a believer in IDEO's approach of social anthropology, studying the intended audience as much as possible, through behaviors and driving influences such as peers and family. Too often I see campaigns seemingly done for other designers; elaborately crafted visual approaches with little appeal or point to anyone else. Through my direction, I instill this belief in teams to think more for the audience than themselves.
But, this is not to say I avoid risky approaches; one of the most enjoyable elements of my last few years of practice has been working with teams to concept new ideas without an obvious solution, and then discovering a new technology to get it done. I love the first phases of a project, where big ideas hover like fireflies and the potential is enormous. I have worked to move from relying on my own ideas solely to encouraging ideas from others and identifying the big, relevant idea.
Being in the interactive medium is by far the most exciting place to be -- new technologies appear every day, new ways to connect and engage with people, and new ways to enjoy life. From the list of networks on my front page, I live in the middle of it, spending far too much time on the Twitters and Pownces of the world, eternally searching for the right medium to talk to people at a human level. I wager this will always be the case, and my wife will continue to yell at me about it, of course!