A recent post from Forbes (via Lifehacker) talks about the problems with having too many hands in a pot. Simply put, “Nothing destroys a good idea faster than a mandatory consensus. The lowest common denominator is never a high standard.” It seems to happen to a certain extent on every committee, work meeting and non-profit group I have been a part of. It even happens with bands…I believe they call it creative differences.
I find that these ‘out of the box’ idea’s are met with the most ‘hostility’ by the people who aren’t even in that line of work. I know that sounds kind of confusing so let me explain. If I sit on a committee as a ‘marketing person’ and I come up with a
crazy ‘out of the box’ idea, it’s usually going to be the school teacher (who’s also on the committee) who doesn’t like it. I usually keep my mouth shut after that. I find that it happens when I’m working on logo’s or websites as well. I manufacture a logo, website or creative copy with certain marketing ideas in mind. People tend to suck out all the creative and all you’re left with is an Arial font with a gradient in it. Maybe a drop shadow…if you’re lucky.
I was talking to a friend not to long ago and he said something really profound. His band was preparing to do a reunion show so I was talking to him about what was going on with it. He said it was going very slowly. When I inquired further he said, “The problem with Folly is that there was never a dictator of the band.” What he was basically saying is that everyone had ideas and none of them got done because someone else would challenge it. No one just looked at everyone and said (as kindly as possible,) “This is what’s going to happen. If you don’t like it then the doors over there.” We all have strong feelings when we’re on the receiving end of a conversation like this, but in truth sometimes it’s necessary.
I suppose most of this comes out of trust, or someone’s ego is through the roof. Either that person doesn’t think that you know what you’re talking about or their head is so big that they know better than everyone else. If I sit down with a business to do a website or a radio commercial I consciously try to respect that they know about their business. That they know who they are selling to, that they know their customers and their product. I often tell them, “You know way more about the ‘whatever industry’ then I do.” Your personal opinions and bias’ can’t interfere with someone else doing their job. I think sometimes (myself included) we need to take a step back.
There’s an old radio objection that I’ve heard a number of times is, “Nobody listens to your radio station. I asked my neighbors and they don’t listen to you.” The quippy, kinda assholey answer is to say “Okay, ask them if they read The New York Times. By your logic, if they say ‘no’ then no one reads The New York Times.” Like I said, it’s kind of a jerk response, but there is some truth in there.
It’s not to say you might be wrong with your idea, but getting burned out or dealing with the frustration of a committee may leave you keeping your mouth shut for a brilliant idea. And even if you are wrong…that’s how you learn. John Wanamaker once said “I know half of my advertising isn’t working. I just wish I knew which half.” He’s knew he was making wrong decisions, but he didn’t know when. He saw the value in trying and failing, along with probably every self-help book that’s ever been published.
As per usual, I went off on a little bit of a tangent but my point is if you’re the professional of your field of work, don’t let anyone undermind you. Be confident and know that your
insanity genius is just misunderstood. Achieve greatness in spite of negativity, especially when you’re working with a group of people.