The following post was contributed by Jon Dietrich, group creative director at POSSIBLE.
You’re in a meeting, presenting work you’ve traded both sleep and your spouse for, for the last few days, and it seems like it’s going to be worth it. Then, that guy who’s been furiously volleying emails from his laptop for 43 minutes glances up at your gleaming PowerPoint and in seconds cuts the work off at the knees.
“That won’t localize.”
“Legal would never approve that.”
“Armadillos don’t have hair.”
You hope no one else is paying attention, but the marketing gods are not kind and, inevitably, someone cements your fate by rewarding the guy with the very phrase he seeks:
“Good catch, Ted.”
But the thing is, it’s not a good catch, Ted.
One of the joys of this business is that pretty much everyone wants to do good, interesting work. There are easier ways to make money, and yet we’ve chosen this. And when we have time, we see the upside in ideas. We see where they can go. We invest. We collaborate. We try to make them better.
But, when we don’t have time? We’re still in the meeting. We still feel the expectation to contribute. We are, in large part, paid for our opinions—even when we don’t have them.
We point out what could go wrong. We never get to what could be because we satisfy ourselves with an easy why not. We think, “How can I add value here without investing myself?” and then point out the headline will be too long for the banner width in Dutch.
We go fishing for a “good catch.”
(I use the “we” consciously here. The pursuit of a “good catch” infects agency people, Uber drivers and clients alike. Even creative directors—otherwise well beyond reproach—are not immune.)
There’s a reason the first rule of improv is “Yes, and …” Ideas are fragile. They need the whole village when they’re young so they can grow into the work we all want to do.
[Psst! Check out Comedy Improv Training for Creatives if you’re looking to generate better ideas faster.]
So, the next time you’re in a meeting and someone fishes for a “good catch,” don’t give it to them. Don’t reward it. Don’t enable. Ted definitely has something more productive to say if we just get him past the armadillo hair thing.