No. We Don’t Do Windows.
By Ed Roberts
Okay, at what point did some of us become “The Help”? When did the word ‘no’ transform into an expletive, never to be uttered from in-house creatives?
Look, blindly saying yes to every project request that comes across your desk will never translate into any real job security. Saying yes to every request will eventually erode your team’s morale and dilute their industry value. Stop! Just say no. If you don’t, you’ll lose respect for generating those church programs, baby shower announcements, or yard sale fliers created for co-workers down the hall. Keep it up, and you could find yourself in the financial director’s office deciding which fluffy kitten picture is cutest and having to hang that winning decision on her wall. Seriously, just say no.
Recently, I received a request from a project manager representing a committee comprised of employees that needed several documents designed for senior management. During the discovery phase in the project initiation meeting, all pertinent questions were asked and answered in order to define the project, create a solid brief, and embark on a solution suitable for online use that met the committee’s stated goals. Our solution was well produced, ultimately approved by senior management, and prepared to hand off to our Web developer. Done, right? No way. At some point between senior management’s approval and the phone call I received three weeks later, the project manager and a few committee members went rogue. Here is a snippet of our conversation:
Project manager: We want you to recreate everything in a Word document.
Me: (long, pregnant pause) With all due respect, I thought senior management approved the design for the online solution. Our Web developer is a genius; he can easily take our design and create an online form that will be a much better solution than a Word document.
Project manager: A Word document is what we [subcommittee] want from you.
Me: (pause) I’m sorry, but no. We don’t do windows, I mean Word. I know an awesome admin who can help with this type of request. I’m happy to bring her up to speed so she can develop the best Word document that will meet your needs. By the way, thanks for thinking of us first for this new opportunity, but we don’t design anything in Word.
I’ve known for quite some time the value in strategically saying ‘no’ to both pet projects and those better suited for an administrative assistant. Don’t get me wrong; I respect good administrative assistants—they have a tough job—but we are not one and the same. It has been a long time since I’ve had to tell a client no. Saying no won’t make you popular, but done professionally it will clarify your role as a strategic business partner. It took me a few seconds to mentally process that project manager’s request for a design created in Word. I thought, “We’re not ‘The Help’!” And neither are you. No. We don’t do windows.
Ed Roberts is Creative Director at ElectriCities of NC, Inc. and manages a team of creative superheroes. Follow Ed (@InHouseObs) on Twitter for more inspiration and insight.