Jackie Schaffer Explains the “The Whoa Proposition”

whoaCella Consulting’s Jackie Schaffer says many creative teams have a policy of not saying “no” and suggests in this article that they start saying “whoa.” Schaffer is the author of “The Whoa Proposition.”

Most creative teams have a policy of not saying “no,” which is most often interpreted as saying “yes” to everything. Always saying “yes” does not position creative teams for success. Certainly some of the time, it’s the only solution and the best thing for the company for the creative team to say “yes.” But many times it creates overtime, requires the team to work too quickly—which can lead to mistakes, lower-quality output and require the team to chart unchartered waters which can create a sub-par result.

Instead of always saying “yes” unconditionally, saying “whoa” communicates, “while this is something we could do, let’s talk through your request to ensure success.” This provides an opportunity to determine:

  • If there is flexibility in the deadline?
  • What is driving the deadline and whether you can impact that (e.g., working with a different printer or changing the format; calling the advertising department to ask for more time)?
  • Whether managing an 3rd party vendor may result in a better outcome than the creative team doing the project
  • Whether funds are available to pay for a freelancer to come in to assist with the already-scheduled work to allow a few team members to jump on this request without working 18-hour days
  • Whether the scope of the project can be reduced
  • Whether the scope of the project can be broken up and the deadlines of the components spaced out such that more time is possible

Remember, it’s not just in the creative team’s best interest to say “whoa;” it’s in the best interest of the project and its goals. Your internal clients want you to be successful, as it makes them successful. Be honest and generous about what you can deliver, but don’t compromise the project or the team.

About In-HOWse Guest Jackie Schaffer
Vice President and General Manager of Cella Consulting Jackie Schaffer, is a former in-house leader who has consulted for teams of all sizes, including Fortune 500 clients, government entities and educational institutions. Cella helps creative leaders and their teams identify and execute strategic priorities, so they can increase their effectiveness and focus on creating high-quality creative.


HOW January 2014 Cover-100pxThe In-House Design Annual Take a look into the in-house design team of “Bloomberg Businessweek” who Ed Roberts had the pleasure of interviewing and get inspired with this year’s In-House Design Awards. Be sure to download or pick up your copy of the January Issue of HOW magazine now on newsstands.