The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Momentum Vs Perfection …
June 28, 2013, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Many years ago, I had a detached retina.

It was pretty serious resulting in me needing multiple operations and some rather weird – more obscure – treatments.

After my retina started to look like it would detach for the 4th time, the DR’s started to get even more concerned because they felt it wouldn’t have the capacity to take much more treatment.

In worked a surgeon.

A Harley Street surgeon.

A Harley Street surgeon who was 39 years old.

After having multiple Doctors looking into my eye with all sorts of instruments and then going away and muttering, he walked in, had a look, read my notes and then said,

“He doesn’t need any more treatment, we need to let his eye heal and it will be fine”.

That was it.

After about 10 minutes deliberation, he had come to the conclusion that despite all his colleagues concerns, there was no need to do anything else because the goal would be achieved.

And he was right.

Why am I saying this?

Because sometimes I think planners spend too much time on trying to make everything absolutely perfect.

Perfect for their egos.

Perfect for the clients fears.

Perfect for the creative departments demands.

Don’t get me wrong, you have to have be rigorous in your approach – looking wide as well as deep – and have something that is commercially and creatively interesting and relevant, but when it comes to articulating a particular point of view, my belief is that it’s more important to capture the energy and momentum of the strategy/idea than necessarily identifying the ultimate choice of words.

Of course, in a perfect World, you’d have both … but when you work in a mixed culture office and country, the reality is that people will all have slightly different interpretations of words/phrases [based on their particular frames of reference] which means you can end up complicating the the idea rather than liberating it, whereas when you focus on feelings and direction, it tends to connect to more people, in more powerful – and similar – ways.

So next time you get caught up discussing/arguing/deliberating on a particular word – be it in a brief or presentation or anything else – ask yourself whether you’re talking about something that can genuinely trip-up or misdirect the people who need to be inspired by it or whether it’s simply a case of semantics that someone is using an attempt to make themselves look – or feel – better or more important.

For me, momentum has perfection, but perfection doesn’t always have momentum.

20 Comments so far
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i dont give a fuck about the lesson youre trying to preach, i just remember you exploited the fuck out of it by getting every bastard running around for you like you prince fucking william.

Comment by andy@cynic

Don’t be angry Andrew, just remember how Robert’s father got revenge for all of us.

Comment by George

What are you talking about?

Comment by DH

I’ve always held you in the highest esteem George, but I’m slightly concerned you remember this incident. Or I’m assuming it’s the same incident I remember … maybe you have a better memory than me.

And for those who have let it slip your mind – or more likely, never cared – after my operation I was almost blind for a few weeks as my eyes healed.

My Dad took me to Asda and somehow I lost him – or should I say he lost me, given he was supposed to be looking after me – so imagine how “happy” I was when throughout the store, I heard his voice boom over the supermarket tannoy saying something like …

“Could Robert Campbell, aged 21, please make his way to the information desk where his Daddy is waiting for him and loves him very, very much”.

If that wasn’t bad enough, he said “very very much” in a kiddy voice. You could hear him and the women on the information desk pissing themselves … and given I had such bad sight at that time – it took me ages to find where he was and by that time, a small crowd had gathered to see the 21 year old kid who sounded like he was the biggest baby in Nottingham.

For the record, he did it to take the piss. He did love me very, very much … but this was about getting a laugh at my expense than a public declaration of how he adored his son.

Yeah … laugh it up you bastards.

Comment by Rob

your old man was a fucking genius.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

I like this post. Momentum versus perfection is a nice topic of conversation. Naturally it depends on the people involved in the challenge and the challenge itself, but setting the ideas energy and direction and seeing where it goes is more likely to result in interesting responses than being specific with the solution and building high walls around it. At least in the early stages of the creative journey.
I like this Robert, more for the fact you have articulated it than it being some sort of revelation to me.

Comment by George

I would argue Apple were at their innovation best when they had a momentum mentality. I know people will say Jobs was all about perfection, but I think he was about perfection at particular moments in time. This is why he could launch products that had inherent flaws but represented such a leap in possibility, people respected him for simply managing to make it happen.

Not the safest business approach as Apple’s history will show, but certainly the one that led to the most innovation in the company.

Comment by Pete

I don’t think it’s a matter of choosing one over the other … it’s more a case of using both of them but at the appropriate times of the ‘process’.

That said, that doesn’t mean when you find the right territory you have to boil the life out of it to in an attempt to ‘perfect it’ … it’s about shaping it so it’s potent and sharp but without losing energy.

And that’s the issue I have with some planning … they don’t really care about the energy of the idea, just articulating the ‘essence’ with such perfection that it ends up just sitting there to be admired, rather than encouraging or stimulating a reaction from everyone who sees it or hears it that they can’t ignore.

Of course in other industries, ‘perfection’ is the difference between success and failure, but this is advertising – its meant to move people not bore them.

Comment by Rob

Your point about momentum being a great way to unite multicultural teams is a great one.

Comment by Pete

I don’t think the benefit is limited to only unifying people from different cultural backgrounds.

Comment by George

This post could be about you. All energy, minimal precision.

Comment by DH

Let’s be honest Dave, you wouldn’t be the first person to say that.

Comment by Rob

Nice. It’s why I liked Northern’s ideas about using objects and pictures for briefs.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

There’s a brilliant quote from Lorne Michaels, the producer of Saturday Night Live: “the show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; the show goes on because it’s 1130 on Saturday night”.

Great post Rob, it’s a reminder that getting stuff done well enough to be useful and moving on is better than sitting on stuff trying to perfect it. We waste way too much energy here. And the same can be said for how we make stuff – 80% of our time spent trying to make the last 2% of difference.

Comment by Gareth

And, despite that, most advertising is still awful. I’d suggest that points to spending 80% of the time hetting the first 2% right, but that runs the risk of encouraging planners.

Comment by John

And god forbid us ever doing that hey? Making stuff that maybe solves a problem and doing something people actually care about.

Comment by Gareth

Absolutely – though I fear people rarely, if ever, care about stuff that’s advertised, but we can, at least, aim to make it resonate with the customer rather than with award juries.

Comment by John

I will be using that Lorne Michaels quote. Thank you Gareth.

Comment by George

He also said there was no creativity without boundaries.

Comment by John

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