You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else. – Albert Einstein
In the Ad world, too long have we relied on unicorns to lead dinosaurs up the rocky terrain of the digital landscape.
It’s time to admit our weaknesses, create new tools and trust in each others’ professional experience and expertise to move us forward.
We all know the unicorns of digital advertising. The tools, teams, research and/or models that are supposedly magic when we get to see them – but we never actually do see them, in fact — we stopped thinking they existed a long time ago.
Pair that with an industry full of amazingly creative people just waiting for someone to explain to them how to do their job – now that “it is all changing with this whole digital thing.” Just getting by, never truly confident anymore in their abilities. Lacking autonomy and vision as a result – the Dinosaurs.
So we must kill the unicorns to save the dinosaurs.
We need to admit that there are things that we, as digital practitioners, understand better than they, as ad (wo)men, do in the digital world. But that there are things they understand in the advertising world of equal value for us to learn and integrate into our thinking.
What if we started to build tools together and talk openly about how to use them: what’s working, what’s not and what we have seen in the past. What if User Experience could be extended past the page, into the cubicle and the meeting room? What if we saw our co-workers as users too?
How to get started in unicorn hunting:
First, kill the word “process.”
We need to stop talking about it as a nebulous force that no one can rein. It is a scapegoat in too many meeting rooms. In fact, I propose a change to the term “process” in an effort to make it finally have universal meaning and appeal:
P.R.O.C.E.S.S = Professional Respect for Others’ Complimentary Experience in Similar Situations.
Second, learn to right size and get over yourself.
If you want a seat at the table, don’t complain when your seat is uncomfortable. Find a way to work that gets what your team what they need quickly and efficiently – and never on your own agenda alone.
Remember that the agency world is a constant job interview for your next project – if you don’t play nice, you will get cut out next time around.
Don’t drain people to check boxes that don’t need to be checked. Leave room for the kind of rapid resourcing, “turn-on-a-dime” decision-making, creative innovation and energy that this emerging space needs to flourish.
Third, put time towards establishing tools that actually work for your business.
Don’t use the template from your last 2 jobs or the thing you just downloaded. Think about what it is that you are trying to communicate and make a document to meet those demands.
Research the best practices and how people have tackled this in the past, talk about it with your team. Come to an agreed to format and flow. When you’ve got something that works, talk about it and show it off. In my experience, showing your work is what sells it the next sales cycle.
Fourth, try to inspire first, inform second.
Don’t focus on telling everyone what you are trying to do – just do it. The best way to start a movement is at the grassroots. The best time to start is now.
Last, don’t wait on the whale.
Too many teams talk about how when they get the “big” “end-to-end” “white-whale” type project – they will get to implement a process they want and deserve. I truly believe that the best way to execute a change of this scale is by making tiny steps toward a vision everyday.
Begin the hunt …
With these first few steps, maybe we can start moving from good to great. I’ll share my journey if you share yours.
Go forth unicorn hunters, and stay in touch.