Nothing is quite as detrimental to a great creative idea like the opinions of half the office, a dozen of internal meetings, countless more red tape, and waiting for someone to answer their email while on annual leave. So as a startup or even a big business, how do you build a structure that doesn’t stifle creativity but, instead, allow the best ideas to come forward?
This article was originally posted on LinkedIn, you can read the comments here.
Why Am I Right?
Why am I right? Yes, I have a background in marketing, I’ve spent years learning and doing marketing, but if I cannot justify my reasoning to others, how good am I? The ability to debate an idea openly and objectively with your colleagues is an important step not only in business but in life overall. Those who grew up with siblings and had to share their toys/electronics had a crash course in this from a young age. Those of us in relationships trying to figure out where to eat this weekend, what movie to watch tonight etc too. There are countless examples.
Yet, I believe some opposition to ideas is important. Think about the markets, you have to be an independent thinker that bets against the consensus to make a significant return on your investment. To do this, you need to be able to look at a situation/idea and analyse all the probabilities of achieving your desired outcome as well as come to terms that there is a chance you bet wrong. Not everyone is comfortable doing this because it invites criticism and loss.
Coming from an artistic background, I get very attached to creative ideas for Codex Edge. To this day, every time I send out an email inviting my colleagues’ opinions, a tiny part of me hopes the email gets sent to spam. However, the benefits of this process significantly outweigh any of my personal creative vulnerabilities so I press – “send,” and wait.
The reviews are in, ideas have been shared, arguments made, as of yet, no blood has been spilled. By allowing everyone to have an input and add equal value, the dynamic shifts from trying to fight each other’s opinions towards figuring out which idea is best. Doing this turns a situation from one dimensional into a complex multidimensional form of decision making.
However, what happens if the idea is unilaterally approved with no hesitation? Remember the benefit of going against the common consensus as well as the pitfalls? For this reason, at Codex Edge we always have one person playing the devil’s advocate, ensuring that if we do go ahead, we really understand the diverse effect of an idea. Although this is not always without its irony. There were a couple of times during which I had to play the devil’s advocate against my own idea, knowing perfectly well that I have the final say as well.
Mind The Bulldozer
We all know the disastrous effects of groupthink that is why it is important to have at least one devil’s advocate to help counteract it. Equally though, you need to mind the person who will try to bulldoze their ideas. This is where the head of marketing comes in. A ship cannot have 5 captains, we would end up in 5 different destinations, with no consistency and a bunch of confusion.
After listening to everyone’s opinions and arguments, the final verdict has to be behind the head of marketing. There is a reason that they are the managers. I believe as leaders, the head of marketing should have the opportunity to make the final calls and also be given permission to fail.
Permission To Fail
After all, marketing is a beautiful mix of data, creativity, psychology, strategy and more, but as I often say, “we are not magicians”, despite our best efforts, sometimes we miscalculate. Also as a practice that is heavily rooted in creativity, it is important to allow for creative freedom, and this is where permission to fail comes in.
If you have the authority to make the final verdict on a marketing decision, you should also have the responsibility to manage and fix the situation if it fails. For a startup to be able to achieve this, it comes from trust in each other’s abilities as a specialist. I want to thank the team behind Codex, for entrusting me with this responsibility and I will do my best to steer the ship in the right direction.