Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The greatest malady the world has ever known, maybe.

Most trouble in the world, in our business, in everything, comes from certitude. When people believe in the one true way. When they're sure something is right.

Certitude is what causes wars, religious and otherwise. It's also what causes bad advertising.

Certitudication is what has ruined our business. The MBAs have come in with degree-backed certitude and have tried to create a certitude calculus that reduces thinking to an if-then proposition.

They have looked at the mayhem in creative structures and said with certitude, we can get more productivity out of those schlubs if we follow these rules that worked for Brazilian rice growers in 1937.

Most things--creative and otherwise--run best under conditions of controlled failure. Experimentation. Exploration. Trial.

I'm pretty certain of this.


Kelly said...


Funny, that's what we've been talking about this week at MCE. Certitude isn't all it's cracked up to be—but I've been mulling this over for weeks, I think we have some primal need to seek it.

When people want guaranteed results, to paraphrase myself from Tuesday, it's the guarantee they're after, even more than the results.

Creativity can't flourish with certitude for sure, but humans can't go long without it. How neat to read your take on it.



george tannenbaum said...

Somehow, Kelly, you made me think of Hemingway (as I am prone to doing.) A sentence I remember from a "Nick Adams" story, "The Last Good Country."

"He had already learned there was only one day at a time and it was always the day you were in. It would be today until it was to night and tomorrow would be today again. This was the main thing he had learned so far."