Thursday, May 9, 2013

Second guessing.

Years ago I heard something very smart, I think on the "Freakonomics" radio show.

In any event, they were talking about airport security--one facet of it in particular, the part where we have to remove our shoes.

Here's the thing about removing shoes. There is probably a one in ten-trillion chance of another shoe bomber. But if you're the public official responsible for changing the law to a more logical one and that shoe bomber strikes, you're done, finished, dead, kaput.

So the law--as irrational as it is--stays on the books.

The same sort on irrationality is being played out in many agencies today. Work is shown in preparation for a big meeting.

There's always someone in the room--usually someone not truly accountable for anything--who pops up and say "I don't know, guys. I think we need more work." Or "I think we need to bring in more freelance teams."

These might be wholly irrational thoughts. But the point is, if the meeting doesn't go well, this guy in the room turns out to be "right."

In fact, you really can't lose if you're whole contribution is to second guess.

If the meeting goes well, no one remembers your second guess. And if it doesn't you are hailed.

It seems to me that more and more "agency ecosystems" allow people to not be pinned down. To not make decisions. Only to second guess decisions that have been made.

Recently my partner, producer and I did 57 versions of a cut for someone who second guessed virtually everything right down to the ISCI-code.

I'll be blunt about this.

Second guessing is not creative direction.

It is not strategic.

It is destructive, demoralizing and dumb.


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