Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Ad Absurdam.

Ilogicreductio ad absurdum (Latin for "reduction to absurdity"), also known as argumentum ad absurdum (Latin for "argument to absurdity") or apagogical arguments, is the form of argument that attempts to establish a claim by showing that the opposite scenario would lead to absurdity or contradiction.


A friend from the business, a he/she, his/hers, they for purposes of anonymity and I we're talking just a couple days ago. 

They were telling me, though there was only one of they, they were telling me that a holding company agency they're working with has sent a list to a group of creatives offering the services of a large number of creative teams because another part of the agency is pitching a lot (to try to make up for gigantic business losses) and still another part has a lot of people they'll have to let go because there isn't enough to do.

So like lobsters at one of those old-timey restaurants where you pick the crustacean out of a tank that you want to bibbify, this particular agency is allowing creative people to pick creative people to help them pitch. Management has merely sent a list of names and titles. No portfolios. No 360-degree reviews. Nothing but a name.

It's an example, maybe reductio ad absurdam of one of GeorgeCo's quasi-famous differentiators. "I don't believe availability is a capability." 

I mean just because you have a person doesn't mean the person has the skill. The Holding Company commoditization of our business has done to a creative field what assembly lines did to manufacturing. They've broken down tasks into such small parts that ostensibly anyone can do them. It's an overall attempt to turn skilled labor--which is expensive--into unskilled labor which is cheap. So anyone can do anything at anytime because all creatives are interchangeable. 

I suppose I remarked to they that it's striking that we grew up in a business with traffic as a function, but there was really no one in what's now called "resource allocation," but what could be more accurately called (at least on the Titanic) "deckchair repositioning."

I continued, as I so often do, "it's like they have more taxi-dispatchers than they have cabs. Or a military with more logistics people than soldiers. It's like watching road-crews on the highway. Two people working, twelve people with clipboards." 

It got me thinking about "just-in-time-management" which started as logistical sleight-of-hand that helped reduce warehousing costs, is now being applied to what's euphemistically called "talent management." That is moving people around and around as balm against actually having people who can do the job and manage a piece of business.

That sent me spiraling. 

I imagined this dialogue from the not-so-distant-future of agency life.

CREATIVE ONE: I have a pitch next Thursday and need some mid-weight teams with financial services experience.

RESOURCE ALLOCATION: I can give you Margaret and Sam for three hours on Friday, between ten PM and one AM.

CREATIVE TWO: Daphne and Ezekiel just had an assignment killed. They'll have 45-minutes free on Wednesday.

RESOURCE ALLOCATION TO CREATIVE ONE: I can give you Daphne and Ezekiel for ten minutes starting eight minutes ago.

CREATIVE ONE: Do they have financial experience?

RESOURCE ALLOCATION TO CREATIVE ONE: They do know what money is. They've used cash in the past. Though they prefer indebtedness.

CREATIVE THREE: My hair's on fire! I have concepts due tomorrow on a $30 million pitch for low-flavor orange juice.

RESOURCE ALLOCATION TO CREATIVE THREE: I can give you Daphne and Ezekiel starting last Tuesday until yesterday.

CREATIVE THREE: That won't help. I need someone now. 

RESOURCE ALLOCATION TO CREATIVE THREE: Jill and Karen are free starting October, I can get you them for 15 minutes every other day for three months, though Karen is taking November off to have a baby.

CREATIVE FOUR: Sold! I can use the 15 minutes. And I'm fine with Karen WFM.


CREATIVE FOUR: Working from maternity. Where have you been?

RESOURCE ALLOCATION TO CREATIVE FOUR: The only thing is neither Jill nor Karen are writers and they've never done anything but banner ads. And they speak only Mandarin.

CREATIVE FOUR: Who cares. Can Karen work while 85-percent effaced? I mean, can she work between contractions?

RESOURCE ALLOCATION TO CREATIVE FOUR: That might be tough. I can get you Pablo and Simon. Though they work out of Sydney and are 12-hours ahead of us.

CREATIVE FIVE: I can only use teams 11-hours ahead.

RESOURCE ALLOCATION TO CREATIVE FIVE: I've got an interaction designer in Guam.


This is life in the agency business today. There's more time and money spent trying to find people to work on business than there is dedicated to having people who actually know your business. There are more people who are dispatchers than doers.

My clients I've spoken to, as friends, roll their eyes when talking about their agencies. They know what's going on. The over-staffing of texters, and the understaffing of thinkers. The lack of knowledge in what Peter Drucker called "knowledge workers." The too-rare experience of having experienced people on their business. The 100 complicators for every dozen simplifiers. 

The business today reminds most people of that old Woody Allen joke. "The food is terrible and such small portions." 

Only it's "the creative is bad but at least no one will see it."

Unless you choose to work with an agency like GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company. The right people. Dedicated.

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