March 4, 2011

Fostering Change

I've always believed that if you want a person (or a big company) to make a change, you have to help them see the pathway to that change and feel safe making steps in that direction. For this current big project our strateg1st sees it differently. Let's call him Micromanaging Miscommunicator. (MM) thinks that if the client said 'Go Big', we need to leave them no safety net, no stepping stones, just a huge new vision. This client is in a super trendy industry where every booth at the big show has a huge screen, lots of noise, lots of action and our solution is to create an 'anti-booth': no big scre3n, no more pr1vate meet1ng rooms, no waiting l1nes to get into a small room for an exclusive viewing of the upcoming fun & gam3s. At heart, our client is surprisingly conservative so my gut tells me they won't make a big jump without something to help them get there. However, the client asked that this all be driven by strat3gy and (MM) has taken it as his prerogative to be The Decider.

(We've taken this up the chain to our General Manag3r and she's said that (MM) gets to decide. All power to the dude.)

He's stepped into the role of the creat1ve d1rector even though he uses words VERY differently than a designer would. For example, he kept telling all of us that he wanted a 'dirty, messy, hairball'. For us, that evokes rough materials (burlap?), make it look like an outdoor park, evoke the opposite of everything else at this show. Well, after over a week of us sketching our little hearts out and being told we're not getting it, someone showed him images of some exper1ences they were proposing for the bo0th. He saw a b0oth that had glowing green curving shapes, none the same as any of the others: sleek, shiny, organic in form but very modern in execution and he said, "See! Now that's dirty". I had to interject, "Could you help me understand what's dirty about that?" "The fact that there are no 90 degree corners. I love that."

Ah. No wonder we couldn't hit it. One of our thr3e-D guys went away and came back with a very sleek, shiny design and (MM) loved it. The des1gner gleefully calls it his 'd1rty' design every chance he can. I tease him, "You mean your sleek, modern, organic des1gn?" "Oh no, it's d1rty!
Stop using words that make sense." It's a sexy rendering, but I have a feeling the client is going to FREAK out when they see it.

I've registered my protests, but since we've been told it's (MM)'s decision, on his head be it.

I hope I'm wrong and he's right. I love these clients and I'm SO uncomfortable that we're only giving them our one big idea and not giving them anything interim to get them toward the b1g picture. If this works it'll be a lesson for me about what going b1g looks (and feels) like. It's not very comfortable at all.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh how I know your pain...
~julie

Anonymous said...

As a back up, can you put together a couple of stepping stones?

mariellenromer said...

If the MM can't see that burlap bags are the result of him saying dirty messy hairball, then he needs a smack on the back of the head. If it's too literal for his taste and he's trying to teach the design team a lesson ion not being literal but be lateral, he still needes a smack across the back of the head becasue he's burning resources and profit. Is any omne abel to take him out and get him a but more loosened up over a few beers and get some better steers? hairball and sleek green lines, no. No mind meld would ahev got me there without a cheat sheet of some kind.

As for your client, he may not freak if he thinks the strategy really fits the result well. If s/he can see the logic, the meotional arc of the experience you guys are trying to induce. Who's reviewing the presentation the MM gives before the real thing gets produced? Cos if he's still talking hairballs, unless the client is too and your MM understands what that really means, then there will such a case of ships passing in the night!

Lots of action versus a peaceful haven of geen in the middle of it? Even soft comfy chairs? I'm liking it ...

otrmama said...

You sound so good about all this. I am anxious to hear what happens!!!

Mizasiwa said...

Ist it terrible when they put someone who talks a totally different language in charge though?! I know were my husband works he is one of two 'digital' designers. they have a creative team who seems to be only used to 'creating' for flat surfaces (print mainly) so instead of including him in creative before decisions get made they exclude him and it causes him a lot of heartache when he has to put those designs together for the website media. They also have a creative director who think he is God and micro manages the other designers also not providing the interim step for the client... he designs the hell out of something and lands up taking the over controlled end product to the client which they all to often hate and the process has to start all over again. I love to hear your 'work' stories as you have such similar work ethic as my husband and I like to show him that he is not the only one out there that works like this. Good luck im not sure which way im hoping this to go but if history and experience anything to go by I think your right and the client will tank it!! Thinking of you

Mizasiwa said...

ps love the burlap/sleek green lines imgage!! My husband and I still have arguments about what an exact colour actually is on the spectrum - hilarous!!! Only from an experienced point of view though - im sure you know what i mean...