During two decades in corporate land and now seven years in consulting, I’ve seen my fair share of frustrated (and frustrating) projects. The collective misspent time and energy can be enormous and the hit to morale can out-last the project itself.
A simple solution
The key is to spend quality time defining the challenge. Then build in a check step – with our boss or other key stakeholders – to get clear and unconditional agreement on the challenge. Only after you have agreement, do you search and present back solutions. Make the agreement of the challenge and evaluation of solutions two distinct elements – don’t try to amalgamate them.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions” – Einstein
Watch out to avoid these common mistakes –
- Jumping straight into ‘solution mode’ – acting too soon risks generating a bucket load of mis-guided activity
- Undervaluing thinking – colleagues may not recognise the dividend in both efficiency and effectiveness that comes from investing time in upfront thinking
- Being ambiguous – we use language which is waffly or jagonistic, everyone might believe they agree but the problem definition is so vague that any number of interpretations are plausible
- Lacking focus – too often group discussions avoid trade-offs so too many objectives are incorporated to appease people. As advertising guru David Ogilvy said “give me the freedom of a tight brief”.
- No clear link between our marketing objectives and those of the business – how do you ensure you’re tackling something that ‘ladders up’ to company goal
At Brand Ambition, we aim to help marketing leaders & their teams to make better, faster, more focused choices. Leveraging a variety of tools – like facilitated workshops, coaching, decision frameworks and planning processes – we’ll help you deliver commercial benefits from early investment in thinking. If you have a challenge and would appreciate a chat, please get in touch.