Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kill your children

As creative professionals, one of the worst things we can do is to fall in love with our own ideas. When you are in love, you don't think rationally. You overlook flaws that are apparent, or even glaring, to others.

In love, such blindness can be a virtue. In business, in the lives of our organizations and clients, it can be deadly. Our ideas have to serve a purpose other than satisfying our own creative desires. Our employers have to meet their strategic objectives, and it's our job to help them using our own particular tools and talents. Time and resources are too scarce to allow us to be sentimental in how we approach our jobs.

That's one of the lessons we have to learn and re-learn, and we shouldn't be afraid to admit when others help us see it. Recently I had an idea for a new event that my employer is planning for the summer. Without getting into the particulars, it was a good idea, and it might have even generated some good publicity and positive community feelings for the institution.

But one of my bosses, mulling over the idea for a couple of days, asked me whether it will help us meet two of our most important strategic objectives: driving enrollment and raising money. He concluded that it wouldn't, and I had to agree. But the discussion generated some other good ideas, some of which we can execute and which will move the needle on those strategic goals. And ultimately, that's how the creative process is supposed to work, even if means that we have to hurt the ones we love.

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