By Mike Pierson
Member, PRSA Pikes Peak Chapter
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs, Peterson Air Force Base
You just want to get away for the weekend. A quick trip to the next town over to see something new. Within a minute of mentioning this simple idea to your travelling companion, you know you’re doomed.
“That sounds great!” he says, “and…”
It’s that “and” that you know will ruin your weekend.
“…we can invite my kid brother!”
“…we can hit the antique fair!”
“…we can go look at cars!”
“And” means adding; adding complexity cost and risk. When you, as a manager, react to every idea with an “and…” do you really understand what you’re doing? Sure, you think you are supporting and improving the idea. Just as likely, though, you are killing creativity and spontaneity.
We all know the adage of the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” One stick of straw weighs very little, but piled on, you get a dead camel. In the PR profession, “and…” managers eventually stifle their staffs’ creativity by loading down every creative, spontaneous idea with complexity.
“…we can mount a complementary social media campaign!”
“…we can have everyone wear matching clothes!”
“…we can invite the CEO!”
Every “and” you add means increased costs for your company, or your client, without necessarily improving effectiveness. It also greatly increases the risk that something will go wrong, putting you office in a worse position than when you started.
Most of all, “and” discourages fun and spontaneity. If every simple-to-do, quick-to-implement idea becomes the Manhattan Project, one day you’ll wonder where all the creativity in your office went.
It wandered off, with the surviving camels. Maybe they went antiquing.