Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sometimes Its Just Better to Start Again

You know what annoys me? Those jigsaw puzzles that have pieces that are all the same size and shape. You know…the ones that I never quite know if a piece is in the right place. Sure it interlocks with, and is generally similar in color or texture to the adjacent pieces, but then halfway through putting the thing together I realize it’s not even close to beingpuzzle piece in the right place.

You know what else annoys me? When I take an idea and add what I think are complimentary pieces to it…only to find that 75% of the way through, a bunch of those pieces don’t quite fit where they are; if they fit at all.

With a puzzle you’ve got the picture on the front of the box to tell you what the picture should look like. You’re able to remove the offending pieces, put them where they need to be, and continue.

When it comes to a marketing effort, campaign, or organizational change things are a bit more difficult. You don’t have that picture on the box to tell you how everything should look at the end. In many ways that’s a good thing. It leaves lots of room for creativity, but at some point you may find that a piece that once looked like it fit perfectly when viewed up close, doesn’t look quite right when you step back and take a look at the whole picture.

So when you find yourself in this position, looking down at a nearly finished creation and realizing that it doesn’t look quite right, what do you do? Do you try to find and remove or modify the parts that are skewing the rest of the picture, or do you take the whole thing apart and go back to square one; the basic purpose, focus, and reason for the project in the first place. Redefine your goal and refocus your attention on what you want as an end result and rebuild.

I think most times starting again from that first creative spark is easier, more productive, and leads to a better end result than struggling to locate and fix the piece that doesn't quite fit.


Jeffry Pilcher said...

Andy, you touch on some things here that show why it's hard to analyze (or criticize) another financial institution's marketing. We, as outsiders, never know all the little decisions that went into a concept, nor do we know how all the pieces fit together.

Mary said...

Hey Andy,
The treasure in your post, I believe, is that there is such wisdom (and courage) in realizing that something isn't working as it should. It's tough to admit, sometimes, that our "brain child" is not of MENSA status and needs some tutoring! Traditional organizational life was such that a mistake or an imperfection was seen as a failure instead of a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow. When a culture supports the idea that sometimes things just don't go as planned, it makes room for creativity and movement, rather than getting stuck in the fear and immobility of analysis paralysis : "If I don't do ANYTHING, maybe noone will notice that I'm painfully stuck."
And you know what else I think about this? sometimes if we just give ourselves permission to start all over, it frees up the process and we realize that we really do have what we need, but that some tweaking is in order.
'Nuff said. It's a powerful topic.

Andy said...

Jeffery you are completely right. Its so easy to sit at a distance and say "oh well, here's where you went wrong." Its a whole other story when your the one trying to build something from the ground up.

Thanks Mary, I think its really easy to get stuck and be afraid to admit it, even to yourself. This is something I realized especially while playing music (and just recently applied to marketing). As things build up, sometimes its just not working and you have to start back at the beginning. Sometimes you end up with the same sound, just tweaked, and sometimes you end up with something completely different. Thats half the fun though.

Mark McSpadden said...


My comment ballooned into a full fledged blog post.

Puzzle Pieces, Org Charts, Marketing, and Programming

Summary: Don't start over. :)