How many times have you been told the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of something?
A few more times at work than at home I’d hope.
From a presentation for some new brand tone of voice, to some HR training.
A ‘Do’s or Don’ts’ slide almost exclusively consists of two columns of bullet points.
What’s good and what’s bad.
Where do you find your eyes glance to? Whats your first reaction?
Your answer probably says something about you, whichever way you look.
But more importantly, the reactions to these slides, to this choice, speaks volumes about attitudes within many industries.
Within almost every field, there appears to be an inherent obsession with what not to do.
This is at the expense of what we actually ought to do.
More often, we focus on the negative.
Take an induction to a brand’s tone of voice, for example.
“Never be patronising when showing empathy”.
Erm, of course not. But now written as a positive…
“Show empathy with customers by showing you understand them.”
Which one do you think would get the best creative work out the other end…?
It seems that through the fear of getting it wrong, we are becoming happier and happier with mediocrity.
Not getting it wrong over getting it right.
Being cautious over being great.
In reality, many people would rather not mess it up than nail it.
This is arguably most nonsensical within my industry – a creative one.
What we technically sell is creativity.
Yet creativity gets constrained by rules and limitations.
By ‘don’ts’ and ‘can’ts’.
Tell people what they can’t do and you are limiting the boundaries.
Stopping people pushing them out.
So, the more limiting the brief, the more restricted the work will be.
But the wider the mandate, the more creative the work.
The more chance you have of making something that really nails it.
We can’t DO anything brilliantly if we’re focused on don’ts!