YOU CAN HAVE TWO OF THE THREE: FAST, CHEAP or GOOD.
This Instagram diagrams an old adage we've all heard: You have three choices, but you can only choose two: Do you want it Fast, Cheap, or Good?
That saying, and the sentiment it carries, has been passed around the halls of agencies, builders, designers, technical directors, copywriters - basically anyone who provides a service B2B or B2C - forever. And the first time any of us heard it, it was awfully clever.
This graphic takes the clever turn of phrase one step further, labeling the crossroads of "Fast, Cheap and Good" with the black hole of "Not Happening."
So, sure, it's clever, and good for a chuckle when clients aren't around, but it establishes a culture that is at its root dangerous to entrepreneurship, at its worst destructive to client relationships, and, at the absolute least, very antiquated.
This sentiment is a prime example of what I call the "Culture of No," a pit agencies can fall into where they begin to view clients as combatants, any request as a hassle, and all objectives as impossible. This culture establishes the "knee-jerk no," where team's initial reaction to any client request is to list the reasons it WON'T work, rather than the ways that it WILL, or ways that it COULD.
These tendencies are a plague on the success of any service provider - so perhaps the graphic should be altered... Where it now says "Not Happening," what if it said "GET CREATIVE?"
This is only more true in the world or marketing and communications - because all the assumptions that were in place when this catchy phrase originated are no longer valid.
As always, every project should start with the usual suspects, the "W" questions (yes, and one "H" question):
Why, What, When and How.
But while a client's "Why" will not have changed - they need to reach customers about a new product, they want to impact and inspire internal audiences, they want to increase brand recognition - each of the other questions has changed drastically.
The WHAT is faster, easier, and more streamlined. Articles have become blogs have become 140 character blasts. Content is increasingly user-generated. Print ads are posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
The WHEN is now flexible. Print deadlines have become real-time digital launches, initiated at any time, day or night. Placements have become automated, programmatic, marketplaced, instant. Ad spots can become YouTube posts. For live events, printed banners have become media projected or fed to LED. Customer outreach is now push notified.
So that leaves the HOW. That is where real creativity needs to come to play. HOW can we make this work? HOW can we achieve what our clients need, using the faster, easier, and more flexible tools that are now at our disposal? Rather than the knee-jerk NO, are there any ways that we can realize the one thing that has never changed - the actual business need of the client's WHY?
It takes true partnership with a client, and the removal of that Culture of No this old phrase propagates. It takes the ability to think outside what may have been done before, break the project down to its true objective, and creatively think of how it can be achieved Fast, Cheap, AND Good.
So with that as a goal, maybe it's time we remove that pesky "H" from our list of "W" questions and added another "W" instead: "What If?"
Why, What, When, What if?
It inspires novel thinking... It inspires partnership with clients... It inspires a culture of creativity, of solution-driving, rather than the soul crushing knee-jerk no.
And in the end, it takes away the "Not Happening" that is at the center of this way of thinking, and reminds us that when it seems impossible, it’s time to GET CREATIVE.