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Safe doesn't Pay

The creative field is like a rollercoaster.

Sometimes things are going well and sales are going well and everything is good. People are happy. Culture is thriving. The stock is doing well. Team is expanding. New opportunities are popping up. New ideas are percolating. Everything is firing on all cylinders. And sometimes you hit a snag. The market dives. The retailers go bankrupt. There’s a new competitor with a better idea. A crucial team member leaves. Internal team struggles with execution. The stock takes a hit so there’s a hiring freeze. It can change quickly too. From soaring highs to just a complete nosedive. 

It happens to many teams. To many companies. It’s the name of the game. The nature of the beast. Expecting continuous growth is unrealistic. You can work hard to ensure you continue to grow. You can ensure growth through prediction and through work - but, the immutable law always remains the same. What goes up, must come down. Eventually things go down. Maybe not completely down, but down. It’s how business operates. 

Work > Success > Growth > Comfort > Complacency > Stagnation > Lost Marketshare > ?

So what comes after?

You work to get back on your feet. You wake up, brush off, get the culture up and running. Try to get people into gear - try to get them to look forward and innovating again. Try to get them to do some meaningful work. And what we often see is companies choosing to play it safe at this stage. “Hey, we don’t want to offend anyone, so we’ll do the thing that was successful a few years back” or “We’ll take the safe route, we don’t want to polarize people”. Safe. The choice becomes to be play it safe. Here's the truth: Safe is boring. 

When organizations are unsure about direction, when confidence has been shaken, decisions tend to be locked up. No one wants to take responsibility for the big decision. So, what do you do? You focus group. You get more people in the room. You talk about it and scrutinize from every angle. Attempt to predict what will be successful. The result of all that busywork is that most of the time your results will end up being boring. 

And boring won’t put you on the map. It won’t attract attention. Boring will make you loose. Boring will eventually make you reactive… and then even more boring. No - boring will not equal more sales. Boring will be forgotten. 

When you’re down you need to think smaller. You need to be more nimble. You need to have a vision. You need to take risks and take them fast. You need to get out in front of it and create new. You need to act like a competitor who’s out to kill you. You need less people in the room. You need less focus groups (you shouldn’t need focus groups at all). You need to be confident. You need to believe in what you’re doing. 

No one wants the safe route. Not anymore.

Dmitry N. Rusakov

#everydaycreativebattle 57/365

This series of content is a small experiment. I pledged to create a piece of content on my site for the next 365 days. You can read the opening post here. The posts aren’t limited to thoughts or ideas, they’re really just a way for me to create original content. If you got any feedback/questions, please reach out. Thanks for looking.