Realize as I am saying this, I broke down this morning and gave in to the urge to have a made-from-scratch scone from 17 Hands Coffee & Bakery. It’s Friday. It has been a long and productive week. And I’ve made progress in balancing my eating habits. Damn it, I deserve it!
Ok, back to the point.
I am referring more to projects. Presentations. Campaigns. Too many times we are given an assignment or presented with a challenge and we start with a blank piece of paper, creating the solution from scratch. A subconscious decision that this new challenge needs a new solution and nothing you’ve done before will work.
This came up this past weekend when our daughter reminded us that she needs to complete forty hours of community service this year as one of her obligations as part of the Global Culture and Languages Academy. A noble objective, and one that halfway through the year with zero hours logged is starting to loom large.
Except she has already completed many hours of community service. Last year, as part of a project on sustainability, while others focused on resource sustainability, she went in a different direction and focused on sustaining HOPE. She worked to put together “Believer Kits”, care packages for the homeless made up daily essentials, a couple of treats, a surprise, and most importantly hope. She received an “A” on the assignment, and we are almost through passing out the second round of kits that she made earlier this year. Now she is thinking about whether or not she should build on this idea in order to complete her requirement for this year, building on an impact that she has already had on others.
Because not everything needs to be created from scratch.
I learned this many years ago from a mentor and friend, Steve Harvill. The owner of Creative Ventures. As I worked with him, both professionally and as part of a non-profit, I watched his process, going through a visual brainstorming process to create a solution for a presented problem, then going back through ideas and presentations to find the right elements to build on. While I was starting every one of my projects, every one of my presentations from scratch, he was building on ideas and making them stronger every time. Maybe this is why he recently published a best-selling book.
I find that we sometimes do the same thing when building marketing promotions or events. At times, we start from scratch, dismissing ideas that may have worked in the past but fallen stale, or that didn’t work but had potential, believing that we need to come up with something completely new and unique. Sometimes, that is the right answer but often times, we can reach back to the work we have already done and build on it, delivering a more thought out and better solution.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the best answer is to start from scratch.
I was taught in school that if you were stumped in finding the solution to a math problem, rip up the sheet and start over so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Sometimes that is the right answer. However, often times, both personally and professionally, the answer may lie within what you have already built, already accomplished, and you simply need to build on it. A few tweaks, learning from failure and building on success may in fact deliver a much better solution.
Sometimes it is about working smarter, not harder.
Just a random thought at the end of a productive week. The scone has disappeared, the coffee is to go, and we have a three-day weekend ahead.
Appreciate you tuning in!