Early in my career, I was invited to work with a ‘creative agency’.
It was a hoot!
Painted pigs in reception. Table tennis and space invaders. Pizzas on Thursday. Pub on Friday.
‘You don’t have to be mad to work here – but it helps’ posters.
You get the idea.
And almost everyone was happy to work late.
‘We do whatever it takes’ the MD shared with me, adding, ‘It’s not unusual to see people in the building at midnight’.
I watched how they worked. Actually, that’s not true. I watched how they filled their time.
For every four hours they were at work, I estimated less than two were spent genuinely working on what they were supposed to be working on.
My job was to challenge their thinking, so during our first training session I suggested this radical idea:
‘How about everyone comes into the office, starts working on what they should be working on – and goes home on time?’
One of the creatives said, ‘We work better when we’re close to a deadline’.
Another ‘hmmm’ moment for me, then I countered, ‘I don’t think you work better; I think you work faster.’
The end of the story isn’t a happy one. They went under in the 2009 recession.
But last week, via the power of LinkedIn, one of their ex members of staff contacted me and asked if I remembered them.
Of course I did!
He shared with me what he does now and confessed that for half the time in that old agency, they were just ‘dicking about’.
Chaos may generate a bit of creative tension…
And deadlines create excitement…
But nothing works quite as well as actually doing the work.
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