Just Ask

I agree with Littlejohn's post from yesterday. As he wrote, "people suppress their stupid because they want to be the one who has the solution, hits a home run, and brings the big winning idea to the client table."

But I've found that many people also suppress their "stupid," because they don't want to look stupid. This behavior extends beyond holding back on blurting out ad ideas. I have seen people sit and try to figure out an assignment on their own rather than just asking a co-worker or their boss for insight, input, or help.

But one of the great things about this industry is that we're able and encouraged to collaborate. And people tend to remember accomplishments over process. Unless the process was truly miserable.

So go ahead, ask away.

Ask for more information or a clarification. The conversation that results might be what helps you reformulate the problem, enabling you to bring a truly new insight to the table.

Ask your boss or client what he or she would like you do. And, later, ask if he or she thinks you're achieving that goal (or successfully redirecting them to a better goal, if the one they want is not acceptable to you). After all, you're not a mind reader and it's better to know the truth.

Ask to pitch in when you're "up." It's not a mark against you if you can't figure out what to do on you own. And, people will appreciate your helpfulness.

And, finally, ask for feedback on your work as you're progressing. Just make sure it's with someone who won't steal your idea until after your client rejects it. You never know, the comment or reaction you receive - or lack of one - might be the spark you need to refine your idea.

If the obvious benefits of asking are not enough, think of the potential negatives of not asking.

For starters, at the risk of stating the obvious, not asking could actually hurt your career when the bean counters realize how much valuable time has been lost because you didn't ask. So to begin the asking fest, I'd like to close with one question: How did I do with this post? Please let me know in the comments section.

21 comments:

laura said...

you're just fishing for compliments.. :)
I guess you did good, made a clear point. it reminded me of your "cultivating a questioning discipline" post from a month ago. your ideas are consistent, that's always a good thing.. ;)

Littlejohn said...

Laura - Good to hear you're following the conversation. But I just wanted to point out the "Cultivating a questioning discipline" post you mentioned was actually written by T. Willerer, one of our other contributing writers. While all us Peanuts writers come from different backgrounds, yes, sometimes our thoughts overlap a bit. See you on Wednesday for my column. Cheers.

laura said...

yes, I missed that..
at least I didn't supress my stupid :)

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