Some friends of mine are selling their home. Everyone who sees the place raves about it. But there’s one caveat — the house has a spiral staircase and it’s freaking-out potential buyers.
“We love everything about your home, but we’re just not sure about the stairs,” they’ll say. So what’s the real problem with this staircase? Very simple — it’s different.
In the business world, “different” can be a good thing. Unfortunately, there are those companies who claim they want to be on the cutting edge and they want to do things in new ways, but when the moment of truth arrives they embrace change as if it were a wet dog. For them, proverbial is safe. It’s a cozy blanket. There’s a certain feel to the fabric and it has a familiar smell. If only they knew that to the rest of the world that security blankie is staaanky!
So every year the cycle continues, and organizations fork-out billions of dollars for stale, boring ideas. But fresh thinking can make a difference and deserves a second thought. Creativity knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if you’re in marketing, architecture, accounting, teaching, engineering… big ideas have been known to step out of the shadows and reveal themselves as a Toyota Prius or a Nike commercial, as HBO programming, an Apple Computer or an independent film.
Ironically, the advertising business is one of the biggest abusers. We’re afraid to show our clients the spiral staircase, despite the fact that it will do the job just as well and, most important, it’ll get noticed. We’re supposed to be all about fresh thinking, yet many of us sell clients on safe, boring concepts. Perhaps you’re they person who told your client that “Viva Viagra” will become the next “Where’s The Beef” lexicon? Or maybe you’re the genius who brought us the Go Daddy girl not once, but twice! Hey, thanks for the TWO blind dates with Glenn Close. Talk about a fatal attraction — I’m surprised the Go Daddy girl didn’t open the second Super Bowl spot with the words, “You won’t answer my calls, you change your number. I mean, I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!”
Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a better horse.” Other icons of the business world – the Jack Welches, the Steve Jobs’, the Richard Bransons — they’d probably share a similar quote. My guess is that when they look down from on high and view the world they helped shape, they’d also tell us that the corporate ladder they struggled to climb over their respective careers was indeed a spiral staircase.