A Manifesto For Better Creative Work

I wrote this a few years ago for a company that no longer exists. But I still use it to motivate myself. It articulates the culture in which I thrive. I want to build this culture into my agency someday.

Wear good shoes. If you’re going to be comfortable going the extra mile, make sure you have what you need to support you. Be noisy about what you need to deliver your best.

Listen carefully. Not so that you know when to answer, but so that you understand. Give your full attention to the problem. Do not strive to find the answers, but ask the right questions.

Lead as you want to be led. You are not accountable — you are responsible. We are a cultural constellation, and we each choose ownership of our output, attitudes, products, and ideas.

Call people out. We will never do great work if we are afraid of speaking the truth. Attack the problem, not the person, and never let a misunderstanding take root for fear of a difficult conversation.

Keep your promises. Every broken promise is a crack in the lens through which our clients see us.

Know your value. Understanding why our clients chose us is key to solving the challenges they bring us. We do not sacrifice quality for speed, integrity for quick wins or the value of our product for accolades.

You are the bridge. Whatever your role, you connect our clients to the ideas and products we deliver for them. We create a human chain that anchors our clients to our business by working together.

Embrace the topography. The tapestry of our skills enables us to offer unique insight and an unrepeatable product. Exploit the individual peaks and troughs of experience that team members bring to the table. Turn over every stone.

Solve the equations. We are not artists for art’s sake. Our work is connected to reality, and we are responsible for providing things that work, not something that looks good. We create solutions and enter discussions with our clients and suppliers as equals working together. Everything we put in front of a client needs to answer a need, solve a problem or further their cause.

Get your hands dirty. Actively seek to know more about the world your work inhabits. Poke the box, push the buttons, and investigate the dark corners of the problem. Our work is practical, and we become explorers with our clients by being enthusiastic about the world of the problem.

Fess up. Be honest about the things that go wrong. It’s the easiest way to stop them from going wrong again.

Ship the product. Endless iteration is a treadmill that exhausts without actual progress. Recognise when the polishing is cosmetic, and declare that it’s done. A living product does more good than an unborn concept.

Accolades don’t replace pride—screw awards and competitions. The value of our work is measured in how quickly clients trust us with the next big problem.

Make better mistakes. Make them faster and louder. Failure is the first step to building something you know will stand up, and we should make our solutions fail as often as possible before we ask someone else to pay for them.

Prove it. Our solutions are not proverbs or psalms, transmuted to being facts by acceptance or time. Prove everything you can with articulation, metrics, observations and demonstrable knowledge. “We do this for a living” means nothing; our competitors do too.

Back your solution. Own your expertise and stand up for it. We hired you to be an expert, not a yes-person.

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