Screw it, let’s do it
A recent investigation by The Times revealed that the Government has commissioned 984 public consultations, since May 2010. Of these, 301 have closed without any Government response while a further 73 are still open and awaiting a response. The latter category includes an ongoing enquiry into ice cream van chimes, and the optimum volume and time of day thereof. Meanwhile, the economy teeters on the brink of a record, triple-dip recession…
So far, so “Yes, Minister” then. But before we mock our esteemed leaders too loudly, perhaps we should take a quick look at the way we “consult” in our own industry. All too often, we abdicate responsibility for making decisions, just like the officials we are happy to lampoon. Like them, we use research as a lamppost to lean on, rather than to illuminate. Like them, we spend an inordinate amount of energy on the little stuff (the music on the TV ad, the tweak to the pack design, the words on the brand onion) and not enough on the fundamental issues at stake. Like them, we don’t always respond to the findings with tangible actions anyway.
So while we rightly berate politicians for their lack of leadership, I think we need to step up to the plate ourselves. If we need inspiration, look no further than an arch-marketer who is regularly voted as our ideal Prime Minister: Sir Richard Branson. Having worked on pretty much every outpost of the Virgin empire over the years, I’ve always been impressed by the way intuition and action are prized in his organisation. Yes, there’s plenty of research, but it tends to be the good kind: the sort that really gets under people’s skin and tells you something new. This understanding is then married to marketers’ good judgement so that decisions can be made quickly and confidently, without the need for constant validation on every last executional detail.
Branson calls this attitude “Screw it, let’s do it”. And it’s something we could all do with practising, because these days if we dither, someone’s liable to “screw or do” us.