Monday, March 30, 2015

Can You Solve Any Problem By Asking One Simple Question?

The early lumber industry in Europe and North America would float logs along rivers to transport them to the sawmill. Masses of individual logs were driven downriver like huge herds of cattle.

But sometimes, the timber would stack up and cause a logjam.

Men called 'log drivers' were tasked with unblocking the jam. Interestingly, they soon learned that there was often a 'key log', whose removal would free up the entire logjam. Thus their goal became to locate and remove this key log.

Similarly, progress on an advertising project often grinds to a halt. (There are disagreements, there is lack of clarity, there is confusion about goals, or methods, or strategy. Whatever the reason, the project or meeting has stalled).

I often find myself wondering what the key log in an advertising logjam is, and how it can be located.

If a log driver can clear a logjam by locating a single log, and prodding it with a peavey hook, the advertising practitioner - I believe - ought to be able to identify the source of a an advertising logjam by asking a single question.

But what is that question?

One of the best is a question I picked up from a smart Client of mine, who one day when a meeting had run aground in a morass of confusion, simply asked: "What problem are we trying to solve here?"

Another good one, best used when everyone disagrees on what to do, is to ask: "What is the most interesting aspect of this brief?"

If you have a sharp question that you've found helps resolve situations, please share it in the comments below...


Brad said...

Perhaps trying to work from the reverse angle?
'What things do we agree on?'

If you all agree on everything but one, max two sticking points then that's easier to resolve. This approach helps to build a positive momentum which can calm often heated discussions.

Anonymous said...

As a junior it's great to get these sort of post Scamp. Cheers.

TheBigMacGaul said...

I always try to read briefs with "What problem are we trying to solve here?" on mind. It helps making everything clear. That is a good question.

So good, that sometimes advertising is not the answer and the best thing to do is to step back from the project.

Agree with anon, posts like this are your best!