Design By Committee: The killer of great ideas

A colleague of mine sent me this video the other day.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  It video so perfectly summarizes the problem with the creative process, it is hysterical.  At the same time, it is truly sad for those of us tied to big business. To sum it up, design by committee is the killer groundbreaking ideas.  Period.

Sure, some great products and/or services have come out of committees, but think how much better they could have been.  Think about how many amazing ideas have been smashed to bits in the board room.

What if there were no stop signs, and a major corporation was charged with inventing one? They'd brief their agency and let them do it. Sorta. Welcome to corporate creativity, where groupthink and endless revisions help good ideas get executed.

Too many cooks in the kitchen?

Maybe.  More often, it is too many cooks that think they are gourmet chefs when in reality they don't even know how to make a turkey sandwich.

Without fail, the design by committee process quickly devolves into a contest of who can sounds smarter.

Unfortunately, in this troubled economy, people feel an urgency to justify their employment.  All to often, it is the people that are just mediocre at their jobs that realize they need to quickly step up and appear to be valuable.  They know that the boss is looking to cut back on expenses, so they need to appear as involved as possible.

For every 1 smart, talented team member, there's usually about 9 mediocre teammates.  They're really the C students of the group.  However, they've gotten to where they are because they can talk a good game.  They were the popular kids in school.  But when it comes to actually putting together a good idea or working on a project as a team, all the talking and "ideas" get you no where.

Out numbered.

The talented person gets overrun by the other 9 all the time.

I've saw this happening more and more in 2009, especially in the advertising world.  The video (above) is not that far off the mark.  There are too many brand advisors getting in the away of the real message.

On my team, I'm lucky enough to have a group of guys that don't need to be the center of attention.   They have great attitudes, value the best idea even if it isn't their own, and don't care who get's the credit. It really is a blessing.

Smaller can be better.

Design by committee has defined the way BlogCraving chooses to do business.  We've focused on smaller niche publishers in order to avoid the larger bureaucratic companies. Instead, we focus on assembling a very small group of key decision makers committed to getting the project done right.

There are a lot of niche publishers out there.  However, they tend to be smaller one or two person teams that have very little (if any) technical expertise.  Often, they are excellent writers and publishers, but they have no idea what it takes to bring their site to the next level.  At BlogCraving, we help them understand the technical and design elements that will help transform their hobby site into a real business.

The publisher gets to keep doing what they do best: publish.  Blogcraving takes care of the technical details.

Since the publisher usually consists of an owner or a very small team, there's very little "committee" to deal with.  The publisher knows that they want, and we make it happen.  As long as the publisher trusts our expertise, everything works out perfectly.

I've actually turned down business from site owners that are unwilling to trust our expertise.  I become very invested in the clients we support...probably more so than I should.  I want to see the site succeed and grow almost as much as the site owner.  Because of that, we refuse to work with folks that are too stubborn to act in the best interest of the site's long term growth.

For example, you can't expect to run a top notch site with 150,000 daily pageview on a $4.95/month hosting plan.  The hosts are not reliable enough, technical support sucks, and there will be downtime when you need to be online most.  Publishers refuse to make the investment in proper infrastructure even though it will pay for itself ten fold.

You also cant litter your homepage with 23 ad units plus paid contextual links and popups.  I know you think one ad is great, so two must be better, but it doesn't always work that way.

Sharp images are great, but they can't all be 400kb.

Google Image Search is fun, but you can't just steal photos from other sites.

You get the idea.

I know it can be hard for publishers to trust a company like ours to have their best interest in mind.  That's why we offer certain money back guarantees and performance based payment options.

I advise anyone looking for technical help, a web designer, or consultant to really grill the company on what exactly they are guarantee.  Make sure you have them put it in writing.

Don't be afraid to shop around either.  Ask other publishers who they use.  80% of BlogCraving's business is referral based.  People love to recommend people who do great work.

Photo Credit: TravelStart Design Studio | Creative Commons