(Note: This is based on one of the prompts from Robert S. Kaplan’s book What You’re Really Meant to Do.)
Pretty darn fast and loose, if you ask me. Of course, that’s assuming I’m interpreting the question correctly.
That’s driven by an innate desire to keep things fresh. I like to iterate, I like to take on new projects, I like to tweak existing models. I like to execute new ideas and then explain the justification or thinking behind doing so only two weeks later when someone notices. That’s usually after those ideas are becoming entrenched and expected in and by the audience.
Well thought-out plans that have been measured and proposed and dutifully considered are great and I understand where the line is that necessitates taking a slower approach. But for the most part, I’ve always been one to think on his feet and make gut calls, turning on a dime, even if it’s just 12 degrees to the side of what I’m currently doing.
That’s served me pretty well over the years. As I’ve said before, I can count multiple instances where something I thought up in the shower, did a bit of research on and executed an hour later is still being used by clients years later and well after I stopped being involved with the program.
This approach has been possible in part because I’ve enjoyed a good amount of autonomy in much of my work. Clients gave me and my teams a lot of slack to run a program without their need to approve every single update before it was published as long as we were hitting our goals, which we almost always did. Even my employers, for the programs I’ve run for agencies, have let me do my thing, involved only when they needed the platforms I managed for an important announcement.
So I keep things moving. I play around with this or that tactic. If it works, great. If not, I abandon it and it’s never spoken of again.
The Facebook credo of “Move fast and break things” isn’t applicable because unlike software, the kind of content programs I’ve managed can suffer considerable damage if I break something as part of my experimentation. I may make spur-of-the-moment decisions and implement changes quickly, but it always comes from consideration of what’s best for the client and what best serves the audience. If I make the wrong call, I’ve endangered the client’s reputation and business as well as that of my employer and, of course, myself.
There need to be approval workflows and other structural supports in place. This isn’t just me wanting to be a petulant anarchist. It’s just me working as best I can to introduce a little chaos here and there, which is necessary for any healthy ecosystem.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.