In our corporate world of increasing demands for accountability and the pressure that comes with it, a pandemic is spreading fast across all levels of companies’ middle management. What’s even more alarming is that it’s spread all the way up to top management in many organizations.
You can identify the victims through the initial symptoms of general indecisiveness, insecurity and total lack of a point of view on any of the issues that really matter. In most incidents, these symptoms quickly turn into complete decision paralysis and a severe phobia for anything outside the realm of convention. I’m talking about ‘fear’, fear with a capital ‘F’. Tragically, the implications are devastating for creative thinkers and doers out there.
Frankly speaking, many of them are not allowed to do what they’re meant and paid to do – to create. No. They’re in fact asked to duplicate and spread the conventions we’re all too familiar with: the very conventions holding brands and businesses back from fulfilling their potential. What really gets me is that we in this day and age still allow systematic abuse of original thinking and expression in what is generally an accepted research method called ‘pre-testing’. Common sense and modern neuro-science co-wrote the death certificate for this method long ago and yet it’s still alive and kicking, resuscitated and resurrected by the victims of fear.
Don’t get me wrong, research can be a wonderful insight source if it’s conducted intelligently. However, I find ‘pre-testing’ in most shapes and forms directly detrimental to original ideas and creativity. And I’ve yet to work with a research company that has managed to get me to rethink my position on this topic. More about my position on pre-testing here.
The following clip from Boston agency Arnold shows what ‘pre-testing’ systematically does to creativity. Apple didn’t pre-test its famous “1984” commercial. Would the world have been the same today if it had? Maybe. Maybe not.