Last month I wrote about idea fatigue and how, if not contained, your new ideas can rot away creativity. But what about when you work on other peoples ideas?
Creative freelancers, employees, contractors and consultants are all expected to take someone else’s idea and turn it into something tangible.
The key point here is how do you apply the same level of enthusiasm and passion that you give to your OWN ideas to an idea that is ‘alien’?
Truth is, you can’t. And this is very important because it gives you an opportunity to see the other side of the coin.
Your idea sucks
Think about the cynical nay-sayers and head shakers that often shoot down your own precious ideas (sob…) for a moment. This is how experienced and professional freelancers, employees, contractors and consultants should approach a new idea that is presented to them.
This brand of people are some of the most valuable you can meet because they offer a reality check. To be a good freelancer, employee, contractor or consultant then you simply have do this when working with other peoples ideas or the idea will most likely fail.
Sure, you may want the money that goes with the job and you probably want to be able to put your precious skills into action and get some experience – but you have to face the fact that as a paid hand you will never, ever have the same emotional connection with the idea as the person who originated it.
Caring about other peoples ideas
Thank about this example – did John Sculley really care about the ideas and vision that Steve Jobs had for Apple when he took the reigns as CEO? Evidence suggests not because he famously fired Jobs from Apple (the company Jobs founded). Sculley clearly didn’t not care about the future of the information age, he just wanted to sell more white boxes.
History tells us this was a big mistake because without Jobs’ vision/passion and leadership Apple almost went under. They became boring and bland – not at all like the innovative and expanding company we see today with Jobs’ back in the driving seat.
Don’t get trapped in someone else’s idea
Many years ago (…sigh…) I worked with two guys who wanted to start their own online business. The core idea wasn’t anything I believed in or was passionate about but I stayed silent, this was a big mistake.
I was a yes man for the first few weeks of the project and spent a lot of time working on the business idea designing concepts and developing a basic mock-up system for them to play around with.
At this stage the invoices were piling up but the product was junk and I knew it but still, said nothing.
Eventually after a month of work I made my opinions clear to the clients and they actually agreed that the idea wasn’t as strong as they had initially thought.
As it turns out they had been following my lead as the only creative/technical member of the trio and hoping that I and I alone would be able to mature the idea for them.
This was a disaster for me but a lesson well learned. I never got paid for the work and now I always make sure to vocalise my opinions and fears to a potential client before its too late.