My friend once asked me to attend services at her church.
She said the culture was super progressive, casual and didn’t tell members they were going to hell.
Sounds like my kind of congregation.
Sure enough, everything about the experience was enjoyable. Friendly members wearing nametags, powerful music performances, even a minister whose words challenged and inspired us. At the end of the sermon, they announced that they would be passing around their collection plate.
Which is always awkward for guests. Should you give as gratitude for being invited? What’s the social contract here?
But before my mind spun out into a guilt spiral, the minister said something that has stuck with me to this day.
For those of you are first time visitors, we’d like to invite you not to contribute.
It was such a relief. No pressure, no obligation, no need for performative generosity, nothing. The minister framed the collection process in a visitor friendly way that prevented anxiety and uncertainty.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if more people did that kind of thing?
Introducing constraints like that goes a long way.
Strangely enough, there’s an application to the business world that more companies should think about. Particularly in client services, which, as my old agency boss liked to say, is not a solid, and is not a liquid, but is a gas, which expands to fill whatever container it’s in.
There isn’t a firm in the world who isn’t fighting that battle. From scope creep to never ending feedback to projects that get derailed and delayed by having too many cooks in the kitchen, maybe what organizations need is to invite more people to not contribute.
At one of my startup jobs, our creative director spotted this problem as core driver of team stress. Clients would be making changes and edits and recommendations on assets until our team was blue in the face. And while the product may have been fifteen percent better, our team was seventy percent angrier.
Not good for morale.
Ultimately, we decided to create less opportunity for client input. From day one, too. The operations team started identifying areas of our contractural, creative brief and approvals process where we could be more efficient. For example, only allowing a finite amount of versions of assets. This contract limited the back and forth between the account people and the clients, got the work done faster and reduced the amount of overall stress during the process.
This experience echoes my longstanding belief that feedback is highly overrated, and typically not worth our attention. Most of the time, feedback is untrustworthy, unhelpful and unsolicited, and only amplifies our negative appraisal of ourselves.
Yes, there is a small group of people whose input on our work matter, but for the sake of our sanities, we should create less opportunity for input.
Doing so will save time, increase speed and strengthen leverage.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Which people in your life would you like to invite to not contribute?