These are the words of the weak creative mind.
This is the sound of the creative mind that has run out of ideas and is now empty.
A mind that is slowly filling with the stinking juice of excuses from the tap of I Know I Fucked This Up But I Won't Take Responsibility For It.
"If we had more time" is the excuse of the pretend Creative Leader.
If your ambitions are for creative leadership - I strongly advise you never to say these words to your team, your superiors or your clients.
They give away:
- an inability to use the time you were given
- an inability to continually move forward
- a weakness in your ability to instil confidence in your team
Amongst other things, it is a sign that you were defeated.
Many years ago, I managed a Creative Director who had a great list of accountabilities. Accountabilities that most young and emerging aspiring creative leaders would cry out for.
She was in charge of developing concepts and ideas for clients. She was accountable for maintaining a high quality of creative work within her team as well as working directly with our clients to help grow their businesses - ideally with us as a key partner.
Her role was completely autonomous and it saw her working directly with a team of designers, developers and content producers.
Her ideas, and the ideas of her team were hers to own and manage. She had the support of a project management team of four, including myself and a couple of other executives.
In 8 out of 10 projects she would give me the following excuses for her work:
"If we had more time, we would've created better concepts."
"If we had more time, I would've been ready and more prepared for the presentation."
"If we had more time, I would've nailed it."
These excuses tell me so much about the person who chooses to use them.
Firstly, they show me that the first reaction to not meeting the expectations of your superior or your team, is to impart blame onto someone else.
By saying "if we had more time" is to say that they weren't given enough time to do their work.
This is hogwash.
In our studio environment our plans and cost estimates were created as a team. Project plans and the general administration and cadence of a project would be dictated by the team and the client's requirements.
Everyone had input. As they should.
To push responsibility and absolve yourself of it is a clear sign of weakness in any field of work.
People who can't shoulder responsibility and accountability don't deserve to be in leadership positions. Clear and simple.
The sentence also tells me that there is a belief that more time will allow you:
- a higher quality of work
- preparedness, and
If you're a young Designer looking to grow in your career and eventually find yourself in a leadership role, don't ever think that time is something given to you and imposed on you.
Don't ever think that you can use the lack of it as an excuse to push your inability to do good work, onto others.
Time is yours. Learn to control it and learn to use it well.
And if you find yourself in a situation where you aren't entirely happy or proud of the work you've done, aim for an alternative reason:
"I didn't use the time we had as well as I could've. Next time I'll....(insert solution)."
If you're a senior person and you find yourself using the excuse of 'not enough time', take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if you're truly ready for a leadership role.
As leaders we are accountable and we must own this accountability.
Owning it means the buck stops with us.
Success and failure are ours to own in equal measure. And if we can't impart this simple fact onto younger people and in turn help to them become great leaders, we must take a long, hard look in the mirror ourselves.