“But We Can’t Do That”

There were some interesting reactions to my recent Jack Bauer post on and off this blog.  Aside from those who enjoyed the analogy, those who disagreed responded (predictably) with comments such as:

But we can’t do that

I would be fired for acting like that!

You haven’t worked in corporate culture like ours

Typical reactions from those who are likely going to have typical futures.

This weekend I was reading a mid-western newspaper while doing some traveling, and in it there was a story on job tips.  Two of the tips were “follow the resume submission process of the company you want to work for” and “use keywords in your resume to stand out in resume management software.”  These are tips to get noticed by a bureaucrat, not tips to actually position yourself as a unique, creative individual.  However, in today’s society, the creative individuals are the most successful and most in demand precisely because they don’t follow the masses.

Society pushes us to follow a process.  In fact, throughout our lives we are pushed to stay in a system and follow rules.  It is up to you to break these rules.  People who say “we can’t do that” should inspire you to do exactly that.

Tying this back into marketing – I have heard similar reactions from companies I’ve consulted with over the years (and even other consultants) on transformative ideas.  Reactions such as the above are common, as are “that’s pie in the sky” or “yeah, that’s nice but we can’t actually implement that.”

And yet when you push such companies (or individuals) to answer the “we can’t do that” question, it almost always comes down not to a lack of ability and resources, but a lack of willpower.  They’re not willing to commit, willing to deliver passion, or willing to put soul and personality behind their initiatives.

These same companies (or professionals) wonder why their marketing or company aren’t the buzz of the industry.  When they are afraid of failure, afraid of risk, try to please everyone and otherwise fearful of the world, it’s actually simple why they don’t win.  They don’t deserve results – no one following a paint-by-numbers approach to marketing (or life) does.

People naturally rally against those who stand out or try to actually implement something unique – they’re afraid of change or simply trying to protect the current state of things.  They can’t help it, don’t hold it against them.  Instead of letting it bother you, execute and prove them wrong.