A looooong time ago, an MTV special with Hall and Oates talked about how they produced their studio recordings. They shared a recording studio strategy with broad strategic applicability in business that’s always stuck with me:
When you mix a recording, listen to it on the worst speakers.
If it sounds good there, it will sound good everywhere.
In case you need that translated from musician speak, it means when you’re developing and converting your creative output into its final form, make sure it works in the worst possible conditions.
That’s advice absolutely worth heeding. If you’re . . .
- Creating a fantastic Powerpoint, look at it with a crappy LCD projector on a too-small screen in a poorly lit room to see if it pops.
- Assembling a document with lots of beautifully-colored graphs and charts, print it out in black and white and photocopy it a few times to see if the analytical points behind all your graphics are clear.
- Writing an incredibly detailed memo, have someone who hasn’t been involved in it read only the first and last paragraph to see if they understand what you’re communicating.
- Putting together a video for a big meeting, watch it without the sound and listen to it without the video to see if it works both ways, just in case the AV doesn’t completely work.
- Designing an unbelievable new website with lots to look at, try to navigate it on a 2-year old pda.
Sure this step takes time, but as a co-worker once said to me, “It’s always going to be raining.” So go ahead and plan your creative efforts to be rained on and still look good wet. – Mike Brown
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