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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

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement.  To learn how we can bring out the best innovative thinking in your team email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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  1. 5 Creativity Lessons from the Guy behind the Facebook Like Button | The Brainzooming Group | Strategy Consulting and Strategic Planning - August 16, 2011

    […] Test what you’re working on with real-life situations/data/elements, etc. Real users don’t use things in clean elegant ways; they beat on them and use them incorrectly. Your testing should do the same. […]

  2. 2012 Super Bowl Advertising Experience - What Worked and Which Skin Sold Hardest? | The Brainzooming Group | Strategy Consulting and Strategic Planning - February 6, 2012

    […] This one was getting a lot of raves on Twitter last night, but it didn’t work for me. The reason it didn’t work, however, may have been largely because of my viewing environment. Left too mainly go by visual cues, I recognized the visuals early in the spot as Chrysler and Detroit, which put me in the mind of last year’s incredible Eminem Chrysler300 video (my personal favorite). I immediately started to try and listen for the voice, and see where this spot was heading. But by the time it was visually clear Clint Eastwood was the voice, I immediately went to, “What does Client Eastwood have to do with Detroit?” From what I could see and hear, it wasn’t clear as an “America” ad. Going back to watch it again this morning, it’s clear that it starts with America, but that start was completely lost from my viewing vantage. Big lesson there that came up on some other Super Bowl ads: consider the worst possible conditions your audience might experience your creative. […]