Those of us who watched Dragnet in the 60’s (or “Nick at Nite” reruns since) are very familiar with Joe Friday’s ability to cut through the emotion and haze of uncertainty and always get to the facts. Detective work was very black and white – good versus evil; solid citizens versus criminals; truth versus lies.
Lately I’ve been intrigued watching the political jousting from all sides based on which group/party “owns” the facts. (Remember “You lie!”?) Well, there was a fascinating and surprisingly well-balanced article in the Washington Post explaining what appear to be lies and distortion of facts in politics, are really derivatives of different personality profiles and approaches to thinking, where people have legitimate beliefs and positions based on their personalities and world views. So “the truth” isn’t necessarily as clear cut as we might assume.
That brings me to agency/client relationships. While we (and I believe most agencies) have great relationships with clients, the increasing complexity of digital marketing coupled with the increasing performance demands on our clients in this ‘always on” technical and financial world can combine to create the perfect relationship storm. Whether due to incomplete or unstated going-in objectives, lack of understanding of the nuances of today’s technology and social media landscape, or simple ongoing miscommunications, there is ample opportunity in almost any project to end up pointing fingers over a great solution that has gone sideways.
And as in politics, the more each party augers down on their position as the “right one based on the facts”, the less likely any reasonable outcome will occur. So what are two well intentioned parties to do? Let’s take a page (no pun intended) from the Washington Post article, and step away from arguing over who’s right or wrong and instead focus on each other’s valid point of reference. If we truly take time to understand our partner’s point of view, we should be able to both defuse the factual arms race and find common ground enabling us to find a real solution to reach the common goal we agreed on originally.