We were sitting in my backyard sharing a $600 bottle of wine he had brought.
He said, “I got all 250 of my employees together on a Zoom call and told them, ‘You can disagree passionately and share your opinion while we are in the discussion phase, but when a decision has been made, you need to commit to the successful implementation of that decision as though it had been your own. To disagree and work half-heartedly and receive a paycheck is not an option. To disagree and covertly sabotage the plan and receive a paycheck is not an option. To disagree and whisper behind closed doors and receive a paycheck is not an option. You can either recuse yourself by turning in your resignation, or you can disagree and commit. Those are your options.'”
My friend is strong, fair, and a marvelous employer. I have always admired him. Raised in a family with no money, he became stunningly successful by the time he was 40.
That conversation with my friend is what triggered last week’s Monday Morning Memo about “Those Glorious Creative Handcuffs.”
Ad writers like myself always believe we have the best answers and that people should listen to what we say. “But…” I tell my partners, “your client didn’t hire you to be CEO. They hired you to make their plan work. If you believe you can improve their plan, you need to communicate what you would change, why you would change it, and how you would implement that change. But once you’ve had your day in court, your job is to make their plan succeed brilliantly, even if it’s stupid.”
In 40 years of ad-writing I’ve chosen to walk away only twice. In both instances I knew the only way the decided-upon plan could end was with a large, smoking hole in the earth where their successful company used to be. In both of those cases I was right. In every other instance, “Those Glorious Creative Handcuffs” clamped on my wrists triggered some of the best creative work I’ve ever done.
“Disagree and Commit” works miraculously well, but only if you wash the memory of your ‘better plan’ from your mind. Never speak of it again. Never think about it again. When you’ve had your day in court, commit to the plan and make it a point of honor to make that plan succeed.
And then celebrate, celebrate, celebrate when it does.
This will make you a person that every employer wants to hire, and every brilliant person wants on their team.
Roy H. Williams