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You would think with a headline that said Right vs. Left this would be a political piece. You’d be wrong. This is the battle between your right brain and your left brain. In my experience there is no greater battleground than in marketing communications.

Essentially it is the battle of the artist versus the engineer. It’s passion versus logic. It is a battle with no winners unless you can work together as one for the greater good. Leaning to far the right or the left breeds mediocrity and bad stuff. Just like in politics.

Some years ago I worked at a corporation that was very interested in developing managers. If you happened to be on the manager path then you were given many options to learn in different disciplines within the company. A fantastic idea if you didn’t pit left brain versus right brain. But that is exactly what happened in marketing.

Management felt it needed to send an engineer to run the creative side of the marketing department. While on one hand, having someone with those kind of organizational skills is needed, he just couldn’t understand why the artist would stare off into space or sketch ideas instead of completing projects when he thought they needed to be completed.

This mix of oil and water came to a head when he tried to institutionalize project timelines. For instance, if you have five days to complete the company magazine and you get the copy at 8 am on Monday morning, by Tuesday at 2 pm you should be working on page 5. When asked how long it took to design a logo, the answer “somewhere between an hour and 30 hours” sounded to him like no one wanted to cooperate. And it does sound like that. When the creatives pushed back he said, “people die if I don’t build the bridge correctly!” Great guy, too much of a disconnect.

It goes both ways. Creatives want to keep working a project until they feel it is perfect. Good for them, do your best work and the client get’s what they paid for. This really only works on your personal projects and not when you company is trying to make budget. Too often creatives will push back when the business side of the agency will come down on them. Often the budgets are not shared with the creatives and most times they don’t care what the budget is.

I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard of agencies missing deadlines because the creatives wanted to make the job perfect. They kept tweaking and assumed that the extra work would make up for the missed deadline. Not only are they adding non-budgeted hours to a job, but they are destroying goodwill the client gave them when choosing them over many other agencies. Most of our clients are these engineers. They want it to work AND ship on-time.

I love listening to productivity podcasts and read articles from leaders in business productivity such as David Allen, Seth Godin, Stephen Covey and the list goes on. My skills as a business person are creative and I crave any kind of productivity hack that will improve my ability to be more creative and to profit from that.

Luckily I have found that middle ground and I even feel there is some creativity in productivity, moving a project from the first meeting through completed project, on-time and on budget. Big agencies have whole departments called trafficking to do this for them.

If you want to do your best work and be a successful business person then you must have your Right Brain work with your Left Brain. Do you best, most creative work and then ship!

Shawn Wright
Shawn Wright is a graphic designer and podcaster living in Birmingham, Alabama. You can find his design work at shawnwright.net. You can find his podcasts, Alabama Short Stories at alabamashortstories.com and the Shades Cahaba Oral History Project podcast at shadescahabahistory.com. His designs are for sale at TeePublic.com, Redbubble.com and Society6.com.
Shawn Wright
Shawn Wright

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