The Job Is People

Submitted by: Dave Trott 18/07/2017

Creating great ad campaigns is an art - especially if they are to be effective across the entire media spectrum. We have teamed up with Dave Trott, one of the greatest creativity gurus, to inspire you...

When GGT became a public company, I had some real money for the first time in my life.
So I bought a big old house and set about renovating it.
We had architects, builders, carpenters, and plumbers gutting it.
It was big job.
So big that we had to sign an RIBA contract.
Part of this contract was about the deadline for completion of the work.
If it wasn’t finished on time, the builder must pay £5,000 for every week it was late.
So we signed and everyone started work.
Or rather they didn’t.
Every week I’d come to see what was happening and they’d all just be sitting
around reading the Sun.
At first I wasn’t worried.
But after a month or so I began to think I must be missing something.
I called up the building contactor.
I said “You haven’t done anything for 2 months. That means you’ll be 8
weeks late. Which means you’ll owe me £40k.”
He said “You haven’t read the small print. It says whoever is causing the
delay has to pay. I haven’t received the plans from your architect. That
means, so far, you owe me £40k.”
That got my attention.
I called up the architect and asked why he hadn’t done the plans.
He said he was waiting for the electrical contractor.
I called the electrical contractor, he said he was waiting for the plumber, the
plumber said he was waiting for the carpenter.
And so on.
Now I had a real problem.
I know nothing about plumbing or carpentry or electrics or drawing up plans or
anything else to do with building a house.
But I do know people.
I knew I was getting the run around.
And I knew I was getting the run around because each one could blame the other.
But on the upside, at least I’d identified the problem.
Now, I could unblock it.
I know that anyone can blame anything on someone else, as long as they’re
not in the room.
So that’s the first thing, get them all in the same room at the same time.
That way no one can blame someone who isn’t there.
I thought, I need to handle this in terms I understand.
A weekly traffic meeting.
Keep it fast and simple and issue an action list: ‘who’ and ‘by when’ to
everyone afterwards.
A list of tasks to be completed before the next meeting.
Okay that’s the mechanics.
But I also needed to get their attention.
So I got my secretary, Nicola, to sit in.
Nicola had a cut glass accent that demanded attention.
I told her to just sit there, taking notes in shorthand in a pad.
Nicola said she didn’t know shorthand.
I said it didn’t matter, they wouldn’t know that.
And every week Nicola and I arrived in our business suits.
I chaired the meeting and Nicola, as far as they knew, took shorthand notes.
Afterwards she ‘transcribed’ her notes and issued action lists.
It worked like a dream.
Everyone was very careful what they said because it was clearly being
recorded in shorthand.
The carpenter couldn’t blame the plumber, because he was right there.
The electrician couldn’t blame the bricklayer, because he was next to him.
Each man had to say what he needed done, who by, and by when.
Then that person had to agree to do it before the next meeting.
Suddenly things started happening.
All the work on the house was completed on time, and we moved in, in four months.
Not the six months specified by the builder, the architect, and the quantity surveyor.
What I learned is it’s the same as advertising.
You don’t need to understand lots of different specialist jobs.
You need to understand people.

Taken from 'One Plus One Equals Three' 
Written in Dave Trott's distinctive, almost Zen-like style, One Plus On Equals Three is a collection of provocative anecdotes and thought experiments designed to light a fire under your own creative ambitions.