The New York Times has published an interesting article which argues that as “our knowledge and expertise increase, our creativity and ability to innovate tend to taper off”, an observation true to the world of advertising and brand management.
Known as the curse of knowledge the problem is that once you’ve become an expert in a particular subject, it’s hard to imagine not knowing what you do. Your interaction with other experts in the field further locks you into knowing what you know, thereby shutting the door to different thinking and perceptions.
“It’s why engineers design products ultimately useful only to other engineers. It’s why managers have trouble convincing the rank and file to adopt new processes. And it’s why the advertising world struggles to convey commercial messages to consumers,” The New York Times article argues.
It is a timely reminder to all of us involved in the creative world that the best ideas and executions are those that communicate with a broad market and not just our peers.
It doesn’t just stop with creatives, brand managers and strategists are equally guilty of locking into their own thinking. There are numerous examples where brand owners perfectly understood how they wanted to position and communicate a brand only to be dumbfounded when no one else “got it”.
Even more dangerous than the curse of knowledge is the curse of arrogance where experts refuse to believe or accept that their thinking is incorrect and surge forward despite all the warning signs.
Ah, there is an equally bad third curse and that is the curse of timid, those who see the curses of knowledge and arrogance combining into a monumental smash but keep quiet and watch the inevitable become reality.
The best remedy to these curses: involve outsiders with different skill sets, thinking and approaches to an issue. Secondly be prepared to let new ideas in and, finally, don’t be afraid to speak out even if you are in the unpopular minority.