The Boomerang Effect

There are a couple of kinds of boomerangs. Wikipedia defines them as follows: The most recognizable type is the returning boomerang, a kind of throwing stick that, when thrown correctly, travels in a curved path and returns to its point of origin. Other types of boomerang are of the non-returning sort, and indeed, some are not thrown at all but are used in hand-to-hand combat by Aboriginal people.

In the Advertising world, we throw boomerangs every day and while some come back the way they left, some come back totally changed and some never come back. Let’s say you’re designing a campaign for a client. This client has a “board of directors” who will be both directing the campaign and approving the elements of the campaign along the way. A “board” of directors indicates a plural state, or more than one. And whenever you have more than one person involved in an idea or a project, of course you have more than one viewpoint. Generally multiple viewpoints is a good thing. It breeds creativity, it encourages a little bit of competitive spirit, it generates a sense of team effort. You’re assigned a task of designing a new branding campaign. The boomerangs you throw out are design ideas based on your experience, your client’s direction, goals, maybe even some market research. What kind of boomerangs do you think you’re throwing to a board of directors?

Also common to a “board of directors” is a Chairperson or committee head — someone charged with leading the group, someone to take the reins and direct the board toward the goal. While unleaded may be a great thing for gasoline, it does absolutely nothing for team building and even less if your plan is to actually achieve your goals. There’s an old saying that goes something like “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” or “too many cooks in the kitchen”. Either group is unleaded. (I know that’s not actually a word in this sense). What kind of boomerang do you thing you’ll be throwing at a board of directors with a chairperson? What about the boomerang that goes out to the “unleaded” board?

Project management starts with setting a goal, building a team, developing a plan, measuring progress and adjusting as necessary. Project leaders must be chosen and their election is critical. The leader must be prepared to make decisions – yes, even the difficult ones. The leader must be ready to lead all the way with vision, drive and determination. What kind of boomerangs do you think go out to a well-lead team with solid goals and a plan for achieving them?

Choosing your clients is like choosing your family, it’s really not practical or realistic (especially if you want to grow your business), but when you get started on a project, ask the questions. Who is on the board, who’s the project leader, what are the goals, who’s measuring the progress, and where do I fit into the plan. Oh no plan? OOPS … no return of that boomerang.

Happy Hunting.