I was talking to the chief information officer (CIO) of a large city recently, and we both agreed on an observation: Multitasking is making mediocrity acceptable. It’s becoming more important to get more done than it is to get fewer things done at a higher quality level. And we’re to blame, as the infamous Pogo cartoon said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Or, as many production people will tell you, you can have fast, good, or cheap—pick two. It seems like we’re picking fast and cheap, and convincing ourselves it’s good.
A client asked us the other day how inexpensively we could write a 250-word blog filled with terms that would drive search engine optimization (SEO). So, now we’re writing for algorithms and vomiting terms that may or may not be relevant to whatever cheap, fast content we’re supposed to produce. But the kicker is that the client thinks it’s good as long as the SEO score is high. Almost all “content marketing” is first and foremost being written to score high on SEO; never mind the real quality of the content, or whether the reader thinks the content has real value—just get the click-throughs fast and cheap and everything will be fine.
Our concern was in the service of doing more, more cheaply and faster—we’re creating a widespread dumbing down that lowers higher standards, making the good in service to the fast and cheap. So in essence, “C” is the new “A,” as long as it’s delivered quickly and inexpensively.
With the beginning of the 2014 planning season moving into high gear post-Labor Day, try something different. Slow down and raise your standards. Given the current business climate, that alone will set you apart from your competition, and the practice of doing so could be regarded as innovative these days.