The return of the 10 meat sticks

This week, back to tapping away on the keyboard with the old meat sticks.


Well, a brilliant friend of mine reminded me to let content dictate form.

That is to say: When we have an idea to riff on, a thought to assert or a message to share we should give ourselves permission to think it through and allow it to dictate to us the form (or medium) it takes, rather than the other way round. 

By way of example:

Instead of “I need to create a 2minute video on Sunday afternoon and it needs to be insightful and interesting”  I said to myself “what’s an idea that I have from the last week that had an impact on me?”

The former puts the form first (a 2min video) and is a little overwhelming, while the latter feels freeing and allows me to think unencumbered about content.

The result?

Instead of sitting staring at the video camera, paralysed by the task and thinking “what’s something insightful and interesting that I can talk about for 2min?” I was able to think through my week, be reminded of this notion, and realise that on this particular day, with this particular idea, the form of writing feels most appropriate.

Other weeks, a video might feel like the appropriate form. Or audio. Or an interpretive dance.

There is no set way.

And this applies to all aspects of our work.

Consider: Where might you be letting form dictate content, rather than the other way around?

Is it that you told a direct report they need to deliver an email marketing campaign?

Well, what if instead, you asked them “what do our customers want to hear?” and give them permission to explore that, before deciding whether an email campaign is best?

Is it that you’re telling yourself you need to get that promotion?

Well, what if instead, you asked “what change do I wish to create?” and give yourself permission to explore that, instead of assuming it’s the promotion you seek?

Don’t get me wrong, giving yourself creative constraints is one thing. But letting the form dictate the content is unproductive and unlikely to produce your best work.  

Oh, and the friend in question?

She’s a genius.

We’ve been letting content dictate the last year of conversations and have finally landed on a form:

This podcast, launching in two weeks.

I hope you can tune in.