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Einstein should’ve talked to us first

Ramsey Naja is chief creative officer, JWT MEA

“According to Einstein, time isn’t a constant or anything like the reliable measure we go by. For Einstein, time actually bends. Well, thank you, sir. Ask anyone from trainee to CEO in any ad agency and they would have told you that in less time than it takes to say ‘Big Bang’. Time, in our industry, is an elastic band that’s as unpredictable as it is unreliable.

We’re all governed by deadlines. And pitstops. And tissue sessions (whatever that one means). Schedules, timetables, time frames are the roads on which we travel and, like drink-drivers, we see these paths distort – and usually shrink – as we travel along. How long it takes to do something is usually how much time we’re given to do it. What we often forget, however, as we try to observe the many milestones we have to stop at along the way, is the destination itself. Pitstops, which should be used to refill on energy and motivation, or adjust the course being followed, are often nothing more than guilt rehab sessions and a means for people no longer  involved, to look busy.

Just like a dish’s taste is inversely proportional to the number of cooks, good work and multiple milestones find it difficult to co-exist. The sheer dynamic of the creative process is one that intensifies as the deadline approaches. When this is interrupted, that dynamic has to repeat itself, but with less intensity. So the more often you stop to check that everything is right, the lower the momentum and the lesser the energy. Worse, what gets affected is the sense of personal responsibility, because it gets diluted in the larger collective that pitstops represent.

The more creatives are seen as unreliable, ill-disciplined creatures, the more likely they are to become exactly that. Even a child, left to his own devices, learns quickly that he has to observe a certain discipline. The same goes for anyone involved in the creative process. You can stretch and or compress a deadline, and our time bends accordingly. But every time you stop the clock, you’re not checking we’re on time: you’re jarring the mechanism.”

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