Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

Antigonish [I met a man who wasn’t there] – Hughes Mearns

Yesterday I didn’t write a post. I couldn’t find anywhere to even begin. Everything seemed to be ‘there’ but ‘not there’.

Stories about things were spinning so fast that you couldn’t even see which way – like that odd thing with wagon wheels or propellers on old films, where they appear to be going backwards. Or that amazing image of the racing car by Jacques Henri Lartigue where, to the viewer, foreground and background appear to be speeding away in opposite directions.

We now seem to hover in a state of ‘events’, as stand-in’s for actual things, as a means to dissemble rather than admit the truth. A war that isn’t. A budget that isn’t. At work but apparently not working.

How does any of this reflect on our industry? Well, on that last point, let me ask one question – ‘How’s your productivity working for you?’

We’re master’s of ‘the event’; it’s part of the stage we set when concocting brand experiences. Short-lived bursts of energy to draw attention. No harm in that really. Except that now it’s increasingly clear (well, to me. But I do suffer from some serious delusions) that the ‘theatre of event’ is overtaking us.

That instead of asking hard questions and looking to the brief to press for the truth, more of what we do is polishing the spin. Framing empty gestures, rather than speak truth to power. Not cutting back to find something that really is a benefit, rather adding more manure to encourage growth.

As the reports clamouring to prove that being there is / is not effectuating productivity, we know that that showing you’re working is not the same as working.

And it’s not productivity we need to be worried about but finding better ways of doing things. And telling it like it is.

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

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