Creative Collaboration Framework: Part One.

By “Thursday,” what I meant was Saturday. We’ll start on Saturday, which is today.

And to get us started I’ll repeat: what I believe is happening is that we’re all short-circuiting.

“On Friday night in Louisiana, a seven-month-old baby was shot in the head, caught in the crossfire during a drive-by shooting. In Norfolk, Va., an argument early Saturday over a spilled drink escalated into gunfire outside a pizzeria, killing two people, including a young reporter for the local newspaper.

“Later that same day in the Arkansas farming town of Dumas, an annual car show and community event to promote nonviolence became a bloody crime scene after a gunfight broke out, killing one and injuring more than two dozen people, including several children.

“And in Miami Beach, where spring break revelers have descended, officials this week declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew after a pair of weekend shootings.

“All told, in a single weekend when the calendar turned to spring, there were at least nine mass shooting events — defined by at least four people shot — across the country, as well as many more with fewer victims. It was an ominous harbinger for the warmer summer months ahead, which is typically America’s most violent time.”

Tim Arango and Troy Closson writing for The New York Times, March 23, 2022 (“‘We Can’t Endure This’: Surge in U.S. Shootings Shows No Sign of Easing.”)

There’s been a spike in pedestrian deaths and reckless driving since the start of the pandemic – which is exactly the opposite of what many predicted would happen with fewer cars on the roads. As of last summer (2021) Memphis traffic fatalities were up by 20% over the prior year.

But this short-circuit thing is older than COVID, and older than recent political nastiness. As just one point of reference, back in July 2009, Nick Kristof wrote “When Our Brains Short Circuit” about how our brains process perceived threats (spoiler: the answer is, in short, “irrationally”).

What does all of this have to do with a creative brief or creative process?

That’s what I want to explore in the days ahead. How many days? No idea. Let’s see where it goes.

Here’s a general theory, to get us going: We’re pretty bad at solving problems, possibly because we’ve convinced ourselves that data, facts, figures, and metrics are the fair, reasonable, and objective standards. Put in the right data points, and out pops the correct answer.

Whose data? Whose facts and figures?

Consider medicine, because it’s an easy target. All the research in the world, with the biggest, strongest, fastest computing power applied, can’t solve for the role that human supports and surroundings play in a body’s disease response.

Consider “annual performance reviews” (a term and process I despise), because this is also fertile ground. Apply every rating scale and measurable metric you like, and you’ll still make wrong decisions in the workplace. From my experience and observation, in fact, the more scales and metrics, the more wrong the decisions.

Maybe looking at how we approach problems and finding solutions is a place to start. And before even starting there, let’s deal with the word “problem,” versus the word “opportunity.”

“Problem” fell out of vogue as a term but shouldn’t have. Certainly, there are opportunities on the other side of problems, but canceling the word (and concept) “problem” is, I’ll argue, part of the problem.

So, to start, here’s a different framework, and it’s part one of several parts to come. And it starts with the word PROBLEM.

Have a look; see you again soon.

P.S. Tomorrow (Sunday) will have food, cooking, recipes, etc., in case that’s what you come here looking for.


  1. I love your thoughts. I recently had an encounter that, looking back, my brain perceived as a threat. Luckily, it happened on a day where I had enough presence of mind to remember to pause and take a breath – so I could attempt to respond to this bully calmly and with as much empathy as I could muster. My immediate go-to, before I remembered to center myself, was to defend myself with words that would have been true (for me) but not helpful. So hard when we have a million things on our minds. Your words encourage me!

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