Advice is like a hat. If it fits, use it. If it doesn't move on and don't worry.
We live in an opinion economy. Social media makes it easier than ever to share yours. The difficulty is often knowing what advice to act on and what to pass on.
But what about client feedback?
Feedback from up the chain is effectively advice given to you, that it can feel like you have less option to decide whether to action or not.
One of the greatest assets a creator can have working with clients is knowing which battles to pick. Which hills to die on. The balance between conviction and stubbornness is blurry at best and will vary from project to project and team to team.
The trick is having a clear objective from the start everyone agrees on. I can't state that highly enough. This way, you can have healthy discourse about the best way to do something, knowing that ultimately everyone is attempting to get to the same place. All that's up for debate then is the effectiveness of whether taking the train, walking or riding a monocycle with a parrot on your head is the best way to get there.
The old adage "the customer is always right" can be dangerous. Let me explain what I mean. Clients will usually know the end place they want to get to. However, the reason you've likely been brought onto a project is to offer some specific expertise, experience and technical chops as to how best you can help them achieve it. If they had all the answers, chances are you don't get the gig. You're not bringing anything the party.
And that's the point.
Whilst we've all worked on projects that have felt overly prescriptive, in the vast majority of cases over the last 20 years - what we've found clients are actually looking for, is a partner who offers insight based on your unique understanding of your craft that they may likely be blind to. You have to be all making a decision armed with the same information - info that might frame the current issue in a whole new light for them (or you). Genuine listening is key on all sides.
Our job is to help a client get to not just where they want to be...but beyond it.
And this means at times standing up for something we believe is in their best interests. Such is the power dynamic at play in the creative industries, too many suppliers say "yes" regardless for fear of rocking the boat if they question the effectiveness of an approach.
We believe it's the job of a good collaborator to shine a light on certain choices, to see if they really do pull towards or against achieving the overall project goal.
It's not a dirty word or disrespectful to ask why?
We do it to ourselves every single day.
If a compelling case can be made for one particular choice over another - framed always in reference to the bigger picture, then it's easy for everyone to get behind.
Contrary to popular opinion...this IS NOT design by committee. Its simply creativity, and effectiveness free of the repercussions and fallout of ego politicking.
This is true collaboration.