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Version 1 Syndrome: Why you need to stretch your time budget

At a recent B2B marketing event Steve Kemish made a simple, but powerful demonstration.

He asked everyone in the room to raise their hands as high as possible. Then he asked, if possible, to raise their hands just a little higher.

Everyone could.

It was a good analogy for marketing and business as a whole; the truth is - we could always be doing a little bit more.

In fact, we could all be doing a lot more if it wasn’t for the two shackles of money and time.

And while budgets may be hard to negotiate and inflate, we all seem to be doing ourselves a disservice when it comes to time pressures.

And it’s leading to ‘Version 1’ syndrome – the contentment to settle for the first iteration of ideas.

Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation, is a huge opponent to version 1 syndrome.

In his book, ‘Creativity Inc.’, Catmull talks about how the first iteration of nearly everything that goes through Pixar ends up in the bin – explaining that the best people ‘know how to rip up the months of hard graft and start again if it’s not working’.

Most importantly Catmull argues that ‘Failure isn’t a necessary evil. It is not evil at all, but a necessary consequence of doing something new’.

The agency Johnson Banks agrees. In its thought for the week blog post, ‘Ugly babies’, it (bravely) shows off early iterations of work that’s frankly below par and demonstrates how, with a bit of time and love, they can be nurtured into great pieces of creative.

But marketers simply aren’t giving themselves the ‘time budget’ to make these mistakes, learn from them and produce the goods that will make them stand out from the crowd.

The reality is everything is needed yesterday. Everything must be done in tight time scales. Everything has (an often made up) deadline.

And it’s killing really great creative and strategies.

The truth of the matter is that your target audience aren’t sitting around waiting to see you ad, receive your DM or watch your video – they can wait another two weeks.

So when you are planning your marketing activity, be sure to stretch your ‘time budget’. Give yourself time to fail, time to rip everything up and start again and time to nurture that ugly baby.

Don’t settle for Version 1. Stretch your hand a little higher.