The Art of Idea Embargo

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Photo by aenimation

My first encounter with the concept of embargo occured when working part time at JB HiFi as a student and a mysteriously sealed shipment had arrived. There was a notice attached to the meter-high package clearly stipulating that this shipment was not to be opened until later that month on a specific date. Rumours began circulating that the package contained none other than the first copies of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a prophecy foretold by Activision. The note may as well have been a persuasive serpent such was my temptation to sample it’s wares.

The concept of idea embargo is knowing what stage to reveal an idea to a colleague, client or collaborator.

Ideas are visions to be sold. And not in the way that would contradict my earlier post on iPhone app ideas, but sold in the sense of attracting emotional investment. While most good ideas sell themselves, some need a little work.

It’s easy to get excited by an idea or solution, only to have it dismissed before the last syllable even departs your lips. I’ve worked with people whose fear of judgement when collaborating in teams larger than three prunes their input. Fuck that. The cost of not putting everything on the table is larger than that of a slight ego bruise.

The reason this fear exists is because we’re conditioned to poke holes in new ideas, or stress test them with hypotheticals. There’s no reason not to harness this internally in order to make your idea easier to sell.  I don’t have enough fingers to count the times I’ve spontaneously come up with an idea and scribbled it in its rudimentary form on a whiteboard only to rotate back to a cross-eyed client.

It’s taught me to know when to jump the gun, when to hold back and build context, and when to flesh out more fidelity in a mockup.

As a designer, I’m paid to have a vision. Sometimes I feel inspired and vision is falling out of my pockets. But then there are times where I feel like I’m clutching at straws and turn to browsing dribbble aimlessly in the hope of sparking something. Creativity is anything but consistent, and I’ve added it to the never ending list of uncontrollables in life. When it does flick on, what I’ve learned to do is not hit the buzzer straight away.

After all I know all my ideas kick ass and the only hurdle is anyone who disagrees.