I heard an interesting story the other week that really hammered home the importance of ensuring that your ideas are interpreted by others exactly as they are in your head. It also emphasised why you need to see your ideas through from start to finish, even if you’re not fully responsible for making the whole thing happen or implementing every stage.
When I say ‘ideas’, that can be anything that you need to bring to life. If you have a story to tell, a website to create, a project to undertake, a product to sell, a film to shoot, a hooker to pay, a house to burn down (just checking you’re still with me), if it’s your creation, then you’ve got to be the over-arching leader and inspire those you work with to realise your vision.
The story was about P. L. Travers, the lady that wrote the Mary Poppins books. When the books became successful, one of them was turned into a film (obviously). But, even when working with the best in the business, Walt Disney, Travers didn’t sell out. She didn’t let good old Walter bung her a few quid to fuck off and get out of his way while he interpreted her work. She hung around and was involved throughout the production, from start to finish, whether Disney and his cronies liked it or not.
Our Walter wanted to make the whole thing an animation. Travers didn’t. So it wasn’t. She stuck to her guns and stood by her vision and made sure that Disney and the gang understood how it was meant to be. And only she could translate that to the film makers as well, because the image that Walt had in his mind of Mary Poppins would’ve been completely different to what Travers had in hers. After all, Travers created the character and penned the books, so how it was in her head was how it was meant to be.
You see, it’s easy to think you’ve conveyed something to someone and that they’ve got the picture, but in reality, they might not.
Have you ever handed over some wire frames or a creative brief or something, then just sat back and relaxed while your ideas were brought to life, and then wondered why things aren’t quite as expected when it lands back on your desk? Well, that’s because your ideas weren’t interpreted exactly how you intended them to be interpreted because the image you created in your mind when you spawned the idea – your vision – isn’t the same as the image created in somebody else’s mind when they process and decode your explanation and description of that vision (… and breathe).
People see things differently
For example, if I was to describe the below picture to a blind man, I’d say something like:
“It’s Snow White, sat on the grass, getting smashed off her tits”.
Whereas, you might describe the same picture to a blind man as:
“A majestic portrait of a sad, whimpering princess who, collapsed on the floor of a forest, is crying into the face of the feathery companion perched on her relaxed and limber fingers. She’s tentatively sipping her fourth bottle of locally sourced, organic white wine. She’s intoxicated, with the a further three bottles, demolished and discarded, laying beside her, as hollow as her hampered heart” (I know, I know, I should write the next Sky intro on channel 999).
Now, we both see the same picture, but you don’t see it the same as I see it. You interpret it differently. So even though we’re both describing the same picture to the same blind man, the two images that he creates in his mind as a result of our differing interpretations would be completely different, especially seeing as though he would interpret our interpretations differently still (you still with me?).
But you do it yourself as well, don’t you?
Have you ever read a book, then watched the film and felt let down? Or heard a tune, then seen the music video and been put off? That’s because the picture you create in your mind of the story; the characters; the locations, and the image you form in your brain of the song, both don’t match the images you see in the film or the video.
That’s not surprising, though, because not every author has input into the films and not every pop star decides what their video should look like. That interpretation is left to someone else. It’s left to the directors and the writers and the producers and the set designers and the costume designers and the location scouts and everyone else that hasn’t been involved in the creation process of the original idea.
So, if the artist or the creator isn’t involved, everyone else hasn’t got a chance of creating something that encapsulates their vision, which is the whole point in bringing it to life in the first place, isn’t it?
So how can we keep things on track and realise our vision?
It takes the creator; the originator; the artist; you, to convey that vision and to ensure the end product is exactly how you envision it, not skewed or misinterpreted or spoilt.
Communication breakdowns cause problems in every industry and at every level of every organisation. Being open and transparent and maintaining a constant dialogue with everyone involved, all the time, keeps everyone in tune and always on the same page from start to finish.
People with passion, that aren’t afraid to show it, radiate a contagious positive energy. Others pick up on this and carry it, too. So if you’re passionate about your ideas, you’ll inspire, which will have people willingly and constantly pulling in the right direction to realise the vision.
We can all do this
These are all things that everybody can do, no matter what age or what industry. You don’t need to be a compulsive and controlling monster, nor do you need to suck the freedom or creativity out of those you’re working with. Just stay involved, maintain a constant dialogue and show your passion and you’ll find that your ideas are interpreted as you intended, as well as implemented and brought to life in line with your vision.