Consensus is Like a Game of Telephone

You played the game of telephone as a kid, right? From the Wikipedia article:

Game of Telephone“One person whispers a message to another, which is passed through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group. Errors typically accumulate in the retellings, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly, and often amusingly, from the one uttered by the first.”

It’s a fun game, where phrases like, “Run to the store,” turn into, “Fun to be a bore.” The game also illustrates the danger of placing too much importance on consensus in your business.

Relying on consensus for marketing strategy direction and project decisions is like whispering the key to your company’s success in someone’s ear, then implementing a mangled and confused version of that plan once it makes its way through committees and competing interests.

Marketing projects are commonly subject to planning by consensus because many areas of the business might be affected by a given marketing project. If a business undergoes a website redesign, it will affect call centers, sales, accounting and other departments. But if every department or person shares in the design decisions, the website team focuses on “making everyone happy” instead of making your customers happy.

The best approach for any project, whether it be in marketing, HR or elsewhere in the business, is to designate a project manager who is responsible for making the project a success. This person gathers input from all relevant team members and makes final decisions.

While decisions need to be made by one person (or a small group of focused people), brainstorming can be the responsibility of the entire company. Gathering ideas and perspectives is imperative for a project to be successful– how can you know what will create a great customer experience unless you talk to people who interact with the customers? The project manager serves to direct and organize this brainstorming process.

With a project manager, marketing projects are cohesive and well-planned– not a game of telephone.