Once upon a time, in the course of hiring writers, I read a biography of David Crosby. He’s a musician who has been in a lot of trouble throughout his life. But he’s been smart enough to surround himself with very talented people. (Crosby is second from left in the photo.)
As a member of Crosby, Stills and Nash (and sometimes Young), he helped make a big splash in music by channeling folk and rock in new directions. The group, and the people around them, were smart enough not to say “no” unless they’d tried and failed. And even then they might say “yes” to trying again.
How do you not say “no”?
Mind you, that’s not quite the same as today’s “move fast and break things.”
I mean, maybe they did move fast and break things, but they usually threw them away instead of pushing them onto their fans.
Critics and other musicians of the time had trouble comparing the group to anybody else on the music scene in 1968. Most of the time, they could only refer to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young as products of the groups from which they’d come (The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and The Hollies). Or they had to describe them through fond recollections of previous masters of harmony, like The Everly Brothers.
Keeping up by not saying “no”
Do you have that kind of novelty, collaboration and innovation in your organization these days? Are you hiring writers who can keep up with it?
Take a lesson from Bill Halverson, the engineer who worked with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young:
“[I] learned how to record more than one thing without a lot of mikes and tracks. I learned not to say ‘no’ and I learned to try anything and I think that kept me the job with them. I was willing to try and I really encouraged them to try. We rarely said ‘no’ and I think we broke a lot of new ground.”
–From “Long Time Gone” by David Crosby and Carl Gottlieb
Hiring writers who think that way
B2B technology companies have been screaming about innovation lately. Everything is getting connected, going autonomous and thinking for itself.
It’s an opportunity to write about innovation in new ways. If you’re after the breathlessly early adopters who can’t get enough innovation, then create content that drums your novelty into them.
But for the waves of customers after that, you’ll still have to calmly convince them that you understand their technology problem and that they can trust you to help them solve it.
Practice not saying “no,” and keep your eye out for writers who share your courage. You’ll need them to help tell the story of how you’ve broken new ground.
photo credit: Wikimedia (public domain)