Commentary

Einstein's Corner: Accountability - Creation as a Function of Rhythm

How can there be any real accountability in an age when the electronic spreadsheet is the primary medium for conveying our dreams? True, the electronic spreadsheet was designed to mitigate risk and promote accountability. But our fealty to it and its sheer ubiquity make it the riskiest of all tools, and cheapens the very numbers it champions.

Accountability as a concept suffers much more than it thrives in the digital channels nowadays. How can we promote accountability when we require the services of a forensic accountant just to determine who's accountable post facto?

Our concept of accountability in a zero-tolerance landscape is largely misplaced and misapplied, deployed essentially as another empty sales promise. Besides, the true value of accountability as a measure of performance resides in its ability to motivate, not punish...

Accountability -- as applied in today's digital universe -- doesn't exist to extol the virtues of better performance as much as it exists to promote the dubious virtues of more performance. There's a world of difference between "better" and "more." Our manic focus on "more" generates a lot more of just about everything, except time, peace of mind, satisfaction, quality of life, and -- of course -- accountability.

Time to think instead about "better," and "better" always begins with a big idea; it begins with the creation.

Creation -- from the Big Bang forward -- is always a function of rhythm, not pace. All creativity is performed by ear, regardless of the medium. Writers write by ear. Painters paint by ear. Sculptors sculpt by ear. Inventors invent by ear. There's a reason why there's a time and a place for all things. Time and place constitute the ecology within which a greater rhythm may flourish, but serve no function beyond the safe gestation and delivery of the awe embodied in the creative moment, the creative rhythm. Time and place -- like all things in this universe - owe their existence and must cater to the rhythm of creation.

Digital marketing as an industry has forsaken the awe of creative rhythm (the message) for the far easier to replicate attributes of time and place (the medium). We have built a grand stage and hired great actors to perform a third-rate script. For all its complexity and sophistication, the current digital marketing scenario is largely effete and -- in the absence of institutionalized quality creative -- forever consigned to deliver ever-diminishing return on investment (DROI).

We cannot emphasize time and place without creative justification, without acknowledging the big idea first and foremost, not at least if we otherwise expect improved performance and accountability in return. To continue along our present industry path is to invite the very definition of insanity that Freud warned us about: doing the same thing over and over (not to mention faster and faster) and somehow expecting different results.

What makes us think that time and place can mean anything without creative intent? This, too, is the essential and secular argument of progress: that we have the wherewithal somewhere within ourselves to figure things out and do perfectly well without divine grace and creation, and that we can somehow proceed faster and faster without ever looking back. That's why we are forced in the end to hire forensic accountants. No one else nowadays is paid to look back.

We have warped the notion of accountability to fit our own CYA culture. We are so fearful of accountability that we have created a technology-driven culture designed to eradicate it almost entirely. But the pursuit of true accountability is the pursuit of true opportunity. Accordingly, accountability should more rightfully manifest itself in praise not condemnation, in creative expression not perp walks.

We can be accountable in praise, but only if we institutionalize the time to listen to and act upon our own creative rhythms. Only then can we fashion and deliver the creative awe that justifies time, place, and everything else, accountability not least.

What are your thoughts?

Many thanks, as always, and best to you and yours...

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