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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How to manage The Big Reveal

They've been unveiling the Olympic mascots tonight. Unveiling is a game you can never win. I haven't seen these mascots but I feel sorry for the people who had to do the unveiling and submit to the instant reaction from the web. This is particularly trying on Twitter, where people's fingers are walking long before their brain has arrived at any opinion.

I've spent long hours of my career standing in front of board meetings, investors and other interested parties and I've done everything in my power to avoid the moment of the reveal, whether it's a name, a design or the most nebulous concept. The reveal transfers the power from the people who've done a lot of thinking about the problem to the people who haven't. If the latter group are less than convinced they don't do the sensible thing, which is to reserve judgement; they instantly form themselves into a hanging jury and condemn the solution out of hand.

Two people can make a design decision. One to do and one to comment. Three can manage it if they've got good chemistry. Any number greater than that is asking for trouble. If you're going to do a reveal you should make sure that you've got a handful of key opinion formers on side long before you lift the curtain. The rest will wait a mini-second before uttering an opinion and will fall in behind the tiny minority whose opinion counts.