When the Brief is Wrong

Last Updated Oct 1, 2008 8:11 PM EDT

For many years I wrongly assumed this problem was confined to the creative community --- designers, writers, architects and the like. I figured it was only they who were given dumb requests from their clients.

Years later I realised that of course this situation impacts on all service providers, it's merely the word "brief" that makes it sound more tailored to certain groups.

I'd summarise a brief as any request for work that is supported by background information to justify and set into context the desired end result.

In some businesses the brief can be very simple and straightforward, in others it's necessarily verbose and complex.

One thing is certain: the quality of the brief determines the quality of the response.

Many clients are woefully poor at providing good briefs and it must be said, many business owners are bad, bad, bad at doing much about it.

If we accept a poor brief without challenging it, we do ourselves a major disservice and risk ending up with egg all over our desktops and a gaping hole in our bank account.

Look closely at the client relationships of anyone who works with the finest, most competent clients and I guarantee you'll witness high levels of mutual respect and understanding. Each viewing the other as an absolute professional.

If we get given a brief that's missing detail or missing the point, we must challenge it; question it and demand better.

The moment we start taking anything that comes along, we dilute our professionalism, lower the quality of our work and will quite rapidly surround ourselves with twits.

Look around your business. How good are the clients you attract?

  • Robert Gerrish

    Robert Gerrish is a coach, author and professional speaker and the founder of Flying Solo (www.flyingsolo.com.au), the Australian online community for solo business owners.