I did not know Norman Berry who was Creative head at Ogilvy for many years and who just recently died. But since I belong to a few online Ogilvy groups, I've read, lately, more than a few tributes to the man.
This morning I came upon the briefest and best I have read. Because it speaks both of the man he must have been and of the type of leader.
This is what Berry reportedly said to a young Australian art director way back in 1985. "I give you the right to be wrong."
The right to be wrong (maybe it's better as "the wright to be rong") is teetering on the brink of extinction today. It's as likely to survive as the snail darter or integrity.
Today the right to be wrong is endangered by know-it-alls, testing and the shibboleth of "best practices." Those characteristics eliminate "wrong" and replace it with acceptably bland.
Years ago, when I was working for Ogilvy, I was shooting some spots. It was our second round of spots for the client, the first round being a disaster. I think it was the second day of the shoot when the client came up to me and my boss and said, "I think we have a hit on our hands. Too bad the first round was terrible." And my boss replied, "Well, maybe the earlier work made this work possible."
Or as the Romans used to say "experiencia docente." Experience teaches.
But only if you have the right to be wrong.