I just finished reading Anna Karenina and was enthralled with every page. It was perfect reading for cold, snowy days in front of the fire. I can’t say enough good things about the story lines, the writing, the character development, and the emotion. So I won’t even try. Just read it for yourself (a recent translation by Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky really made Tolstoy’s words live in English). But there was one major drawback for me. I’d never read the book before and didn’t know the story, so imagine my disappointment when reading the introduction I learned about the fate of one of the primary characters! Before I’d even started the book I knew how at least one story would end. It took some of the pleasure out of every page for me.

And it reminded me of the early days at MBM Marketing – we were still trying to prove ourselves and so often put solutions and end-games into our proposals. And we rarely got the business – the potential client would take our proposal with all the strategies and tactics outlined and either implement it themselves, or hire a few creatives to do the implementation. It took us awhile to learn how to balance explaining our approach to strategy and marketing management without giving away all of our smart thinking. We still fight that balance some days as we’re good at what we do, and often see solutions quicker than most. But we’ve also learned the importance of making sure that everyone – our clients, our creative team, and each other – are working together at the same pace so as to keep moving smoothly toward a mutually desired and expected outcome.

Think about it – in your personal and professional life – how much do you give away up front, without everyone else on your team being a part of finding the solution?