Creating Tomorrow: why honesty is the best policy


Why can’t we admit we don’t know the answer?

I was watching a British comedian a few nights ago talking about how politicians in the UK have handled criticism and questions during the pandemic. He pointed out, quite rightly, that if only they’d admit that sometimes they just don’t know the answer, we would probably trust them a whole lot more. (Clearly he delivered the point with plenty more flair than I’ve just done here – I was laughing out loud for the duration.)

Amidst my chuckling, I was also nodding vigorously. Even the experts don’t have all the answers all the time. And as humans, hopefully, we’re kind enough to realise that.

I doubt anyone reading this is a politician, but if you’re running a business or in any kind of position of authority, I’m sure you have teams looking to you for answers and, currently, you might not have them all.

I believe this honesty-first approach can apply as much to sustainability and environmental practices as it can dealing with a pandemic.

Over the past few years, many brands have been ‘called out’ for taking their first baby steps into more sustainable creative processes, with competitors and the media pointing the finger at all the less-than-sustainable practices they’ve more than likely been utilising in the past.

My call today is that we’re all more supportive of each other, but we’re also honest about what we can do, and what we’re still learning. “An honesty-first approach can apply as much to sustainability and environmental practices as it can dealing with a pandemic.”

I joined a webinar this week to talk to CMOs about how they could fast-track growth in a post-Covid world, and was really taken with a comment from one of the other panellists, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer at the Financial Times, Finola McDonnell, who told the brand leaders who’d dialled in to hear us speak: “They will catch you out if there’s a gap between what you say and what you do.”

The way to avoid this gap, is to be honest in what you say. If you don’t know the answer, then now’s the time to fess up, but commit to learning what the answer is and how it’ll impact your business and the products you create moving forwards.

Managing Director, WGSN

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