Why every organization needs a Devil’s Advocate

dev·il’s ad·vo·cate
a person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.
I strongly believe this should be a standing position in all companies and organizations. It should be breaking news when a top DA steps down. Twitter should explode when there’s a corporate battle for the best.
Corporations know how important this is. Non-profit organizations, on the other hand, need a crash course in not jumping at the first thing you see. I was listening to an Adobe Max workshop a few years ago, the speaker was presenting on working with organizations. He made a comment at the end while answering questions that really stuck with me. He said, “organizations value information from the outside more than they do the inside, and that’s sad.” It immediately grabbed my attention because I had witnessed that same thing too many times to count from the organizations I’ve worked with. I thought it was just me, I was overjoyed to learn there were others out there that had experienced the same thing.
I have been told I don’t like someone because I questioned the process they were using. (And oh yeah, the process was wasting thousands of dollars). I’ve been told I was being too stringent because I was requiring a person to be a current member to get the member benefit. Was I asking too much? I’ve had ideas ignored until a man presented the same thing and is then told they are brilliant. But when I assume the role of devil’s advocate to give an idea a balanced overview I’m told, it’s not that important, it’ll be alright.
The devil’s advocate position should be valued. The person in that role is trying to look at an idea from every possible angle. To find the flaw while there is time to fix it. They shouldn’t be ignored, they should be encouraged. Most of all, they shouldn’t be dismissed for speaking out against incompetence. Their main goal is to protect the thing.
Thus endeth the rant. For now!

I can’t keep trying to save the thing.

Doing what’s best for an organization can be a daunting task. Long hours, impossible goals, superiors that shouldn’t be, all for less that half a peanut outside of the shell. You keep saying to yourself “It’s for the org”. You believe in the thing, the entity. You try to save the thing, as much as others try to destroy it. You see the potential in the thing. What it could be if it were given the opportunity to thrive. But at every turn, there is a block, something that makes it harder and harder for the thing to be its best. You should’ve walked away a long time ago but you keep believing, “if you can just get everyone to try this or understand that”, one day it will run like a well oiled machine. You give it your all, you lose sleep, you feel pain because you know how great it could be. Then one day you wake up and realize, “I can’t save the thing”. You need help and it just isn’t there. So when that day comes, that you wake up and know…. You known for a while but you’ve pushed it away. Now it’s clear. You stand up and walk away.

You may come back in the future, but it will be on your terms. The real question is, will the thing survive?

Stop Stealing from Artists

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 10.39.04 AM
Screen shot of a Google Image search results. To the right of the enlarged image are the copyright terms. It’s almost too small to see.

So, you want to post a cool image on your social media page? What’s the first thing you do? You google the image you want, thousands pop up on Google Images and you find the one you like and download. Never-mind the disclaimer that says “may be subject to copyright”, you’re just putting it on Facebook, what’s the harm in that? The harm is that those images belong to someone. Google Images is not a free image store, it is a search engine for photos. It allows you to find images and gives the links to the sites they’re from, nowhere does it say “Hey, download this copyrighted image and use it however you want instead of going to a stock image site and paying for it”.

This is my photo that I sell as stock on Pond5. The watermark is meant to make the image visually unusable.

Now, here’s where I get ticked. When people decide to go to stock footage sites, but instead of paying the few dollars for an image, they download the comp image and use that. Why do you think this is ok? Photos and graphics on those sites are submitted by artists to make money. In order to get paid, they usually have to sell a minimum amount to get a payout. When you download the comp and use it, you are essentially stealing. The stock company doesn’t get paid and the artist doesn’t get paid.

Post I found on Facebook.

Now let’s talk about how tacky it is to use an image like this. I’ve seen it countless times on Facebook, but I also, on a daily basis, have to post a Snopes.com article telling people that what they just posted is a scam, so Facebook isn’t really a good measuring stick, but I digress. I’ve seen it in video clips. I’ve even seen them in professional presentations at conferences. Doing this makes you look cheap and lazy. Someone took that photo, or made that graphic, created an account to sell it online, and wants to be paid for people using them. Downloading the free comp is supposed to be for sample use.

What comps should be used for:

  • To make sure that it works in your layout.
  • To show different options to a client without wasting money.
  • To try various options before picking a favorite.

What comps should NOT be used for:

  • An image you need but don’t want to pay for.
  • Social media posts because you think it doesn’t matter.
  • Presentations of any kind.

The first part of this post was a rant. This part is a plea. Please stop using watermarked images. They aren’t free. Don’t fall into the dreaded right/control click and save. Just because it seems easy to save, doesn’t mean you have the rights to use it. They aren’t free. Artists created these images and they put them on those sites to sell, if they had wanted to give them away, they would have. They aren’t free. If it has a watermark on it, pay for it. THEY AREN’T FREE!

Keep artists encouraged to create.

Violet thanks
Violet was made in Adobe Fuse CC, posed in Adobe Photoshop CC, and graphics made in Adobe Post.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled activities, as long as it isn’t misusing someone’s work.