Earlier this week Brad Ruggles posted this funny video, How to Report the News, to his blog. In it, Charlie Brooker describes and takes shots at the formula a lot of TV news stories follow. Have a look. (Pardon the F-bomb at the 25-second mark).
The video is hilarious. But it is also eye-opening for me.
I never thought about the elements of a TV news story before. But now that I’ve seen the formula, it makes TV news seem so disingenuous, so calculated, so boring.
I hardly ever watch TV news anymore, and this is probably at least part of the reason why.
Formulas are amazing and seductive…
We love to take things that are successful, analyze them, and condense them down into simple steps that we can follow to repeat those successes over and over without thinking. I know I do.
I’m guessing you love formulas, too. You clicked to read this post, didn’t you? 😉
That’s cool, because in many situations formulas are great. It’s hard to find fault with 12 step programs, cookbooks, and instructions for assembling a kid’s bike. (Though, my appreciation for the latter has been known to wane on Christmas morning.)
But in other areas of life formulas can get us in trouble. The financial formula that worked so well for someone else can bankrupt us. Copying someone else’s formula when it comes to things like music, web design, leadership style can make us look like cheap imitations. Using a formula or “standard procedure” can leave other people feeling like nothing more than a number.
Repeating the same formula in your church service or business meetings can start to feel like watching an episode of Scooby Doo, where the plot is predictably the same in every episode and they “would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids.”
So, when is it good to use a formula, system, or process and when is it not? How do you decide?