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Doing the Least to Show the Most

Ever grow tired of everything being so… over-communicated? Do we lose anything if we ease up a bit?

a geometric blue circle encompassed by a larger orange one

Let’s start here: just about anyone reading this is familiar with what “doing the most to show the most” looks like. That’s the typical tryhard-ery employed by single people and party planners.

But doing the least to show the most?

If you’re trying to convince your spouse to take a vacation to Italy, you likely have two approaches. The first involves copious research, a proposed itinerary, coordination with a travel agent, financial reassurance, babysitter confirmation, and something like “I already cleared the trip with your boss”.

The other tactic might be to watch Under the Tuscan Sun.

a canal in Italy at sunset

Pasta is noticably missing from this photo. Otherwise, it’s totally doing the least to show the most (of Italy).

The first approach is a big, 50-hour, correspondence-laden swing. You’ve done everything outside of actually taking the trip to convince hubby or wifey to take the trip. You think the abundance of evidence you’ve gathered is irrefutable — but there’s still a chance your efforts come up short (spouses are funny this way). From there, you’re back to square one.

The movie approach is simpler. A calculated, yet clever swing. It distills everything about your research into a two-hour gut check, sans having to do the research (yet!). By the end, Diane Lane has made your case for an Italian vacation.

But the Tuscany of it all is only there to convey an ideal or a vision — the real reason you watch it is to spark a desire for a vacation in general. If the complexity of researching the where is inevitable, wouldn’t you want to only do it once? Getting buy-in on the what helps safeguard an infinite loop of complicated efforts.

You’ve just reframed what success looks like.

“Is this headed in the right direction?” is a constant refrain for us, which is highly preferable to “is this right?”.

Adjacent often subscribes to a “progress over perfection” approach, though we aim to make the progress point to where things are going as much as possible. Many of our exercises around style, content, and layout are efforts to get everyone on board with the core of an idea instead of its precise execution. This isn’t always easy and certainly puts more weight on how we frame a conversation and set expectations.

In this strategy, it’s critical to ward off “exactness” as long as possible. The whole point is to help you understand the direction without doing the totality of the work.

If you can get on board with ideas strewn across paper with pencil, you’ve saved us from pursuing one-to-many wrong ones in a design app like Figma, or in production-ready code.

You’ve saved everyone time and energy. Matter of fact, you’ve saved yourself quite a bit of money.

Doing the least is often viewed as lazy. Unwilling to commit. Baby steps. But we see it as being calculated in your progress, which often prevents projects from going past the point of no, or costly, return.

We’d rather build up your confidence with a flurry of steady singles throughout the project than wow you with a towering, ninth-inning grand slam that has just as much of a chance to hook foul.

Impressive and impactful results aren’t always borne out of dramatic and speculative overtures. We much prefer measured previews that send us in the right direction.

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