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People Television

You Only Get Two

Produced by cookieduster

July 19, 2015

My work is in the television industry. 

"Industry" makes it sound as if we do something important. There's the aerospace industry, the auto industry, and the construction industry. But then, there's also the porn industry. As far as importance goes the television industry skews closer to the porn end of the scale.

Maybe you are familiar with some variation of the oft-mangled quote about the business by Hunter Thompson, "The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason." 

That's not to say it's a bad place to be. 

I liken the process of producing television to making sausage. We mix pieces from a lot of different sources, add some spice, then extrude it from a tube. It's not a pretty process, and we are not slicing filets. But dammit, we can make some mighty tasty sausage.

With that background in mind it occurs to me that the glamorous creative process I wrangle has plenty in common with the sort of issues that anyone else has in thier jobs.

For instance, there is a "rule" in television known as "The Production Triangle." Every decision is based on this simple axiom: 

Good - Fast - Cheap. You only get two. 

That's it. The formula works.

You want good and fast? You're going to have to pay. All you want is fast and cheap? Well then don't expect good.

You only get two.

Needless to say it is a very rare event when good is picked, and stays picked.

I've known about the production triangle for decades (I feel old just typing that) and I keep it in mind all the time. The production triangle explains why a lot of things turn out the way they do. You can't fight it.

When faced with the ugly consequences of a higher up's decision, I simply shrug and say, "The Production Triangle."  But what surprises me is when a co-worker replies with a dumbstruck, "huh?"

Where have they been?

And now the thought comes to mind that the production triangle must exist in all businesses. It is universal. 

Haven't you faced the production triangle at work? Maybe your career really is making sausage. I mean, real-life meat by-products sausage. And one afternoon your boss says, "there's a dozen yards of sausage to make by the end of the day." Sausage production is measured in yards right? Or is it meters? Whichever, your boss knows that making a tasty dozen yards of sausage takes time but expects your weenies to taste good in less time without more expense. Good, fast, or cheap boss? Remember, you only get two and sausage boss has already picked fast.

It makes me feel better about paying more for quality sausage.

So what do you in your job? How do you get your sausage to stay delicious and still fit the demands of the sausage production triangle?

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    afcrowe
    Jul 19 @ 3:58 PM
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    Because one good metaphor deserves another ... the Production Triangle (PT) is immediately followed by my Three Strike Rule. I believe that one of the fine traits I am hired for is my experience. Knowledge. Yeah, I know stuff. So when met with the PT, I make my case for whatever I think serves the client and/or the project best ... three times. Perhaps in three different ways, maybe from three angles, but three is it.

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Because one good metaphor deserves another ... the Production Triangle (PT) is immediately followed by my Three Strike Rule. I believe that one of the fine traits I am hired for is my experience. Knowledge. Yeah, I know stuff. So when met with the PT, I make my case for whatever I think serves the client and/or the project best ... three times. Perhaps in three different ways, maybe from three angles, but three is it.
afcrowe
Jul 19 @ 3:58 PM
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