Monday, 19 December 2016

Is this the explanation on the surge of Nationalism in the West?

Really interesting piece by Jonathan Haidt on why we have seen a surge in nationalism in the West. And fascinating research by Karen Stenner (2005).


TL;DR - the intolerance of globalists in listening to the views of concerned conservatives activates and energises a normally dormant authoritarian trait, pushing them to want to protect their own group.

Talking about the research:

A quote from the research:

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Latest | 2016 Gartner Hype Cycle

While sometimes wrong about particular technology lifecycles, these are always interesting to ponder on.

I would argue the Machine Learning and Blockchain are moving up and out of the "trough of disillusionment", otherwise I think this is bang on.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Personal Network as a Predictor of Career Success

Research shows that half of the predicted difference in career success (i.e., promotion, compensation, industry recognition) is due to this one variable.

Model derived from Ronald Burt's research (above link).

Simply put, according to multiple, peer-reviewed studies, being in an open network instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success.

But it is not all sunshine and rainbows. It is challenging, because it requires assimilating different and conflicting perspectives into one worldview, which is a considerable cognitive payload. Managing your time to connect with a broad network is also difficult. It requires sacrifice of things that are more fun and easier. It requires a belief that "turning up" is very important, even when not obvious. It requires you to engineer serendipity in order to unearth opportunities. And large and disparate networks can be a force multiplier.

On the other hand, having an open network can be beneficial in myriad ways:
1. More accurate view of the world. It provides them with the ability to pull information from diverse clusters so errors cancel themselves out. Research by Philip Tetlock shows that people with open networks are better forecasters than people with closed networks.
2. While they may not be the first to hear information, they can be the first to introduce information to another cluster. As a result, they can leverage the first move advantage, thereby increasing political capital.
3. Ability to serve as a bridge between groups can create enormous value, which increases the connector's political capital.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Lessons from 10,000 hours with Reid Hoffman

I have lifted this from Ben Casnocha, who was chief-of-staff for Reid for two years, and summarised in my own words. The sixteen lessons that Ben took away from his time with Reid:

1. People are complicated and flawed. Root for their better angels.
Don't be binary about people. Of course, the difficulty is that, in a fast paced business, you dont have time to carefully weigh people's strengths: "Instead of starting with their weaknesses, first ask what’s uniquely excellent about them."

2. The best way to get a busy person’s attention: Help them.
This is simple. Offer value if you want to ask someone for something. "Can I pick your brain over coffee" is a sure fire way you will *not* get the time of the person.

3. Simple and move Fast when conceiving strategies and making decisions.
Reid makes a quick decision based on the information at hand and then will note what information he needs to disprove the decision and go and get that. Most do either one of two things: Wait until the information is good enough to make the decision OR make an intuitive decision without verifying the quality. Too slow is death; too uninformed is pain.

4. Every weakness has a corresponding strength.
Reid's belief that every strength has a counter weakness and so if you try and remove the weakness, you might kill the strength. Reid's example is that his disorganisation lends itself to his creativity and ability to connect the dots. Ben cites Reid's prolific ability to generate ideas.

5. The values that actually shape a culture have both upside and downside.
Reid cites the example of LinkedIn in the early days when he was very transparent with the company both in good and bad times. This allowed the organisation to introspect and solve the problem collectively, but it also affected the morale and some people sold their stock early and left. All cultures come with downsides and costs, so be mindful of those.
Another example, from PayPal: "let the best idea win", introduced analytical rigour but made the culture confrontational and potentially undermine collaboration. This trait also made it difficult for people with experience to prove themselves as they had to re-prove themselves.

6. Understand someone’s “alpha” tendencies and how that drives them.
How much is an individual driven by the traditional markers of status and power? Reid had three groups: Total Alpha (power lust can create bad decision making), Alpha Streaks (has alpha tendencies but can manage them), Repressed Alpha (crave status but is in denial).

7. Self-deception watch: even those who say they don’t need or want flattery, sometimes still need it.
Self-deception is part of human nature. We cast ourselves as heroes in our own life stories. We wrap self-serving narratives around the things that happen to us. We overstate our strengths... So, even powerful people who dont think they need praise, will still expect deference and some signalling that you are not as powerful as them.

8. Be clear on your specific level of engagement on a project.
Reid has 5 levels: Principal (driving the project), Board Member (likely an investor but thinking about the project when not scheduled to do so and likely up-to-speed), Investor (with time and or money), Friend (when you walk away from discussion, that's it)

9. 3 possible outcomes: sketch likely upside, likely ‘regular’, and likely downside scenarios.
Sketch these out. Weigh them. When you align around three simple scenarios, as a team, you can calibrate your expectations and investment thesis accordingly.

10. A key to making good partnerships great: Identify and emphasize any misaligned incentives.
Self-explanatory. Ben cites the interesting example of the book that he and Reid co-authored and published by Random House. Random wanted most sales, Reid wanted to spread the message at almost any cost - even free ebooks in certain instances.

11. Reason is the steering wheel. Emotion is the gas pedal.
Too many people allow emotion to infiltrate their reasoning which can impair decisions. Emotion is very important in being decisive and motivating people to momentum.

12. Trade-up on trust even if it means you trade down on competency.
Given the choice of someone less qualified but trusted versus some more qualified but unknown, go with the former. Trust gets you through times.

13. Tell the truth. Don’t reflexively kiss ass to powerful people.
Talented executives really appreciate candid feedback. They are successful because they are constantly looking to improve ("constant beta"). It still needs to be delivered constructively as even the most successful people have feelings.

14. Respect the shadow power.
I call this the PA-rule. An executive's personal assistant is more powerful than those who had never had one understand. And as such, so the people in the orbit of the executive have much greater influence than most understand.

15. Make people genuine partners and they’ll work harder.
Bring people and teams across the line together. Give the people on the project ownership in order to drive the success of the project. When the project does well, give them the praise and limelight.

16. Final: The people around you change you in myriad unconscious ways.
Put simply, you are who you spend your time with. Try and hang around with the right people, whose values are aligned and success is something you aspire to.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Heuristic: Business Decision Making

The goal of management is twofold: 1) recruit the right people, and, 2) make the right decisions. Simplistically, the better you are at these two activities, the more chance you have of success in business.

This post is about the second part, decision making.

Jeff Bezos articulated in his 1997 shareholders letter the framework he uses, as follows:

Type 1 decisions:
Some decisions are consequential and irreversible or nearly irreversible—one-way doors—and these decisions must be made methodically, carefully, slowly, with great deliberation and consultation. If you walk through and don’t like what you see on the other side, you can’t get back to where you were before.
Type 2 decisions: 
But most decisions aren’t like that—they are changeable, reversible—they’re two-way doors. If you’ve made a suboptimal Type 2 decision, you don’t have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through. Type 2 decisions can and should be made quickly by high judgment individuals or small groups.
My nature is to lean into things. My philosophy is to be brave and make decisions quickly. Sometimes this results in sub-optimal decisions. So I have used this framework, which allows me to at least pause to understand what type of consequences will result. I find it an effective heuristic for managers.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Culture | Alignment at Scale

Two of the most important business precepts I have learned over the years are:

  1. Alignment of teams is critical to success. Without it, the business will fail as it expends resources going in different directions.
  2. Getting people to make the right decisions in the absence of the CEO, especially as the business scales, is critical.

Therefore, it is imperative to have the right leaders (articulate vision and as a corollary, strategy; get buy-in, and formulate incentives*) and then the right culture (defined by leadership and ensuring 'alignment at scale'). And therefore, leadership and culture are two sides of the same coin. Both are required for enduring success.

Arguably one of the best thinkers about organisational culture is Schein, and he nails it here:

"Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of culture as a concept is that it points us to phenomena that are below the surface, that are powerful in their impact but invisible and to a considerable degree unconscious. In that sense, culture is to a group what personality or character is to an individual. We can see the behavior that results, but often we cannot see the forces underneath that cause certain kinds of behavior. Yet, just as our personality and character guide and constrain our behavior, so does culture guide and constrain the behavior of members of a group through the shared norms that are held in that group."

He continues, talking about leadership and culture as inextricably linked:

"neither can really be understood by itself. On the one hand, cultural norms define how a given nation or organizations will define leadership—who will get promoted, who will get the attention of followers. On the other hand, it can be argued that the only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture; that the unique talent of leaders is their ability to understand and work with culture; and that it is an ultimate act of leadership to destroy culture when it is viewed as dysfunctional."

(*Incentives: by far the hardest thing to do as a leader/manager. Mistakes are: 1. putting money as the prime motivator 2. giving too many objectives for a given review period. In my view, incentives are best when they drive purpose - for both the individual's work and the business. And also, I am a big believer in giving only one business objective each period, so that it stays top of mind, and therefore influences all behaviours. Easier said than done, of course.)

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Connecting Dots (aka Combinatorial Innovation)

I am a big believer in the value of 'connecting the dots'. The work I do for Quirk currently, is doing this from a sales perspective (more on sales creativity in another post).

In my experience (5+ years working in a creative business) any and all kinds of creativity are a function of the brain being able to connect seemingly disparate ideas, methods, and facts, in new and unique ways. And in my mind, innovation is merely a subset of 'creativity'.

There is abundant literature on this topic and how it relates to innovation, specifically, "combinatorial innovation". I have lifted a few ideas from others to bookmark this point.

"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have."
I, Steve: Steve Jobs In His Own Words

James Webb Young, author of the famous book about generating ideas (published 1940!), talks about 2 principles in forming new ideas, which I agree with:
  1. "an idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements"
  2. "bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships."
So the relationship between ideas is likely more important than ideas themselves and isolation.

Here, Nancy Andreasen from The Atlantic, nails the success in creativity - namely, connecting some dots that doesnt exist yet. I have first hand experience of this having seen my boss, Rob Stokes, continually and (mostly) correctly predict the market that has lead to our hypergrowth at Quirk for the last 5 years. Having also worked with some of our industry's best creative people, who make their living from exactly this, reaffirms my belief in this:

"Creative people are better at recognizing relationships, making associations and connections, and seeing things in an original way—seeing things that others cannot see. … Having too many ideas can be dangerous. Part of what comes with seeing connections no one else sees is that not all of these connections actually exist."
Secrets of the Creative Brain

Monday, 14 September 2015

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Apple & the Innovators Dilemma

According to Christensen, to innovate and keep the business healthy over the long term, you almost always need to eat your existing business. Here is Tim Cook's view, which is enlightened and explains much of Apple's continued success:

"Our core philosophy is to never fear cannibalization. If we don't do it, someone else will. We know that iPhone has cannibalized some of our iPod business. That doesn't worry us. We know that iPad will cannibalize some Macs. But that’s not a concern. On iPad in particular, we have the mother of all opportunities because the Windows market is much, much larger than the Mac market. It is clear that it is already cannibalizing some. I still believe the tablet market will be larger than the PC market at some point. You can see by the growth in tablets and pressure on PCs that those lines are beginning to converge."

(Source: Q1 2013 earnings report)

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Economic Machine | Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio is a giant in the Hedge Fund world. But this isnt a post about the social utility of Hedge Funds nor his place in it. Suffice to say, he has a unique investment philosophy that has built him a fortune of circa $15bn, a very unique company culture around radical transparency, he meditates daily and has Tony Robbins as his business coach.

What I really love is his articulation of macro economics in this 30 minute video. It's simplicity is genius and I think everyone in business should watch it.

Here is my summary:
- he has created an economic framework by which to understand the world of money, what he calls "the template"
- this template has 3 levers: productivity, short term debt cycle and long term debt cycle, which in the long run all have to intersect and be in equilibrium.
- any two people can agree to create credit and all credit is the creation of money
- credit creates debt. It allows greater spending by transferring the saving to consumption. this borrowing is a way of pulling spending forward, ie, borrowing from your future self, which implies less spending in the future.
- productivity matters most in the long run
- credit matters most in the short run
- debt cycles occur in two cycles: 5-8 years andd 75-100 years. these cycles are overspending and then deleveraging to the meet the productivity increases
- credit is bad when it promotes over consumption (spending that cant be paid back)
- credit is good when it promotes investment, ie, buying assets that produce an income
- credit can stimulate income and asset growth, through inflation. people then borrow more. eventually debt repayments exceed income, so they cut spending. this can become deflationary.
- long term debt cycles need a deleveraging people cut spending, incomes fall, credit dries up and borrowers are forced to sell assets as spending falls. markets fall and collateral also falls, making the debt even more painful and increasing the inability to repay such debt.
- in deleveraging  of a long term cycles is problematic because interest rates usually go close to zero therefore inability to stimulate the economy. debt becomes greater than the asset values.  no one wants to borrow anymore.
- 4 ways to deal with this:

  1. spending is cut - people, biz and govt (aka austerity) - this causes income to fall and so the debt burden can become greater
  2. debts are reduced - defaults increase and asset valuations fall further and wealth falls too! debt restructuring occurs which reduces debt.
  3. wealth is redistributed - low income groups need to be supported by more tax dollars. but tax dollars are falling in line with incomes. so usually taxes on the wealthy increase.
  4. central bank prints money and then buys financial assets - govt bonds - so then the central bank lends money to govt which allows the govt to boost spending and people's incomes

- people often mistake credit for money, so when credit dries up, money disappears.
- policy makers need to balance the 4 ways to rebalance the economy - a "beautiful deleveraging"
- and to fix things, policymakers need to ensure income growth is greater than debt growth


Friday, 2 January 2015

Peter Thiel | coordination costs and red flags

This was a lecture given by Peter Thiel at Stanford. (Disclosure: I am a huge fan.)

Cant agree more. I have experienced the internal coordination diseconomies first hand at two businesses I have worked in.

"Companies exist because they optimally address internal and external coordination costs [Ed: economies of scale]. In general, as an entity grows, so do its internal coordination costs. But its external coordination costs fall…

Size and internal vs. external coordination costs matter a lot. North of 100 people in a company, employees don’t all know each other. Politics become important. Incentives change. Signaling that work is being done may become more important than actually doing work [Ed: even having to update multiple stakeholders often is inertia. Then add the politics and it's a receipe for decline].

These costs are almost always underestimated. Yet they are so prevalent that professional investors should and do seriously reconsider before investing in companies that have more than one office.

Severe coordination problems may stem from something as seemingly trivial or innocuous as a company having a multi-floor office. Hiring consultants and trying to outsource key development projects are, for similar reasons, serious red flags [Ed: This is a sure sign that the company is racing to the bottom. Get out]."

These lectures lead to Thiel's book, "Zero to One" which I recommend.

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Slope of Enlightenment

Recently I have spoken to some well know marketers and none of them knew what the "Garnter Hype Cycle" was. So here is the latest for the digital marketing.

Essentially, it is a framework where Gartner maps out all the latest technologies against the current hype and their level of adoption. It's famous in the ICT space - we referred to it all the time when talking to our clients at Internet Solutions - and I suspect it would bevery useful for marketers as we increasingly take CIO budgets into CMO budgets.

The idea behind it is that technologies usually take a while to become useful, or as Gartner puts it, "productive". As agencies, we want to be riding the wave up the "Slope of Enlightenment" in delivering services and technology for our clients. As marketers, this is a nice way to map our strategies for customer touch points.

Source: Gartner, 2014 - Digital Marketing.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Vacliv Smil | atoms to bits?

This gave me a great deal of food for thought. It is assumed thinking these days that there is a great dematerialisation of economy activity, often cited as "atoms to bits". But maybe we should relook at our assumptions...

In his latest book, Making the Modern World, he cites computer-aided design. The Boeing 747, designed in the 1960s, required 75,000 drawings with a total weight of eight tonnes. Using CAD for the 767 in the 1990s did away with all that paper, and cut costs and design time. However, as Prof Smil points out, the CAD system required computers, data storage, communications, screens and electricity to run it. Given the complexity of the systems involved, it is far from obvious that the switch to CAD cut US use of materials overall.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Peter Thiel | funding startups insight

- substance over process in funding decision making. in other words, dont follow investing frameworks blindly
- 3 key ingredients to understand 1. team, 2. technology & 3. biz strategy 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Dare to Disagree [Antidotes to Willful Blindness]

I loved this talk by Margaret Heffernan:

It seems "willful blindless" is a human condition, ie, it is not a function of intelligence, upbringing or culture. Specifically, most people are hard wired to be obedient, and we know from bystander theory that the more people who see something going wrong, the less likely someone is to intervene. 

In her research, over 85-percent of people surveyed at companies claim they are either afraid to speak up or believe it is futile. So is the job of the leader to create conditions in which the smart employees are willing and able to speak up if they see something wrong? I think so. If we do this, we have lower the chance of making life threatening business decisions.

Some of her suggested antidotes to willful blindness:

  1. Hire for real diversity, not just political correctness. Bias has a biological basis. Our brains prefer information and people that are familiar. We are confident in people who are like us; they confirm us and our beliefs, but what we really need is people who are different than us with different thinking styles and backgrounds.
  2. Humility: Leadership that is humble and confident enough to listen those who speak out intelligentally.
  3. Curiosity: In execution mode, we develop tunnel vision, especially if we are surrounding by people who think like us. We also need curious people – people whose minds wander and whose brains are supple.
  4. Nurture safe environments to allow people to ask hard questions and enable structured debate around answering those.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Insight: leaked NYT Innovation Report

So the management commissioned a team to look at innovation, specifically around "new media", at the New York Times. This report leaked and Nieman Journalism Lab has pulled out the key parts.

Here are some of the insights I found most interesting:

- "When it takes 20 months to build one thing, your skill set becomes less about innovation and more about navigating bureaucracy."

- The value of the homepage is decreasing. “Only a third of our readers ever visit it. And those who do visit are spending less time: page views and minutes spent per reader dropped by double-digit percentages last year.”

- Newsroom needs to get involved in the business side. No longer can journalists not be involved in pushing the product: "at The Times, discovery, promotion and engagement have been pushed to the margins, typically left to our business-side colleagues or handed to small teams... [the] newsroom needs to claim its seat at the table because packaging, promoting and sharing our journalism requires editorial oversight.”

- Need to approach the "new media" as software developers; build tools that scale: “We have a tendency to pour resources into big one-time projects and work through the one-time fixes needed to create them and overlook the less glamorous work of creating tools, templates and permanent fixes that cumulatively can have a bigger impact by saving our digital journalists time and elevating the whole report. We greatly undervalue replicability.” They point out that competitors like Vox and BuzzFeed view innovating with their platforms as a key function and allow them to create products like BuzzFeed’s quizzes — incredibly popular, but also easy to create over and over again.

- Need a stronger "big data" approach: “Without better tagging, we are hamstrung in our ability to allow readers to follow developing stories, discover nearby restaurants that we have reviewed or even have our photos show up on search engines.” And, "“Just adding structured data, for example, immediately increased traffic to our recipes from search engines by 52 percent."

- This is just dumb. so easy to fix: "Overall, less than 10 percent of Times traffic comes from social, compared to 60 percent at BuzzFeed."

- Comments sections suck: “Only one percent of readers write comments and only three percent of readers read comments. Our trusted-commenter system, which we hoped would increase engagement, includes just a few hundred readers.”

- Live events for media companies can be big, Atlantic's was cited: “There is no reason that the space filled by TED Talks, with tickets costing $7,500, could not have been created by the Times. ‘One of our biggest concerns is that someone like The Times will start a real conference program,’ said a TED executive.”

- The age old creative and business dont mix: ‘Everyone is a little paranoid about being seen as too close to the business side.’

- Innovators Dilemma en route. The people with power and vested interests in the past kill innovation: In the triangle of business side, Reader Experience, and newsroom, the newsroom is often seen as defensive or risk averse. “One reason for our caution is that the newsroom tends to view questions through the lens of worst-case scenarios,” the report puts it. “And the newsroom has historically reacted defensively by watering down or blocking changes, prompting a phrase that echoes almost daily around the business side: ‘The newsroom would never allow that.’”

- Trying to find the innovators solution... The big question: How can the Times become more digital while still maintaining a print presence, and what has to change? “That means aggressively questioning many of our print-based traditions and their demands on our time, and determining which can be abandoned to free up resources for digital work.”

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

9 Contradictory Traits of Creative People

One of my favourite books is Mihaly's book on Creativity.

I read this again the other day on the web and lifted it for reference. As a business guy trying to build business models around creativity, I often hit a dead end just as I think I have cracked it. That's because of the deep paradox that exits in great creative output. Mihaly describes 9 contradictory traits that are frequently present in creative people:

1. Most creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but are often quiet and at rest. They can work long hours at great concentration.

2. Most creative people tend to be smart and naive at the same time. “It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure, and that most creativity workshops try to enhance.”

3. Most creative people combine both playfulness and productivity, which can sometimes mean both responsibility and irresponsibility. “Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not.” Usually this perseverance occurs at the expense of other responsibilities, or other people.

4. Most creative people alternate fluently between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality. In both art and science, movement forward involves a leap of imagination, a leap into a world that is different from our present. Interestingly, this visionary imagination works in conjunction with a hyperawareness of reality. Attention to real details allows a creative person to imagine ways to improve them.

5. Most creative people tend to be both introverted and extroverted. Many people tend toward one extreme or the other, but highly creative people are a balance of both simultaneously.

6. Most creative people are genuinely humble and display a strong sense of pride at the same time.

7. Most creative people are both rebellious and conservative. “It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.”

8. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, but remain extremely objective about it as well. They are able to admit when something they have made is not very good.

9. Most creative people’s openness and sensitivity exposes them to a large amount of suffering and pain, but joy and life in the midst of that suffering. “Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake. Without this trait, poets would give up striving for perfection and would write commercial jingles, economists would work for banks where they would earn at least twice as much as they do at universities, and physicists would stop doing basic research and join industrial laboratories where the conditions are better and the expectations more predictable.”

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Think Different

The "Think Different" Campaign (1997), marked the return of Steve Jobs to Apple and is my favourite Ad campaign of all time. (Which, interestingly, only received a Silver at the Clios!?)

Fascinating behind the scenes take on this campaign by Rob Stiltanen, part of Lee Clow's creative team who put together this campaign for Apple while at Chiat/Day: I love how Jobs initially thought the script was "shit". He is descrived as a mix of "Michelangelo, Mies van der Rohe and Henry Ford—with some John McEnroe and Machiavelli thrown in".

"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. 
And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels? While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Strategies vs. Taktika

love this. cant remember where I read it unfortunately:

"You can’t have strategy without tactics… if you do it’s called dreaming. You can’t have tactics without strategy… if you do it’s called chaos."

Friday, 16 August 2013

trading analogue dollars for digital pennies

Well put, Economist:

Hollywood loathed the VCR (comparing it to the Boston Strangler); the networks hated cable TV; sheet-music publishers feared the phonograph; Socrates was sceptical about writing (not interactive enough, apparently). Yet nearly always two things happen: the old media survive (people are still buying vinyl records and even the odd printed magazine), and the new media expand the market.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Ad Peacocking: The Waste can be Good

I love this research about human irrationality.

Ad Peackcocking, or more euphemistically, showing your "Brand Fitness" takes its cues from the "handicap principle" in biology whereby animals use wasteful movement and appearance to show biological superiority. 

From a marketing point of view, Ad Peackocking ("wasteful" ad spend) appears to embue trust (the product is safe) and dominance (the product is popular). The dominance provides a short-cut heauristic for popularity and, "how can everyone be wrong? it must be good" halo effect. Yet another example of the behavioural sciences holding the key to the economic kingdom. 

Of course, it still reamins very difficult to convince the C-Suite about this kind of thing. Multi Channel Attribution and Multiple Touchpoints do not fit into the excel cell titled "Total". It forces them to have faith and patience which is diametrically opposed to the very short-term requirements of shareholders. I wear both hats and I know the answer isnt easy. But shareholder short-termism is for another post.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Longer walks & Elevator mirrors

I love this. Kill people's perception of waiting and eliminate frustration. Humans are strange creatures indeed. Obviously applicable to web design....

Why Waiting Is Torture | NYT

Passengers were lodging an inordinate number of complaints about the long waits at baggage claim...

So the airport decided on a new approach: instead of reducing wait times, it moved the arrival gates away from the main terminal and routed bags to the outermost carousel. Passengers now had to walk six times longer to get their bags. Complaints dropped to near zero.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Work-Life Balance is Bullshit

I agree with Alain.

The concept of work-life balance is a false dichotomy.

First, it presumes that work is in opposition to life.  It is assumes that the problem is binary - it's not.  The fact is that work is a fundamental part of life; who we are and what we do both define us, sometimes with good and bad results.  Work-life balance is not a state.  It is a fluid goal and while the pursuit of it is great, it doesn't really exist. Strive to add other parts to your life to "balance" the work part but don't kill yourself when you don't get this ephemeral balance. I worry that people berate themselves for never having balance, which is another kind of stress, guilt, equally bad as high work stress. so my view: pursue it, but don't fixate on the state.

Second, long hours are not necessarily a problem.  Some people get enjoyment working long hours: "work is more fun, than fun", said Noel Coward. It all depends on the person's frame of reference too. do you have kids? 50+ hours is likely dumb. but I for one (with no kids - yet) love working long hours in my current job. it is where I get most of my "Flow" (Csikszentmihalyi). and this makes sense, because achievement is high on the list of what makes most people happy. I find mine in the job that I do. so we need to be careful: long hours are not *necessarily* bad.

And Orson sums it up beautifully here: 
"The two things arent separated in my mind...  Work is an expression of life"

"The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night."

- Longfellow

“If you find a job you really love, you’ll never work again"

"It's about work- life harmony"
- Bezos

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

CMO Budgets: Classical vs. Digital

Sure, the data is a little old (2010), but interesting to see how the all the splits are morphing...

Sunday, 4 November 2012

McLuhan vs. Shirky

An Anthropologically very powerful message, especially for people in the marketing and sales space.  McLuhan was the first to say it, Shirky the first to relate it to The Internet.



Saturday, 3 November 2012

Viva Long Copy | IBM's 4 Page Ad

I love this ad.

IBM publishes a celebratory 2,592-word four-page ad. The ad was featured for one day in U.S. issues of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post and now is accessible only online.

add in pdf format here:

I particularly love the message: long term business thinking counts.  I like the stark contrast to teh increasingly loud Schumpeterian Gale - destruction of large companies, highlighted by the IBM ad.

"Nearly all the companies our grandparents admired have disappeared. Of the top 25 industrial corporations in the United States in 1900, only two remained on that list at the start of the 1960s. And of the top 25 companies on the Fortune 500 in 1961, only six remain there today"

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Hegarty on Advertising

Quotes from the book:
- creativity is not an occupation, it is a preoccupation
- ideas are the most egalitarian thing we do. They can be done by anyone at anytime
- advertising: putting one culture against the other, seeing radical, innovative ideas sublimate convention
- on ideas: the more you process it, like food, the blander it gets

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