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78 posts categorized "Interesting Ideas"

January 13, 2011

Thomas Carlyle on Treating People

ThomasCarlyle

"You can tell a big man by the way he treats little men." -- Thomas Carlyle

January 11, 2011

What stories really are...

Brene_Brown

For extra credit, watch Dr. Brown's TEDxHouston talk.

For extra extra credit, read her book, The Gifts of Imperfection.


"Stories are just data with a soul." -- Dr. Brené Brown

July 01, 2010

Tasty Quote from G.K. Chesterton

I riffled though CONSUMED: Rethinking Business in the Era of Mindful Spending today. Would have read it, but couldn’t get into enough so I riffled through it. As the title/sub-title suggest, this book identifies issues and the consumer/business sentiment with overconsumption.

Even though I riffled through the book, this tasty quote from British philosopher G.K. Chesterton made a lasting impression with me. Perhaps it’ll linger with you too...

Chesterton

[NOTE: I received a free copy of CONSUMED to review from the publisher.]

April 15, 2010

Emulate Drug Dealers (part 2)

EmulateDrugDealers

The other day we looked at the advice from the founders of 37signals who write in their book, REWORK, “Emulate drug dealers. Make your product so good, so addictive, so 'can't miss’ that giving customers a small, free taste makes them come back with cash in hand.”

We also shared some more business wisdom from drug dealers on surpassing customer expectations, wholesale buying strategies, and selecting profitable customers.

If this idea of emulating drug dealers has you intrigued, reacquaint yourself with a vintage Brand Autopsy post sharing business lessons learned from the movie about a Harlem drug lord from the early 1970s, AMERICAN GANGTSER.

Americangangster_businesslessons

American Gangster synopsis:
Following the death of his employer and mentor, Bumpy Johnson, Frank Lucas establishes himself as the number one importer of heroin in the Harlem district of Manhattan. He does so by buying heroin directly from the source in South East Asia and he comes up with a unique way of importing the drugs into the United States. As a result, his product is superior to what is currently available on the street and his prices are lower. His alliance with the New York Mafia ensures his position. It is also the story of a dedicated and honest policeman, Richie Roberts, who heads up a joint narcotics task force with the Federal government. Based on a true story. [SOURCE]


AMERICAN GANGSTER | BUSINESS LESSONS

LESSON ONE
Mentors Matter


LESSON TWO
Launching New Products
LESSON THREE
Brand Dilution
LESSON FOUR
Leadership Qualities
LESSON FIVE
The Loudest is the Weakest
LESSON SIX
Winners Can Quit

April 13, 2010

Emulate Drug Dealers

EmulateDrugDealers

In the book REWORK, the authors, Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson (co-founders of 37signals) recommend emulating drug dealers by offering free samples to customers. Drug dealers, as Jason and David point out, know by giving away free samples of a “product so good” and “so addictive,” customers will “come back with cash in hand.”

Businesses, according to the authors, shouldn’t “be afraid to give a little away for free” so long as they are confident in the products/services they sell. As cited in the book, ice cream shops confidently give away free samples knowing it will most likely result in a sale. Car dealers do the same by allowing potential buyers to test drive a car before buying it.

Why stop at emulating drug dealers by only giving away free samples?

Businesses have a lot more to learn from the business practices of drug dealers. From procurement of product to acquiring customers to satisfying customers, the parallels between a well-run drug dealing operation and a successful business run thick.

This is territory we’ve covered on the Brand Autopsy blog. In early 2004, we ran a 7-part series on “Street Corner Selling” which shared drug dealing business lessons from Bruce Jacobs' book, DEALING CRACK.

The lessons have held up well. Read for yourself...

Street Corner Selling Curriculum:

Lesson #1: Customer Acquisition
Don’t Act Desperate


Lesson #2: Ten Minute Rule
Surpassing Customer Expectations
Lesson #3: Procurement
Wholesale Buying Strategies
Lesson #4: Merchandising
Maximizing Sales Through Bundling
Lesson #5: Angel Customers and Demon Customers
Selecting Profitable Customers
Lesson #6: Developing Enthusiastically Satisfied Customers (pt. 1)
Generating Customer Referrals
Lesson #7: Developing Enthusiastically Satisfied Customers (pt. 2)
Making it Easier for Customers to Buy

April 05, 2010

GreenBox is Marketing Done Right

In Purple Cow, Seth Godin wrote about the virtue of baking remarkability into how a business does business. According to Seth, “marketing done right” is when “the marketer changes the product, not the ads.”

The Purple Cow concept states it’s ultimately more meaningful (and less expensive) to bring a remarkably innovative product to market than it is to spend the advertising money necessary to successfully market a boring product.

GreenBox understands the Purple Cow concept. They developed an innovative pizza box that sells itself. This pizza box is not just reusable and recyclable ... it’s also remarkable. The GreenBox breaks down into four serving plates and into a nifty container for leftovers.

Have a look at marketing done right...

GreenBox

March 24, 2010

Thought Starters from Tom Fishburne

TomFishburneSXSW

By day, Tom Fishburne is a managing director with Method. By night, Tom is a cartoonist appealing to the “improbable audience of brand managers.” By way of SXSWi, I attended Tom’s session on Innovation Lessons from Cartooning. Excellent session with lots of chewy takeaways, including:

Deliberate Exclusivity
“It’s more meaningful to be provocative to a few than to be broadly boring to many.”

Innovation as Instigators
“Innovation when done right can spark conversations.”
“Truly innovative ideas require innovative business models.”
“How you share your innovative ideas is more important than the ideas themselves.”

New Ideas
“Unfortunately, most businesses are equipped with more ‘cutting tools’ than ‘growing tools’ and too many meaningful ideas never see the light of day.”

Recessionary Times
“Recessions are litmus tests for worthwhile brands. If your brand isn’t worthwhile, it won’t last.”

All quotes from TOM FISHBURNE.

March 13, 2010

ADVICE | Getting Paid to Speak

In their one-hour core conversation at SXSWi about breaking into the paid speaking business, Nick Morgan and Tim Sanders gave attendees priceless advice. (Had I heard this advice back in 2005, it would have saved me from learning those lessons the hard way — that is by doing it and at times, failing by doing it.)

Nick is a speaking coach for executives and consultant-types. His first book, “GIVE YOUR SPEECH, CHANGE THE WORLD” is a must-read for anyone who delivers presentations. Tim Sanders is coached by Nick and has carved out a lucrative career as an author and speaker. These two guys were both being sincerely helpful by sharing their no holds barred advice.

The first piece of advice from Nick & Tim is get a book published. Yep. A published book that’s found in Barnes & Noble nationwide is the ante for getting into the paid speaking game. (That’s how I started. I even used the book they recommended to write a book proposal.)

Second piece of advice is get a quality speaking demo produced, edited, and shared online. Part of a conference meeting planner's job is to eliminate risk when hiring a speaker. As in a meeting planner must feel confident and comfortable a paid speaker will deliver the goods. An easy way for them to get confident and comfortable is to see video of you on stage delivering a presentation. (My demo reel isn't slick, but it does help to show a meeting planner the substance of my presentations and my style.)

Third piece of advice is exude enthusiasm, passion, and charisma when delivering presentations. The difference between a travel-fees only speaker and a well-compensated speaker comes down to style. It’s a given that both of these speakers will have smart content. However, the ones who get well-compensated understand they must not only share knowledge, they must also inspire attendees to act upon the knowledge they just heard.

Nick and Tim shared lots more advice on breaking into the paid speaking business beyond what I shared. Samantha Bell gives a detailed summary of their SXSWi session. Read it, it’s worth your time. You can also read the tweets from the #blogmoney hashtag.

February 15, 2010

THE BUSINESS TREE | in less than 300 words

I love business analogies. Connecting familiar, yet very different, concepts helps to bring about greater understanding to complicated topics. For example, I compare my marketing services of “Second Opinions” to that of a doctor. I’ve also compared the growth problems Starbucks is having to that of a garden needing weeding and pruning before it can achieve healthy growth again.

A credit union I know uses an interesting analogy to describe how they prep for future growth of opening new branches by saying, “Before we put up branches, we put down roots.” In other words, they lay down a foundation of community involvement long before they build a new branch of their credit union.

Interestingly, at the time I heard that branches/roots line, I was reading THE BUSINESS TREE written by Hank Moore. In this book, Hank makes the analogy of growing a business to growing a tree.

It’s a smart perspective and perfect for inclusion in my on-going series of business book summaries in less than 300 words.


BusinessTree_HankMoore

THE BUSINESS TREE | summarized in less than 300 words


A business is like a tree. The roots of a “business tree” symbolize the strategic focus and future direction the organization is designed to grow. The trunk stands for the entire body of knowledge a business possesses. Branches stand for each department within a business. Twigs represent outside suppliers. And leaves on each branch symbolize employees.

With proper nourishment, the “business tree” will achieve healthy growth by growing steadily, optimally, and profitably. With neglect, the “business tree” will never reach its potential and eventually die.

To “weather the forces of change” that naturally occur in the marketplace, the healthiest “business trees” have a management culture that takes the time “to understand how the company has grown” and analyzes “the relationship of each branch, twig, and leaf to the others.”

Healthy, nourished, and growing business trees always:

1. Give customers products/services they cannot get elsewhere

2. Offer products/services at reasonable prices

3. Have leaders whose can-do spirit seeps throughout the total organization

4. Create an employee culture based upon trust and empowerment

5. Respond to the always-shifting winds in the marketplace

6. Foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing between all departments

7. Realize success is not an entitlement, but rather the by-product of smart and ethical growth strategies

Just like all healthy trees grow, all healthy businesses will grow. Proper nourishment is the key and companies that “plan to grow and grow by the plan” will build strong roots with a dense trunk, creating a regenerative and expanding system of branches, twigs, and leaves.

WORD COUNT: 250


[NOTE: I often receive free copies of biz books from publishers and publicists. However, I spent my money for my copy of THE BUSINESS TREE.]

February 08, 2010

Fit to Flexible (the skinny edition)

Todd Sattersten has written a smart ebook, FIT TO FLEXIBLE, about pricing strategy. He blends together research from economists, theories from businesses strategists, and writings from journalists to concisely share four lessons on how businesses have more flexibility in pricing than ever before.

FIXED TO FLEXIBLE is good lunchtime read. (Gotta love it when you can digest thought-provoking business knowledge in the time it takes to eat a turkey sandwich.)

Not sure its possible to condense Todd’s message further. I like a challenge... so here’s my attempt to share the gist of FIXED TO FLEXIBLE in the time it takes to swig a double shot of espresso.


WHAT?
“The space between price and cost is margin.”
SO WHAT?
Margin is everything. Without margins, a business fails to make a profit and is destined to die. With margins, a business can thrive and is certain to invite competitors.
NOW WHAT?
“Margin is a choice.” A business can work to raise prices or lower prices. To raise prices requires a strategy where the experience a product/service delivers is worth paying more for and is so uniquely special, competitors cannot adequately replicate. To lower prices requires a strategy where the longer a business does business, the less it costs them to be in business.
source | FIT TO FLEXIBLE (Todd Sattersten)

December 31, 2009

Beyond Thinking Different to Doing Different


Electronically reprinting Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Change has become a New Year's tradition on Brand Autopsy. Enjoy all over again ...

Originally posted on December 31, 2004

Bruce Mau, a designer, thinker, articulator, and massive change provocateur, has a lot of ideas on a lot of things. His Incomplete Manifesto for Change is a list, an incomplete one at that, of 43 ideas to get you beyond thinking differently but doing differently.

As 2009 turns to 2010, the message of doing differently is one we should all heed. Enjoy.

Massive_change


An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Author: Bruce Mau (1998)

1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ——————————. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a 'charming artifact of the past.'

31. Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.


*** Learn more about BRUCE MAU ***

December 14, 2009

THIS MATTERS NOW (and tomorrow)

WhatMattersNow_slide

Seth Godin asked 70 people to choose a provocative word and riff. Seth compiled the short essays into an ebook titled, WHAT MATTERS NOW. You’ll recognize many of the contributors. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired by their contributions to make your best contribution in 2010.


*** DOWNLOAD THE PDF here ***

Digitally riffle through the pages using Scribd.

Enjoy and share with others.


My contribution is titled, SACRIFCICE. It's on page 62. It's also below...

Sacrifice

September 13, 2009

Social Media, Pigs, and Lipstick

Tom Fishburne writes...

"Many businesses treat social media tools the same as dropping an FSI or placing a grocery cart ad. It becomes just more superficial window dressing. I think it would be far better to apply that investment toward actually making the brand and products more interesting and remarkable."


Now see Tom Fishburne's spot-on illustration.

Good stuff Tom, good stuff.

September 04, 2009

Smart Marketing from Jason Stoddard

Jason Stoddard did something interesting — he started his own consultancy company, Stagira. That’s interesting. But not as interesting as what he did to let people know he started Stagira.

Essentially, his marketing dollars went into running a conference, the Ubiquity Marketing unSummit in Austin, TX. Jason cajoled Chris Brogan to be his keynote speaker. He invited notable local social media marketing types to participate on panels. The conference information/schedule page lived on the Stagira website. Every marketing piece promoting the conference (from emails to blog posts to tweets) directed people to visit the Stagira website. Smart.

Everything turned out smarter because his conference attracted like-minded well-connected social media types. As Simon Salt tweeted, “Good Grief you cant throw a stick in here without hitting a Social Media celeb.” (It can only help a new business to have like-minded well-connected social media types making an unknown business known within their social circles.)

But the smartest marketing move Jason did was recoup his marketing spend by running a conference where people paid to attend. Maybe you should have someone like Jason thinking just as smart about your business.

March 26, 2009

Good Stuff from Tom Peters

Tom Peters kickstarts our go-get'em engine that may be sputtering in today's tough economy with this excellent rant. It's a MUST-READ.

Below is a tease...

TomPetersWisdom_b
SOURCE: Dealing with Recessionary Times | TomPeters.com

February 11, 2009

Small Idea. Big Impact. (Less Mess.)

File this under “Small Ideas with Big Impact” ...

PROBLEM:
Too much spillage in the men’s room urinals at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam).

SOLUTION:
Etch an image of a common housefly near the drain holes of the porcelain urinals.

Nudge_FLY

RESULTS:
Spillage has been reduced by 80%. According to someone close to the project, “The fly improves aim. If a man sees a fly, he aims at it.”


Further Learning:
This is an example of what professors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein call a NUDGE. These professors classify any act that attempts to “alter [people’s] behavior in a positive way, without actually requiring anyone to do anything at all” as a NUDGE.

Fascinating stuff. Learn more by reading the NUDGE book, NUDGE blog, and this NY Times article.

December 31, 2008

Beyond Thinking Different to Doing Different


Electronically reprinting Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Change has become a New Year's tradition on Brand Autopsy. Enjoy all over again ...

Originally posted on December 31, 2004

Bruce Mau, a designer, thinker, articulator, and massive change provocateur, has a lot of ideas on a lot of things. His Incomplete Manifesto for Change is a list, an incomplete one at that, of 43 ideas to get you beyond thinking differently but doing differently. As 2008 turns to 2009, the message of doing differently is one we should all heed. Enjoy.


Massive_change


An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Author: Bruce Mau (1998)


1. Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ——————————. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a 'charming artifact of the past.'

31. Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

December 27, 2008

Cordell asks, “What Inspires You?”

When you give people something to believe, they will come together. And when people come together ... communities will form, love will spread, and movements will happen.

Watch and listen as Greg Cordell, from Brains on Fire, tells the story of The Red Ribbon


RSS READERS ... click here to watch the video.

November 06, 2008

Great Advice for All of Us

Interesting_advice

SOURCE: The Cocktail Party Rule (Hugh MacLeod)

October 07, 2008

What is a Good Idea?

I just read one of the more compelling definitions of what a “Good Idea” is. This definition is remarkable in its brevity and clarity. You might also agree …


“A really good idea is simple, unexpected and relevant. And it unites extremes: it should risk a lot but nevertheless be easy to implement. Everyone should talk about it, but existing customers should not be irritated by it.”

Nadja Schnetzler
co-founder, BrainStore
source: THE IDEA MACHINE (Wiley, 2005, pg. 56)


June 03, 2008

Up the Ladder OR Down the Ladder?

[I'm on a visual kick these days.]

Let your marketing mind wrestle with David Armano's nifty depiction of the ladder up to Brand Heaven and the ladder down to Brand Hell. Good Stuff!

Davidarmano_brand_heaven_hell_2

March 12, 2008

Borders Reducing its Borders

Borders_frontfacing_2

Bookstores merchandise most books with the spine facing out. Only new releases and best-sellers get the front-face treatment. Merchandising books with the spine facing out allows the retailer to stock more books. However, front-facing books gives a book greater visibility and results in higher sales.

Borders recently tested a front-facing display strategy where more books were stocked with their covers, not spines, facing customers. Sales increased by 9.0%. The strategy was so successful, all Borders bookstores will be switching to the front-facing strategy in the next couple of weeks.

The drawback to a front-facing strategy is Borders will have to reduce its inventory by 5%-10%. This means the typical Borders store will reduce its inventory anywhere from 4,700 books to 9,300 books. Execs at Borders aren’t too concerned about the loss of inventory since many of the books they stock only sell one copy per year.

On the other hand, Barnes & Noble has no intentions of reducing its inventory of books. (The typical Barnes & Noble stocks 125,000 to 150,000 at its stores.)

Borders did some customer research at its front-facing prototype store and learned customers perceived Borders as having more books, not fewer, with this new display strategy. (Interesting.)

Bold move by Borders. We’ll have to see if this works in the short-term AND the long-term.

FOR MORE: Read this Wall Street Journal article.


FOR EVEN MORE: Seth Godin riffs on how Borders strategy is counter to the Long Tail. Joe Wikert, an executive at book publisher Wiley, fears customers will leave empty-handed because of the reduced inventory.

December 29, 2007

Beyond Thinking Different to Doing Different


Electronically reprinting Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Change has become a New Year's tradition on Brand Autopsy. Enjoy all over again ...

Originally posted on December 31, 2004

Bruce Mau, a designer, thinker, articulator, and massive change provocateur, has a lot of ideas on a lot of things. His Incomplete Manifesto for Change is a list, an incomplete one at that, of 43 ideas to get you beyond thinking differently but doing differently. As 2007 turns to 2008, the message of doing differently is one we should all heed. Enjoy.


Massive_change


An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Author: Bruce Mau (1998)


1. Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ——————————. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a 'charming artifact of the past.'

31. Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

December 18, 2007

Marty Neumeier on Creativity

While rummaging through some marketing books for a research project, I dug up this tasty quote for us marketers...

Picture_8

December 09, 2007

Fire Extinguishers can be Sexy

Some might consider the product category of fire extinguishers as being boring. Sure, the fire extinguisher category is HIGHLY important, but it ain’t a sexy product category. Or is it?

Homehero

The Home Hero Fire Extinguisher looks anything but dull. It’s sleek and dare we say … sexy.

The Arnell Group has redesigned the fire extinguisher to no longer be “so damn obtrusive, ugly, and not conducive to a pleasant experience of the rest of the aesthetic of your kitchen.” The Home Hero Fire Extinguisher is currently being sold exclusively at Home Depot for the alluring price of $25.00.

Learn more from Rob Walker’s CONSUMED column in the NY Times.

September 25, 2007

Branding Definition Table

Brandon Fritz, of Kolbrener, has compiled a list of major branding terms in a super-creative "Periodic Table." Click below ...

Branding_periodic_table


September 19, 2007

EGM Anyone?

The marketing world is learning to become more comfortable with CGM (consumer generated media) and with Citizen Marketers. Now we also must learn to become more comfortable with EGM -- Employee Generated Media.

The Wall Street Journal reports
the Big Four accounting firms are using "Employee Generated Media" to help gain an edge in the ever-competitive campus recruiting scene. Josee Rose writes ...

"To lure candidates steeped in Facebook and YouTube, the Big Four are turning to the Web. Deloitte & Touche asked employees to make short videos about their experiences at the company. The videos were a way 'of taking the aspects of social networking and experimenting on how you can use the new tools of today to move forward into a workplace of the future,' said Cathy Benko, chief talent officer. About 400 videos were made, and the 14 best will be posted on YouTube and used on campuses.[source]

Is it a scary for you to consider having employees make short videos about the experiences at your company? Are you afraid of what they will say? Are you afraid they will be off-message and off-brand? If so, sounds like you have some work that must be done to improve the employee experience at your company.

September 18, 2007

Sledeghammer Your Hosting Stand

Hostess

At the Building Better Restaurants blog, Jeffrey Summers gives 10 reasons why restaurants must take a sledgehammer to their host stands. (It's a good list.) I love reason #10 ... "Because you don’t have one at your house when you host people there!" >> READ MORE

While I love the contrarian thinking behind this idea, is it realistic for a restaurant not to have a hosting stand? Will restaurant guests know where to go and what to do if they don't see a hosting stand?

As restaurant guests, we've been conditioned to walk up to the hosting stand in order to get seated. Hosting stations are common, expected, and essentially sacred cows in the restaurant world. Which, of course, makes them ripe for reinvention.

So ... what ideas do you have for reinventing the restaurant hosting stand? How can a restaurant create an environment where the Host can host without the barrier of a clunky hosting station? Maybe you've seen a restaurant solve for this. If so, please share what you've seen.

July 08, 2007

Sprint Drops “Demon” Customers

Sprint recently sent 1,000 subscribers a termination notice. These were not dead-beat customers who hadn’t paid their cellphone bills. These were customers who paid their bills on-time but called the Sprint Customer Service department all-the-time.

The terminated customers called the Sprint Customer Service department an average of 25 times a month complaining about billing charges and/or technical issues. In the letter to these disposed customers, Sprint said, “The number of inquiries you have made to us … has led us to determine that we are unable to meet your current wireless needs.”

While the idea of firing customers is counter-intuitive, it’s not new. In the book ANGEL CUSTOMERS AND DEMOM CUSTOMERS (2003), authors Larry Selden & Geoffrey Colvin advocated businesses fire their least profitable customers ("demons") so the business could better focus on satisfying their most profitable customers ("angels").

In an online article, Geoffrey Colvin explains the rationale behind his thinking…

”In our experience across a wide range of industries, companies typically find that the best 20 percent of their customers account for 150 percent of total profits! The worst 20 percent typically lose money equal to 75 percent of profits, while the remaining 60 percent of customers account for the rest. Knowing which customers are angels and which are demons presents an enormous opportunity.

Once you know the true profitability of your customers, you can figure out the reasons behind the numbers. For your unprofitable customers, you'll have to face the reality that you're not offering them a compelling value proposition - a way of meeting their needs so well that they'll reward you with handsome profitability. You'll have to devise new, better, value propositions for them, which our experience shows you can probably do. As a result, you'll start to turn those unprofitable customers into profitable ones, which typically creates a substantial swing in the business's overall profitability.

In the end, you may find that a small percentage of customers just cannot be made profitable. By the time you've figured out who they are, you'll understand very well why they probably aren't worth keeping.”

With over 53,000,000 subscribers, Sprint will feel no pain over losing 1,000 "demon" customers.



UPDATE ...
Via Seth, by way of gadgettell, we get a look at the letter Sprint sent its "demon" customers:

Sprint_letter

May 22, 2007

Twittering Daily Specials

Twitter is still new on the scene and it has us marketers scrambling to find ways to effectively use it as a marketing medium.

(For those unaware, Twitter is being defined as “micro-blogging service” where users can quickly update people as to what they are doing. Brevity, connectivity, and immediacy are key to Twitter as users can post text-based messages up to 140 characters long yet reach a wide swath of people using the service with their laptops, PDAs, cell phones, etc.)

The best use of Twitter I’ve seen as a marketing medium comes from Panaros, a Buffalo, NY restaurant. Panaros twitters its daily specials. Brilliant.

*** Kudos to the Brand Flakes for Breakfast blog for the hook-up.

January 30, 2007

TV Intros as Elevator Pitches

As we know, an elevator pitch is a super-short explanation of an idea, a business, or a person which is designed to create further interest. Over at the Idea Sandbox blog, Paul Williams shares how the intros to television shows have mastered the elevator pitch. (Brilliant. Just bloody brilliant! A must-read post!!!)

Paul cites numerous examples from Star Trek to My Name is Earl to Bosom Buddies which all support his TV Intro as Elevator Pitch idea. Paul also highlights how the intro to every A-Team episode is a well-crafted elevator pitch. Notice how this intro quickly explains the premise of the show and compels us to watch further to see what happens.


A-Team intro:
"In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem. If no one else can help. And if you can find them. Maybe you can hire... The A-Team."


RSS Readers ... click here to view the video.


Come to think of it, the TV intros Paul highlights fall into the MADE TO STICK sweet spot of being Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Stories.

I hope Chip & Dan Heath, the authors of MADE TO STICK, pick up on Paul’s bloody brilliant insight of how TV show intros are made to stick elevator pitches. Good stuff.

January 12, 2007

Seth Godin on Social Media


“The thing about Social Media that frustrates marketers to no end is that you can't buy attention and that if you have no choice, but to think and act small, then you'll try to say well here is a 100,000 person community, how can we buy it? What you'll do instead if you're just four people, how can we amaze them? That change in posture, that change in attitude is the single biggest shift, that's going on the Internet right now.” -- SETH GODIN

PodTech’s Jennifer Jones recently chatted with Seth Godin about all things big, small, and social media-related. It’s a 15-minute conversation that’s worth your listening attention. Or, you can read the full transcript to dig up some money quotes. Be sure to listen/read Seth's line on the smartest thing JetBlue did ... it's straight-up Evolutionist WOM thinking.

Oh yeah, I can’t let this post go without highlighting another smart Godin quip from the interview …

“… most of the times you need to ignore your customers because the goal is to get your customers to talk to each other. And you need to listen to what they [customers] are saying to each other." -- SETH GODIN

December 30, 2006

Beyond Thinking Different to Doing Different


Electronically reprinting Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Change has become a new year tradition on Brand Autopsy. Enjoy all over again ...

Originally posted on December 31, 2004

Bruce Mau, a designer, thinker, articulator, and massive change provocateur, has a lot of ideas on a lot of things. His Incomplete Manifesto for Change is a list, an incomplete one at that, of 43 ideas to get you beyond thinking differently but doing differently. As 2006 turns to 2007, the message of doing differently is one we should all heed. Enjoy.


Massive_change


An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Author: Bruce Mau (1998)


1. Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ——————————. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a 'charming artifact of the past.'

31. Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

August 10, 2006

Free Prize Personified


From Thursday's edition of the Wall Street Journal
[sub. req'd]:

Hitechcupholder

"Car makers are coming out with a host of high-tech holders that can help drinks stay hot or cool and better prevent tipping and spilling by fitting more container sizes.

The 2007 Chrysler Sebring, which goes on sale this fall, comes with a front cup holder that can help keep beverages hot and cold. It can heat to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and cool to near freezing at 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The cup holder cavity contains a heating element made of ceramic, the same material used in hair dryers. When the cup holder's heat or cool feature is switched on, an electric current will either heat or cool the material and help maintain the temperature of the liquid."

Directly applying Seth Godin’s Free Prize-ology has me thinking this high-tech cup holder isn’t the first reason why you’d buy a 2007 Chrysler Sebring. However, it is probably the first reason why you’d talk to others about your new 2007 Chrysler Sebring.

June 20, 2006

Arresting Slumping Box Office Sales

In Monday’s Wall Street Journal TECHNOLOGY Report, movie director Barry Sonnenfeld shared an interesting idea to address a movie’s week-after-week decline in box office sales. [SOURCE LINK (sub. req’d)]

These days a movie’s first week is its biggest sales week. Box office sales in the second week of a movie’s opening are about half of what the movie did in its first week. And sales in its third week are about half of a movie’s second week sales take. For example, CARS opened last week with box office sales of $60.1 million. In its second sales week, CARS took in $33.7 million which is about half of its opening week sales. So next week … CARS will probably take in about $17.0 million.

To arrest the week-after-week sales decline movies experience, Barry Sonnenfeld offers the idea of releasing a special edit of a film with extra scenes to goose sales during week four of a movie’s release. Digital editing and digital distribution of movie prints makes this idea financially feasible from a cost standpoint. Sonnenfeld is realistic though and rightly tempers his expectations, “No one's going to come back to see RV again, with 10 minutes of new stuff, but you would if it was STAR WARS or KING KONG.”

Ya know … this marketer thinks Barry Sonnenfeld might be onto something here. We’re already buying DVDs of our favorite movies with additional scenes and alternative endings. Why wouldn’t we also be apt to buying tickets to see a movie that has extra scenes and other cinematic doo-dads a few weeks after a film’s initial release. Interesting idea, eh?

May 08, 2006

High-Flying Business Book Promotion Idea

[UPDATED on May 9 to fix a broken link]

Earlier today, Stefan Engeseth conducted a lecture at 30,000 feet in the air sharing ideas from his book (ONE: A Consumer Revolution for Business) on FlyNordic’s Stockholm to Olso flight. I wonder if Stefan began his presentation by asking travelers to … “Adjust their business mindset and marketing mentality to a full upright and unlocked position?

Stefan

April 28, 2006

Jazzy Business Quotes | 5

Diz_1

quote from Presentation Zen (Garr Renoylds)

April 27, 2006

Jazzy Business Quotes | 4

Trane_1

quote from Presentation Zen (Garr Renoylds)

Jazzy Business Quotes | 3

Duke_1

quote from Presentation Zen (Garr Renoylds)

April 25, 2006

Jazzy Business Quotes | 2

Bird_1

quote from Presentation Zen (Garr Renoylds)

April 24, 2006

Jazzy Business Quotes

Mingus

Garr Reynolds over at the Presentation Zen blog has more tasty quotes from jazz greats which apply to the life of business and the business of life. Great stuff Garr!

April 11, 2006

Part 2 | Harvesting Collective Genius

The other week I blogged about a NY Times article on how Rite-Solutions harvests the collective wisdom of its employees. This week Chris Flanagan, from the Business Innovation Factory, clued me in on a video presentation Jim Lavoie (Rite-Solutions CEO) gave last October at the Collaborative Innovation Summit #1. In this video vignette, Jim tells the story of how and why Rite-Solutions developed the internal idea stock exchange. (Hint ... you can skip to the half-way point and listen only to the idea stock exchange story.) Great stuff … well worth watching.


Lavoie

>> VIDEO LINK<<


You can also watch other storytelling video vignettes ... including this one from Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company magazine and the author of the NY Times article on Rite-Solutions internal idea stock exchange program. Chris also said this presentation from Dennis Littky on creating a new model for education blew everyone away at the Collaborative Innovation Summit.

March 27, 2006

Harvesting Collective Genius

Sunday’s NY Times has a way tasty article from Bill Taylor (co-founder of Fast Company) about how Rite-Solutions is insourcing ideas from all its employees rather than outsourcing ideas or relying solely on the ideation generation from a few big-brained internal executives to move the business.

Rite-Solutions has created an internal idea stock exchange where employees can suggest the company invest in new technology, enter into a new business channel, implement a cost-efficiency initiative ... etcetera. Submitted ideas become mock stocks and employees read an “expect-us” (not a prospectus) detailing how the idea can benefit the company. These ideas-turned-stocks are then listed in the Rite-Solutions “Mutual Fun” board where every employee is given $10K in stock market fantasy funds to buy, sell, and trade in the ideas they believe Rite-Solutions should focus on.

Pretty cool, huh?

Now, check out the congregation is smarter than the preacher sentiment from James Lavoie, one of Rite-Solutions co-founders:

"We're the founders, but we're far from the smartest people here. At most companies, especially technology companies, the most brilliant insights tend to come from people other than senior management. So we created a marketplace to harvest collective genius."

In another article, Lavoie explains the reasoning behind Rite-Solutions “Mutual Fun” idea this way …

“We believe the next brilliant idea is going to come from somebody other than senior management, and unless you’re trying to harvest those ideas, you’re not going to get them. That’s why we give everybody an equal voice, and a game to provoke their intellectual curiosity.”

The “Harvesting Collective Genius” reminds me of the Idea Revolution which Alan Robinson and Dean Schroeder wrote about in the way worthy IDEAS ARE FREE book. In this book, Robinson and Schroeder make the business case for the internal insourcing of employee-generated ideas. Worthwhile snippets from this book include:

“Every employee idea, no matter how small, improves an organization in some way. It is when managers are able to get large numbers of such ideas that the fill power of the idea revolution is unleashed.”

”Ideas are free. Employees become allies in solving problems, spotting opportunities, and moving the company forward, to the benefit of all. And when managers decide to let their employees think alongside them – and no longer seek to go it alone – they will have joined the Idea Revolution.

”This empowerment starts a virtuous cycle. As employees see their ideas being used, they begin to feel valued as part of the team and become more involved.

”Small ideas are the best source of big ideas. A big problem or opportunity frequently manifests itself through a host of smaller signs or symptoms, each of which might be seen individually by different people in different places at different times. What might seem to be a small idea could in fact be addressing a facet of this larger issue. This bigger issue can often be discovered by probing with the right questions.”

Small ideas tend to stay proprietary, since there are no mechanisms for competitors to find out about them, and even if they do, the ideas are often situation-specific and so cannot be copied. Because of their proprietary nature, they accumulate into a considerable cushion of sustainable competitive advantage.”

March 24, 2006

Quick Quote

Ban_prove_it_1


March 09, 2006

Pop Art Stores

Prada_marfa_1

We’ve seen Pop-Up Retail stores from Target, JC Penny, and Song (to name just three). And now we have POP-ART Retail storefronts. Last fall, Prada, bastions of high-end Italian couture, installed a retail storefront in Marfa, the epicenter of the West Texas badlands. It's not a store as you can't buy stuff. It's a Pop-Art store. Now that’s decidedly Godin-ish purple.


from the El Paso Times
"Prada Marfa" looks incredibly out of place, a permanent public art sculpture in the middle of nowhere.

Almost everyone in far West Texas is either scratching their heads and wondering what it's all about or talking about this strange art object in the desert that resembles a high-fashion boutique in Paris or Milan.

The artwork, a 15 1/2- by 25-foot stucco and adobe rectangular building filled with expensive hand-crafted Prada shoes and handbags, went up a couple of weeks ago on desolate ranch land on the outskirts of Valentine: population 217 and roughly a 2 1/2-hour drive southeast of El Paso.


from an ARTFORUM article
”Behind its shatterproof, plate-glass windows were posh-looking high heels and handbags. There amidst the tumbleweeds, in the very landscape where Giant was shot, was a boutique displaying accessories from Miuccia Prada's fall 2005 collection.

Was this the inevitable apotheosis of Judd-effect gentrification?

Not exactly—it was Prada Marfa, Elmgreen & Dragset's new, permanent sculpture, produced by local nonprofit Ballroom Marfa and New York-based Art Production Fund (co-founded by Doreen Remen and art maven/fashion enthusiast Yvonne Force Villareal). It's more or less a perfect, if small, replica of a typical Prada emporium—except it will always be closed.”


More:
++ Associated Press article
++ pradamarfa.com
++ google search

Laws of Lifetime Growth

Lawsoflifetimegrowth_3

Over at the Dig Tank blog, Howard Mann recommended the recently published LAWS OF LIFETIME GROWTH (Dan Sullivan & Catherine Nomura). Since Howard’s Brickyard thinking jibes with much of my thinking, I took him up on reading THE LAWS OF LIFETIME GROWTH.

Good book … lots of chewy statements to gnaw on which will help challenge/motivate anyone and any business to seek meaningful and continual growth. However, at times, the book gets a little too righteous in dispensing pious platitudes. Look beyond the triteness and delve into the “rightness” of each lifetime growth law.

Go ahead and gnaw on the following snippets from the book ...


”The ten laws in this book are like mirrors you can use to reflect your behavior, to see if it’s supporting or undermining your continued growth. Use them as you would a hallway mirror on your way out the door – do a quick check to make sure everything looks good, adjust if necessary, and then carry on. (pg. 2)
LAW ONE:
Always make your future bigger than your past.
”Approach your past with this attitude, and you will have an insatiable desire for even better, more enjoyable experiences.” MORE
LAW TWO:
Always make your learning greater than your experience.
”Experience alone is no guarantee of lifetime growth. But continually transform you experiences into new lessons, and you will make each day of your life a source of growth.” MORE
LAW THREE:
Always make your contribution bigger than your reward.
”The one sure guarantee that rewards will continually increase is not to think too much about them. Instead, continue making an even greater contribution – by helping others eliminate their dangers, capture their opportunities, and maximize their strengths.” MORE
LAW FOUR:
Always make your performance greater than your applause.
”If you become more skillful and useful, you will receive greater applause from an expanding audience. This can be intoxicating, and the temptation will be to start organizing your life around other people’s recognition and praise. You’ll keep repeating what got you the applause in the first place – rather than moving on to something new, better, and different. The applause will become more important to you than your improved performance.” MORE
LAW FIVE:
Always make your gratitude greater than your success.
”Continually acknowledge others’ contributions, and you will automatically create room in your mind and in the world for much greater success.” MORE
LAW SIX:
Always make your enjoyment greater than your effort.
”Finding ways to get more and more enjoyment from your activities is one way to ensure continued growth.” MORE
LAW SEVEN:
Always make your cooperation greater than your status.
”Working with others and creating opportunities for increased cooperation makes greater things possible in our lives and in the world.” MORE
LAW EIGHT:
Always make your confidence greater than your comfort.
”Many successful people start off life as dreamers and risk-takers, but the moment they become successful, they start seeking greater security and comfort as their main goal. This attitude puts them to sleep motivationally, and they lose the confidence that made them so successful.” MORE
LAW NINE:
Always make your purpose greater than your money.
”Money as an end, become as growth stopper. Having a purpose that is greater than yourself will give you a constant impetus to strive. Purpose gives life meaning and helps us direct and focus our talents and efforts.” MORE

LAW TEN:
Always make your questions bigger than your answers.
“ … all growth lies in the territory of the unknown. What we already know is in the past. What we have yet to discover is the future. Always make your questions bigger than your answers and you’ll keep drawing yourself into a bigger future with new possibilities.” MORE

February 22, 2006

BimActive is now Active

Bimactive_2

Last year I spent a little time working with Bones in Motion (BiM), an Austin-based technology start-up helping them fine-tune the marketing strategy of their first product, BiMActive.

Simply put, BiMActive turns your cell phone into a GPS-enabled high-tech pedometer. But BimActive is more than just a pimped-out pedometer. By syncing one’s cell phone with a satellite, BiMActive records distance, speed, pace, location, elevation, and calories burned while you run, cycle, hike, or whatever. All this information is accessible on one’s cell phone or online in one’s personal training journal. Cool stuff, eh?

Andy Graham and Jon Werner
of BiM have spent the better part of the past three years to bring this remarkable product to market. Congratulations fellas … your idea is now reality.

For more on BiMActive, stream their demo from the recently held DEMOconference.

February 09, 2006

Something to Gnaw On …

I’ll be off the blog for a few days while I’m in Boise, ID attending the wedding of a great friend (.jpg), former college roommate at Baylor, and current Idaho deputy attorney general. While I’m away, here’s something to gnaw on …

Willing_1

I’ll be posting some of my thoughts next week. Until then … the blog is yours -- jump in with your comments.


UPDATED: Two other friends of mine would like their photo on Brand Autopsy as well. You asked for it Jeff and Matt. Hope you enjoy this vintage image from 1989.

January 29, 2006

MINI’s Uncommon Practices

Minilogo_2Seems as though making the common uncommon is baked inside the company culture of MINI USA. MINI made the common car uncommon. Through its ad agency, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky (CP+B), MINI made the common advertising campaign uncommon. And now since CP+B resigned the MINI ad account in favor of a much larger Volkswagon assignment, MINI USA has made the common ad agency selection process uncommon.

The normal way companies select ad agencies is to use an outside selection firm to manage the RFP process and then a select number of agencies are invited to make their pitch to the company in a series of boardroom meetings. Afterwards, the company selects their ad agency of record.

MINI began its search for a new ad agency using the normal process of hiring an outside firm to ferret through proposals. However, once MINI narrowed the list of ad agency candidates down to four, things got uncommon … very uncommon.

MINI CEO Jim McDowell organized a weekend-long “boot camp” immersion where all four remaining candidates performed in front of each other. The first assignment McDowell gave the ad agencies was to introduce themselves to each other by creating interesting name tags on the spot. Next, McDowell tested the quick-thinking improv skills of the agencies by asking them offbeat questions like, “If Arnold Schwarzenegger runs for President, who should be his running mate?”

During the boot camp, the agencies were sent out on a scavenger hunt in rainy weather to drive MINI Coopers and collect items to be used in a scrapbook which were later presented in front of MINI marketers and the other ad agencies.

After the boot camp, one agency dropped out citing chemistry differences. The three remaining agencies had open access to the MINI team but McDowell again did something uncommon – he gave each agency open access to every nugget of information requested by one agency. If one agency requested something, McDowell shared that something with every agency.

McDowell put these agencies through this uncommon pitch process “… to get closer to how each agency thought, behaved, and went about their business when unexpected situations were thrown at them.”

MINI ultimately selected Butler Shine as their new ad agency.


SOURCE: BusinessWeek | Getting Creative With Mad Ave (sub. req’d) | Feb. 6, 2006

December 30, 2005

Beyond Thinking Different to Doing Different

I was all set to compose a thought-provoking, idea-inspiring, and forward-thinking post to close out 2005 and kick-start 2006. However, the following vintage BRAND AUTOPSY post is far more thoughtful and inspirational than anything I could come up with today. Consider the following electronic reprint a BRAND AUTOPSY new year tradition...


Originally posted on December 31, 2004

Bruce Mau, a designer, thinker, articulator, and massive change provocateur, has a lot of ideas on a lot of things. His Incomplete Manifesto for Change is a list, an incomplete one at that, of 43 ideas to get you beyond thinking differently but doing differently. As 2005 turns to 2006, the message of doing differently is one we should all heed. Enjoy.


Massive_change


An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Author: Bruce Mau (1998)

1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ——————————. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a 'charming artifact of the past.'

31. Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

**********************************************************************

For more on Bruce Mau:
* Radio Interview | The Connection (WBUR-FM) | November 23, 2004
* Design Principal | Fast Company | October 2000
* Massive Change | website
* Massive Change | book
* Massive Change | radio show
* Bruce Mau Designs | website
* A collection of articles on Bruce Mau Designs | website link