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peak insight
September 25, 2014, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Experience

flying haiku

Have been lucky enough to be at the Spikes Festival of Creativity in Singapore. I’ve been involved in the forum sessions about creative talent and I presented on this:

Does your business value creative thinking? Of course it does, and you are almost certainly one of the 91% that believes it impacts directly on your company’s success. But are you one of only 26% of employees who strongly believe their working culture encourages creative thought? And where does this leave the future success of our businesses?

While we all know it’s important, one of the fundamental challenges organisations have is in developing a culture of innovation and inspiration. Jack Morton conducted research among employees across the globe which suggests the lack of understanding and consequent support for creative thinking could be hampering effective creative output and the ability of business to attract and retain talent.

This Forum discusses to what degree business across the globe is actively encouraging a culture and environment conducive to creative thinking and consider the success stories of those organisations that hold the nurturing and promotion of creative thinking close to their hearts.

I think that the case for change for our industry and for Enterprise is quite well-known. We know why we need to change (disruption) and we know we need to change (creativity and innovation be that digital, integration or whatever) the challenge is away going to be how.

In Andrew Ho’s session he spoke about a better marriage of strategy and creative and how the tools, perspective and approaches of each discipline works better in combination rather than pass (or parse) the parcel, and a  question ‘will we ever run out of insight?’ really stimulated some reflection on the experience of presenting and facilitating my own session.

The questions around how we deliver great ideas, how we can innovate our process, how we can support people through this journey are  tough to answer.

And here’s the journey to my refection. Jack’s creativity research puts forward 6 recommendations to help build more creative cultures: collaboration, play, freedom to fail, space to think, ego support and idea collection. The best kind of cultures have all of these aspects and I wanted to create an experience of what those six principles in action might look like. I love the haikugami tool

  • as of freedom to fail I show a haiku written about my own work culture and attempt to demonstrate how to fold a paper plane- giving permission to people to make their version as imperfect and human as they like
  • I tell them a story of collaboration, how I’ve sought out their participation by putting a sheet under each of their seats. I tell them about the goal- let’s make a hundred co-created wishes for creative culture fly. I want their thoughts and expression, but I want us to share and build on our thoughts
  • I ask for playfulness a thought articulated in only 5 or 7 syllables, and line by line I ask them to stand up and let their thoughts fly across the room, and to jump and catch someone else s thought as it flies past
  • ego support is about making the rewards of creativity real, fun  and transparent, hopefully a room full of heads down and the energy of sharing reflects this notion
  • the conference and the session itself is place to think, a context that is designed to open up different parts of the brain
  • and I collect ideas and celebrate participation at the end. The photo above is just some of what I was given back from the audience

What did I learn? What thing did I see, what human truth did I observe, from delivering this experience to  room full of punters wanting creativity, believing in  creativity and eve working in creative fields?

It’s really award and uncomfortable to move from a passive state to one of participation.

It’s hard to know what’s the right thing to say when you’re asked to express your feelings.

And that’s the point- creativity feels chaotic  and a bit weird if you’re not used to it. It’s the reason why there’s such a gap between the desire for these kinds of cultures and them grit it takes to deliver them. But the  results! I have a hundred poems: inspiring, playful and brave that tell the story of what can happen in a room when you start to do things differently.

Peak insight? I think I’ve only just started to learn about the power and potential of human creativity.

 



Creativity and the meaning of ‘now’
July 3, 2014, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Digital Strategy, Experience, Zeitgeist

Have been part of the Sydney Social Media week advisory board ( top geezers) on crafting how we can explore our theme of The Future of Now: Always On Always Connected.

For me creativity, and  the future are inextricably linked.  We just won’t make it unless we fully harness the limitless resource of our creative potential.

“As deep knowledge becomes a common asset, creativity will be the differentiating factor. Creativity is not a ‘nice-to-have’ attribute anymore, it’s a prerequisite for performance, development and growth—supporting us in our ability to innovate and drive change faster and better.” –Ben de Vries, Head of Brand Management, Ericsson

But we also won’t make unless we share, we collaborate and we inspire each other with our different perspectives. I believe that social technology and behaviors may well be one of the engines that will provide the forward momentum  to allow creativity to really be embraced.

The team I’m part of  have been doing some global research on this (on Slideshare here) talking  more than 7,000 people in 11 markets and we found that creative thought was  defined as: solutions to problems that are unexpected in any field of work, not just within traditionally creative fields such as writing, design or the performing arts.

Some of the key outtakes of the research (Collaboration, Play, Freedom to fail, Ego support, Space to think, and Idea Collection)  are helping me build my approach to the panel sessions I’m involved in, and these are the notions I’m looking at:

  • How can we achieve more through collaboration and co-creation?
  • How can we facilitate meaningful conversations, practices for devoting time to creative thinking and mindful contemplation?
  • How can we balance and preserve humanness — meaning the ability to listen, empathize, engage, focus and be present in the moment — despite the constant disruption that technology enables?

Would love to know if you find the research useful. Am looking forward to my own Eureka moment. All anecdotes welcome!



how do you value culture?
January 9, 2014, 6:42 pm
Filed under: Digital Strategy, Experience, Get Friendly, Great Stuff, passion, Zeitgeist

art-culture_metricv5

It’s Festival time in Sydney. While I’m super excited about taking my inner child by the hand and having a bit of a frolic on Sacrilege, the true sized inflatable bouncy castle Stonehenge in Hyde Park’s Festival Village, I was interested to read this in The Australian

FESTIVAL organizers measure success in terms of ticket sales and economic impact, but a new cultural metric may be tweets and pictures on social media. Last year, an enormous yellow duck was a hit of the Sydney Festival, where 1.7 million people could not have missed seeing it at Darling Harbour. Some 14,000 images were posted on Instagram using festival hashtags.

Mmmm. ‘Cultural Metric’. Good notion. Loads of tension in it:

  • What is culture?
  • How might culture be measured?
  • How do we value it?

The NSW Government is investing more than $5 million to ensure the success of the 2014 Festival,

“Last year the Sydney Festival attracted more than 500,000 people with more than 120,000 tickets sold to paid events, including more than 33,000 people who attended events in Western Sydney. In 2012, it injected almost $57 million into our economy

From that perspective an arts investment looks like a pretty good return to the taxpayers hereabouts. I wonder how they’d value those tweets.

Early last year MoMA curator of Architecture and Design Paola Antonelli led a discussion about Culture and Metrics, (which I’ve entirely re cut below):

  • why bother?
    • the reality is that cultures come and go over time. If we don’t know what’s valuable about a particular culture, we run the risk of losing it forever.
    • not all art is concerned with culture, and not all culture is arts-based
    • it’s the best way to create a future that human beings want to inhabit.
    • MoMA has been one of the most important cathedrals of the imagination in my life since childhood, and envisioning it as a driver of R&D across society at large is extremely exciting.
  • measurement
    • Kate Levin, the Commissioner of The Department of Cultural Affairs for New York City: measuring culture, is mostly about objectives and outcomes. She used The Gates as an example of a valuable, measurable project funded by the Department for Cultural Affairs. Four million visitors to this 16-day installation created $254 million in revenue for NYC.
    • Measuring culture will require us to think of new ways to measure and share the story of a project’s insights and impact.
  • culture and value
    • “For me, The Gates was never about whether the saffron curtains and plastic frames were art. Some people argued that it was a hideous monstrosity while others loved it. Instead, I just felt lucky to be part of the flow of conversation and people as we passed together through The Gates on a beautiful blue and gold day. I felt lucky to be a New Yorker. And that’s the point of culture. It gives us a sense of place while at the same time evoking a deeply personal experience of the universal. “

As Rita observed, and who was at the MoMA talk, it brings to life one of Andy Warhol’s statements:

  • “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.”

Creating a deeply personal experience of an enterprise, creating a real and vibrant culture, feels like a bit of an art, and has the same kind of challenge:

But, how do you measure that?

Answer: With great difficulty.

Then again…. people are the only metric that really counts.

It’s hard. Really hard. Most companies can’t do it. The ones that can, make a fortune. Life is unfair.



getting into the swing of things
November 26, 2013, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Digital Strategy, Experience

Trying out the lovely Haiku deck….

These are my notes from a breakfast meeting with the lovely Megan Brownlow from PwC.

She spoke about their interesting report: PwC’s NextGen: A global generational study, Millennial Workers Want Greater Flexibility, Work/Life Balance, Global Opportunities

This comprehensive and global generational study conducted by PwC, the University of Southern California and the London Business School looks into the aspirations, work styles and values of “Millennial”/”Generation Y” employees (those born between 1980 and 1995).

The study, which included more than 40,000 responses from Millennials and non-Millennials alike, captures the various forces at play that are influencing the experience of Millennials. These include: workplace culture, communication and work styles, compensation and career structure, career development and opportunities and work/life balance.

I followed with these notes on how the existing behaviors and first language of millennial employees can be harnessed to meet both their needs and that of their employers.



Since. Sometimes. Say it.
January 14, 2013, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Experience, Zeitgeist

lifeisshortthereisnotimetoleaveimportantwordsunsaid

Life just bites you on the ass sometimes.

I’ve been trying to write this for ages: since receiving the phone call a couple of days before Christmas; since working on releasing the shock and pain and disbelief at the news; since writing that first condolence card; since the first time I could get together with my oldest friends face-to-face to share the wtf-ness; since standing blacked up and bare faced nursing a whiskey and hearing his Dad desperate for some insight, any scrap, at the wake, as to why.

Since, since, since.

I lived my 20′s in a little run down terrace in what is now SOGO, but was then the cheapest place we could find. It was dark, falling to pieces and smelled in the damp, but filled with what became a chosen family, and for me, a true home.

None of us had money, but we were all working doing stuff we loved- art, music, architecture, design. We all were good at creating something out of nothing: the kitchen transformed from a peeling crack lab into a place where mermaids played; a bare wall turned into an ever moving pop gallery of avant cards; a back yard that hosted now famous ‘drinks by the pool’ parties where the blow up wader was just an excuse for ridiculous cocktails and costumes.

There was dancing. Cooking. A million late night conversations. A million bottles of red wine. One very scrappy cat. Sometimes the dishes didn’t get done. People peeled out as they met their partners, or their career took them off to different horizons and eventually the place got sold and we moved on.

That was sometime ago. It lasted about 7 years and felt like forever.

I thought everyone had grown up since then. Not me, obviously, but other people had mortgages and businesses and children and partners. Eventually I only saw some in back yards, with tired eyes and gentle, humorous self deprecating stories of the domestic hurdy-gurdy their lives had become.  Tucked in, I thought. Safe, I believed. Happy, I dreamed.

I can’t remember the last time I told my friend I loved him. That he was important to me. That knowing him has made my life better every day since I met him. That his take on silly and serious and determined and disciplined was a benchmark for me. That I respected his work, was totally crazy about his choice of partner and his children, in awe of his practice and held deep affection for the past we shared and held a desire to co-create memories for the rest of our lives.

Now I won’t get that chance. He is gone. He took himself off the merry-go-round. I don’t know why. No one seems to. I will never understand. I’m trying to come to terms with that. I’m not looking for a silver lining. It’s just crap.

Sometimes we let go of the gold in our lives, the people that we love, to pan for shiny trash. Sometimes the people that we think we know are very very good at hiding their pain. Sometimes the things we don’t say haunt us.

Since. Sometimes. Say it.



sweeping statements
September 6, 2012, 11:40 am
Filed under: Digital Strategy, Experience, Great Stuff

I love it when you come across a sweeping statement that just takes your breath away.

In Australia there’s been a doozy this week- which you can follow here, particularly if you think that humor is a good way of addressing misogyny….

Anyhoo…and before I get well distracted….

I came across a notion that UX didn’t exist before digital – that the spirit utility, interaction and participation was ‘invented’ by introducing digital to brands.

A-hem.

It might be surprising that the discipline of mapping out optimal interactions between humans, machines and contexts has been around since the 1940′s. Participatory design’s been around since the ’60s.

I can’t help but agree with Jon Steel’s refutation of the statement

…these days everything has changed, planning has to change because advertising has changed, nothing is the way it used to be, everything is digital now and if you propose anything other than digital solutions then you’re old-fashioned and generally hopeless…you should drag your sorry old ass out of the business and work somewhere else.

I believe that’s completely wrong, because in the end in an analogue world, in a digital world the key to success is understanding the basics of human communication.

In order to most effectively influence a group of people “you don’t target them you engage them as willing accomplices”

I think the best brands have always inspired individuals to become willing accomplices…

Mr Steel also mentions the amazing work of Howard Gossage in the 1950s.

In short the example of Gossage has never been more possible to follow and more needed, particularly as dreary advertising drifts from our televisions to the places we spend time online, his idea that you should never confuse the product and the message becomes even more powerful. Howard would build his messages around something he thought would interest people and then weave the product into this story – the first international paper airplane competition for Scientific American being a brilliant example.

If you haven’t the slightest clue what all the fuss is about ….it would not be an exaggeration to say that Howard Gossage:

1) Invented interactive advertising (as opposed to direct response advertising) in which the audience is invited to get involved with the brand’s life and participate in its activities
2) Invented the idea of creating communities of interest around topics and then galvanizing those people into action through advertising
3) Invented the PR stunt as a marketing tool using advertising to catalyse and popularise the activity
4) Created the fee based remuneration model in place of the widely used but utterly discredited commission system
5) Invented the independent media planning agency with the Kick Back agency
6) Discovered Marshall McLuan and made him a household name in ‘60s America, a man who predicted the rise of the connected global village that we all live in today
7) Saved the Grand Canyon from flooding with advertising that changed the way that environmental campaigning forever
8) Helped create the modern environmental organisation and both named and housed the Friends of the Earth
9)Helped start the anti-globalisation movement
10) And almost won independence for Anguilla

And so to wrap up this rather long rant:

  • If a brand wants want people to play with (and they do)
  • Think
    • What do we need people to do?
    • Why would they do it?
    • What are we going to make or do that will enable them to do it?



Let’s go to work
May 17, 2012, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Experience, passion

I was really intrigued this piece when I saw it over at swissmiss, which was created by W+K.

Its running as a pre-roll on YouTube, it’s over 2 minutes- and it’s been played (in addition to its ad spend) 1.775 million times since its launch in February.

It’s message: 

Its 8 am… MILLIONS of EMPLOYEES.. show up each day..for their names on a register…. The world we see around us..countries..and ..continents..have been built.. on the back of these signatures.. The future too will be written by these signatures.. Signatures of the EMPLOYEES… You.. are an EMPLOYEE.. Your BOSS is an EMPLOYEE… …….. … TRUTH is every EMPLOYEE is a HERO… Enough said… Let’s go do…what we all do our best.. Let’s go to work.. A TRIBUTE TO THE MAKERS OF OUR WORLD.

It’s a big call. A very big call. Who are these HCL guys? Who are they to say they speak on behalf of the millions of employees who turn up to work each day? Who are they to champion the overworked and unsung?

A bit of digging….

Employees First Customers Second (EFCS) is a journey of experiments which HCL started in 2005. It is a simple  philosophy that, at its heart, states that in the service industry, true value is not created by top management. Since employees are the closest interface with the customer, they are the new ‘value zone’ for companies: the place where value is truly generated for customers. And it is therefore the duty of the rest of the organization to foster and engender this value zone by creating the requisite enabling infrastructure.

Vineet Nayar (the head of HCL Technologies), wrote in Forbes that he does not do it to make his employees happy

The idea came from observing our company closely. We create value in one very specific place: the interface between our HCL employees and our customers. We call this the “value zone.” Every employee who works in the value zone is capable of creating more or less value. The whole intent of Employees First is to do everything we can to enable those employees to create the most possible value.

HCL decided:

  • to put its employees first and made every effort to provide them with a work environment and culture that they can take pride in.
  • employee development focused on giving people the tools and enabling the infrastructure they needed to succeed

Is it about employee engagement?

EFCS is not about making employees happy or comfortable. I don’t even really care if employees are happy. I don’t think that employee “satisfaction” is something a company should strive for. Satisfaction is a passive state, isn’t it? Satisfaction doesn’t produce change or improvement or innovation or much of anything.

As for employee “engagement,” that isn’t much better than satisfaction. I would hope that everybody, no matter what their job is, would be alert and paying some attention to what they do, would be engaged.

We have found that the Employees First approach produce s far more passion than any motivational or recognition program. Why? Because it proves that management understands the importance of the work being done by the employees in the value zone. It demonstrates that we are actively helping them in ways that make it easier for them to do their jobs. It shows that we trust them to do what needs to be done in the way they believe it should be done. And it shows that we respect them for the value they bring to the company.

We give them understanding, help, trust and respect–which is much better than potato salad and cold cuts.

The key enablers that made EFCS work -

  • Smart Service Desk (SSD) was introduced to make the enabling functions accountable to employees and resolve any issues that they may have within a stipulated time.
  • Directions, an annual interactive event, where the senior management along with the CEO meet employees to discuss company strategy, new processes and policies and what they think is the right agenda for HCL to adopt in the coming year.
  • U&I, an online discussion forum where every HCLite gets an opportunity to raise issues, share thoughts and ideas, as well as debate directly with the CEO.
  • Spot 360 Feedback was launched to make the management accountable to employees and to increase organizational accountability. A system where anyone could rate managers on various aspects.
  • Employee Passion Indicative Count (EPIC) assits employees in identifying their passion drivers – factors that drive an employee to excel at work.

Results?In the past three years,

  • HCL grew at a CAGR of 24 per cent
  • Market cap increased by 186 per cent
  • Number of $10 Mn, $20 Mn & $50 Mn customers doubled, and the number of $100 Mn customers tripled
  • Revenue per Employee is amongst the highest in the Indian IT segment today.
The EFCS mantra  – www.employeesfirstbook.com. (Read it-it has some lovely storytelling)

The book explores the steps of HCLT’s transformation as the company recognized the need for change, created a culture of trust through transparency, turned the organizational pyramid on its head, and shifted the responsibility of change from the office of the CEO to the employees using small catalysts, or “blue ocean droplets,” that produced big results.

The journey had four steps:

  • Confront the Truth
  • Build Trust
  • Support the Value Zone
  • Change at the role of the CEO

I think it’s interesting to note how this journey has facilitated their next step:

Employees Driven, Management Embraced [EFCS 2.0]

Employees are increasingly taking the lead in driving innovation. We call this phase EFCS 2.0 where we’re witnessing a change in ownership – Employees are taking charge and creating innovative programs in and around HCL, which are producing big impact. Here are some of the notable programs.

  • Meme: A platform created by employees to go from official to social at work; it now boards over 59,000 members.
  • MAD JAM: “Make a Difference” a bottom-up initiative designed by front line employees, for front line employees, that recognizes and celebrates the most innovative ideas at HCL.
  • MAD LTD: “Make a Difference, Lead the Difference”, a platform focused on nurturing young leaders to showcase and implement ideas for social impact. For more details, please visit  www.madltd.com
  • Power of One: A social responsibility initiative where HCLites spend a day with the community and donate a Rupee a day, which adds up to an avalanche of positive social activism.
  • arKMedes: A platform focused on making knowledge the currency across the organization by bringing together communities driven by passionate employees.

I think work is changing: as a ritual, as an enabler of identity, as a method of survival, as a framework for community- the horizon of change is vast. In Australia 40% of our workforce are employed on various insecure arrangements, casual, contract or through labour hire companies and in this climate we might do well to think about were value is generated, how it is created and where it can be amplified. Who makes your world? Have you told them they’re anything special lately?

 




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