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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.



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?



loopy
June 19, 2012, 3:54 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

I renewed my complete crush on Jay Smooth’s smart styling hip-hop video blog Ill Doctrine today, which started for me waaaaay back in 2008 when I asked

Is he talking about politics, rap or the nature of masculinity? Or all three?

and today I saw this piece about Sexist Gamer Dudes passed around by blokes I like, respect and admire.

It reminded me what a talent Jay is- and kicking around his ‘allow me to reintroduce myself‘ section he demonstrated over and over again that we’re not alone:

and then I remembered:

procrastination is a lot like masturbation a lot of fun until the moment you realize you’re just fucking yourself

and got back to work.



We see the stars, and we want them
June 7, 2012, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff, Zeitgeist

Milky Way

We were put here as witnesses to the miracle of life. We see the stars, and we want them. We are beholden to give back to the universe…. If we make landfall on another star system, we become immortal. Ray Bradbury Speech to National School Board Association (1995)

Ray Bradbury died today. I love his work: his defense of books, his fight against censorship,  and above all the notions of the miraculous future that would unfold before my eyes as I grew. He was one of the writers that made me excited about the future, made me more conscious of the dark dehumanizing side of technology, one of the architects of the “What Ifs” that still guide my daily  creative explorations and the provider of some of the more accessible componentry of my moral compass.

Here’s one of my favourites, I posted this to David Gillespie just the other day: Doing is Being

Doing is being.
To have done’s not enough.
To stuff yourself with doing — that’s the game.
To name yourself each hour by what’s done,
To tabulate your time at sunset’s gun
And find yourself in acts
You could not know before the facts
You wooed from secret self, which much needs wooing,
So doing brings it out,
Kills doubt by simply jumping, rushing, running
Forth to be
The new-discovered me.
To not do is to die,
Or lie about and lie about the things
You just might do some day.
Away with that!
Tomorrow empty stays
If no man plays it into being
With his motioned way of seeing.
Let your body lead your mind –
Blood the guide dog to the blind;
So then practice and rehearse
To find heart-soul’s universe,
Knowing that by moving/seeing
Proves for all time: Doing’s being!



Challenging Leadership/ Leadership challenges
April 24, 2012, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Experience, Great Stuff, The Rules

Over on Seth’s blog today was this morsel

A good employee says, “I know that this is a serious problem, it’s hurting our customers and we can do better, but I can’t do a thing about it because it’s run by a different department.”

A version of this might conclude with, “And I don’t even know the name of the person who’s responsible.”

This is a sure sign of systemic failure as well as a CEO who is not doing the job she should be. When smart people who care get frustrated, something is wrong.

There’s an intesection here and a paper that Deloitte relased yesterday:

Based on a global study of investment bankers, private equity companies, and financial analysts, the paper, The Leadership Premium: How companies win the confidence of investors, puts a hard metric on the “intangible asset” of leadership, revealing that, in some sectors, good leaders can account for more than one-fifth of equity value.

The gap between the value of an effectively-led and ineffectively-led company could, says the paper, be as much as 35.5 percent.

It’s a pretty good read, and one that full of steal able insights about the core components of value building leadership and the importance of leaders taking their teams along for the ride:

“All employees should have the same goal and process in mind… the same direction”

Investment analyst, US

Here are my notes:

Many major corporations have found that orthodox management practices and organizational principles are not well suited to the modern era. Our view is that current conditions don’t demand a revolution so much as a renewed focus on the fundamentals of leadership

Three value delivering components

  • Strategic Clarity
  • Successful execution
  • A culture of innovation

Strategic Clarity

Organizations need to decide on where and on what basis they will compete. e.g

  • Virgin Media’s decision to focus on it’s network as its core strategic asset was the beginning of an impressive corporate turnaround
  • Southwest Airlines’ early use of the internet and online booking and check-ins has helped consolidate its positions as a low cost, low fares carrier.
  • Apple’s relentless focus on ‘insanely great’ products allowed it to transform consumer electronics
  • FedEx Ground’s emphasis on service and its early use of tracking systems (as RPS in the 1980s) enabled it to challenge UPS

Strategic clarity involves delivering a vision of what the organization needs to achieve

  • and a framework that leaves enough room for people to create the future
  • with consistency and commitment

Successful Execution

Common to organisations is the belief that the only long term differentiator they have is their people. The priority for an organisation has to be getting the best out of its people by ensuring that they are willing and able to fulfil its aims

  • Believe: compelling reasons, communication and bulid commitment
  • Belong: leaders need to articulate a long term purpose beyond just making money
  • Behave: adaptive, value driven, team building, respectful,
  • Able: capabilities, resources infrastructure

A Culture of Innovation

Great ideas are generated and developed through interaction.

  • Commitment to enterprise; an environment for ideas
  • Collaboration culture
  • The freedom to experiment (and fail)
  • It’s not about hiring new radical thinkers
    • It’s about realizing the potential of the thinkers you’ve got

I liked this check list:

Effective leadership characteristics

  • Capabilities
    • Driving competitiveness and innovation
    • Providing direction and purpose
    • Making effective decisions
    • Inspiring others to act
    • Developing people
    • Building high performing teams
    • Personal qualities
      • Integrity, probity and humility
      • Moral courage


freedom and the sea
August 12, 2011, 2:27 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

To whoever is not listening to the sea
this Friday morning, to whoever is cooped up
in house or office, factory or woman
or street or mine or harsh prison cell;
to him I come, and, without speaking or looking,
I arrive and open the door of his prison,
and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent,
a great fragment of thunder sets in motion
the rumble of the planet and the foam.

… freedom and the sea
will make their answer to the shuttered heart.

– from “The Poet’s Obligation” Pablo Neruda



sounds like rain
May 11, 2011, 5:46 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

The sound sculptures and installations of Zimoun are graceful, mechanized works of playful poetry, an interplay between the artificial and the organic. This piece is a study of complex behaviors in sound and motion, examining the creation and degeneration of patterns.

I love that it’s cardboard and dime store electronics. I love the shadows. I like that you can walk around it, get inside it and that the sound changes depending on where you stand. It’s remarkably simple but it gives you a contemplation of complexity.

And it sounds like rain.




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