Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen, Anthem
Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.
Part of service design is describing and inspiring people about the real challenges of change, the need to to fix things, to look at something broken and believe that not only can it be brought back to life but be both more beautiful and more valuable while retaining history and integrity.
I find it useful it to explore Mr Cohen’s insight that cracks provide illumination and how it intersects with this ceramic practice of renewal.
Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin….Mushin is often literally translated as “no mind,” but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. …The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject.
—Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics
Mostly what this notion can tell us is that it’s ok. It’s ok to break, to have cracks and weaknesses. It’s natural and part of life and growth and of interacting with people. Even more than that, when you pick up the pieces, you can transform into something stronger, more resilient, utterly unique and desirable.
I’m constantly thinking about the creative brief and how to get it righterer.
I’ve written about my approach here on the notion of collaboration and the blank page one page brief
To me the planner’s role in giving a creative brief to a team is to tell team a the story, set up the protagonist/ the consumer, outline their obstacle and the part you have for them- the hero.
Give your story a beginning a middle and end. Allow the team to collaborate with you as you tell the story.
and shared Jasmine Cheng’s delightful exploration here (and whoop! it’s had +125,000 views since it got published).
I need to change it up again as I’m doing far less campaigns and far more service design projects. Far. More.
Building the bridge between a brand’s promise and it’s practice is kinda awesome and shifts the game from defining what you want to say to designing what you want people to do. It’s real, it really changes things, it’s difficult but not hard. It makes sense to me, and that’s my challenge because I need it to make sense to other people.
And a creative brief just doesn’t quite cut it. There are many reasons why. The diagnosis and the remedy are still very close bedfellows but you’re writing a solution for a stage, with scripts and blocking for the actors. It needs to be rehearsed and built by collaboration. It must have the space to be fueled by improv and deliver a sense of ownership to each and every player. And it must fundamentally delight audiences.
I came across this exploration Birdman: Writing A Screenplay Is Like Writing a Poem
“you need to write.. so that…every moment is so perfectly placed, so carefully visualized and realized on the page that anyone who reads it will immediately know: “Yes, I know this can to work. I know this can work because I saw it and I felt it and I imagined it and I heard it play…in my head as if it were real. I know it work because I’ve already seen it happen in my mind.”
There’s some great thinking there about balancing out ego and the need to tell the truth, exploring how to externalize the internal obstacles that you see and creating that safety net (for both the budget and the creatives) where you’ve really worked as hard as you can to ‘fix it on the page’.
I loved this:
we do need to strike that balance between the part of ourselves that wants to say something authentic and the part that needs to succeed. We also need to strike that balance between writing (what’s in) our hearts and shaping into a form that other people can understand.
Both our form and our function can work together to accomplish that goal to tell a true story in a true way, in a way that other people can connect to. And in a way that can get people in seats to see the story you’re trying to tell.
More than anything this piece is a call to action to write and re-write. The coolest thing about service design projects is that you shift from a six week cycle to at least a six month cycle. You need to think and re think the task, the tools and how the teams collaborate. I’m thinking that is time for a shift from a brief to a script.
Interesting to compare FastCo’s 25 Predictions of what marketing will look like in 2020 to the recent work by the The Economist Intelligence Unit.
Both spoke with marketing visionaries around the world and posed essentially the same question: “The world of marketers today has changed drastically from what it was ten years ago. What will it be like in 2020? And what do marketers need to forge a winning career path over the next five years?”
There is a bunch of great stuff in each report but I’m just looking at ‘what counts’ vs ‘what can be counted’.
FactCo’s short and sweet thought:
Metrics are all over the place. We had page views (which was essentially like tracking escalator use at a department store—i.e., how many times people had to do a thing that’s basically inconvenient), Facebook Likes (which are now of no lasting utility), video views (now an indicator primarily of paid investment), and click-through rates (which still fail to discern quality of traffic). None of them are good. Even engagement rates and dwell times are slippery. We are still yet to settle on a metric that is fit for purpose; one that is easily repeatable, undeniably valuable, demonstrably linked to ultimate effectiveness. I can’t help but feel that when we do, when we’re able to say, “Yes it achieved 19, and our benchmark is 12,” and we know for sure that means it worked, then we will be in a transformed place. Surely. Surely it’s going to happen soon.
Alex Hesz, director of digital, adam&eveDDB FastCo’s 25 Predictions of what marketing will look like in 2020
The more indepth EIU:
1. It’s all about engagement
Seth Godin believes that marketers who are serious about engaging the customer recognise that the most valuable moments are when the customer is actually in touch with you: using your product, on the phone with you, reading your content. If you are able to address your customers’ needs during those moments—rather than put them on hold while telling them how important their call is—you’re going to get engagement.
2. Get your own house in order.
An asset is an investment that generates value in the form of return on investment (ROI). Engaged customers fit the definition of an asset, but marketers often complain that their CFOs resist the idea of engagement as an asset worth investing in.
In fact, these marketers are wrong: the problem is one of data, logic and presentation. Many marketers don’t fully understand what drives engagement—and therefore they can’t present it in a compelling way to the CFO. “If you can quantify engagement, any CFO in the world will pay attention,” says Jim Stengel. And not just pay attention, but jump in and ask, “How can I help?” Too many marketers don’t understand what makes their company preferred over others.
3. Harden the soft.
Of all the factors that drive engagement, the most important may be a culture of customer centricity. Culture is often mistakenly considered to be a soft concept. It is a big concept, but it is not a soft one: it can be broken down into a very specific set of values and activities that are mirrored in incentives, salaries and promotions. Customer engagement needs to play a central role in the organisation’s culture. Otherwise the business will not be sustainable.
4. Passion trumps everything
John Hagel argues that passion is the single element most critical to success in marketing. Passion enables executives to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and advocate for the customer inside the organisation. It is not always a comfortable role. It requires confidence and courage. But in the end, passion determines whether or not a marketer is successful.
“If you have a passionate commitment to make an impact on the customer by being more and more helpful to them, you will either develop the skills yourself or you will find ways to connect to the skills wherever they reside,” says Hagel. “It may be in other functions within the organisation. It may be in third parties. If you have the passion, you will find a way.”
This same team (The Economist Intelligence Unit) has written a cracking report about the urgent need to restructure marketing to better support business. There’s thirty pages of goodness- but I’m really just focussing on two of their identified trends that need urgent change and support:
A broader view of customer experience: positive customer experience across all touchpoints is increasingly seen as a company’s most valuable asset. And, more than any other function, marketing is responsible for managing it across the customer life cycle and across channels, from initial awareness through loyalty and advocacy.The customer experience is increasingly seen as a key to competitive advantage in every industry. Slightly more than one-third of marketers polled say they are responsible for managing the customer experience today. However, over the next three to five years, 75% of marketers say they will be responsible for the end-to-end experience over the customer’s lifetimeMetrics for revenue and engagement: Effectiveness trumps efficiency, especially in a time of rapid change. Metrics will become broader and more comprehensive, focusing on top-line revenue and overall engagement more than efficiency and brand awareness.
It feels like the mapping marketing landscape of the next 25 years or even the next 5 can be nothing more than trying to see a mythical realm. Even Sir Isaac Newton attributed his success to standing upon the shoulders of giants. I’d like to think that if we can help marketers move from counting beans to planting magic ones that the future may just be fantastical indeed.
Filed under: Digital Strategy
A brilliant presentation from Scott Galloway on Amazon/Apple/Facebook & Google (The Four Horsemen) and who will win and who will lose in the digital business economy. It’s a rapid fire, 90 slide, 15 minute presentation that you MUST watch.
You will laugh and learn:
- Sales training for Facebook or Google…”I have more relationships than god and I’m on a mobile phone”
- Google Glass is not a wearable it’s is a prophylactic
- Brands are built at purchase…
- Why Apple will become the first trillion dollar brand
- Self-expressive benefit: (about his watch) this is not a timepiece, I have not wound it in five years, it’s vain my attempt to express Italian masculinity and signal that if you mate with me I am more likely to take care of your offspring than someone wearing a Swatch watch…
Filed under: The Rules
William of Ockham was an English monk, philosopher, theologian, who provided the scientific method with its key principle 700 years ago. ‘What can be done with fewer assumptions is done in vain with more,’ he said. That is, in explaining any phenomenon, we should use no more explanatory concepts than are absolutely necessary. Simplicity should never be despised.
Filed under: Experience
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.
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!