Five Must-Read Posts

From innovation to execution and from twitter to real world impact, this week’s five must-read posts run the gamut.

  1. Theo Priestley reminds us that you are what you tweet. And that employers are scouring social media sites to learn more about your history, behaviour and suitability.
  2. The more things change, the more things stay the same. In fact, things may change, but our behaviour only shifts in small increments. Check out John Dodds’ seven year marketing itch.
  3. Are you marketing to millennials? Then Blair Reeves says, you’d best take them seriously. Great article!
  4. Do you live inside the circle or outside it? Dan Pink reminds us that the future won’t be that similar to the past. Time to get with the program.
  5. Aden Hepburn shares this great campaign against child abuse. Who says lenticulars are just toys?

A Minute is a Long Time–On the Internet

They say that a week is a long time in politics.

That was certainly the case when there was a “daily” news cycle. Any announcements or revelations needed to be revealed in time for stories to be written, edited, photographs to be prepared, processed and newspapers to be printed. Breaking news was the domain of the more instantaneous broadcasters like radio and TV. And even then, only the most explosive news items would break programming.

But the web changed all that.

It has taken two decades at least, but the internet has now thoroughly transformed the way that we source, gather, verify and consume news. There has been a breakdown between those that produce the news, those who are the subject of the “news” and those who consume it. And the structures which once provided certainty, built trust and way points for navigation in a chaotic and busy world have, in the process of this disruption, been swept away.

These structures have been replaced by data.

Data about data.

In a way, it was ever thus.

And the new arbiters of this data – our navigation beacons are themselves built of data. Google. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Pandora and Amazon. They sound like the names of ancient gods straddling the primordial chaos – but they are massive enterprises designed not to serve, but to create value. Revenue. Share holder returns.

So think about what happens in an internet minute (see the infographic from Intel). Every minute of video. Every byte of uploaded photo data. And every tweet costs someone somewhere something. The question for you today is what does it cost YOU?


Your Manifesto for Success

It’s a cliché to say that the only constant in life is change. And yet, like all clichés, it reveals a deep truth that we all must grapple with. Business owners and entrepreneurs are well aware of the underlying truth of this cliché – yet are often the most unprepared for the disruption that comes with change.

When the events of life and business overwhelm – when the technology becomes challenging and the customers too demanding – having a document that sets out your business and personal beliefs can provide you with a vital anchor. Even better – it can help you make decisions in the most pressured of situations. It’s called a “manifesto for success” and you should write it today.

But what should be “in” your manifesto? One of the best that I have read is the Incomplete Manifesto for Growth by designer Bruce Mau. And in Bruce’s spirit, I would encourage you to imitate – drift – and begin anywhere. But make sure you DO. Here is Bruce’s manifesto:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.’

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

lazydog poster #01 loveleft via Compfight

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

If you are like me, when life get busy, the first thing that stops is writing. And when life gets busier still, the next thing that disappears is reading.

But it’s not that reading and writing disappears completely. It’s more that the type and style changes. The choice narrows. We self-select. Rataionalise. Focus only on the most urgent. The most pressing. Important.

If this sound like you, then these five must-reads may be just what you are looking for:

  1. Jonathan Crossfield explains – in true storytelling style – just why content marketing should be a choose your own adventure.
  2. Let’s face it, there are a lot of lazy marketers out there. And a lot of lazy agencies. But if you want results, you have to shake things up. Don’t just slap your new TVC into a pre-roll format online. Matt Chisolm says it’s time to challenge your agency to add some value online.
  3. We all know how hard, intensive and complicated it can be to create a short message. How then, do you get the most out of Facebook sponsored posts? Laurel Papworth provides some clues.
  4. Dave Gray has an awesome article on the very funky It’s on Connecting Government. And it may well blow your mind.
  5. If you work in marketing and advertising, you may lament that the days of the long lunch are over. These days, almost everyone I know works long, hard hours. Neil Patel shares some tips on how to be a workaholic and not get burned out. Wurd.