Friday, 29 July 2011

Sense of perspective

There was a death in the family this week. So this week’s edition is in honour of Alan Callick.
If he was alive now as I type this I guess he’d have mixed reactions about being able to reach so many people so easily and share a point of view with relative ease.
Alan was of a generation where great thoughts and deeds took longer to form into stories as technology was always one step behind the demands on society.  Few could fly, few could make long distance calls, few had computers in which to solve complex math problems and few had any knowledge of anything but the immediate world around them.  Library’s were the central deposit of information, the internet had yet to be born and when you rang someone using the analogue dial you were literally making sparks at a switch board in the centre of town...
Now there is an ingenuity gap between the pace of technology and our ability to catch up with it.  The minority are no longer the ones who have-not’s but in many instances the ‘have’s.  We have all this technology but still it appears are the same core frustrations that plague us.  It’s easy to get all ‘sixth-from’ essay about this but the truth is often very obvious.
Digging out of the attic this week an old acorn electron with programs in cassettes made me smile as I laughed at its primitive nature and design.  But I do remember this being the focus of all my attention and how we all marvelled at the schools first computer with disk drive... I still get excited about new things. My focus is often distracted by the latest HD t.v. offering or speedy laptop.  That inherent wonder on all things has remained constant as I’ve grown up.  If that’s a constant, then maybe the level to which it’s satisfied is also constant.  To come to terms and accept that perhaps is a wonderful thing. It must be wonderful to let go frustration, to let go anxiety and to let go of the pace of life which is now so fast and fierce.
If we’re contributors to this world then let’s do so and design not only with integrity, detail and high standards of quality, but also with humility that nothing is around here for long.  Soon stuff gets stuffed in the attic or thrown away.  The most important and enduring elements of our life last beyond our human frame and physical surroundings.  The most important elements of our design are that of spirit, love and energy.
Keep those dear and they’ll last forever.

 have a good weekend and enjoy your family and friends.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Suger Pie Honey Bunch

Lamont Dozier (of Holland-Dozier-Holland fame) wrote this song in 1965. It was made famous by the Four Tops and hooray for Mowtown hit factory, pop music and all that...

What's interesting (I think) about this song is that the pressure inflicted on the song writers of the time was so immense that every ounce of inspiration was being exhausted.  So where then does inspiration come?

Dozier tells the story of his father and how he ran a boutique/hair dressers and was a bit of a ladies man at the door way. He'd great his regular customers with 'Sugar Pie' and 'Hello Honey Bunch' and Dozier growing up would hear this and have stick in the deep recesses of his mind and memory.

Like everything we get exposed to, our mind records it all.  It's always recording like a tape player (remember them?) and the red light never goes off.  If we keep revisiting the same material, we're essentially over recording the same tune and our minds aren't much of a useful ideas centre. That's a comment for another time.

The point I make on this occasion is that before you search for inspiration for your next idea, look no further than the deep recesses of your mind.  It might take a while for something to bubble up, but I promise there is a gem there.

I'm not a song writer but I imagine I’d have a few lyrics if I wanted to tell a story on life by weaving the lamentations of my Dad into the narrative!

I do facilitate ideas sessions though and everything that people say has the potential to unlock and idea.  It's just a question of getting relaxed enough to share and not judging anything you were once told. Having a great idea is also about playing with something that’s been sitting in your head for a while.  Listen to what it’s saying and soon you’ll hear the song...

Suger Pie Honey Bunch... you know that I love you... (catchy eh?)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Dont pass anything by your grandmother...

I worked in an agency once were we had the 'mum' test or the 'granny test'.

The idea being you ran copy or current client briefs past your granny and if she couldn't understand what was being expressed or written, then your content needed a revisit.

For me that equation doesn’t add up.

Most grannies – especially my own at 90 – are more than literate, have acquired vast amounts of knowledge and understanding of the world during their lifetime and have of course developed quite an extraordinary vocabulary being able to drop words like apostasy and encomium into sentences without pausing for breath.

I’ve confidence that every granny can hoover up the bullet points on our slide decks and correct our use of apostrophe at the same time.

We shouldn’t be arrogant to ask the rest of the world to catch up with our marketing or internal comms. It’s our duty to use our intelligence and rubric to appeal to the world. Given the average age of our supermarket reader is 11 – yes, 11 – words and terms such as leverage, going forward, ring fence, sanitise, strategic have no place in any written form between us let alone pushed into the world.

If the shift from email to tweets is true then why waste our 140 character space on those words... we should perhaps ask our grannies to write it for us.

Friday, 8 July 2011

why a 'professional' isn't something we should aspire to be

Spent a great deal of my time with people this week who describe themselves as 'professional'. This is either in the literature of the business, websites or in their language.

I hate the word.

It doesn't mean anything.

A guy came round my house once to fit the carpets. He had 'professional' on the side of the van and did shit job.
My solicitor describes their service as professional - they are constantly sending me the wrong paper work or missing the details I need right now.
The 'friendly and professional' service I was promised by my ISP wasn't either.
The trust fund I rang up earlier in the week who described their service as 'professional' couldn't help me on the phone as the password I read out from the letter THEY SENT ME wasn't on their system and it was up to me to write in to them and explain why...!

I don’t want to be a professional it means doing all I can to follow procedure, work to rule, follow the process, sit on the fence, avoid confrontation, hold back opinion, apologise for things out of my control or hold back in point of view.

Professionals don’t stand for anything.
It’s a brand that’s lost its meaning and impact.
It’s unimaginative, boring, dull, safe, compliant, stale and chaste.

For me it’s a hygiene factor. It’s like advertising a gas oven as safe.  I expect it to be safe without question in the same way I expect a car to have wheels and a house a front door.  Some things go without mention.

Being ‘professional’ isn’t something that attracts me or will catch my eye.

Go bang a desk.
Go have a point of view.
Go love someone.
Do something!

But don’t be a professional.