Friday, 26 October 2012

One step closer to the motor cycle ash tray...

In 1850, we held a Great Exhibition.  Historians go on that it was a big deal. Far from it.  Nothing showed the rest of the world how badly we misunderstood design than a greenhouse in Hyde Park full of shit. Social designers laughed at our purposely made decoration and from that point on the adage of 'form follows function' became a core aspect of good design lectures.
It would appear 150ish years later, we break the rules at last!

Saw this jacket in a shop this week.  Reflective Camouflage.  I’m trying to work out what part gets compromised.
Is it the reflective part and in wearing the jacket on a dark night along a stretch of highway, you’re feeling safe in the knowledge that the surface reflects the headlights of an oncoming truck OR is it the camouflage which, had it not been for it’s easy-to-spot qualities, this jacket would be standard issue for all Navy Seals...
Black ring necked, ipad holding, latte drinking south banker designer types take note: a good idea, it appears, need not obey the rule form to follow funtion.  This jacket is just over £700.00.  If you want one, follow the link: 
have a good weekend - it gets dark soon.

Friday, 19 October 2012

STOP using Apple as an example of innovation - BORING!!!!!!!

Can we STOP using Apple, Steve Jobs or Google as examples of great business and leaders and think of something more original please.

I have lost count of the number of times those companies and that individual has been cited in presentations.
It’s now got to the point that if unfortunately someone is presenting to me and one of the two subjects I’ve just mentioned come up, I tend to just drift off and think about something else.
Especially when people quote SJ or his philosophy – like they met at a dinner party once...
If I were interviewing folk for a job and asked them to give examples of creative companies or innovative products and they mentioned Apple or an ipod, I wouldn’t give them a job. I’d show them the door.
Citing Apple shows:
Lack of imagination and research on your part. Has there been nothing in the last few decades that isn’t as astonishing, clever, brutal, brilliant, or elegant as that company?
Laziness. No-one’s going to disagree with your point of view as you’ve plenty of advocates to support your observations and opinion. In fact some witty journalist has done all the hard work for you, all you need do is take a screen shot and a quote and away you go.
Lack of creative thinking. If innovation is all about technical stuff – fine, there’s more to life than battery powered handhelds... if innovation is about commercial profit, think laterally people! Consider the utter genius who put ‘rinse and repeat’ on the side of a shampoo bottle and doubled sales over night without changing product, packaging, production line or distribution channels. How about the guy who took the second strike strip off the Bryant and May matchbox and reduced the cost of box production and thus increased profitability. that ain't neat?
A very limited ability to synthesise material. Say you work in plastics manufacture, pharmaceutical or logistics. You’ve a tough job right? You’ve enough on your plate to manage. Then your boss (or a latte drinking consultant in jeans – like me) turns up and says “we need to think a bit more like google around here. I’ve got some stories...” please!
Don’t try and be any other business but your own.
Do it brilliantly and love what you do and THAT will be the thing that your customers and clients love about you.
Disagree and think I’m talking bunk – good for you. Join the masses who talk a good game and focus on definitions and descriptions.
Meanwhile the team and I will continue to have ideas with our clients.
That’s what we do and there’s no pictures or posters of Steve Jobs on our wall when we do it.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Kylie Minogue and the genius of lost time.

There is a rumour/urban myth within the music industry (and I’ve checked on this with the folk I know in said circles) that Kylie Minogue’s  first UK hit “I should be so lucky” was written very fast – we’re talking somewhere between 10 to 30mins...
The story goes that Stock, Aitken + Waterman, had completely forgotten about Kylie’s first visit to the UK and on arrival at their studio, she sat in their foyer whilst they quickly dug out the keyboards and the sampling machine and threw together the song. Kylie admits herself that coming from the world of t.v., she treated the lyrics like a script and sang into the mike as directed. The song was recorded in a few takes and off she flew from Heathrow at the end of the day. It happened that fast.
I love the story. I know you’ll have a few anecdotes yourself.
Learning here is this: Having little time IS NOT an issue when it comes to solving problems; it can sometimes be a blessing.
When time is tight your brain doesn’t move any faster. It’s always moving fast.  Normally however you’ve got time to consciously judge stuff. When time is tight, there is no room for conscious processing; that’ll waste what moments you do have. It’s time to relax and allow your subconscious processing to surface. All the time it’s moving super fast and making decisions without your awareness. It knows EXACTLY what’s’ going on. It’s the greatest resource you have so the trick is to allow it to show you...
Let’s look at Kylie’s song. Stock, Aitken + Waterman had written songs by the dozen. They had a strong back catalogue of successes and thousands of hours between them crafting lyrics and melodies. The collective and individual power of their mind when it came to ‘writing a song’ was without question. Whether you like their style isn’t the issue here. They could write and had got something that worked for them just as well as Lennon and McCartney – it was just on this occasion they cut out the crap and nailed a song in 20mins.
Time is always going to pass. So it’s up to you on how you feel about it.
“Not having enough time” is a judgement. It programmes your brain into thinking about what it can’t do. And guess what -  you can’t do it!
Try “we’ve got this amount of time and let’s make the best of it”. It’s a simple shift in perspective but it’s worth keeping in mind. A shorter amount of time gets your subconscious surfacing and as a result you:
·         Cut out the crap – you’ll go for what matters. They’ll be lots of that 80/20 rule kicking in but you’ll also experience genius moments of insight and idea creation as your subconscious brings forth the wonderment of your mind in seconds rather than hours.
·         You’ll make decisions better – see above
·         You’ll experiment better and try things out for the first time. Let’s face it, if there isn’t enough time for the ‘normal’ way of doing things, then a new approach will have more of a chance. For example – ever thought about NOT typing up a proposal and simply binding your notes together along with all the roughs? Alec Issigonis designed the mini on a napkin –what’s good enough for him...
·         You’ll have way more fun. If you want to kill a project, do it slowly!
Don’t however GIVE YOURSELF less time. An engineered false deadline isn’t the same energetically as having a real deadline. I’ve seen lots of bad advice being given framed as ‘create a sense of urgency’ to get the best out of people.  Seriously, don’t do that.
I write this with a few important pitches to prepare for the next few weeks. Only I haven’t that luxury of time as I’m committed to other projects. Thus my weekend and evenings are the only time I have – so I take all of my own advice.
I also remind myself to have fun with it.
So you do the same when the ‘time’ issue comes up again.
Sorry it was a long blog.
I hadn’t time for a shorter one.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

the trouble with Einstein...

Einstein said:
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

I love this quote as it neatly sums up a three day workshop on having ideas. That all said, reading the quote doesn’t give you the capability to execute its message.  Only trial and error, reflection, feedback will grow your confidence to do so time and again.

3 days out of the office won’t necessarily tick all the boxes.

But then we don’t need 3 days either.

The best learning is visceral. That’s why I remember the wise words from Grandparents and favorite teachers etc. they stuck with me and made a deep emotional connection.

The visceral stuff sticks.  It’s the stuff of ‘Swans break your arms if you get too close”.*

But we can’t design business development to be visceral all the time. It’s okay for intellect to do a great deal of work for us. Intellectually I don’t have to work hard to know that jumping in a bath and then throwing in a electric toaster is perhaps not the best way to start my day. Having said that, if a trainer uses such an example to land a point in the classroom – it’s a creative stretch too far!

Good design comes from finding the right blend of visceral, cerebral and indeed practical. The best practical is the real problem there and then that needs to be challenged.

Send me on a workshop where we solve pretend issues: ill come back with pretend answers. The trouble with quoting Einstein is all his answers are pretend unless we do it ourselves.Only then do we make the connections he did and only then have we truly learned.

*despite decades of scare mongering children along our river banks, there have been no known cases of anyone’s arm ever being broken by a Swan.