Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The boss is no longer the Caesar


I came across this short but illuminating speech by Scott Cook, Intuit’s founder.

He gives very interesting suggestions on how bosses can help create a culture of innovation within an organization. Following are some of the gems from his speech.

“Boss’s role is not that of Caesar making decisions, but to put in a system where junior people can learn from faster and cheaper experiments, so that ideas can prove themselves.”

“Move decision making from politics and power-points to enabling ideas to prove themselves. Nothing enfranchises innovators more than this.”

He stresses that this approach can work in formulating government policies as much as helping companies launch new ideas/products. The examples in his speech amply demonstrate this.

You might think that in the digital environment, like for example in a digital agency, the culture of low-cost and fast experimentation is all pervasive. Nothing can be further from the truth than that.

Testing an idea with low-cost or no-cost experiments almost never happens. Somehow the mindset of ‘big campaigns’ with ‘big budgets’ always comes into play, even in the digital space. In fact, the client is a willing accomplice to this. But this big budget does not translate to bigger fees as far as agencies are concerned. Digital agencies, for the most part, live in penury when compared to their mainline agency cousins.

I guess, we are in the mesozoic stage of digital evolution in India. Let the dinosaurs roam.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Did Hitchcock script this moment?

“I am to provide the public with beneficial shocks.” - Hitchcock

I love the term ‘beneficial shocks’. Wasn’t that the case in the brilliantly plotted moment seen above? In true Hitchcock style, there was unexpectedness and drama that magnified the tension for the unsuspecting victims (and audience). The tension was released by bottles of beer…er…the brand. A brand moment brand managers would die for.

 BTW, I might be wrong about Hitchcock. Could it have been Woody Allen who scripted this?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's right to be wrong


The beautiful thought above is credited to Paul Arden.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people practiced the above thought? The predictable and banal approach to all aspects of our lives - government policies, business, marketing, brand campaigns - are as a result of our aversion to taking risks. The world needs creative solutions to overcome challenges that seem to be cropping up at every corner.

But then, isn’t it asking for a bit too much from this world?

We worship at the altar of success and all its trappings, especially the material kind. One cannot afford to be seen as being wrong. Therefore, folks in the government or in the corporate world or in their personal lives resort to CYA (Cover Your A*se). 

The result - “the other guy is to blame”. Some hapless soul is made the fall-guy and everyone returns home happy while renewing a new cycle of the same mistake.

Am I right or wrong?      

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dead Horse Theory

You see dead horses being flogged almost all the time in the agency business. It is also a known fact that this disease is prevalent all around us, in every field.

I have copied below a brilliant satire based on this(via) You can share it with your client whenever they want to do ‘something disruptive’ or pin it alongside your agency's mission statement that talks of integration and brands or have a hearty chuckle when you realize that this is what your government has been doing all along. Here goes....

Tribal wisdom of Dakota Indians: when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, your best strategy is to dismount.

However, in business and in Government, more advanced strategies are often employed such as:

  • Buying a stronger (and more expensive) whip.
  • Changing riders.
  • Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  • Arranging trips to other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
  • Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
  • Reclassifying the horse as living-impaired.
  • Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
  • Harnessing several dead horses together to increase efficiency.
  • Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horses performance.
  • Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horses performance.
  • Declaring that the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than some live horses.
  • Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
         …and of course:

  • Promoting dead horse to a supervisory position.

Thursday, January 12, 2012



'Inspired' is the word used by creative types in place of 'steal'. But then "it's is where you take them to" that matters. It is then that people automatically know whether it was 'inspired' or 'stolen'. Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Do not covet your ideas

(Courtesy via)

Every time I am asked to sign an NDA, I feel like a Luddite. The scholars of the ancient world did not file for copyrights. They shared their knowledge for all of us to enjoy and benefit. They would have been happy with the thoughts mentioned in the poster above. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The rules of a creator's life

(Courtesy via)

I love this poster. Rule number 4 resonates a lot with me these days. There very few places in this world (and more so in India) that knows how to make 'work into play'. I hope one day I am able to create a place that puts this simple rule into practice...er...play.

Happy New Year!