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The100: Siren strategies, memories & South Park

Worshipping the wrong heroes

Martin Weigel, CSO at AMV BDDO, says that strategy is in urgent need of reformation, that it has become obscured by myth, misinformation and process. 

In noting that 40% of CEO’s think their company will not be economically viable a decade from now, he states:

The inconvenient truth for those who believe that strategy’s primary working method and tool is research is that there is no data about the future. By its very nature all data is from the past. Seductive though that subjectivity-and-human-free proposition might be for some, we cannot simply analyse our way to a desired future. The only way we can get our hands on and engage with the future is to imagine it. So before it is anything else, strategy is the very human act of imagination. ‘Seeing’ what does not yet exist. Seeing things as they could be. As we would want them to be.` 

Shall I remember that for you?

To what extent does your company value memory? 

Giles Turnbull has this to say:

So much information is tacit: it sits in our heads. We become the people that colleagues come to when there’s a question about X. “Oh yeah, so-and-so knows about that – ask them.” And when we leave, the information is lost. Because there’s so little emphasis on making it explicit. On writing things down.

We’ve been addressing this at Watch Me Think: as well as using Slack (a great way for capturing history), we also have a shared Google Photos folder, and document a huge amount of what we do / have done using Google Drive. And looking back at the way we used to do proposals, or projects etc. is also quite motivating… and quite scary. 

Do you work the tool, or does the tool work you?

Benedict Evans looks at AI and the automation of work and, as always, it’s clear and brilliant, starting with what new technology means:

New technology generally makes it cheaper and easier to do something, but that might mean you do the same with fewer people, or you might do much more with the same people. It also tends to mean that you change what you do. To begin with, we make the new tool fit the old way of working, but over time, we change how we work to fit the tool.

Hopes, dreams, fears and insecurities

I enjoyed Stuart Knapman’s thoughts on the renaissance of qual which he attributes in part to a renewed enthusiasm for getting closer to real lives, to emotion. Stuart says qual:

Unearths really powerful emotion in the apparently mundane

Which I like. I then asked the Watch Me Think team about it and one said:

Our job isn’t to make the client happy, it’s to make them better.

I like that even more. 

Peter Totman also explored some of the key changes that have compromised the humanness of qualitative and think about ways we reverse, or at least mitigate some of the damage. Here he is on the importance of making sure your research team or agency see people as humans: 

Research bridges the gap between the commercial and real world, bringing the human perspective into a business sphere. Boundaries are important though and there is a risk of over-identifying with our clients to the extent that we begin to see participants through the business lens, as (mere) ‘consumers’.

“Should our brand use humour?”

Paddy Gilmore has hopefully devised 11 statements to help answer that question. On the same link there are some great examples of radio ads that have answered ‘yes’ to the above question. The VW one is superb. 

But / because / therefore moments

Nathan Baugh posts often on storytelling. This time he wrote about the time when South Park creators were asked ‘what makes a good story’. Their reply was genius. Essentially, if the beats of your story have ‘and then’ between them, it’s going to be boring. What you should have between beats are the words ‘but’ ‘because’ and  ‘therefore’ giving causation and impact. It is the ‘promise, progress, payoff’ structure. Love it. 

And finally

  • A man tries to make a chicken sandwich from scratch. It costs $1500 and takes him 6 months. Gold. 
  • This was a lovely trip down memory lane of what it was like before smartphones took over. A time when you’d actually organise nights out on the phone by actually speaking to people!

    You had to plan more ahead and hope it worked out. People didn’t flake as much. There’s no option to text someone 10 minutes before, because you knew they were waiting for you.

    Oh, happy days.