Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Your own ideas are always better

Creative people don't respond well to enterprise level systems and color-coded filing. We don't do too well with org charts and direct reporting grids. And we surely are awful at doing time sheets! Hopeless. And the real creative doesn't really care what her title is - does she? The person in the room with the best idea has the most status at that moment - whatever their title, whatever their age.

To learn what choices exist for my creative-business clients, I have been looking at coaching and self-help sites. I reacted really badly to a lot of the false enthusiasm I saw - and to acronyms - especially acronyms. What is it with acronyms?

Here's one of mine:
SWOTWA Stop Wasting Our Time With Acronyms.

And another.
FAME: Fatuous Acronyms Make Enemies

Got any others?

The one proven way to help a creative person is to help them figure out their own answers for themselves. We all know that someone else's idea is never a hit - until it becomes your own idea - then it is the smartest thing since whatever. I know that's how it works for me and that's how it works for pretty much every creative person I have worked with.

It's not manipulation - you help them to find a better answer - or a better way of doing things. (and I am sorry to say if they find an acronym helpful - well it will have to come from them - and they are welcome to it. Though LSMFT worked pretty well on the poor misguided smokers of the world. Look it up!)

So give creative people respect and help them to solve it themselves. Create a good environment, excite them, nurture and guide them and together we'll conquer the world.

Anyone for Hubris?

I have been reading David Owen's fascinating and terrifying book about hubris. It hits pretty close to home to many of us who have worked in creative businesses.

Dr Owen, a British politician and medical doctor, tells that the Greeks developed the notion of a hubristic act: one in which a powerful figure, puffed up with overweening pride and self-confidence, treated others with insolence and contempt. They seem to get kicks from using their power to treat others in this way. Plato told us that the young and the wealthy are given to insulting people because it make them feel superior. Philosopher David Cooper describes it as "an "up yours!" attitude."

Owen says hubris is an occupational hazard for leading politicians and businessmen. It feeds on the isolation that often builds up around them. The point is often reached when they are no longer living in the same world as the organization they lead. (Anyone you work with come to mind?)

Leaders do need to show decisiveness rather than hesitation, doubt and vacillation; but that leadership needs to carry trust, and this is usually lost when the leader crosses that borderline between decisive and hubristic leadership.
And without trust the ship will sink.

Ever come across anything like this in your work? How did you deal with it? By the way according to Owen, it turns out that hubris is very often exacerbated by some other disease or by medications taken for other reasons.

He tells us "it may be that hubristic syndrome never has a medical cure, but it is becoming even clearer that as much or even more than conventional illness, it is a great menace to the quality of leadership."

Crisis - or opportunity

I went to Indonesia for three weeks - and look what happened. Fannie and Freddie and Sarah and Lehman and Merrill and AIG - whatever next?

I just got a note from a friend I stayed with on Bali - she's an economist and a very smart woman: "Just in time for a Wall St crisis, lucky you! You can have the adrenalin, I'll take the mangoes. cheers!"

But we can't just sit by and fret. Careers don't stop. Cash still needs to flow in our businesses. The spoils will go to the people who take this opportunity to get their acts together and polish them, the people who review what they are good at and what their clients need and find just the right way to build their creative businesses. They'll find ways to streamline operations and focus marketing, and they'll reevaluate what is working and what is not and act accordingly.

But don't panic - you don't have to do this all alone. If you'd like someone experienced and objective to help you through this process and give you the impetus to build your creative business or career - that's exactly what we do. Drop us a line and schedule a free consultation to see how we can help you.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Things I heard at Web 2.0 Expo

Some things wise, some provocative, some opaque.

"When designing software, think of it as an object. Does it have sharp edges? Is it soft or hard? Can you see through it?"

"Design your program as if you were curating it. Don't put in features unless they really belong and make it better. A room containing all the art in the world is not a museum, it's a warehouse."

"Please don't keep doing your job if it doesn't make you happy. You can lose just as much money being happy as being unhappy."

The brand experience is the aftertaste you have from an encounter with the brand."

"TV syndication rates for shows have fallen to 25% of what they were due to Internet/Bittorrent viewing."

"When you talk to clients about metrics for "new media", you have to start by talking to them about their old ways of measuring, and then explain how the new way is better."

"The Grand Gesture is dead." I heard this whole presentation and cannot explain it to you. But I did get introduced to this wonderful clip of Sid Caesar arguing to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.