Needed: A Bias for Action!

Needed: A Bias for Action!
A small tweak, with due permission from Issac Newton ” every action has an equal and opposite action “.
We assume that enterprise excellence is something that we can define, analyse, plan for and them maintain in perpetuity. With every turn of the business wheel, we fancy that we now understand the One & True Lasting Thing that will distinguish a good idea from a bad one, a winning strategy from a dud.
Indeed, we labour still under the delusion that the key to winning is….the right strategy. But, what we have to learn is that ‘ excellence ‘ is not something that we can ‘ envision ‘ or  ‘ plan ‘ aheadWe create it as we go along. Then blow it up, and start anew.
Simply put, the search for excellence is…never-ending, ever-shifting. How do we ‘stick to our knitting‘ when one form of ‘knitting‘ after another unravels? You are sprinting, only to be standing in the same place.
The absence of a bias for action remains the biggest problem for large organisations. They simply Think too much. Plan too much. Meet too much. And accomplish too little.
It is an Age of Perpetual and Accelerating Transience. ” Permanence ” is a myth, it is dead. All the basic principles of business are up for grabs. We have got to play as it lays. We’ve got to make it up as we go along.
A little bit of re-emphasizing here: Of course we need Analytics(Desperately). Of course we need some Metrics(Desperately). We need to understand the power of Data(Desperately). But, like All Good Things, ..the ‘ analytics ‘ and ‘ abstractions ‘ have come to subsume the Real World of the living, breathing, emotional, complaining customer.
Companies would be extra keen to re invent their way of doing business. And there is an increasing need for a new breed of intellectual capital to make that happen.
At ISD Global we are getting ready to throw our hat in the ring. Are you biased for action?
ENDS
 
 
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It’s a time to Re-Imagine!

Time to Re Imagine Business! And the time is now. As they say, ” The future is already here, but it is a tad unevenly distributed ‘.

It’s a new world of business. So, isn’t it time to ring out the old and bring in the new? A new mandate has to enter the fray.

Can we shake free of the past? Including(yes definitely) past successes! Can we re imagine an entirely new way of doing business?

Could we stop using these two traditional phrases( I will tell you why):

” Push the envelope “

” Think outside the box “

The problem with both the above(other than their gross overuse) is:

Both suggest that there is an intact envelope or a sturdy box from whose known (and identified borders) we can step out from. But remember:

The envelope is already torn and crumpled..and

The box has been run over by a speeding trailer truck.

So, the task at hand is to:

Think “Weird“, however weird it may sound..be wired for it!

(Re)think ” excellence “

Re-Imagine ” leadership “

Get strange. Did you know that the No 1 source of innovation is ‘ pissed off ‘ people ? People who just cannot tolerate the mundane, the silly, the mediocre that is happening around them. That’s the origin of the best innovation you can ever lay your hands on. So, go ahead and seek pissed off people! HR, are you listening?

Fire the planners. Hire the freaks.

An “excessive cult of the consumer“- ” customer driven” also means being slave to demographics, market research and focus groups. So, ‘listening to customers ‘ might just be the No 1 sin in marketing...

Turn the cliched phrase on its head. ‘The customer is always right‘ to ‘ The customer is always late ‘-

Who wanted Post It Notes? Nobody for a dozen years till 3M ‘ wrote ‘ history and we still keep ‘posting’.

Who wanted Fax Machines? Nobody for the longest time till a ‘ critical mass ‘ of users came along.

Who wanted CDs? Nobody or atleast none of us who had just been through the transformation from phonograph records to tapes. Then the kids started using CDs and the awesome quality of sound made us go Ka-boom!

In the words of Doug Atkin, a partner at Merkley Newman Harty: ” These days you can’t succeed as a company if you’re consumer led-because in a world of constant change, consumers can’t anticipate the next big thing. Companies should be idea-led and consumer-informed”

It’s time to re-imagine. At ISD Global we are constantly trying to be as future ready as possible, driven by the weird, motivated by the untried and fuelled by no fear. To generate ideas that can transform businesses and thereby quality of human life.

Your time starts now. The clock is ticking!

ENDS

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Marketing the new ‘Terms ‘ of endearment

Marketing the New ‘Terms’ of Endearment

Over the years, tried and oft used terms in the world of business and marketing have transcended convention. We seem to be in a perennial state of having to come to terms with these terms. Here is the term sheet on that.

Brand Owners, Advertisers and Marketers were once cosy with ‘ Mass Market ‘. Try and reach the maximum audience numbers through mass media. A lot of the times it was about Spray and Pray. Mass Market transitioned to ‘ Mass Customisation ‘ which went beyond one size fits all to one size fitting some. With the advent of Artificial IntelligenceMachine Learning and Data Science, we are now in an era of the ‘ Customer Segment of One ‘, where one individual as an audience is targeted with high degree of precision and success.

The disclaimers have been turned on its head as well. What used to be common place was a term going as ‘ Caveat Emptor ‘ which essentially was to say buyers beware. The entire onus and risk on buying a product or service was all on the buyer/end user. Now, in an over commoditised world, where we have moved on from push and control to pull and engage, where top down has given way to bottom up marketing, what is evident is ‘ Caveat Venditor ‘, where the accountability and responsibility rests fully on the seller. The wheel has gone a full circle.

Not until long ago, brands and their marketing plans were etched out keeping demographic groups in mind. A pre decided age group with a certain buyer persona was carved out and communication was created to influence and impact that community. The universe has changed dramatically. Brand marketers have now started addressing mindsets which throws conventional wisdom out of the window. As they have now begun to chant, RIP Demographics!

Consumer aspirations have taken a twist as well. Yesteryears we had all marketing and communication created to induce brand ownership. With so much millennial consumption happening, the entire paradigm has now shifted to owning experiences. The new brand mantra for marketers is CeX(Customer Experience) and the City. Ownership is passe, experience is the new aspiration.

Remember those days when the quintessential manna from heaven was ‘ brand loyalty ‘. Coveted, treasured, revered. Loyalty was royalty. In an era of surplus of goods, information, choices, services and a deficit of trust, attention and resources, ‘ customer infidelity ‘ has replaced loyalty. Cheaper, better, faster? Here we shift loyalties!

We were just coming to terms with the ‘ knowledge economy ‘ as it moved on from the  ‘ Industrial Economy ‘and before we knew it we were bang in the middle of the ‘sharing/collaborative economy‘. The dust had hardly settled on that and now the entire attention is rooted on the ‘ attention economy ‘. In an age of perennial distraction, attention is the new premium.

Since advent of marketing, and the quest for differentiation, the narrative has revolved around a USP(Unique Selling Proposition). That feature or benefit which makes your brand distinct or unique from other competitors in the eco system.Then came the not so holy communion onslaught- the SOS- Sea of Sameness. Nothing unique, nothing distinct, the herd mentality, the also ran, the me too. Which prompted our research at ISD Global to discover what we have come to label as UFP- Unique Feelings Proposition– where state of the heart is what brands are appealing to win trust, loyalty, mind and wallet space.

Am sure we will have more to chew on as the intersection of consumer behaviour, rapid evolution of technology and the ever changing socio economic landscape will throw up more perspectives that we have to come to terms with. Till then, au revoir.

ENDS

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Is brand Apple no longer the apple of everyone’s I ?

‘I’ don’t know-hence I have some some questions about the most valuable brand in the world..

a) Is the Apple era over? Have they moved on from ‘ ground breaking and game changing ‘ to ‘ incremental fixes ‘ ? Sounds audacious but it does beg the question.

b) Have they missed the bus virtually in the Smart Speaker space in reference to Amazon & Google? With their Alexa and Assistant respectively. Though they were the true blue innovator with Siri ages ago and had a great shot at dominating the ‘ living room & kitchens ‘, they seem to be caught in no man’s land as of now. Should they have considered this space more Siriously? (Pardon the pun). As one of the most valuable brands in the world, don’t they want their ‘ share of voice ‘?

c) Should they be getting into Content Creation? They have the cash to do it but do they have the culture and the will still? Should they look at acquiring someone like an HBO or other smart acquisitions to hit the ground running? Where does Apple TV fit into all of this?

d) Have they moved on from a culture of Innovation and R&D being their biggest asset a decade ago to a huge pile of cash being their biggest asset today?

In a world of FAANG, is it still A for Apple? A for Answer is what I am looking for! What will the Doctor order to not keep the Apple away?

Ends

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A New Thought for School; a New School of Thought?

A New Thought for School; a New School of Thought?

In a world that demands continuous re imagination for a creative and self reliant age, here could be a clarion call to transform the present day school system. The rant(brilliantly put out by the mercurial Tom Peters) goes thus:-

From Teach-to-Test TO Teach to Quest

From Developing Facts TO Developing Talent

From SAT Prep(Think ‘multiple choice’) TO WOW Project(Think ‘individual choice’)

From Fetishing Generic ‘ standards ‘ TO Honoring Individual Creativity

From Quiet classrooms TO Noisy classrooms

From School as Factory with focus on ‘units ‘ TO School as Studio with focus on Uniqueness

From turning out Docile workers TO Building up Creative ‘ talent ‘

From Obedience as key virtue TO Initiative as key virtue

From Teaching to a Standard ‘norm'(Lowest Common Denominator) TO Teaching to a Standard of ‘excellence'(Highest Possible Achievement)

From a Focus on Similarities TO Focus on Differences

From Testing for ‘Intelligence'(singular) TO Teaching for ‘Intelligences'(multiple)- Mr Howard Gardner, there you have your say!

From Math & English domination TO Art and Music thriving

ENDS

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Con Tricks:Marketing Pros with their Cons..

I have been at the crossroads the past few weeks wondering what is the biggest marketing con job in the past few decades. After careful distilling, zeroed in on these three:-

Red Wine: With all of it’s anti oxidant properties spiel, filled enough guilt to ensure your heart reaches out to it. As for me, not so much the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. I prefer Red Wine of the Neil Diamond variety.

Dhanteras: The compelling quest amongst many of us Indians for heavy metal- read ‘ jewellery ‘. The DAY to MUST buy, or else all sanctity will break loose. To me, if it’s heavy metal, give me Iron Maiden or Jethro Tull or Scorpion, any day.My Doors are open.

Valentine’s Day: 1 Day in the year when we get a Notification to drop everything else and express love.A reminder that there is a remainder. Do you see RED with this? What happened the other 364 Days? In an always on world, shouldn’t love be always on?

Take your pick. Or if you are piqued, feel free to disagree.

Just as I finish writing this post my good friend Goswami called from Calcutta wishing Happy Ballantine’s Day! Did not want to dampen his spirit and tell him that my taste lies elsewhere!

ENDS

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A change of place..

For all the weight watchers, here is some Fed Talk:

“If your weight is 100 kgs on Earth, its only 68 Kgs on Mars and only 16 Kgs on the Moon”.

​So, if you want to be the next Martian(sorry Matt Damon) or be over the moon, don’t change the diet, change the planet maybe!

For all those in the quest of ‘ I need my space ‘, get set to take off! We can get the numbers cracked later. Till then we call it SpaceX!

ENDS

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Selective love!

Have a couple of thoughts to share. Hope you don’t snigger at the first one:

1. You would have seen the Snickers commercial on TV saying ” You are not you when you are hungry “- but I am always hungry, so what does that make me? Hungry young man? Perhaps I should ask Dominos. Or Big B?

2. I know in a a couple of days time love will be in the air, hair and everywhere (with so much of it being carefully hoarded and unused the rest of the 364 days only to pour out in an unabashed raging premium torrent on the 14th Feb)- anyway without using too much air time I wanted to know

” Can’t it be Rose,Rose aankhon thaley ? ” Why does it have to be only on the 14th Feb? For the love of me, I just can’t seem to understand..perhaps Valentine would!

ENDS

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The rock star in us!

I have heard that there is a rock star in all of us. And given my naivete, coupled with the power of collective bias, tribal mentality and social validation, decided to give Jimi Hendrix(RIP) a complex. Needless to say, my chosen instrument of expression was the Air Guitar(though the drums made a lot of noise to get my attention).

Only to realise that you cannot pretend to play the Air Guitar.They don’t come with strings attached​! Dire Straits, here I come.(But surely I was not expecting money for nothing or chicks for free!).

Once again, I was out of tune. Nevertheless, I plan to come back.This time with rock solid determination. 

Hasta manana till we string again! Till then, Rock On!

ENDS

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Generation Text!

I had enough (considerate) people taking me for a ride, and since change, as they say is the only constant, decided to take myself for a ride.I thought it would be appropriately urban of me to add to the ridership of the Metro.

The train was crowded but I was lucky to get a seat. It didn’t take me too long to realise that I was the only person in the compartment reading a book rather than starting at a device and a small screen- a striking singularity that should have provided enough material evidence about where I fit in demographically these days..but then, I have always tempted fate!

The teenager sitting opposite me was texting away furiously with blinding speed(now I know the typos and the passionate need for being grammatically incorrect).Probably he had a train to catch??

Autumn had made its seasonal fall but with an unusual warmth- so a lot of people in the compartment wore half sleeves- and it didn’t take too long for me to realise that most of them didn’t wear a wristwatch. In a digitell (or digital) era, I suppose, analogue watches and clocks are no longer part of the dialogue. So the next time you instruct your millennial kid ‘ turn it clockwise or anti clockwise ‘, you will know exactly why wiser counsel may have to prevail. So watch it!

As I disembarked on reaching downtown, what I was not up for was to think ‘ Are we riders of the lost arc? ‘ Time will tell..

ENDS

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