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Being a really good planner is an occupational hazard
I’ve got a lot of words and text for ya this week. Sorry.
I cant remember if I’ve talked about this here before– but this came up recently and it felt worth unpacking.
Someone asked if I liked my job.
I replied that that I like the idea of my job.
(Of my career, not I’m not talking about any one agency).
In “How to Think Like a Fish” by Jeremy Wade (of River Monsters fame), Wade talks about his job being made up of different phases.
Deciding on a target. He and his team will decide that they want to try and catch a certain fish in a specific part of the world. Once a fish is picked, the most important step is deciding on a target location. There are obviously more than one lake or body of water that have the fish they are looking for, but they have to pick a destination.
Research. He’ll then do months of research into that fish. Pulling from expected and unexpected sources. Local rumors as well as government data.
He goes fishing. When he’s fishing, he is in charge. Not because he’s the best fisherman in the world, but because he put in months of work ahead of time.
So he calls the shots.
And if he doesn’t catch anything, other than a few misses here or there, his show will be cancelled.
A few things he talks about that I think are relevant to planning:
How to recognize that you may be in the right place at the wrong time.
The importance of deciding on a target location when there are obviously more than one lake or body of water that have the fish they are looking for.
What I want is the chance to truly understand what I’m after– to dissect the problem, and then use that knowledge to go catch some big ass metaphorical fish.
The idea of my job is to get to the bottom of a problem. To see things in new ways. To learn a lot in a little amount of time and then put that knowledge to use. To go hunt down some strategy river monsters.
And if I’m wrong too often, the “show” gets cancelled. But at least research inform action/choice
But instead, it seems that the job has become just the holding of the fishing rod. To stretch the metaphor, most scenarios feel like I’m knee deep in a fast moving river, ignoring the research I’ve done and instead being yelled at from the shore– casual observers debating over where we should drop the lure.
A new mantra.
A Few choice exerpts from this conversation with Richard Rumelt on his new book “The Crux”
“When you compete to be the best, you imitate. When you compete to be unique, you innovate. In business, multiple winners can thrive and coexist. You don’t have to annihilate your competition. While imitation creates a race to the bottom, innovation promotes healthy competition and economic growth.
In that way, business is like the performing arts, not war. In the performing arts there are many entertaining singers and actors, each with a distinct style. The more talented and differentiated performers there are, the more the arts flourish.
This is the essence of positive-sum competition.”
“Well, how should you actually get a group of smart people to do strategy?" And my first insight into this is that you start with challenges, not with goals.”
Using humor to teach kids helps them remember the subject better.
Yes. There are cases where, you know, some kind of clever insight is the big deal. But usually, there's an organizational impediment that's keeping the company from employing its full competitive strength. Or there's an internal politic..
Still, you can't increase sales by osmosis. Likes, loves, and affinity can contribute to a brand's success but too many brands have made it the endgame of their marketing efforts.
Long time horizons aren’t just psychological. They’re cultural. Modern society suffers from temporal exhaustion. Or as, sociologist Elise Boulding once said: “If one is mentally out of breath all the time from dealing with the present, there is no energy left for imagining the future.”
Multitasking is simply fake productivity.
Here’s a thing that I think is wrong. Apathy is a result of one’s ability to have control, not skill or challenge.
Clients be like: Its a super simple assignment”
“The things that move us forward vs the things that hold us back”
Don’t think about how to incentivize someone. Instead, remove frictions.
“Frictions are buried. Uncovering requires understanding other people”
This is fun and counter intuitive at face value:
Which placard would you expect to be more successful?
“Please don’t write on the bathrooms walls”
“under no circumstances should you write on the bathroom wall.”
The former is more effective
Throwing humor in at the end of a sales pitch increases odds of purchase by 18%
the world is a theatre of envy, where, like mimes, we imitate other people’s desires.
Babies’ interest in a particular toy has less to do with the toy itself and more to do with the fact that the other babies desire the toy. As soon as one child desires the toy, so do the others.
(and we’re all still babies in this regard)
Oh hey, ya made it to the end.
As a thank you here is my dropbox folder of “Newsletter Material" before I switched to using are.na (which I am constantly adding to if you ever want to browse random strat clippings).
Sneak Peek of something to come…