What I’d like to talk about, from an innovation perspective, is the very title of this day… “The Battle of Big Thinking”. A grand, awe-inspiring title, to be sure…(…and, of course, one quite intimidating to present at).
But there’s something I believe broken about the notion of ‘big thinking; it’s not helping us help clients in the world as we know it in 2009…Let’s just unpick it a little…
Large companies were modelled on the military model of doing things; it was the best way anyone had to get stuff done; top down, follow orders, don’t speak out of place…
Everyone did what the guy above them told them to. Things flowed down from the guy above you, and you told the team that reported into you. ‘Big Ideas’ are needed in this environment to flow down through the chain of command.
Which is exactly what you need for mass production – everyone playing their part in the one perfect, replicable thing you produce. Don’t argue, don’t innovate, because we’ve not got the capability to deal with the notion of it being ‘done differently’.
But if you have mass production, you need lots of people to buy the things you’re making… or you’ll pretty soon go out of businessThis is where our part in the story comes in…
Through the mass media, we distributed adverts as perfect and homogeneous as the products and services they are for…
To do this, you NEED big ideas… ideas simple and compelling enough to cascade down through the buying public…
Marketers are the generals, setting us all off on the next ‘Big Push’…
So we, as an industry, are conditioned for ‘the big push’… the one big idea we can cascade. It’s what we’ve built agency structures around, and what we (kind of) charge clients for…
It’s undoubtedly why our Big Idea industry has turned to the social model of thinking… we’re not daft, we can see the writing on the wall, and we realise that it’s where our future lies.
We’ve looked at the equation above, and realised that we are have to ‘socialise’ it to make it fit for the modern era
Hang on… you’re straying off topic, aren’t you? The Social Media section is later..?
Here’s the thing – I don’t believe that our future as an industry is solely wedded to the ‘media’ side of this equation…
I believe that there is much more value for both our clients and ourselves in looking at the production side of the equation, and thinking ‘how do we socialise this’?
Getting right inside the inner workings of a company and using our knowledge of how the world works to make it better
So not mass production; social production.Making the production of goods and services participatory, reciprocal and shared, using the same technology that’s powered the social phenomenon.
I believe it can be a blueprint for our future.
The area is HUGE… if you think just how many different systems and processes exist in our clients businesses, and how different they all are, we could be here for days. But here’s just six examples…
Think about what’s inside the box? The actual product itself…
…and of course I don’t have to highlight the trend in crowdsourcing to this room; Walkers, Marmite, Simple… the list of companies beginning to co-create products with their customers keep growing.
But there’s an interesting Australian beer called Nelson Beer which is taking it further… it’s not just a gimmick-y one off use of crowdsourcing, the whole line is continually evolved by the people who drink it. Each iteration has unique number, so you can help create and drink the beer you really want.
So say these people are drinking iteration 18. Then some say ‘it’s too hoppy’, but others say ‘it’s not hoppy enough’. Fine, then we’ll split it off again and you can all get the beer you really want.This can continue again and again, company & customer creating the exact iterations they want. And because of the way social communications works, it’s easy to keep bringing those people back into the production and consumption loop.
Secondly, move from what’s inside to what it looks like outside…
You may be aware of moo.com – a digital printing company which is revolutionising the business & greetings card industry by offering people exactly the cards they want, with as many different pictures, on a very small level run (hundreds, not thousands)… and all really cheaply too.
If you project that technology into packaging… well, no longer need everyone get the same packaging as everyone else. Pick the puzzles and games on the back of the cereal pack you want your kids to play, or include your own recipes on the back of the rice packet.
…which works beautifully as more and more people get their shopping delivered to them. You’ve included cereal in your shopping this weekedn? Sure, we’ll print up your box and ship it to you direct.
Of course, not everyone will get all their shopping delivered – we’ll still go and get shopping
But imagine you step out of work and think ‘I really fancy cooking a curry tonight’…
You find the recipe on your phone…
…and send the recipe to your fridge at home – this is the Gorenje iPod-Controlled Fridge.The fridge knows what’s in your kitchen, thanks to RFID tags, visual recognition, data from your nectar card and so on.So it tells you which five ingredients you need.
The fridge sends these details to your car’s satnav, which then talks to the various supermarkets in the area (who also know exactly what they’ve got in stock), and lets you know the cheapest option, or the fastest option according to local traffic.
It’s sometimes called ‘the internet of things’, or as Matt Jones called it, ‘Thingfrastructure’.Using technology like this will allow us to make much more efficient, smarter shopping decisions.
So, you get to a certain shop… how do you find what you want, or what you should buy?
Finding things in IKEA is a nightmare. We’ve all been, we all know.
But what if they took all the data flowing through the checkouts, and said ‘OK, let’s see which items go together’. Then displayed this data on screens instore. “This cupboard is often seen with this bed”, and so on. Then it tells you the directions to where to look at that bed.
It’s turning the ‘social network’ for people into a ‘social network’ for furniture.Or, if you prefer, ‘When Harry Met Salen’.
You’ve got the goods and services you want; now, how do you pay.
Billing, like mobile phone billing, is fundamentally boring. So why force people to look at a list of numbers with prices attached, when actually you could draw interesting social diagrams of their phone’s use… who they call most, who they should catch up with, and so on. Make it something people want to open, and look forward to.
Or go further; take all the numbers that people call, and turn it into a game. Give every customer a ‘bingo card’ on their bill every month, and then when they call certain numbers, those numbers are ticked off their bingo card.
As time progresses towards the end of the month, make suggestions about who they should call to complete their card……if they complete the card, they get entered into a prize draw, or get 5% off their next month’s bill.Customers call more people, and are happy to do so.
Finally, people have taken the products home… what happens then? How do thy share them?Well, surely this is only an issue for those people who create ‘digital content’ which can be shared. Not for people who make real objects, like cameras for instance…
Well, just wait till 3D printing kicks off in a serious way. Essentially, 3D printers make solid objects, building them up from plastics, resin or the like…
Front Design, a Swedish design group, conducted an experiment where they ‘drew’ furniture in the air, turned those into 3d CAD files, and printed the resulting furniture. But where does this technology lead us in terms of cameras..?
Well, if 3D printers can make objects, then the next thing they move onto is components.
And if you can make components, you can build more complex thingsThis is BigShot – a ‘build-your-own’ digital camera project for kids. Roughly half the components here could be produced today through 3D printing I reckon… electronics, lenses etc are a bit trickier.
…although of course Xerox have designed a kind of silver ink that means you can just print out circuit boards…
Essentially it’s all pointing to a future where physical products can be printed and assembled at home. Which means that the deign files that tell the printer what to print will be the equivalent of the mp3 file that tells your iPod what to play… which means it will be sharable.
Now, that’s just 6 thoughts. There are hundreds of things you could talk about, each driven by our very sociable nature.
But what does it mean for the Battle of Big thinking…
Very simply, the blueprint for the future is not about identifying one ‘big’ idea…
It’s about working with our clients to develop the forty or fifty great ideas through their businesses that will make the connect between them and their customers much more valuable all round.
Hang on? Why us? Why the marketing guys?
We’ve seen what ‘social’ does to an industry… we understand the driving forces of the human desire to be social. And we understand the amazing potential that is available to those who harness it.
Simply sticking to the ‘big idea’ format is not the way forward for us; sure, it’s what we’ve always done…
Our future lies in creating an ecosystem where social production is married to social media to connect people with companies in a way that benefits everyone involved.
It’s a world in which we can get excited about all the brilliant little ideas we have, and make them happen.
So please, vote for social production, and vote for a better future for us all.
the battle of big thinking<br />john v willshire, phd<br />@willsh<br />
“everyone has their place in a rank, every place defined a function, and authority flowed through a chain of command”<br />Charles Leadbeater<br />@wethink<br />From Flickr, Pete Ashton<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/peteashton/228555440/sizes/l/<br />
You’ve not talked to…<br />You talk most often to…<br />16 calls, 25 m<br />The person you call most at weekends is…<br />…for ages<br />5 calls, 24 m<br />Your most expensive buddy is…<br />…keeps you talking for hours<br />1 call, 42m<br />1 call, 32m<br />(Australia)<br />You send most text messages to…<br />74 SMS / 5 MMS<br />