What Can Creative Leaders Learn from Rockstars? (Annotated)
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What Can Creative Leaders Learn from Rockstars? (Annotated)



This is the annotated version of the original presentation, found here: http://www.slideshare.net/nanotim/re-design-2013learnfromrockstars ...

This is the annotated version of the original presentation, found here: http://www.slideshare.net/nanotim/re-design-2013learnfromrockstars

Originally presented at the RE:Design UXD Conference in Silicon Valley, 2013. Digital connections have changed the way that thoughts, feelings, and ideas move around the world, between people. Technology has also changed the very concept of a product, a service, and what marketing is. Creatives are leading more and more teams, and our various backgrounds may not have prepared us to lead.



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    What Can Creative Leaders Learn from Rockstars? (Annotated) What Can Creative Leaders Learn from Rockstars? (Annotated) Presentation Transcript

    • ROCK Stars?What CanCreativeLeadersLearnfromOriginally presented at RE:Design UXD Conference 2013
    • Hi. I’m @nanotim....and I’m very grateful to be herewith you, today.TIMRICHARDSEVP,STRATEGYAT
    • I do this.I work at a digitalagency focused onmaking marketingmore useful, andmaking products andservices morerelevant.A fair amount of mytime is spent workingto align groups ofclients and teams onstrategy and vision.The whiteboardserves this purposewell. It starts blank,then, together, we fillit. It tells a story ofthe conversation.
    • And, sometimes, I do this.I also experimentwith music in LosAngeles. I makemusic. I performmusic. It has alwaysbeen a part of mylife, and I love it.I’ve learned much ofwhat I bring to workfrom my play. Thisconversation hopesto lend someimportant lessonsfrom music to theviolently expandingfields wherecreatives are leadingproducts,companies, andteams.
    • The role of a Creative Leaderis quickly evolving.Digital connectionshave changed theway that thoughts,feelings, and ideasmove around theworld, betweenpeople.
    • As the world evolves, so must we.We will need new skills.Technology has alsochanged the veryconcept of aproduct, a service,and what marketingis.Creatives are leadingmore and moreteams, and ourvarious backgroundsmay not haveprepared us to lead.
    • Modern companies need us to leadin service design, UX, brand, andproduct.
    • Sometimes, all at the same time :)Marketing is readilymixing with product.Productsincreasingly areaccompanied bydigital services.These shifts areimpacting the role ofthe creative leader.
    • Today, We Will Learn 3 Things......like 3 chords. It just works.
    • Chapter 1(Kick Out) The Jams
    • We’re not in an assembly lineanymore.When brands,products andservices werecreated linearly, roleswere dulyspecialized, andhandoffs werecritical.
    • Work is much more like a bandtoday.You can’t often rely on stage sound.We need to share a language.Today, brands,products, andservices need to becreated in teams -for various reasons -including the always-on nature of theworld, the nature ofdigital convergenceof technology andcommunications.
    • Since these new,modern, teams don’tactually, physically,work togetherconstantly - andsince each teammember can oftenrepresent such adrastically uniqueperspective anddivergent motivation- we must create ashared languagebetween teammembers. Likemusic.Music is an effectiveshared languagebetween bandmates.
    • This shared language is particularlyimportant during improvisation.The band establishes a known pace andtheme, then each member can diverge andimprovise on that theme.Key phrases are used, signaling when thesoloist intends on re-joining the theme.Members respond with their ownemphasis, answering the soloist.Dizzy dives into a particularly free solo, butlets everyone know he’s re-approachingthe theme. Bobby Timmons, the pianist,responds with a new emphasis in hiscomping, and it becomes clearer to seehow everyone “hears” that the everyone’sabout to re-join, and the solo will go to thenext player.
    • Each player takes aturn. Each time, thegroup returns.Modern teams needsimilar ability toiteratively divergeand converge.Teams can usepatterns and sharedprocesses to alloweach to diverge, andreturn. This way,great work is donewithin the confines ofa shared pattern -without thelimitations of strictlylinear handoffs.Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers - A Night In Tunisia (live 58)http://youtu.be/I9z9sU5dXnw
    • It might be tempting to do it allyourself :)Creative leaderstoday are powerfullymultifaceted. Wemight be tempted to“work out the visioncompletely” beforebringing it back tothe group - andthat’s often what ateam might thrive on- but, that visionmust remainmalleable, allowingthe team tointernalize itsmeaning and impactto each of theirperspectives andpositions.
    • A great example ofdoing it all yourself,Edgar Winter. Clearly,a virtuoso - in nearlyevery instrument!Hard to tell what theobjective of thisperformance is...torevel in the idea thathe’s playing so manyinstruments? Or, torock the audience?
    • Of course, thisperformance was notplayed for a liveaudience.Nonetheless, Edgargoes from soloing onthe largestsynthesizer that anyof us has every likelyseen, to making therounds onto thesaxophone, andback to the synthagain, this time torepeatedly anddramatically“pounce” onto thesure-to-weigh-50lbkeyboard. Spectacle!
    • “Why, yes. I did, infact, played everyinstrument on thissong!”
    • “Nice onesie, guitarplayer. Where’s yourcape?”
    • “And, yes - I ambetter at everyinstrument that eachof the players onstage right now. I willchallenge each ofyou to a contestthroughout this song.Prepare your effingselves.”
    • The Edgar Winter Group “Frankenstein” (The Old Grey Whistle Test 1973)http://youtu.be/Qrv7I1gqaoEAt least they get thebig rock ending right.Its a shame thatEdgar could onlyplay timbale for thefinale, and not,somehow, all of theinstruments at once.
    • Prototyping, journey designtools, and collaborative processesare great for iterative design,for instance.
    • Chapter 2This is Happening Right Now
    • So, what part to I play in thisband??Now, many teamsalready have leaders.Or managers.But, the new creativeleadership requireseach player to do abit of leading alongthe way - taking thebaton, and handing itback off - in thecontext to this“jamming” process.Creative leaders canrise above thisjamming - not unlikea drummer - andhelp keep rhythm,and incite newimprovisation.
    • Or, sometimes like aconductor, the creativeleader can providenuancedencouragement to teammembers to continueexploring.New creative solutionscan come from anydirection - and we mightbe surprised at howcritical elements emergefrom unsuspectedsources - like MichaelAnthony’s signatureharmony vocal work forVan Halen - theunderstated glueholding the rock giants’sound together.Van Halen: Dance the Night Away (live, 1979)http://youtu.be/ouymzr6azKo
    • Some roles have leadershipimplied in the charter.The new creativeleadership in brand,service, product,and communicationimply a new kind ofcreative andforward momentumto all of our efforts -providing a kind of“spiritual” center toour work -providing the aclear vision of the“soul” of the work -tying directly to anintimateunderstanding ofpeople - and theculture thatsurrounds us.
    • Creative leadership needs tobring the show.So, as creativeleaders, we mustshift into a newmode of leadership- making each of usa curator of theiterative creativeexperience andprocess.Increasingly,creative leadersmust be confidentin leading a processthat will drawinsight frombusiness case,consumer insight,cultural relevance,and brandfoundations.
    • Do it like Rock Stars do.Iteratively. Hours of practice. Playit 1000 times.The only way I know how to do this, is toiteratively build and refine the story of thework.Develop the rationale, the solutiondescription, the approach - throughnumerous “mini-presentations,” informalconversations, quick “lightning round” run-thoughs with various members and versionsof the team.Compose your main ideas on notecards,basic slides, or on a whiteboard. Justinclude the main “beats” of the story thatinvestigates the challenge at hand, andpresents the strategy.This is important: Say the actual words thattell the story. In order. Write down thosewords as “beats.” Evaluate the beats. Then,evolve them.
    • Prince, for example,is famous for hisrigorous, incrediblydetailed practicesessions, workingout very particularnuances ofseeminglyimprovisedelements ofimpendingperformances.This Purple Rainera video waspromptly removedafter I found it.Prince isn’t so bigon sharing.
    • Your constant practice pays offwhen you can focus oncommunicating with yourteam...not delivering information.This kind ofrigorous practiceand re-shapingensures that thecreative leader isfocused oncommunicatingwith the team andshaping theconversation.In this way, theteam benefits fromthe creative leader’smastery of thesubject andsolution space -and all players canparticipate at ahigher level.
    • The creative leaderwho’s focused oncommunicating,evoking, andlistening to theteam must knowthe material cold.It may seem verypedestrian to say it,but we don’t knowwhat we will say ina creativepresentation untilwe say it - andchances are, wewon’t say it rightthe first time. Or thethird time :)Dana Carvey - “Guitar Humor”http://youtu.be/WHk7c5aUXVs
    • The product must evolve early.We can save ourselves from ourselves :)In addition,constant iterationand collaborativeexploration canensure we don’t fallvictim to our firstidea...which isseldom the bestidea, or the idea inthe best execution.Differentiatingbetween theinsight, the strategy,the idea, and thevarious possibleexecutions of thatidea, is increasinglyimportant as wework across somany fronts.
    • Songwriters andbands, no mattertheir working style,end up evolving theexecution of theirwork, together, overtime.Mick had the ideaand general melodyfor “Sympathy forthe Devil” uponwalking intoOlympic Studios -but, it took manymany iterationsbefore reaching theversion we knowand love today.
    • The general rhythmchanged manytimes. The phrasingof the vocals, too.Each iterationprovided progresstoward a morepowerful execution- a more perfectgroove.The idea andconcept remained,but the executionevolved. Eachmember andcollaborator helpingto interpret it, andshape it.
    • Various versionsfeatured differentinstrumentations andmoods. One scenefeatures Bill Wymanoffering a seeminglynew take, directingthe rhythm to fallbehind the music abit, although Keith iscredited with thesuggestions for thenew beat andadditionalpercussion.Every littlecontribution seemedto shape this now-classic song.
    • Rolling Stones - Naissance de "Sympathy for the Devil " (One+One) 1968http://dai.ly/10typUf Even with most ofthe tracksrecorded, Mick’svocal approachreally seemed toslide into place nearthe end. Still, thesong seems to bemissing a criticalelement - until thecrowd ofcontributors recordthe signature“whoo whoo” vocalaccompaniment.Who knows whatshaping led to thiskey element? Onlyheavy collaborationand iteration couldhave produced it.
    • Creating alignment iterativelykeeps the hard work happening inthe room - creating momentum.Creative leadersmust work to keepthe “mojo” in theroom whencollaborating andpresenting tostakeholders -again, emphasizingthe need to simplifyand completelyknow the story ofthe work - andfocusing efforts andtime on iterationand communication- as time together ina company can beso rare and oftenmis-spent.
    • Like experiences we design,your teams’ experiences with youare your real product.Thus, the real, orfirst apparentproduct of themodern creativeleader is thecreative experiencebrought to the teamof contributors andstakeholders.
    • This Will Test Your WorkingKnowledge of CommunicationSo often, we thinkof our “pitches” asneeding to be pure,unadulterated,stream ofconsciousnessfeeds from ourcreative minds.Rather, we need totake into accountthe receiver of ourmessage, and thevarious sources ofnoise that mightdisrupt or warp thedecoded meaningof our message.Ray and Charles Eames "A Rough Sketch for a Sample Lesson for a Hypothetical Course" (1953)http://vimeo.com/19906179
    • You May Need to LearnHow to Method ActThis approach toconducting creativedevelopment isn’tunlike the conceptof Method Acting -where the active socompletelyinternalizes thecontext of theirwork, that they areable to feel thefeelings of thecharacters theyportray, andcompletelyunderstand thepurposes of theiractions.
    • This wasn’t a Beatles record.This was a Sgt. Pepper’s record.Real innovation andhighly functionalaesthetic can comefrom this kind ofcreative leadership.For example, TheBeatlesapproached thedevelopment of theSgt. Pepper’sLonely Hearts ClubBand album fromthe perspective of adifferent band, time,and context.The Making Of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1982)http://youtu.be/0irqVH031UI
    • Some of our favorite productsevolved drastically - andcontinue to.
    • Chapter 3Simple Works
    • The practicality of communicationwill force us to be masters ofsimplicity.New constraints willpresent themselvesas we lead ourteams to innovatetogether.We must work tosimplify not onlyour work - but, alsothe language weuse to evokeparticipation andcollaboration.
    • Great rock starsseem tounderstand thehopes and dreamsof the audience,and how they arefulfilled in a liveperformance, orother musicalexperience.They understandhow broadlyavailable theirconcepts need tobe. So, theysimplify - even if anidea is complex orpowerful - to ensure“inception” of thatidea.Dave Grohl “Interview with Kyle Gass and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters” GM Next Plug-inhttp://youtu.be/oojzmjJ3ugE
    • We don’t design materials.Or aesthetic. Or communication.We are designing behavior.And action.It is preciselybecause our mediahave greatlyevolved intobehavior, orexperience design,that we mustsimplify ourlanguage.
    • Make it easy to understand.“Consumers don’t go to themeetings.”?If we simplify ourlanguage early on -even as we’re evolvingthe product or designor solution - andunderstand what it willtake to create empathywith our idea from aconsumers point ofview, we won’t be stuckwith the task ofexplaining it toconsumers later in theprocess; we will alreadyknow this. If it takes along time to explain in adesign meeting,chances are, it will stillbe confusing by thetime it gets to a “realperson.”
    • 3Simplicity in Communication. Def Leppard+ the Riff.Arenas Changed EverythingHow Did Rock Adapt?The popularity of big,rock music drasticallychanged what it meantto see a rock bandperform live. With largerand larger audiencesjoining the rock throng,stadiums and arenasstarted to fill up.With such a large spaceto fill, and limitations ingetting the right soundto the audience, rockmusic changed. It’s notthe only reason for thechange in rock, but itwas clearly acontributing factor forhow many bands madetheir post-arena records.
    • Another exercise in simplicity. DefLeppard believed that rock couldappeal to a broader audience. Thisband understood how to reach anaudience with simple, powerful songs.They wrote slower, less chaotic rocksongs, compared to theircontemporaries.They set out to be the biggest band inthe world - looking to “selling rockrecords to Michael Jackson fans.” Themusic was built for stadiums. Thesongs were almost co-owned by theaudience, with the easily understoodand chanted choruses - built for thebig, communal rock experience. Thecomplete separation between theelements and careful orchestrationmade for something that translatedwell to these new, larger audiences.Classic Albums: Hysteriahttp://youtu.be/Vkh8WL2-4xA
    • Designing behavior meansour insights might be moreimportant than our designs.Today’s creative leaderis judged on our abilityto move people - notjust win awards.Consumers increasinglyfatigue of attention-grabbing, but uselessinteractions withbrands.Just like the insightsbehind the design ofDef Leppard’s music,insights become thecritical element fordevelopment andmanagement increating an amazingexperience, anenjoyable product, or auseful service.
    • Insights help us understandthe challenge space.As a creative leader, everything weproduce must have a purpose.Aesthetic must evoke emotion.Communications must be in alignmentwith peoples’ motivations.Brands must, today, be useful - fulfillingtheir greater purpose - moving beyondthose of the brand category.Ecosystems must be built around thenatural influence systems in any givencultural space.A clear understanding of the challenge athand is critical to the modern creativeleader. Separation of strategy and ideafrom execution will ensure properevolution and co-ownership between thevarious creative and business partners.
    • There are manyframeworks available tous to understand needsand motivations of ourcustomers.Remember, we may notbe the right folks to becommissioning andexecuting primaryresearch to find theseinsights - but, creativeleaders today must askthe tough questionsaround why peoplewould want to interactwith our product, andwhat will keep themcoming back.
    • Beyond Maslow’s Hierarchy - theworld is constantly looking tounderstand and overcomemodern humanity’s problemsthrough conceptual models.Models that lead to joy, positivity,or resolution might include TonyRobbins’ “6 Human Needs,”“Spiral Dynamics” and “IntegralTheory,” or MihalyCsikszentmihalyi’s “Flow.”Modern creative leaders areincreasingly responsible foractually making life better forpeople -a tall order. Joe Pine oftendiscusses this theme in terms ofleading to economic growth,achieving and maintainingauthenticity, or understanding andfulfilling your brand’s purpose.
    • Identify apowerful andaccessible truth.Tell a story.Demonstrate anarchetype.Show how itworks.Provide aninvitation. Offera return onattention andeffort.Clear benefits ofCo-creation.Example: Design A Co-CreationVirus+ + =
    • The Harlem Shake videos are agreat example of an insight at thecenter of a successfully mobilecontent concept.The truth at the center? “When thebass drops, you are allowed to gocrazy. In fact, you’re encouragedto do so.” We’re all waiting, as itwere, for the bass to drop, itwould seem, right?Simple formula. Clear rules ofengagement. Low bar toparticipation. Fun. Spectacle. And,when you’ve created it, you’re partof something bigger. You belong -but, you did it your way.Harlem Shake (Matt and Kim Edition)http://youtu.be/DABphlXEyW8Know Your Meme - Harlem Shakehttp://knowyourmeme.com/memes/harlem-shake
    • What is yourbrand purpose -beyond yourcategory.What physicaland emotionalneeds drive usinto thiscategory?Offercommunicationand serviceworth paying for.Find whitespace in market.Example: Useful Marketing
    • The next generation ofproducts and marketingare services.
    • That’s it :)Rockstars have taught us to bebetter creative leaders.
    • Take Away 1: Learn How to JamUse tools and processes as ashared language for improvisationin collaboration.
    • Take Away 2: Work It Out TogetherSave yourself from the firstversions of the idea. Separateinsight from execution, and iterateon the product intensely.
    • Take Away 3: Practice. Practice.Learn the core elements of yourwork cold by constantly telling thestory, evolving it, and focusing onemoting the vision and listening.
    • Take Away 4: SimplifyConsumers don’t go to themeetings. We can’t expectpeople to work to understand ourproduct or message.
    • Take Away 5: Develop Tasty LicksWork your experiences, strategyand rationale down to bumpersticker-style handles - so peoplecan sing along :).
    • Now, you must go rock.
    • DragonForce - Through the Fire and Flames (HD Official Video)http://youtu.be/dG7Rl3qxUqY The perfect ending.Part rock music video,part live performance,part instructional video- complete with picture-in-picture how-tofootage :)
    • TIMRICHARDSEVP,STRATEGYWould love to know your thoughts.Don’t hesitate to reach out :)@nanotimhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/nanotim