An unfair advantage
Maurice Saatchi was born to poor Jewish parents in 1946, Baghdad, Irak. Saatchi and Saathi today
is perhaps the most well known advertising agency in the world with Maurice in the top 300 richest
people earth. He serves in the House of Lords and is the Governor of the London School of
When asked of his rules to success, he said:
“None, I just followed the only legal way to an unfair advantage over my peers and my
A word easily used, or misused. “I am not creative…” is the most common excuse. Yet when we
were 4 years old, given a brush and paint, miracles did happen. All gone and squashed by the
norms of a society not tolerating those who walk on the edge. Creativity happens in me yet even
more so when groups meet. Sadly when we meet is most often the time where all are destructed.
Our typical production meeting driven by an agenda, we meet against our free will to sit in a clinical
U shaped boardroom with distinct power positions peering at some PowerPointed piece of self
inflated wisdom on the wall.
Nobody read the minutes and if done so only the bits where my head is on the block to cook up an
excuse and delay judgment to another meeting. We often do not listen to each other and if so
interrupts without building upon what happened.
Creativity happens when minds meet in a playful fun way; we defer judgment to later and build
upon each other. Creativity happens when we leave the playing field and sit on the pavilion for a
while. It almost always happens on the edge.
So..all we need to do is to structure our meetings differently so that we steer it towards some
For a meeting with a different flavor:
Keep a model of the business on the wall. It could be a value chain, some process, something that
graphically illustrates what we do. During the week discussion points are to be Postit-ted on it. We
will talk about what are on the wall and nothing else.
Have something nice plus good coffee ready half an hour before the meeting. Do all the out of
office’s talking in a relaxed way. Gossip a bit, talk about the kids, weekends sport and just calm
Sit relaxed, preferably with no table as it creates power positions and inhibits eye contact. Start off
by talking about the model on the wall and quickly eliminates everything that is not core to what we
do. In our meetings we tend to focus on trivialities, on stuff other departments should for then our
heads are not on the block. Just delegate to whoever should do it and get it out of the way.
Group the vital elements and take it one after the other. Open discussion.
Seek solutions outside the problem. There are numerous creativity techniques.
It could be simple as picking on a great hero; my father, Madiba, my dog, my kid, Batman .. and
just ask “ if my hero were to do it, how would she/he/it do it?”
Get away from the challenge to come back later.
Or..simply look out of the window and list things we see. Relate this to the solution.
The Brainwrite technique is where we simply write one answer and it is passed in circles as
everybody builds upon it. No judgment, equal opportunity, I can spill my mind, 10 people, 10
solutions every 5 seconds!
The great Edward de Bono talks about the concept of Deferred Judgment and wearing different
hats before donning the black hat of the judge. This is critical in any creative process to keep
solutions and critique to later. Then it is not directed at people anymore and will not subdue the
If we work with our hands our minds excel. Think of a group of ladies knitting socks for their
grandchildren .. listen to the wisdom that is spoken. Dish out modeling clay, declare a competition
for the best sculpture molded while we work and note the difference.
Lastly, the power of the minds increases 3 times when we laugh. The best humor is not jokes and
is an art that can be learnt. It is about looking at life from a different angle.
Great humor starts with self effacing. When Steve Jobs addressed the graduation ceremony of
Stanford, his first words was, “this is the closest to graduation I have ever been!”. He had all their
The only legal unfair advantage is in our hands; its fun, its leads to greatness. Just do it!