Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dragons Den

A friend recommended that I watch the BBC show Dragon's Den, she absolutely raved about the progamme and insisted it would be a perfect fit for Idealog. When I finally got around to watching an episode I was immediately hooked.

Wannabe entrepreneurs vie for venture capital from a panel of proven entrepreneurs. Some applicants have business acumen to the same degree that sad sacks who try out for American Idol have singing talent. Others are persuasive and have genuinely good ideas.

The show can be cruel. But, then, so can life. The show is compelling for its human drama. There is also the opportunity to pit one's own analytic skills against the Dragon's - would I invest in the idea?

In something of a coup Idealog has scored the sponsorship right to the Australian edition of the show, starting tommorow night on TVOne at 8.30. Mark it in your must see TV diary.
We have done a couple of little spots to promote the mag, which I present to you now for your viewing pleasure.

Subscribe now - join the growing legions of fans (at the moment it's probably more accurate to say platoons than legions, but we are getting there). Actually the magazine is getting better all the time. I've handed the art direction over to a talented young chap who was previously with Urbis magazine.

Monday, June 12, 2006

How to successfully fail

She's one of the most successful dance exponents in the world and continues to earn royalties for over 130 works she has created. But, unlike the meteoric upward path of Mozart, one of her touchstone influences, she knows the dull thud of failure.

In 1966 in England one of her performances was met with the following review in the Evening Standard:

"Three girls, one of them named Twyla Tharp, appeared at the Albert Hall last evening and threatened to do the same again tonight."

In her book - The Creative Habit - Twyla Tharp, the renowned choreographer describes three dimensions of failure:

1. The failure of nerve

When you have everything going for you but the guts to support your idea and explore your concept fully. Do you worry about looking silly? "...looking foolish is good for you says Tharp (isn't that a great name?).

2. Failure through repetition
Do you keep doing what you've always done because 'it works'? Tharp says its a problem when you cling to past successes "We loose sight of the fact that we weren't searching for a formula when we first did something great; we were in unexplored territory, following our instincts and passions...It's only when we look back we see a path, and its only there because we blazed it."

3. Failure by denial.

"The same mechanism that protects you from your worst fears can blind you to reality. Denial becomes a liability when you see something is not working but refuse to deal with it. You tell yourself 'I'll fix it later' or you convince yourself that you can get away with it, that your audience won't notice the weak spots. This is bad denial. You won't get very far relying on yur audience's ignorance."

Tharp is careful not to trot out all of the old platitiudes about failure. She doesn't want to fail (who does), but at the same time she regards life as a great experiment. I like that. I teach students in my design research class at Massey University that point of research isn't to find the right answer but to produce two more questions for every one you begin with. Taking the science metaphor further, an idea is the same as an hypothesis. There is no guarantee of success, many experiments fail.

Think how dull life would be if they didn't.

The Creative Habit - Learn it and use it for life - by Twyla Tharp. Click to order

Find out more about The One & Only Twyla Tharp.

Visit her website

Wikipedia entry

Listen to a radio interview with Twyla Tharp (requires RealAudio Player)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Resistance is useless

Here's a thoughtspur from creative thinking pioneer Roger Von Oech:

"The human mind," notes scientist W.I. Beveridge, "likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with a similar energy." When you judge new ideas, focus initially on their positive and interesting features. This will counteract a natural negative bias, and help you to develop more ideas. What are two positive things you can say about your problem?

We tend to try to preserve equilbrium or status quo. It is a way of eliminating risk and the remorse of choosing the wrong thing.
It is a paradox in business, though. Clinging to the accepted or conventional ways of doing things allows upstart competitors with nothing to loose to steal markets from right under your nose.

Perhaps it is more useful to build up a high threshold to anitigens. I suggest playing in the dirt, eating loads of mental roughage, sleep as much as you can - and write down your dreams.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Brand Apart

Joe Duffy is a legend in design circles. I like the concept of this book, pehaps because it reinforces The One & Only(TM) concept. Message to marketers. If you want to own a brand, then get with the programme. You can't be like your competitors.
What competitors?- the lines a re so blurred now that supermarkets sell TVs and the real business of big box retailers like The Warehouse and Farmers is consumer credit....being yourself is a strategic imperative, focusing on who you think are your competitors makes you a tactition. You'll get steam rollered by some thing you simply couldn't see or hear coming.... becasue you didn't perceive it as a threat.

I recommed Duffy's book. (I think Duffy Design is part of the Saatchi empire. Auckland's own Derek Lockwood is Worldwide Head of Design for Saatchi & Saatchi).

Brand Apart