Friday Reading #89

xSome of the more eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed an unexpected gap to our regularly scheduled programme of brilliant inspirational thinking straight to your inbox. We would love to blame this on the office move, perhaps the Friday Reading server got lost in a taxi between Wellington Street and Tottenham Court Road? But alas we can’t lie to you, dear subscribers. The truth is that our copywriter was on holiday and didn’t write it before he left. The good news, for those of you that haven’t visited yet, is that we’re in! The move to our lovely new offices is complete! And by god it’s beautiful. Pop in for a cup of tea soon yeah?


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The business of creativity abounds with cutting edge
behavioural psychological techniques, skinny jeaned twenty somethings espousing
the joy of the latest gadget, and new-age breathing techniques that’ll give you
one last burst of creative juices to help on your brief for the next new baked
beans campaign. We’ve been making ads for years, and coming up with ideas even
longer – why not look to the 1930s? Visionary ad-man and polymath, James Webb
Young sets out his techniques for arriving at ideas in his 1939 book, A Technique for Producing Ideas, which mirrors many of the ideas of modern science and psychology, putting together a simple five point
plan for coming to great ideas.

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We try and keep Friday Reading as light and humorous as
possible, but sometimes we have to touch on heavier, more emotional subject
matter – this week, the beginning of the end for the old £1 coin. As sad as it
is, the Royal Mint estimate that around 2.5% of current £1 coins are fakes, so
it’s probably time for a change. The shiny new twelve-sided version is a fairly
significant development, and is almost impossible to counterfeit due to some
clever design tweaks
(some visible, some not) It’s also a little bit holographic,
which is always nice.

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According to data from YouGov, 71% of British people say the world is getting worse. Yet in reality it really isn’t, but we aren’t
focusing on the positive. Amongst over things; the proportion of the world
living in poverty worldwide has dropped from 53% in 1981 to 17% in 2011, child
labour is on the decline, global literacy rates are up, it’s a great time to be
alive!

But because the brain is instinctively structured to pay more attention
to bad news we’re not off to a good start, especially when glued to our phones
we’re notified of bad news more than ever. It’s human nature to perceive
improvement as merely just a fluke leading to a negativity bias. Research has
shown that people are really quick to conclude that something is deteriorating
.
Whereas for improvement, people have a very high threshold for what’s
true. Just remember that next time you think it’s all doom and gloom…

What is strategy? it’s a remarkably introspective discipline, among many reasons because the outcomes of it are so varied and unpredictable. The titan that is Lawrence Friedman calls it “art of creating power, and getting more out of a situation than the starting balance of power would suggest”. Dave Trott has an typically brief yet excellent view on the subject in his latest blog post, strategy is about sacrifice – what you’re left with when you remove everything you can do without.

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