"Berlusconi gets away with everything because he thinks he's going to. That quality is difficult to teach and even harder to cure". Stanley Bing in Fortune Magazine, Dec 2009.

I guess you asked for it

Exchange between abrasive and wooden-legged TV show host Joe Pine and very long-haired musician Frank Zappa on Pine's show in the late 1960s:
Pine: I guess your long hair makes you a girl.
Zappa: I guess your wooden leg makes you a table.

Today's links

  • Innovation: Why Failing Is OK. Or why 'Fail Fast Forward' should probably be the 6th criteria for successful innovation in organizations as laid out in my post here.

5 criteria for successful innovation in organizations

My old acquaintance Wickie and I met up for coffee the other day, and as we both have an interest in the intersection of organizations and innovation, we discussed our various experiences in this potent field.
At one point she asked me to name the 5 key criteria for successful implementation of innovation projects within an organization.
Many wise books and articles have been written about this and I can only humbly suggest my own perspective which has been shaped by working with 'new stuff' in large corporations the past 15 years.
So here we go, my view on 5 criteria for successful innovation within an organization:

1) Senior management support and advocacy
This is old hat, really, but true nonetheless. If the innovation project hasn't got the support and enjoys active advocacy from upstairs, then forget it.
Be it a new business process, a ground-breaking product, a different set of performance metrics, an untried department structure, a novel view on strategy planning, an unfamiliar business model, a new business unit - it has to be backed by the CEO and his/her management team and explicitly supported and encouraged by them.
If you want to try and go it alone, be my guest - I've done this myself on more than one occasion - but there will be a limit as to far you'll get.

2) The right people
Often, you'll have only few headcounts dedicated to the innovation project so you have to be certain that they're the right people. You can't afford to make hiring mistakes or to lose people in this situation - hiring the wrong person means losing capacity, losing people means losing vital knowledge.
With the right people, you can move at high speed and to high standards, because they create the kind of synergy that make the whole bigger than the sum of the parts.
Not only do people working on innovation projects have to have superior technical/formal skills in more than just their own immediate area. They also have to possess certain personal skills:
  • High capacity for learning new stuff and for applying new knowledge, constantly.
  • Comfortable with the unknown and with making decisions based on limited information.
  • Ability to fly with the eagles and crawl with the ants, meaning keeping the big perspective while getting deep into the engine room.
  • Creative thinkers, able to problem-solve and to generate options.
  • Driven and with a relatively high level of energy.
  • Communication skills, open to and comfortable with a lot of feedback and dialogue.
3) An easily understood plan
Forget complicated, long-winded reports and poetic, flowery vision statements. 'A woolly plan means a woolly idea'.
To get buy-in, the plan needs to be concrete, communicated in basic terms and describe your constituents' role in it. Is it also possible to describe what's in it for them, great, but sometimes there isn't anything in it for them directly, other than a nod from senior management. And actually, that counts for a lot for a lot of people.

4) Stick to the plan
Your plan lays out the goals and how to achieve them. This is worth nothing if you don't stick to it. It's tempting to throw in a new idea that you just heard about from a colleague, your well-meaning boss might have some new thought that would really add a great dimension to the project, the sales guys might want you to please a big customer, and so on and so forth.
Listen to them, take it in, and then tell them why you will stick to the plan. Of course, there might be internal or external developments that force you to take a slight detour or swap the timing of key building blocks, but stick to the overall course and at all times relate everything you do back to the key objectives.

5) Understand where in the innovation process you are
All innovation projects consist of a number of phases that each have certain characteristics, set of activities, focus, and operating mode. Some call it Storming, Forming, Performing, Re-forming. Others call it Proof-of-concept, Proof-of-business, Growth, Scale. Others call it something third, but it all means the same thing, really.
The point is to understand each of these phases, in which phase your innovation project is, and when it needs to shift from one phase to the next. It's not unusual that the project owner or team firmly believes that the project has concluded, say, the proof-of-concept phase and is well into the proof-of-business or even the growth phase. This can be detrimental because focus is on a set of activities that are wrong for the project at that particular time.
For example: A new business unit might assess that it's the right time to start heavily marketing the new service and is overlooking that key business processes are not firmly in place - which would mean that the increased demand would bring the back office to its knees, disappoint customers, and make you unpopular with your supply chain and customer service colleagues.

These criteria, I propose, are the 'high five'. If you have other views on key criteria for successful innovation projects, please don't hesitate to comment on this post or drop me a note.

    Celebrating Drucker

    Peter Drucker would have been 100 years old today. His ideas are more relevant than ever; such as the idea of the modern corporation as an opportunity for community-building and providing meaning for the people who work in them. More about Drucker's ideas in this Business Week cover story from 2005 when he sadly passed away. Also, check out the November issue of Harvard Business Review which is dedicated to Drucker's ideas in the Drucker Centennial.

    Today's links

    • Why Marketing Does a Terrible Job of Marketing Itself - and why it's no longer about controlling the brand but about guiding it through its network of users, no longer about managing the marketing budget but about inspiring marketing excellence throughout the organization, and no longer about being a sales enabler but about being a value driver across the enterprise.

    What is user-driven innovation - and what is not

    Have you noticed the surge in user-driven innovation? Or rather - the surge in companies and consultancies who say that they do user-driven innovation?
    Well, I have and it's causing me a great deal of concern. Why, isn't user-driven innovation a good thing, you might ask. Yes, it is. Only most of these companies and consultancies aren't actually doing user-driven innovation. And this is creating problems for the real user-driven innovation, ultimately watering down the concept and its value.

    User-driven innovation (UDI) means that a firm involves its users directly in the product creation process ('innovation' could also be innovation in eg processes or eg communication through user-driven content or facilitation of peer2peer communication, but in this post I will refer to UDI as products/services development). There are three main ways of doing that:
    1. Co-creation - inviting a number of specific users, often lead users, to create new products with the company's own designers. Example: LEGO Mindstorms.
    2. Customization - facilitating that the user can design his own product based on a number of features and material combinations that the company makes available. Example: Nike ID, LEGO Design By Me, Timbuk2.
    3. Crowdsourcing - outsourcing product design entirely to the users. Example: Threadless.
    There are lots of hybrids of the three categories above but for the sake of simplicity, let's stick with these. The point is that with UDI there are levels of user-involvement - and reversely, levels of brand control - but all involve direct user participation in the product creation.

    And certainly, embarking on any of these three requires full understanding of the strategic, operational, and intra-cultural implications and a plan and desire to deal with them.
    • For companies born as UDI based companies, like Threadless, this is less of an issue since their entire business is engineered towards facilitation of UDI - it simply is their business model.
    • For established companies, like LEGO where I headed up the customization and co-creation business unit for a while, UDI represents issues pertaining to virtually all parts of the company. From sourcing policies, supply chain processes, IT systems, forecasting methodology, product quality standards, legal and IPR matters, corporate culture and HR, success criteria and KPI definition, to brand control policies, marketing principles and so on and so forth.
    Simply put, UDI represents a different way of doing business.

    But what seems to be happening is that UDI is being reduced to either the upstream research or the technology platforms that enable mass-participation. Let me explain:

    Lately, I've run into more and more consultancies and agencies who position themselves as UDI companies. But what they do is research on behalf of a client that involves asking users what they want and coming up with product concepts based on this input.
    But that is not UDI. That's market research. 'Oh, but we go out and ask the users in their own environment and study how they use the products and bring back their input', they say. That is not UDI either. That's anthropological market research. Something that most companies ought to do on a regular basis, yes, but UDI it ain't.
    Anthropological research does not equal UDI any more than a cat and a dog equal a zoo.

    Same thing with the tech platforms. Just because a software firm develops a CMS or a set of apps that enable user participation does not mean that this firm 'makes UDI'. In fact, no agency or consultancy actually 'does' UDI. Only companies whose users are directly involved in the product or service creation can claim that they 'do' UDI.

    We have to understand that UDI is a business model and requires a business system and a company culture that underpins it.
    We have to understand that it means measuring success differently, designing new processes for the product development, figuring out new reward systems, applying new principles to marketing and branding of the products, changing ERP systems and data flow, aligning the internal interests - and, if we're talking about established companies, perhaps also considering whether UDI should be an integrated part of the company or be developed as a separate entity that operates entirely with its own value chain set-up.

    UDI requires sticking one's hands deep into the engine room to understand the operational model that is and the model that needs to be, as well as loosening the grip on the brand and allow its users to bring their interpretation forward. It can seem a bit scary but the better you know your business and the more confident you feel as a brand, the easier it is.

    The rewards come in the form of happier users, more loyal users, higher-value users, users that will spread the word. And in the form of ongoing market and user insights, and - if you do it right - more streamlined internal processes, a more agile business operation, and a more change-ready organization.

    These rewards, however, only come if we understand that UDI involves the entire value chain and corporate culture, not simply upstream research, as user-centred as it may be, product concepts derived from it and a software platform to facilitate it.

    Today's links

    On Point

    Went to see This Is It the other day and then I went to see again the day after. These are 111 minutes that feel like 11. Once the film ends, the audience actually stays to watch all the frames that accompany the credits and you wish it would start over again.
    Michael Jackson is on point, beat and groove, embodying rhythm and soul in every movement, syllable and expression - nothing short of inspiring.
    And to quote Ice-T who with usual precision sums it all up to NY Daily News: "The main thing you get out of the movie is that the dude was still very much alive. It was a cold shot, man. You gotta see it for yourself."

    Female Forces

    I've been having a conversation recently with a psychologist to help test a program he's working on. A program that leverages the concept of role modelling to help people define their goals and values.
    While very interesting, there is a lack of women role models represented in the program, in fact Madonna so far is the only one. When asked why, the psychologist said that she was the only input he'd gotten when he asked other women about who they thought should or might be represented.
    How strange. Because it's not that there aren't any. So allow me to come up with a few suggestions across discipline, culture, and time - fictional as well as real:

    Alicia Keys
    Amelia Earhart
    Angela Davis
    Anita Roddick
    Anne Frank
    Annie Lennox
    Aung San Suu Kyi
    Benazir Bhuto
    Billie Jean King
    Coco Chanel
    Eleanor Roosevelt
    Evita Peron
    Florence Nightingale
    Golda Meir
    Gro Harlem Brundtland
    Harriet Beecher Stowe
    Helen Keller
    Hillary Clinton
    Indira Gandhi
    Jeanne d'Arc
    Josephine Baker
    Katarina the Great
    Katherine Graham
    Leonora Christina Ulfeldt
    Madeleine Albright
    Margaret Thatcher
    Marie Antoinette
    Marie Curie
    Marta Stewart
    Martina Navratilova
    Mary Queen of Scots
    Maya Angelou
    Mother Theresa
    Nadia Comaneci
    Oprah Winfrey
    Patti Smith
    Princess Diana
    Queen Elizabeth I
    Queen Victoria
    Scarlett O'Hara
    Virginia Woolf
    Whoopi Goldberg

    Today's links

    I'll start posting links to stories that (I find) are particularly interesting. Some days there'll be a lot of links, some days there'll be none.

    Mind The Gap

    Recently, the Danish music industry was granted 9.4 million kroner (1.26 million euros) by the Ministry of Commerce to develop music talent, export, insight, technology solutions, and new business models. As a business professional with a strong music association, I applaud this.

    Indeed, one of the major challenges is bridging the gap between the music community and the business community. There is a lot of potential for brands and artists to use each other to develop their respective identities and relationship with their users (fans). So far, though, neither camp seem to understand the other particularly well.

    Brands - and often their agencies - treat music as a tactical add-on at best. The artists - and often their record companies and managers - treat brands as a sponsor, rarely as a collaborator, and sometimes just as a wallet.

    Brands need to learn how to leverage music strategically, as a powerful dimension and a path to a strong(er) emotional bond between them and their users. Artists need to learn what's on a busy marketing director's agenda, what s/he considers success criteria, and why music often simply isn't a priority. Both need to learn how to create great fits, and also recognize when there is no fit at all.

    A coordinating body, Musikzonen (the Music Zone), has been established to manage the 9.4 million kroner from the Ministry of Commerce and facilitate the most effective use of this money. And today, they hosted a kick-off conference to introduce the Musikzonen initiative and provide some inspiration to cross-disciplinary and commercial partnerships. A great conference, and a great idea. Only, the audience was all music industry folks. Apart from one of the co-speakers and me, there was no one from the business community, no consumer experience manager, no brand director, no ad agency executive. The Musikzonen board informed that they'd received a lot of interest from the business community about the overall initiative. Excellent, but then why weren't they there?

    And why wasn't one of the speakers a grumpy marketing manager with no interest whatsoever in music but with a desire to look good in front of senior management, hence thinking only of hard KPIs that prove ROI down to the penny? These are the folks that ultimately need to be influenced, if the aforementioned gap is to be bridged.

    There's a lot to be said - and done - about the relationship between brands and bands (and fans). The relationship between culture and commerce, between mainstream and new stream. I look forward to the conversation.

    There's pole dancing and then there's pole dancing

    Today, I went to a pole dancing class. I didn't actually know it was a dancing class, much less a pole dancing class. It was advertised at my fitness center as a "Steamy Windows" event - I guess I should have read the signs. Actually, I think it's called 'pole fitness'.

    Anyway, there I was and why not get the most out of it. And it wasn't actually about throwing ourselves around a floor-to-ceiling pole, rather it was holding a 1.5 m long bar and then tossing it about and dancing around it.

    It's worth mentioning that anyone who knows me will have a hard time imagining me doing any such things and those who can will have a laughing fit (but hey, glad to be of some entertainment value to y'all).

    After a few steps left, right and center, striding around the bar (pole), and shifting it around I felt I was kind of getting the hang of it. The music was funky salsa, which helped give the whole thing a down-to-earth kind of vibe, not taking ourselves very seriously. I mean, we were doing Britney Spears-y hip thrusting and pole caressing and the music really needs to be fun, innocent and upbeat for these ridiculous movements to be about dancing and not about lame, carnal display.

    Then the instructor changed the music. We went from fun salsa to macho poodle rock - and the whole vibe changed. WTF?? I suddenly felt like the dancing was about dancing not for my own delight but for putting on a sex show.

    All of sudden, I just couldn't take the hip thrusting on our knees and slithering around with the bar as anything but clichés but worse, the fun had gone. The movements in conjunction with the testo guitar delirium and shrieks about 'tight action, rear traction' gave the whole thing a much darker edge and prompted thoughts about women as sex objects, putting themselves on crude display.

    My point with all this isn't about our society's sexification of women, but rather about experiencing in an extraordinarily direct way how music can entirely change a vibe, atmosphere, perception and physical sentiment. It altered everything. And I'm not even that much of a salsa fan...

    Bye bye blackbird

    Yesterday, I went to see the new film Public Enemies with Johnny Depp. I like most films with Johnny Depp and had decided I was going to see it at some point. I went to see it yesterday, though, because I needed to shake off the sadness of Michael Jackson's death.

    I was never a fan of Michael Jackson per se - I don't own any merchandise, didn't follow his life in the press, don't have all his albums etc. But it's now 10 days after his death and I'm still moved by it much more than I'd thought I would be.
    There's nothing new that I can say about Michael Jackson, nor can I add any profound analysis on his life. But I somehow need to express a few thoughts and feelings of my own about what to me is a tragic event that happened much too soon.

    MJ phase 1: In 1983-84 I was living in the US as an exchange student where I was a senior in high school. One of the things I found fascinating about my American friends was that they had a very versatile music taste. They liked both Van Halen... and Michael Jackson. Both ZZ Top... and Michael Jackson. Both LL Cool J... and Michael Jackson. Both Yes, John Cougar Mellencamp, Cyndi Lauper... and Michael Jackson.
    I had not come across MJ before; the Thriller tsunami had not really hit Denmark by the time I left for the US in 1983 or at least I hadn't noticed as I was much into new wave at the time. So while I thought my high school friends simply had a broad music taste, rather this was evidence of MJ's phenomenal cross-over ability.
    I also remember the Thriller album cover vividly, talking about it; kids wearing the red MJ jacket; and the airing of Thriller on MTV ('like, it's 14 mins long...!'). And I remember seeing on TV Eddie Murphy's brilliant take on MJ in his Delirious show in 1983. But I don't think I realized just how massive MJ was already then. Maybe my Danish reservation for anything overly extravagant prevented me.

    MJ phase 2: The second MJ phase of my life was around 1990/92. Bad had come out, of course, and Dangerous too. My best friend at the time surprised me by really liking these two albums - he was usually more into acid/prog rock type stuff.
    Again, an example of MJ's total command of his potent cocktail of genres and sounds that crossed boundaries. We went to see MJ at Gentofte Stadium in 1992.

    MJ phase 3: This occurred while I was working at Michael Jackson's record company Sony Music during the time 1996/98 when he released HIStory and Blood on the Dancefloor. I remember that we found the statue thing, shall we say, a tad over the top certainly for Denmark.
    But of course there was mayhem around the releases and more so around the two concerts in Parken in June 1997. It was his 39th birthday so it was arranged to have the Tivoli Guard play for him on stage - something he was genuinely touched by and later included in his documentary Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies.

    Since 1999/2000 I haven't really paid that much attention to Michael Jackson. Of course I listened to some of the songs regularly and they became a staple on every party track list I've ever put together (about a month ago I was thinking to myself that Billie Jean is still the tightest piece of pop music ever created). I also found myself relieved when he was acquitted, although mystified by his behavior; and a bit sad when Invincible flopped (by MJ standards, that is). And from time to time thinking 'I wonder how long he will go on'. You know, the usual stuff that everyone would think now and again.

    But I wasn't prepared for the reaction that hit me when he died. For me, it was delayed a few days. When he died I was travelling and way outside the circuit of friends, internet and news feed. I heard about his death very early Friday morning via someone else and while I was immediately shocked, due to a busy schedule and the lack of access to any news, the event somehow got parked.
    It was only when I returned June 28 that it started to sink in and only 2 days ago I thought to myself ‘But you had your iPod with you on the trip, why didn’t you listen to his music?’. Maybe because this kind of event and the grief that comes with it needs to be experienced with other people who have – like me – been infused with MJ since we were teens. It’s difficult dealing with it alone. We need that cathartic experience. So that’s what I’m doing now. MJ phase 4.

    Michael Jackson had the ability, consciously or unconsciously, to mystify us. He was a walking oxymoron – child and adult, black and white, introvert and extravert, innocent and savvy, sexy and asexual, intelligent and foolish, humble and excessive, in control and out of it too.
    There’s a video clip from an interview in 1982 done by Tom Joyner in a break on the set of the Beat It video shoot, and he’s sitting there wearing that red jacket and tee amidst the cameras, lights, crew, and general turmoil.
    He goes in this soft whispering voice "I don’t know much about the street. I get afraid of people sometimes. Friendship is something I’m just learning about, I don’t really know anything about that, I was brought up on stage, that’s where I’m comfortable".
    Eventually the interview ends and he walks off to finish the video about gang members and street violence and – as we know – delivering it so convincingly and breathtakingly. Talk about complexity.
    His person prompted so many questions. How can someone so shy be so vibrant when performing? How did he become so extraordinarily talented? Why, when so attractive and with that amazing smile, did he undergo those plastic surgeries? Did he behave inappropriately among young boys? Would his music career have been different if he'd continued to work with Quincy Jones? Did his voice stay so high pitched because of hormone in-take or 'simply' vocal training? How did he channel his sadness through his music and dance while loving it so much? How, what, where, why??????

    One of the Danish newspapers wrote yesterday that now we would finally find out the truth about Michael Jackson. But you know, we never will.
    We will continue to ask those questions and the only answer we’ll ever get is 'If they say why, why - tell ‘em that is human nature'. And maybe here lies some of the explanation to the cross-cultural, cross-gender and cross-generation fascination with him. He embodies human nature in its most extreme form.
    Who hasn’t been shy and vulnerable? Who hasn’t dreamed of doing great things and achieving great fame? Who hasn’t wished they had some unique talent to unleash? Who hasn’t felt alone? Who doesn't long to be loved? Who hasn’t thought about being someone else?

    These feelings are universal. Only, Michael Jackson seemed to have them more than anyone else, seemingly sucking all mankind's hardship, experiences and eternal blues like a hypersensitive sponge. Above all, he acted on these feelings, enabled by his wealth and access, but certainly also driven by some extraordinarily powerful inner force. While shy and insecure he was also known to be stubborn and extremely focused, something that usually comes from a deeply rooted drive to succeed and to 'show the others’ - in his case, the whole world.
    Without this drive you can be very talented and yet not get anywhere. He had the drive, he'd been wired to have it since he was a small child and it was this which, with his extraordinary talent and his intelligence, got him to this off-the-scale level.
    But it was probably also this drive, along with - most certainly when at that level as an artist - a ruthless industry that prevented him from stopping before it got to the extreme.

    I'm listening to Michael Jackson. Discovering elements in his music, singing and moves I haven’t noticed before.
    The introductory ‘Oooooh’ of Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough that is the distilled sound of simultaneous restrain and explosion. How the song Streetwalker that wasn’t originally on the Bad album sounds like a mix of Billie Jean and The Way You Make Me Feel. His blue, jazzy crooning on Fly Away which frankly isn't a great track but his vocal is. The way he works his voice on Wanna Be Starting Something like a musical instrument. The almost scat-like 'You're-one-of-ua-ooh-us' on Another Part of Me. And a lot of other sounds I can’t even put into words.

    The way he moves, like there’s electricity running through him, sizzling, stirring, shifting, never still. The fully charged yet fully controlled intensity in every movement and every syllable, catapulting, darting, punching like projectiles of expression and emotion.

    There’s a video clip where Michael Jackson is instructing Michael Jordan in the dance moves for the Jam video. This is funny, you can imagine, but there is one particular moment where Jackson genuinely seems to move at the speed of light, and then he patiently explains to Jordan "You have to put all your energy into your feet so, you know, it goes POW!"... Pow indeed.

    At the end of the Public Enemies film Johnny Depp’s character, the mythical outlaw John Dillinger, is shot in public by a group of FBI agents and falls to the ground. As he takes his last breath, he whispers to one of the agents to tell his girlfriend Billie (sic) something. He says ‘Tell Billie for me… Bye bye blackbird’.

    So there it is. Bye, bye blackbird and thank you for all the trills and thrills as vibrant as ever as on this 1987 live performance of Thriller. You kept us on our toes.

    Insightful articles on MJ's talent, voice, work, and life:

    How does marketing and CSR relate - and should it?

    Yesterday, I was talking with an acquaintance of mine, Ronnie. We were pondering the changed marketing landscape, and companies' and their marketing departments' changing role as a result; and he asked, kind of rhetorically, if marketing and CSR didn't kind of belong together.

    I've always believed that every external action, every design component, every piece of communication, every product or service communicates and positions your company and determines whether your customers want to relate to you or not, and how.
    Therefore, I also believe that there cannot be walls between marketing, corporate communication, customer service, product development or CSR for that matter. It's called brand management and it's called customer experience. Two sides of the same coin. This is old hat, really.

    But the question about the relation between marketing and CSR specifically is an increasingly important one, not least because of the inherent conflict, or at least perceived conflict between the two, one being commercial, the other philantropic in nature. Perhaps there doesn't have to be one.

    We'll ponder some more and - maybe - return with some thoughts on how to manage marketing and CSR symbiotically.

    Music with a wink

    A great jazz lover or expert I am not. Yes, the occasional Miles Davis, Mingus, Brubeck and Grover Washington goes on the stereo but that's about it and I know very little about it. And my knowledge of Danish jazz is even more miniscule. But then I got these two compilations all with Danish jazz artists, out on Discowax/Warner and put together by DJ Collective Vibezone.

    This is an abundance of poetic, up-beat, groovy, and extremely positive music, from jazz, latin and jazz funk to nu jazz and more. The compilations hold an impressive range of Danish jazz artists from heavy-weights Chris Minh Doky, Bentzon Brotherhood and Caroline Henderson to lesser known acts such as Carsten Dahl, Benni Chawes, and Malene Mortensen.

    Nat & Dag 1 features a breath-taking rendition of John Lennon's Imagine by Palle Mikkelborg. On Nat & Dag 2 Danes will recognize 70s rock act Gasolin's Rabalderstræde, here titled Calle Raballero and performed by Mo' Green aka Morten Gronvad - just brilliant. My own favorite: Many, but Hometown Melodies by Jakob Bro is definitely one of them.

    Good taste and good atmosphere through and through.

    From cardboard and crayons to content and convenience

    "I know of a pharmaceutical company that only calls in a marketer when it wants to decide on the color for a new pill." (Philip Kotler in Business Week recently).

    We have all been there, us marketing folks. Experienced the perception of 'Marketing, isn't that the department for cardboard and crayons?'. Marketing as campaign and event department, a tactical service function for sales or product management. This is an archaic view of marketing and an un-productive, even dangerous one, because with this view many gaps are not discovered, opportunities not explored, and value not captured.

    Of course Kotler is right, marketing must act as strategic growth driver. And of course marketing must be able to set up meaningful metrics and demonstrate ROI against these metrics - it goes without saying.

    What I think is not discussed enough here but is of increasing importance is the new meaning and hence emerging role of marketing. Kotler does advocate that marketing should probably prioritise developing useful and distinctive products over developing ad campaigns for (often) useless and non-distinct products. Kotler also argues that the role of marketing is to bring the voice of the consumer into the company's thinking and move from marketing to 'consumering'. This is all good!

    But the thing is that marketing is something that companies do for themselves, not for consumers and it is therefore for the most part completely irrelevant for consumers. Consumers do not care about a company's marketing and why should they. Whether marketing depts need more or fewer right, left brained or two-brained people is perhaps not the question, when the key is whether they understand people deep down and empathetically, and therefore are able to grasp what really matters to their target audience. Influence is a matter of walking in their shoes. 15-20 years ago, psychology and anthropology played a role in marketing - where has it gone?

    So in order for marketing to move from being a tactical service function to a strategic growth lever, it needs to come to terms with the fact that marketing needs to be relevant and add value to the target audience(s), not simply by making the ads funnier or the stores nicer-looking. But by giving far more than is expected, providing genuinely valuable content ie insight, knowledge, services that are free and convenient and extends the value - and use - of the product and brand far beyond what you paid.
    It's time businesses realise that you really do just get what you give. Only, today you have to give so much more!

    Still one of the best marketing books around is John Grant's 'After Image'. And Marshall Goldsmith's interview with Kotler in Business Week is here.

    People have the power

    The music industry needs to listen to this, no in fact, they don't have to listen because it doesn't matter what they think or do much anymore: http://musicindustrymanifesto.com/the-manifesto/ 

    "You can't read the label when you're inside the jar"

    What a brilliant way to express the conundrum of innovation from the inside. Courtesy of G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Viton - more here.

    Twats on Twitter

    Like a lot of other people I twitter. I post little 140-sign statements on this, that and the other on twitter.com. Usually meaningless nonsense for most people but nevertheless I find I get new followers from almost every new post. However, many of these followers are not genuine people or interesting people or people who want to share. They are small businesses, organisations or in some cases individuals who pick up on single words in your posts, words that match with whatever they are selling, and then start to follow you, seemingly in the hope that you might get interested and check them out, become their follower or perhaps even sign up to their offers.

    For example, I am reading 'The Game' by Neil Strauss which is about the time he was a pick-up artist and about the whole pick-up artist scene/environment. I post something about this book on Twitter, and lo and behold, I get a new follower which is the 'PUA app for iPhone' (PUA = pick-up artist).
    Another example: I post something about fitness ball exercises and two seconds later I have several followers who are US fitness trainers.

    This really bugs me. Yes, I know I can block them but that's not the point. The point is that Twitter is a space for sharing your thoughts, it is not a commercial market place where others can stalk people around and hawk their wares. Go away!

    Life is so odd

    Went out to buy detergent and came home with new Paul Smith shoes, Chanel nail varnish, and 14 DVDs.

    Today's plan

    I have a plan, a plan to catch up on all the Harddisken podcasts from January to now.