Monday, September 22, 2014

Genius Isn’t Enough, Execution Is Everything

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“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand” – Einstein

When someone writes a biography, they are not only tasked with mapping out the events in a person’s life. A good biographer ponders the connections in life, and tries to recreate an authentic story. Walter Isaacson has spent a fair amount of his life immersed in the minds of geniuses. He has written books on Einstein, Franklin, Kissinger and Jobs, so when he says that we’re abusing the word ‘innovation,’ I am partial to hearing him out.

Innovation is something of a 21st century catch-cry, explains Isaacson in an interview on Products are marketed as innovative. Tech geniuses are described as innovators. Governments pump money into encouraging businesses to innovate. Just browse the number of book titles on the topic - there are many people trying to work out the formula for innovation success!

To grasp Isaacson’s key thread, innovation is often muddled as something that germinates in the mind of a genius before being brought to life in a dank garage. It’s something we think other people do. But in reality, it’s a collaborative process. Innovation requires visionary ideas that are executed with style.

Isaacson’s upcoming book The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, is all about the execution. Genius isn’t enough. Execution is everything. And to change the world through innovation, you need a team.

As Isaacson says: “I think sometimes we underestimate … or sometimes we don’t fully appreciate the importance of collaborative creativity. So my book is not a theoretical book, but it’s just a history of the collaborations and teamwork that led to the computer, the Internet, the transistor, the microchip, Wikipedia, Google and other innovations.”

The Innovators is out in October. Put it on your list.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Last Word on Brands

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Just out is a digest on everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-brands in 2015. Kartik Kompella has orchestrated 18 brand experts from around the world to compile a 425-page doorstopper The Definitive Book of Branding. Kartik lives in Bangalore where he is the founder of Purposeful Brands. He has been associated with brands in various ways from an advertising planner, brand consultant, DM and CRM professional to marketer and international conference speaker. He is especially passionate about Cause-related Branding and was responsible for the first ever study on consumer attitudes toward CSR in India. His Lovemarks is Pink Floyd and cricket.

Fortuitously, perhaps presciently, he has given me the last word in the book. Naturally, my chapter is on Lovemarks as the future beyond brands.

Fellow contributors include Adam Morgan (Challenger Brands), Helen Edwards (Passion Brands), Richard Mosely (the Employer Brand), Mark Batey (Meaningful Brands), Jan Lindemann (the Economy of Brands), Sicco Van Gelden (City Brands), Jean-Noel Kapferer (Luxury Brands), Daryl Travis (Brant Trust), Patrick Hanlon (Primal Brands) and Al Ries (Positioning).

Kartik has assembled a great body of endorsers, including this great summation from Phil Chapman, Vice President Equity and Communication- Global Chocolate, from Saatchi & Saatchi client Mondelēz International:

“Kompella has marshalled an outstanding body of Brand thought, both contemporary and timeless, paying into my own beliefs and prejudices. The thesis is that Brands must be at and in the hearts of our organisations. Brands that keep winning are built to make the world a little better every day, built with clarity of purpose and authenticity behind causes which resonate. They create compelling connections and new perspectives which celebrate their unique brand distinctiveness through everything that they do, every day. This is in the face of two enormous challenges; first, most shopper decisions are unconscious and implicit, when forced to articulation they are often misleading, misconstrued or misinterpreted. Secondly, in the age of real time global social digital connection, the days of controlled brand ownership and confidentiality are over. It is only what we stand for, communicate and deliver that counts. We had better do it better, faster and more tenaciously than others. This book is a great starting point to understanding branding success today.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Value Proposition Design

It’s not the most inspirational title for a book, but then looks can be deceiving. Their last book Business Model Generation has sold a million copies in 30 languages, is currently #430 on Amazon and has 288 five star reviews. I met co-author Yves Pigneur, Professor of management and information systems at University of Lausanne at an event we both spoke at in 2011 staged by the Swiss innovation company Creaholic. In a beautifully architected way the book riffs through subjects such as customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, activities, resources, partners and cost structures. I tell you, a million copies.

The second book by Yves and co-author Alexander Osterwalder is “Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want” and it promises to be another winner for them and publisher John Wiley.

Here’s the pitch:

Value Proposition Design is for anyone who has been frustrated by business meetings based on endless conversations, hunches and intuitions, expensive new product launches that blew up, or simply disappointed by the failure of a good idea. The book will help you understand the patterns of great value propositions, get closer to customers, and avoid wasting time with ideas that won’t work. You’ll learn the simple but comprehensive process of designing and testing value propositions, taking the guesswork out of creating products and services that perfectly match customers’ needs and desires.

Practical exercises, illustrations and tools help you immediately improve your product, service, or new business idea. In addition the book gives you exclusive access to an online companion on You will be able to complete interactive exercises, assess your work, learn from peers, and download pdfs, checklists, and more.

The book is on sale around October 20. Get your Amazon pre-order in now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Remo’s World

Remo Giuffré is a Sydney creative legend. He has a long track record as an entrepreneur, retail merchant and brand builder. I first came across him at his iconic REMO General Store which he founded on Oxford St in 1988, it was clear an eclectic retail curator was at work, aiming to delight on every shelf and shop corner. Said Christine on, “The original REMO General Store was an oasis of quality in a world awash with feculent ephemera. I went there to find inspiration as much as any product. That kernel of commitment to things inspired and inspiring continues in their online presence. I go to the REMO site and feel like someone has tapped into my brain and brought together just the things that I might enjoy. The epitome of the Lovemark.”

I featured Remo in The Lovemarks Effect in 2006 as a role model for how to create a Lovemark. Remo was an early TEDster and is the Licensee for TEDxSydney at the Sydney Opera House which has become the leading platform and pipeline for the propagation of Australian ideas, innovation and creativity to the rest of the world. He founded the General Thinking network in 2001.

Now Remo has a book coming out, General Thinker, which tells the stories and examines the experiences that have guided and shaped him along my path as a founder, entrepreneur and brand builder. “I have experienced both great success and brilliant failure in my life to date; all the while learning lots about myself and others. This book is a personal memoir, but it's also about people, experiences and brands; and an ongoing exploration of what it takes to engage, delight and create desire. It’s a book about work. It’s a book about love. It's about me, but also about you.”

There’s a Kickstarter underway for the printing costs of the book, looks like it’s doing well, but pile on in and be part of the Remo party. I’ve ordered 25 copies for starters.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Doing the Business in Blackpool

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It was quite a week standing on my feet: two closing speeches at Esomar, the world research conference in Nice, and in Paris for an alumni event at the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools Insead, followed on Friday night being ringmaster for the Be Inspired Business Awards staged by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and rigorously supported by the Lancaster University Management School where I am Honorary Professor of Creative Leadership.

It was a home turf event though I did underestimate my “sure I’ll help out” offer. This was no walk in the park: 1,000 passionate people in the audience, a stage in the round, almost three hours on show, over 140 finalists from 1,231 entries and 19 award winners. Phew!

The North West is a proud region full of enterprising businesses and exporters. Among my favorite winners were:
  • Chelsom of Blackpool who won both Creative Business of the Year and Exporter of the Year – since 1947 Chelsom has designed and created quality decorative hotel lighting, cruise ship lighting and lighting for commercial contracts worldwide (if you’ve been to Ian Schrager’s Berners Tavern you’ll know the sort of ambience they create);
  • Business Woman of the Year: Janet Thornton, Inspired Energy (Kirkham), the fastest growing energy consultancy in the UK with over 1500 clients and over 7.6 billion kWh managed annually.
  • The Foxton Centre (Preston) who won Most Inspiring Business of the Year. They have been working with rough sleepers, street sex workers, young people, people with alcohol abuse issues and other people in the community who need our support for over 40 years.
  • Lancastrian of the Year: Eric Wright, Eric Wright Group (Bamber Bridge), a leader within the building industry with services from construction and civil engineering, to property development and facilities management.
See write-ups of the event by Norman Tenray and Simon Dalley.

Take it away North West!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Neat in Nice

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In Nice yesterday for the ESOMAR conference (the European Society for Opinion and Market Research) speaking about “Winning in the Age of Now.” Closing keynote to 1,000 of the planet’s top market researchers. Lots of warmth, fun and camaraderie. See seven minute interview here.

Released a Saatchi & Saatchi ‘Red Paper’ Brand Loyalty Reloaded. The subject of Brand Loyalty is much debated in this fast-moving digital world. Is it still relevant? What is the 2015 equilibrium between retention and acquisition? Is Brand Loyalty still achievable? If so, how? This 11,000 word ‘Red Paper’ makes the case that the economics of Brand Loyalty are as compelling as ever, and that declining loyalty levels are attributable in part to the failure to meet the rising emotional needs of consumers. In the Red Paper you will find why: Big Data needs Big Love; Emotion is the driver of sales; Loyalty is a two-way street; Creativity is a catalyst for loyalty.