May 2013

The Path To Amazing Runs Through Not-Yet-Amazing

2013-05-24T11:43:28-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |


“If you set your bar at “amazing,” it’s awfully difficult to start…” today writes Seth Godin.

He continues…

Confronted with the gap between your vision of perfect and the reality of what you’ve created, the easiest path is no path. Shrug. Admit defeat. Hit delete.

One more reason to follow someone else and wait for instructions.

Of course, the only path to amazing runs directly through not-yet-amazing. But not-yet-amazing is a great place to start, because that’s where you are. For now.

There’s a big difference between not settling and not starting.

Great advice, huh? Keep working at it. Sticktoitivity. You’re only where you are “for now.”

[Article by Seth Godin, Diagram by Idea Sandbox]

August 2010

Nothing Worse Than The Wrong Problem Solved Properly

2010-08-26T15:43:53-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , , , , |

“There’s nothing worse than
bad coffee brewed properly.”

That’s a quote by Tim Kern. He was a coffee guru at Starbucks Coffee. A long-time employee who was caught a the lay-off sweep a couple of years ago.

The artwork is from a notebook Starbucks handed out to participants in a leadership conference. The notebook was sprinkled with quotes provided by partners (employees).

Tim’s point… Garbage in equals garbage out. You can have the highest quality, best machine in the world, but if you fill it with bad coffee – you’re going to get a bad product.

This is a challenge that happens with problem solving. The best people, using the best process, in the right place won’t made headway when they’re addressing the wrong problem.

Sometimes we don’t spend enough time identifying the root cause of a problem. As a result, we do a really good job fixing the wrong thing. It ends up wasting time, money, and effort. Worse – thinking the problem is indeed fixed (a false sense of security) – the root problem has a chance to deteriorate further.

The return for ensuring you’re addressing the root cause is worth the investment.

Tips to Find Root Cause

Here are a few articles I’ve posted in the past that will prevent you from properly solving the wrong problem.

July 2010

May 2010

Shiny New Thing

2010-05-24T13:43:16-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , , , |

Each week Tom Fishburne publishes a comic panel as part of his Brand Camp series. And each week I simply want to republish what he’s written; he is always spot-on with his observations.

This week’s strip, titled “Shiny New Thing”, highlights a weakness of so many companies – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I’ve been calling it “Shiny Object Syndrome.”

[Click for Larger View]

Tom explains why it happens…

It’s particularly easy to get distracted when the going gets tough on your core plan… Whether it’s a new technology, a new product, or a new customer, falling in love with the Shiny New Thing can take a team off course. It’s easy to get enthusiastic about the promise of something new than the hard slog of what you’re already doing…”

One quality that makes great companies “great” is their ability to work through that ‘hard slog.’ They do what it takes to “do it right” and finishing what they’ve started. They have sticktoitivity.

It happens often. A relatively successful product or program becomes boring to the manager. They neglect it, don’t promote it, and they let it move to the bottom shelf. The manager continues to be complacent and allows inventory and replenishment to become unreliable. Of course, customers aren’t going to purchase a hard to find, poorly stocked product – so they stop buying. The product manger gets to blame the customer and “lack of demand” instead of “I lost interest.”

Sure, products and programs run their course, customer needs change, and should be replaced by something more appropriate. On the other hand, you need to have the patience – and attention – to stick out your strategy.

Don’t allow Shiny Object Syndrome or ADHD to distract you.

Artwork © Tom Fishburne

February 2010

November 2009

June 2009

Johnnie Walker: Keep Walking “Fold-In” Ad

2009-06-11T17:14:53-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

Whisky brand, Johnnie Walker, has been running their “Keep Walking” brand campaign for quite a while now. It’s designed to “inspire personal progress.”

The ads feature the yellow, dapper, top hat-wearing silhouette from their bottles… the striding man.

The most recent campaign features the striding man surpassing life’s obstacles with grace and style. Here are a few examples from their website.

But that’s not why I’m writing… I’m going through some old magazines and came across this ad Johnnie Walker ad in the June 2006 issue of Business 2.0 magazine. (I miss that mag).

It features the striding Johnnie making his way past obstacles via a “fold-in.” I just posted an article about fold-ins earlier this week (including one I created when I was 9 years old).

[click for larger view]

If you “FOLD B ONTO A” it clears the path, free of naysayers, for the striding man to “keep walking.”

He bypasses…

  • It will never fly.
  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  • Don’t ruffle feathers.
  • The climate isn’t right.
  • You’ll never get the funding.
  • This isn’t even your department.
  • You’ll get laughed out of the room.
  • That’s too risky.
  • Don’t step on any toes.

From an inspirational message… I don’t know about you… but Johnnie Walker’s speakin’ my language.

From a marketing perspective, credit to Johnnie Walker for finding new and inventive ways to keep the striding man afoot. Credit to their agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) for the award-winning work.

August 2008

Do You Suffer From Marketing A.D.D.?

2012-07-16T11:26:43-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

Yesterday Some time ago, Seth Godin posted a great article on his blog declaring patience as the secret to success on the internet. Basically stating that success equals the ability to stick it out longer than those looking for instant success.

I agree, and add that this concept extends to the topic of general marketing strategy.

In my career, I have seen many examples of marketing attention deficit disorder. Times when the marketing and leadership teams became bored with a program and stopped supporting it. Or, were too impatient to see results didn’t let a program run through a second cycle and to success. (Often we spent longer planning and building a program than we did letting it play itself out).

We’d chastise the farmer who, after investing the month of April tilling soil, planting seeds, fertilizing and watering – and not seeing full-grown corn stalks by the beginning of May – bulldoze, pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

Seth states…

The irony of the web is that the tactics work really quickly. You friend someone on Facebook and two minutes later, they friend you back. Bang. But the strategy still takes forever. The strategy is the hard part, not the tactics.

Seth also added…

I discovered a lucky secret the hard way about thirty years ago: you can outlast the other guys if you try. If you stick at stuff that bores them, it accrues. Drip, drip, drip you win.

And his final piece of advice…

The media wants overnight successes (so they have someone to tear down). Ignore them. Ignore the early adopter critics that never have enough to play with. Ignore your investors that want proven tactics and predictable instant results. Listen instead to your real customers, to your vision and make something for the long haul. Because that’s how long it’s going to take, guys.

Do you have the patience – and attention – to stick out your strategy?

May 2008

January 2008

A Flying Car, Ashes, Dick van Dyke, and Innovation

2008-01-28T08:00:00-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

Have you ever seen the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Here’s a quick plot summary from Dick Van Dyke stars as eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts, who creates an extraordinary car called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It not only drives but also flies and floats as it leads him, his two children and his beautiful lady friend, Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), into a magical world of pirates, castles and endless adventure.

So there is your flying car and Dick van Dyke.

But what about ashes and innovation?

Well, there’s a musical number where the villainous Baron Bomburst, ruler of Vulgaria, has captured Grandpa Potts (Caractacus’ father) and wants him to make his royal car float just like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Potts, in frustration, exclaims to the inventors, “It’s impossible!” They counter his pessimism with words of advice.

“Nothing is impossible. Courage, man… Courage!”

Roses of Success Scene

And then break into the song… The Roses of Successs. These are the lyrics… and a lesson for us lies within.

Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!
Every glowing path that goes astray,
Shows you how to find a better way.
So every time you stumble never grumble.
Next time you’ll bumble even less!
For up from the ashes grow the roses of success!

For every big mistake you make be grateful!
That mistake you’ll never make again!
Every shiny dream that fades and dies,
Generates the steam for two more tries!
There’s magic in the wake of a fiasco!
It gives you that chance to second guess!
Then up from the ashes grow the roses of success!

Disaster didn’t stymie Louis Pasteur!
Edison took years to see the light!
Alexander Graham knew failure well;
He took a lot of knocks to ring that bell!
So when it gets distressing it’s a blessing!
Onward and upward you must press!
‘Til up from the ashes grow the roses of success!

FUN FACTS: The Roses of Success music and lyrics were written by Robert and Richard Sherman. Roses can grow well in sand or ashes because it make the soil more porous.