Archives for posts with tag: Collaboration


Unless you never heard about the financial crisis, you experienced first hand that people are not rational. Our rationality is directly linked to our gut. Tons of research has been developed to better understand our decision making process. What we learned over time is that we should focus less on the individual and more on the fact that we are social beings. Introducing the Argumentative Theory of Reasoning:

“We do all these irrational things, and despite mounting results, people are not really changing their basic assumption. They are not challenging the basic idea that reasoning is for individual purposes. The premise is that reasoning should help us make better decisions, get at better beliefs. And if you start from this premise, then it follows that reasoning should help us deal with logical problems and it should help us understand statistics. But reasoning doesn’t do all these things, or it does all these things very, very poorly.”


“Psychologists have shown that people have a very, very strong, robust confirmation bias. What this means is that when they have an idea, and they start to reason about that idea, they are going to mostly find arguments for their own idea. They’re going to come up with reasons why they’re right, they’re going to come up with justifications for their decisions. They’re not going to challenge themselves.

And the problem with the confirmation bias is that it leads people to make very bad decisions and to arrive at crazy beliefs. And it’s weird, when you think of it, that humans should be endowed with a confirmation bias. If the goal of reasoning were to help us arrive at better beliefs and make better decisions, then there should be no bias. The confirmation bias should really not exist at all. We have a very strong conflict here between the observations of empirical psychologists on the one hand and our assumption about reasoning on the other.

But if you take the point of view of the argumentative theory, having a confirmation bias makes complete sense. When you’re trying to convince someone, you don’t want to find arguments for the other side, you want to find arguments for your side. And that’s what the confirmation bias helps you do.

The idea here is that the confirmation bias is not a flaw of reasoning, it’s actually a feature. It is something that is built into reasoning; not because reasoning is flawed or because people are stupid, but because actually people are very good at reasoning — but they’re very good at reasoning for arguing. Not only does the argumentative theory explain the bias, it can also give us ideas about how to escape the bad consequences of the confirmation bias.”

Important ramifications for the marketing world:

– We’re trying to influence people with features and competitive advantages but people don’t look for the best list of features.

– Communicating competitive advantage is not about understanding belief systems, culture, lifestyles, demographics, psychographics, and the all the other stuff that’s floating around in the advertising world. We just have to give the gut some credibility to make its argument.

– More importantly for all brands: We need to create an environment that fosters better ideas. We need to collaborate with people that perceive the world differently, we need to create environments where contrary opinions are cherished, where curiousness and openness are basic requirements, and where process is an enzyme to to encourage more experimentation and sharing.


The next Albert Einstein has been born already.

He made a leap of thought that no one could have predicted. The leap took years of work, hours of discussions and collaboration, thousands of miles of travel. When he started the journey, he had no idea he was getting ready for a new idea of such magnitude.

The relativity theory was not deductible simply from the observations he’d made. Einstein’s work changed the world because it raced through the twentieth-century network of scientists, and then of writers, and then throughout the networks we call culture and history.

We can expect that the next Einstein is more likely to be a data wonk than an absent-minded professor. New software will correlate unrelated data sets and develop insights, theories and open new worlds to us. These program will make us rethink our thinking. The next Einstein will make sense of data that a program has uncomprehendingly flagged as interestingly anomalous.

The next Einstein is like to do her work in the public space, on the connected Web. Rather than waiting to publish final results, she will post early results and perhaps a speculative hypothesis. As word spreads, a web of links and connections will grow around her. Some nodes will turn into hubs, some hosted by amateurs others by professionals, scientists, businesspeople or scholars. We know, however, that many of the nodes and the threads that connect them will disagree, will argue, will go down a dead end, will be wrong, childish and selfish, will be a waste of the links that connects them. Still, we will be able to follow how an idea spreads and the effect it has as the competent and the nutty take it up, make it their own and pass it on.

This is not just a change of tools. The nature of the knowledge that the next Einstein uncovers will be different from that produced by Albert Einstein almost 100 years ago. Our new knowledge does not consist of a careful set of works that have passed through a series of narrow gates. We once believed that knowledge was scarce, when in fact our shelves were just small. Our new knowledge is not even a set of works: it’s an infrastructure of connection. We now travel through abundance as knowingly as we can, always within a context and from a point of view, always connected with others, always with the amount of care we judge is required. Knowledge is now a network with the characteristics of the Web.

We can argue all day if the new knowledge will bring us closer to the truth. We can’t argue that networked knowledge brings us closer to the truth about knowledge.


Brands are empty containers of meaning. Companies and marketing departments have a meaning they want the customer to  believe, and customers develop meaning through interactions, both good and bad, with the brand.

This kid has a clear view of brands she has interacted with. She has a totally different meaning than the one intended to brands with which she has little experience. The brand is empty of meaning until we fill it.

A brand is meaningless until both the company and its customers create meaning through a relationship or experience with each other. Important to note: meaning is created by both the brand AND the customers. Understanding how your followers view you is critical to developing a successful and beloved brand.

You won’t be able to understand your customer by conducting focus groups, online surveys or social mentions. You need to talk to your customers. Which means getting out of your office and meeting customers in their environment. Experiencing how they engage with the product. Self-awareness is one of the most difficult aspects of branding.

It shouldn’t be about approval. It should be about learning.


One of the highlights of ad:tech Tokyo was the keynote of Clark Kokich, Chairman of Razorfish. He introduced the audience to his soon to be released book “Do or Die: A complete rethinking of how brands create and sustain customer relationships.” Interestingly, the book will be released as an iPad app, not a printed book. (The preview site is still a work in progress and not live, and the publishing date of the book wasn’t clear to me, definitely early enough to be a stocking stuffer.)

Advertising used to be about changing perception. Now it’s about changing reality.

That was one of Kokich’s most dramatic paradigm shifts the advertising industry has to deal with in the future. While Einstein might not agree with him, (He famously said: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”) but I believe Kokich understood and distilled a very important insight advertisers have to deal with for a long time to come.

Things aren’t always what they seem. Marketers relied on this fact to make us see things- the way they want us to see them. But wandering through life, letting others create our perceptions, can make a very unfulfilling life. The declining power of mass advertising and the increasing control of customers leads people to desire to be in charge of their own perception of reality. As marketers, changing perceptions is just not that effective anymore. You need to change reality.

Redefine the definition of a big idea

Vail Resorts Epic Mix app redefined the big idea: It was not a huge campaign, it was not some big initiative, it was an app that changed the skiing experience. It was based on the insight that skiing as a solitary experience needs to be complemented by a social experience to enjoy a fulfilling vacation you want to share with your friends. Vail Resorts stayed away from telling people how enjoyable it was to vacation at their properties. Instead, they worked hard to make the actual experience more fun.

Reverse the process: From “Channel up” to “Channel down”

Sure, the commercial is memorable but the real meat of the campaign was a grassroots campaign that allowed fans around the world to write their own future through a unique experience on and their Facebook page that gave fans the power to create personalized videos, photos and information that put them on center stage at the World Cup 2010. Fans were then able to take their customized content to build their own Facebook campaign in an attempt to get noticed and selected for “The Chance” which is an elite Nike Academy football camp.

Master the art of collaborative creativity

The “Write the future” campaign from Nike was developed through a collaboration between AKQA, Razorfish, Mindshare and Wieden & Kennedy under the leadership of Nike. None of us is as good as all of us. This can be very effective if the collaboration is organized properly.

Don’t get up in the morning and think ‘What can we we say about the brand today’. Instead, get up in the morning and do something in the spirit of the brand, based on its core beliefs.

Kokich’s closing thought.

I’m looking forward reading his book.


Generally, I record my book reviews on Goodreads but this book by Tony Schwartz was so close to the core mission of BatesHook that I wanted to share it with a wier audience.

The basic premise of the book is: “The furious activity to accomplish more with less exacts a series of silent costs: less capacity for focused attention, less time for any given task, and less opportunity to think reflectively and long term.”

Below are a few of the big ideas that resonated with me:

” Rather than trying to get more out of people, organizations are better served by investing more in them and meeting their multidimensional needs in order to fuel greater engagement and more sustainable high performance.”

“We think of leaders as “chief energy officers.” The core challenge for leaders is to recruit, mobilize, inspire, focus, and regularly refuel the energy of those they lead.”

“Our core emotional need is to feel secure – to be valued and appreciated. The more we feel our value is at risk, the more energy we spend defending it and the less energy we have available to create value.”

“When we default reactively to telling negative stories, we almost invariably assign ourselves the role of victim. It feels better not to blame ourselves for disappointments, but the victim role undermines our power to influence our circumstances. The alternative is to intentionally look for where our responsibility lies in any given situation – and then take remedial action on any part of it that we’re in a position to influence.”

“The key capacities of the right hemisphere – creative and big-picture thinking, openness to learning, and empathy – are a largely untapped source of competitive advantage, both for individuals and for organizations.”

“Deeply held values define the person you aspire to be. They’re what we’re rooted in and what we stand for – an internal compass that helps us navigate the storms and the choices we all inevitably face.”

“There’s a deep disconnect between what many companies say they stand for and what they actually do. This disconnect takes a toll on employee engagement, on productivity, and ultimately on organizational success.”

“A new way of working ultimately requires an evolutionary shift in the center of gravity of our lives – from “me” to “us”.

This is a mature book, deeply rooted in research and real-life examples. It’s for anyone that feels that we’re in the middle of a transformative revolution and doesn’t have an internal blueprint how to work and live in/with this new reality. The content is not limited to workplace issues, it deals with the much bigger issue of becoming a better person and leading a fulfilling life.

Highly recommended.


We’ve heard it many times before: Customer Service is the new marketing. Books have been written about it, presentations given and blogs are filled with this insight. And, most executives understand the importance of delivering supreme service to their customers? Given all that, why are most companies still delivering sub-par Customer Service? Why are we still dealing with phone trees, scripts, badly designed forms? Where id the disconnect?

Most companies are not designed to deliver on the ‘Service as Marketing’ promise

David Armano wrote an insightful post “Social Media Marketing won’t fix your infrastructure problem.” He explains:

“Every business has a series of systems and infrastructure in place to keep it running. Even if the goal is to EVOLVE the communications/marketing arm of your organization because you fundamentally believe that the game is changing—there is no way to do it without picking up the hood and looking at the engine. Not just the oil or the windshield fluid level, but the ENTIRE engine.”

While many marketing departments are evolving and trying to tap into the power of Social Media, the rest of the enterprise continues to work under the old paradigm of Customer Service as a cost center. The much lauded @ComcastCares can’t hide the fact that Comcast as an enterprise doesn’t value their customers as much as they should. Or as Jonathan Salem Baskin writes in his brilliant column titled “The Twitter Tax”

“Tools like Twitter aren’t some dream of customer empowerment, but rather the nightmare reality of the broken relationships between consumers and brands. Responding to online complaints is a tax that companies pay because of the chronic mismatch between what consumers expect from brands and what they ultimately get. An individualized response might momentarily bridge the gap, but it won’t fix it. Never will.”

While I encourage companies to listen and respond on these new channels, the highest priority of companies should be to work on the basics – and improve Customer Service to a point where no more complaints will be expressed and employees and more focused on helping people, less on servicing them. (Just in case you need a few stats to convince the decision makers in your enterprise: Among customers who leave a customer interaction angry, 91% will never come back and 96% of those people will never tell us why they left)

It requires a corporate-wide rethinking of all customer touch points: phone, email, forms, attitudes. But, most importantly, Customer Service Departments have to transform from cost centers to profit centers. No, I’m not talking about up-sell scripts.I’m talking about improving loyalty and customer satisfaction. It requires the design of a new enterprise system that puts Customer Service at the center of all activities. This allows companies to regard each customer interaction as an opportunity to deliver a superior experience and be sincerely helpful.


This column appeared first on Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers site

Kirk McDonald, President, Digital, Time Inc. keynoted at the iMedia Agency Summit in sunny Phoenix and predicted the next decade will be the age of storytelling.


The pendulum that swings between art and science in advertising has moved too far to the science part of advertising in the past decade. We have focused on making markets more efficient and not focus enough on moving markets. While there’s a good case to be made to introduce algorithms into advertising, we have gone too far. We forgot that advertising is about people with lives and soul and energy, and we have to re-focus our efforts on developing creative ideas and innovation in advertising to make meaningful connections with people. While a good delivery mechanism is vital to deliver relevant messages to people, we have to put as much (or even more energy) in crafting messages that connect more with the heart and soul of people.

We have to stop the race to the bottom

While his message is clearly self-serving (publishers can’t live on CPM rates of $0.23), it still rings very true. For years, the digital marketing community has been engaged in a race to the bottom. The problem when you race to the bottom: The winner is still at the bottom. For the advertising community to find its footing again, we need to reverse that trend and race to the top again. Connect with the heart and soul of people. Tell stories they want to share. Tell stories that inspire them. Listen to the stories of people and share them with the world. New tools and platforms allow advertisers to co-create and collaborate with people. This is a unique opportunity. The industry is at crossroads: It is our responsibility to stay away from the pull of short-term gains and focus on the long-term health of the advertising industry. And regain its soul again.


I love going to my kid’s school.

I feel very jealous every time I walk into their premises.

I see a few kids huddled around a table, working, co-creating, collaborating, exploring, changing the world.

They have circle time. Everybody shares, no egos, no titles, just being themselves.

Each day they start out with a blank slate. No history, no legacy, just the present.

All the tools they need (Paper, crayons, glue, scissors) are waiting for them. Ready to change everything.

Books and books and books ready for them to read, absorb and mash-up in their innocent minds.

And, when they have recess play time: It’s on. They just play. Because that’s what they are supposed to do.

When are we going to play?

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how advertising has to become more inspirational. Calling it coincidence or luck, I encountered above inspiring example last night.

Visiting Amsterdam for a few days, I’ve seen a lot of print/display ads and billboards announcing the new H&M flagship store in Amsterdam. Nothing made me stop and consider visiting the store. But above video installation just made everybody stop in their tracks and look. Muse created such an amazing video experience, it wasn’t clear for a while if we’re looking at art or advertising as art. In the end, it doesn’t matter. H&M and Muse put a smile on my face and made Amsterdam even more magic. If you think advertising can’t be inspirational, just watch the video.


Unless you lived on the moon, you realize the global economy is struggling because most corporations are not constructed to produce any real value. They are designed to maximize shareholder value while stakeholders are getting squeezed to improve the bottom line and introduce as many efficiencies as possible. Add to that corporate welfare, Fed and Treasury policies, regulations (or lack thereof) and you end up with a toxic mess of an ongoing banking crisis, mind-numbing landscapes of mini malls, toxicity in assets, the environment and the overall capitalistic world we are living in. And, while people are crowding the bargain bins, corporations continue to develop cheaper ways to satisfy the need for the bargain. Interestingly, when you produce a mediocre product/service (create thin value, as Umair Haque calls it), the price is all what matters. When you create real value/thick value, price becomes a tertiary consideration. Call it awesomeness, call it being amazing, call it being a linchpin.

With a few, rare exceptions, advertising has focused on creating thin value. Rather than inspiring people with marketing for products that add value, most of marketing/advertising is focused on brainwashing people into buying stuff that makes no difference. Just another item I can use and throw away/forget about effortlessly without considering the implications for the rest of the world. (Labor Conditions, Environment, Export/Import Structures)

Now, let’s look at the advertising/marketing industry. It’s not a dying industry but an industry in deep trouble. We are not considered partners, we’re just another vendor that sells questionable value. Media Buying has become a commodity, media planning to follow soon. The people we market to are busy tuning us out because they don’t feel marketing creates any real value. While we continue to communicate to people as they were still consumers, they are busy producing, communicating and building networks. We have commoditized our industry to death, starting to hop on a dangerous death spiral. Just like the whole economic system.

Advertising is just one pillar of the economic system we’re living in. Advertising can’t change the world or make it a better place. But, as part of a new economic system, advertising can be an inspiration, an artistic expression of the paradigm change. As an industry, we need to focus on the drastic changes the economic system is going through. We can safely say, the end of creating slim/thin value for profit is fast approaching. No matter how good your strategies/tactics/ideas are, unless you create real value for society with your products and services, you will fail in the long run.

My headline “Why advertising professionals need to be economic professionals” didn’t imply you need to watch Bloomberg all day, read each article in the WSJ or get a degree in economics. Most of what you read or see there is just an expression of times almost passed. All of us need to understand that our whole economic system is transforming and changing into something much more substantial, sustainable and human. Advertising is just another expression of this change. Please work, create, add value accordingly.