Personal at Scale

I recently posted two blogs on LinkedIn all about the importance of both automation in marketing and the human element.

In  Machine Learning Magic & the Intelligent app Revolution I covered the amazing power of targeting and interaction that can be unleashed by Machine Learning “ML” and provide some commentary on the state of that industry and what companies who want to knock it out of the park will need to do.

In You Can’t Automate Trust (aka “Personal Marketing at Scale”) I dig into the importance of the human factor in the Customer Action equation. There are unique and brilliant aspects of the human mind that are not being commoditized… not just yet, and by all measures not for some considerable time.

Customer Action = (Authenticity + Engagement + Relevance) * Trust

What do you think about the future of marketing? Where does automation and technology win and where do humans add irrevocable value?

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Two Must Reads on tapping into your creative side

This topic is so important. In our high tech, high paced, high demand world it’s easy to miss out on the approaches you can take to bring creativity into your life. This is important because creativity isn’t just about artistic past times like painting or photography it is the living breathing heart of human ingenuity.

In this article 12 things you were not taught in school about creativity smashes some of the propaganda and assumptions that plague creativity and how it is viewed in the workplace. I’m not sure what did it, the industrial revolution creating an over bearing sense of rational rules all or if was something else. Whatever it was, and for the longest time, many of those in the west have by in large assumed creativity is something separate to industrious productivity. It’s simply not true. “12 things” will help you retune your brain.

And in this MIT Technology review you will gain epic perspective on how to unleash your creativity by none other than Issac Assimov himself. Scientist, prolific author inventor of the concept of Androids (i.e. I, Robot) lays out some ground rules to tap into and harness both your creativity and that of the people you work on. It was actually a DARPA paper. How about that!

Creativity, Process & Perfection

What’s wrong with loving process? The pursuit of processes is by its very nature the pursuit of perfection. I can’t blame people for wanting that, the alternative of chaos. Rules of the road are a great example of process that works pretty well for most of us. If we didn’t have agreed process on the black top it wouldn’t just be chaos it would be a blood bath, cars hitting bikes, people going the wrong way around round-a-bouts (Brits, go visit a US city with round-a-bouts to experience this first hand).

Are processes ever perfect? Can we ever have a good excuse to shun the creativity? To answer that we should first look at the state of perfection, and what the pursuit of it does to us.

“You can’t get to great without going through good, but you’ll never get good if you are trying to be perfect” – Me

Aristotle, Confucius and other classical philosophers propounded the principle of the golden mean which counsels against extremism in general.[2] The Pareto principle or 80–20 rule explains this numerically. For example, it commonly takes 20% of the full time to complete 80% of a task while to complete the last 20% of a task takes 80% of the effort.[3] Achieving absolute perfection may be impossible and so, as increasing effort results in diminishing returns, further activity becomes increasingly inefficient. Watson-Watt, who developed early warning radar in Britain to counter the rapid growth of the Luftwaffe, propounded a “cult of the imperfect”, which he stated as “Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes (Perfect is the enemy of good).

If process and creativity are diametrically opposed then let’s dig a little deeper. Creativity has, as one of its core tenants, synthesis. Taking multiple old things and merging them into something new, something better (Virtual Salt). Arguably even the other forms of creativity such as revolution and evolution require building on the old. Utilizing existing information in different permutations. Is there a place for both process and creativity? Can they, dare I say, have a relationship? Firstly all things are in balance. Extremism in general is a negative thing (Thought Mistakes). You could even have a scenario where you have a process that encourages creativity, in a company for example to keep things fresh and competitive you could reward failure. Creativity can also result in establishing a process. Something that was once new, ground breaking can become established as a process over time.

So once we have a process, we should keep it. Right? Well there is the nature of the universe itself, and our friend entropy. Having a process in place assuming that it is ‘done’, set in stone, is kind of like an adult who assumes they are all grown up (ahh bless, it is back to school week after all ;-)); learning, growing, changing. Thinking you are complete is an ignorant fallacy (The day you stop learning is the day you die). The rules of the road, and roads themselves change over time to accommodate the creativity and changes of the world.

Creativity is useful as it helps us solve problems. If there were no new problems to solve we’d never need new ways to tackle them (wow, that sounds really obvious as I type it). If you have a problem, in a business for example, to address it and resolve it requires analysis of components of the issue, a theory on resolving the issue must be created (there’s that pesky creativity again) even if the “change” is as something as simple as ensuring someone or something in the company complies to the process. So we can safely answer ‘yes’, creativity and process do have a relationship. They are both important so we need to find a place for both.

Should we all live in a wild west of creative ideas? No. Likewise we shouldn’t let the desire for structure and a modicum of predictability lead to a blind adherence to process for process sake. We should seek out the grey areas, fuel and foster both for the right reasons. What I would propose is that is that in today’s world more often than not we fail to create space for the vision and foresight that creates the future. That we are too bound to the short term pursuit of profits and cost cutting. At all levels in our corporations. It’s kind of like the accusations Bob Lutz levels at the short term pursuit of profits vs. long term success in his book “Car Guys vs. Bean Counters“. Managing creativity and innovation can benefit from process, from approach. Likewise process will becomes better and more effective when we create the space for creativity to make it better. Whether it’s a criticism of accountants and their impact on product innovation in biotech (How Accountants Kill Innovation – I love his comments “some of my best friends are accountants”) or it’s identifying new and more effective ways of marketing that cut through the attention economy (Dealing with Distraction) at the end of the day we have to take risks, to act, purse the new, and design our organizations with the intention of doing so.

Be it the balance sheet or the marketing campaign make sure you are leaving space to fuel what made you great in the first place.