Thursday 14 May 2009

IPA 'Game Changers' event, 13th May 2009 – Six to Start presentation

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

IPA 'Game Changers' event, 13th May 2009 – Made by Many presentation

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Game Changers

It was great to see a full house at last night's 'Game Changers' event at the Adam Street club. There was a good atmosphere and a palpable air of anticipation amongst the audience keen to hear from our three game changers Dan, Tim and Giles. All of which helped to make for an inspiring evening.

Dan, from six to start kicked things off with a facinating talk about how his company are helping established businesses and their accompanying models of business to adapt to some of the opportunities that technological changes are bringing about.

We Tell Stories for Penguin is a compelling example of such an opportunity being taken. Creating a new entertainmnet form out of an established form, in this case a printed book. Dan started a theme echoed throughout the evening about the importance of fast and agile methodolgies in the development of ideas. Methodologies that rely on collaboration, putting action ahead of words and a willingness to change things when they don't quite work. To finish Dan teased the audience with an upcoming project for Channel 4 called Smokescreen which is an educational idea developed in the form of a game.

Next up was Tim from Made by Many who helped expand on the idea of agile methodologies with the help of some excellent visuals and quotations. It struck me and perhaps others that in the convergence of creativity, strategy and technology some of the rigours of stratgey are being superseded by a more experimental form of creative development. One of my favourite slides helps to dramatise this idea of old linear stratgey versus a new more agile forms of startegic and creative development.

In fact in many cases I think that the strategic phase is becoming less distinct but instead fused with other disciplines in a collaborative, ever-changing process of innovation. This has to be an exciting development for all of us who practice strategy. In a world where it is possible to bring about change rapidly within a market this new form of stratgey has to be that which is coupled with action.

Finally, Giles a co-founder of Zopa gave a genuinely inspiring talk about how the brand came about, where it sought its inspiration and gave a highly relevant perspective on the current financial crisis and the plight of banks. Zopa, for those that don't know, is the world's first and largest peer to peer lending site. It enables people to borrow and lend money to each other without having to go to a bank. Perhaps not surprisingly their business has blossomed during the crisis as the banks have reined in credit to customers.

As a strategist it was reassuring to hear that at the heart of the business was a desire to serve a particualr customer typology that took a fair amount of analysis to uncover. Zopa call this group freeformers. These people tend to have irregular incomes but in every other way are a credit worthy group. It just so happens they have a lifestyle that means work isn't everything. They may work some of the year and go travelling for the remainder of the year.

Banks do not serve this group particularly well and so Zopa helps to fulfill their need for money with a servie that meets their needs. Against this we have the backdrop of a banking sector suffering from record low scores in terms of trust, something that Zopa scores exceptionally highly in. It was a compelling story and a heart warming conclusion to the evening that hosted so much homegrown talent each trying to change the game within their respective market sectors.

Thanks to them and to everyone who atteneded and don't forget to check back soon as we'll post a link to the film of the night.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Lantana: March Meet up

Everyone is busy. That's good. Although not so good when it means no-one can turn up to the Stratgey Group Meeting. But heh, there was me & Max. And I can say that we kicked ass in every sense.

Anyway that's the moan over.

Now to the venue - Lantana.

Image courtesy of World Foodie Guide.

Service is great & so is the food. I can see why Richard likes it so much. But it's a bit cosy for a group of 10! Thankfully we only had to accomodate 5 people.

Subjects were far ranging. Adah is off to South America for 3 weeks and Max has a new job at Kindred. The world is going to end etc.

And in respect of what we're up to...

We are planning an event in May on Unconventional Thinking with some interesting thinkers. I will be a lo-fi event with lots of chance to interact and meet other like-minded thinkers before and afterwards. If you would to know more or would like to speak let us know.

There also plans for a book & plans for the Annual Conference.

There's a meeting in April and there is space for one guest a month so if you'd like that to be you then please contact Adah at the IPA.

Monday 2 March 2009

Zopa: Peer to Peer lending

I recently appeared on Channel 5 News as a lender with the brand Zopa.

See it here.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Help find Lance's stolen bike

Lance Armstrong is using Twitter to help recover his time trial bike stolen from the team truck during the Tour of California.

I doubt the bike has a re-sale value due to the fact it will be pretty easy to spot when ridden on the streets of California.

So this is me doing my bit for Livestrong - if you see this bike send Lance a message via Twitter.

Monday 16 February 2009

Strategy Group Agenda

The strength of the human spirit, along with our appetite for tackling the problems we face at any point in time, is both tested and but often renewed in adverse conditions. As strategists our senses become heightened when we exist within an environment of constant change. This state of high-alert is instructive and should be channelled in a way that can bring about positive results. It is against this backdrop of change that I have taken over the IPA Strategy Group as Chair.

Image Shepherd Fairey

The timing could not be more perfect. I am not one for complacency. I would much prefer a challenge particularly when, it is exactly as a result of such challenges that we adapt in Darwinian fashion to the circumstance we find ourselves in. The coincidence of a damaged financial ecosystem, an advertising business facing a fall in client expenditure and the rapid adoption of technology means that there could not be a better time for many of us to be practising as strategists.

However, to be successful we must be brave and confident in our approach. It is often the case that when faced with challenges that we revert to the tried and tested methods of the past. This, in part is a normal and sensible response, however we must accept that it is also time to complement decades of learning with a more innovative response.

If I have learnt anything in the last 19 years working within the marketing communications business it is that the people within in it tend to be creatively-driven, positive thinkers who tend to shrug off the issues of the moment and instead look to a vision of the future where the problems have dissipated and the brands and business we help steward are leading the way creating future wealth, prosperity and jobs.

What I have also learnt is that we cannot do it as a collection of individuals. The big advantage of working as Chairman of the IPA Strategy Group is that I am surrounded by people more intelligent than I am. This is a good thing. My success is bundled up into what we can achieve as a cohesive force. I believe strategy is a force for good and if ever there were a time in last 20 years that we should unite in order to bring about positive results it is now.

My hope is that if I can help not only harness the collective brain-power of the Strategy Group but also the wider strategic community then we may all reap the wider benefits of collaboration.

This collaboration should give rise to a more visible strategic community, a more open one and one that is best able to meet the challenges we face. We are not doing this from a standing start. Many strategists now write excellent blogs that help to inspire, agitate and capture something that we are all feeling but don’t quite know how to put into words.

We want the Strategy Group to help to enhance this already thriving community through the recognition and reward of outstanding thinking. Moreover, we want to seek out the next generation of strategists and help to accelerate their ability to influence how we go about solving problems.

The Group are in the process of formulating a plan that will shape what we do and what we achieve over the next two years. There will, of course, be events, debates, articles, thought-pieces that will help amplify the thoughts of strategists across the industry.

However, there are many who do not know about the Group, what we do and how we go about it. If this is the case then I would encourage you to look at the IPA Strategy Group blog at We would love to, need to, here your thoughts about strategy.

So what does success look like? What do we want to achieve? We’ll know when we have been effective when we have something tangible to show for our efforts. The vision would be to find someway of harnessing the collective force of our community in a way that is visible, vocal and is able to bring about positive change.

This could be a book, an event, a web series, a wiki or an informal gathering. Or it could be all these things. All we know is that an opportunity exists so fulfilling that needs has to be a primary objective of the Group, so please check the blog for details. In the meantime if you would like to be involved do let us know in whatever way you choose.

Friday 6 February 2009

Sierra Nevada turns beer into bio-fuel

You may or may not have heard of Sierra Nevada, they sell it on draft at the Green Man on Wells Street, but it's a slightly cloudy, pale ale.
Well I could have sat in a lot of brainstorms and failed to think of the brand extension, fuel when starting with a beer, but that's exactly what they've done.
It takes a corporate belief and creates further value from waste (1.6 million litres of it every year). In turn this creates more profit and they're doing their bit for the envioronment.
This idea breaks so many rules: beer and petrol in the same product range, using the same logo - it's genius I love it. And not to mention drinking and driving.

See more loveliness from Sierra Nevada here.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Chocolat and other random ideas

We met at Chocolat and I quickly came to a conclusion.

The conclusion, well at least mine, was that good things can come from bad or less good. They are related to each other helping to maintain some form of balance. The snow brought all sorts of problems but on the whole good things came from it: collectively we rose to the challenge, we thought of others first and we played spontaneously, these things may have been absent on a large scale if it hadn't snowed.

So members of the Group who weren't held back by the snow arrived in a positive frame of mind. The snow had gone but the memory lingered. We are better when we're forced to make decisions agaianst a common enemy.

So it was in that context that we dicussed what we're going to do as a Group this year and wondered whether all these potentially disruptive local and global events could give rise to something better. Recession, climate change and poverty demand us to question the imapct we have made in past. This necessary moment of reflection can help us to shape a better future. Better for us personally, professionally and collectively.

We called this Renaissance. A process of re-birth.

That's something for us all to feel positive about. History has shown that in moments of adversity we become more creative, dynamic and spirited. Now is that time.

We would like to help nurture this movement. Shine a light on it and help it grow as an inspiration for those strategists within our industry looking to help shape a new future and more broadly champion Renaissance Britain in what shape or form it takes.

Check back for details of how our movement unfolds and if you can help us on the way then feel free to join in.