A creative network of the idea, by the idea, for the idea

Friday, April 24, 2009

The evil behind the Devil's advocate

You can tell a lot about the first few pages of a book. (And I'm not going all Gladwell's blink here)

The first page of the new book I am reading part of my 52on52, (a self imposed challenge to read 52 books in 52 weeks) is The Ten faces of innovation by Thomas Kelley and Jonathan Littman.

This is a revealing book about innovation as a driver of a company culture and the power behind the implementation of ideas.
We've all been there. The pivotal meeting where you push forward a new idea or proposal you're passionate about. A fast paced discussion leads to an unwelling of support that seems about to reach critical mass. And then, in one disastrous moment, your hopes are dashed when someone weights in with those fateful words: "Let me just play Devil's Advocate for a minute"

Having invoke the awesome protective power of that seemingly innocuous phrase, the speaker now feels entirely free to take potshots at your idea, and does so with complete impunity. Because they are not really your harsher critic. They are essentially saying. "the Devil made me do it." They are removing themselves from the equation and sidestepping individual responsibility for the verbal attack. But before they're done, they have torched your fledgling concept.

In fact the Devil's advocate may be the biggest innovation killer in America today. What makes this negative persona so dangerous is that is such a subtle threat.

Everyday thousands of great new ideas concepts and plans are nipped in the bud by Devil's advocates.

Why is this persona so damming? Because the devil's Advocate encourages idea wreckers to assume the most negative possible perspective, one that sees only the downside, the problems, the disaster in waiting. Once these floodgates open, they can drown a new initiative in negativity.
Innovation is the lifeblood of all organizations and the Devil's Advocate is toxic to your cause.

The Devil's Advocate seldom takes a real stand, preferring to tear down an idea with clever criticism, and often exhibiting the mean-spirited negativity associated with that role.

The Devil's advocate may never go away, but on a good day a true culture of innovation can keep him in his place. Or tell him to go to hell.
I have the feeling that I'll be sharing lots of thoughts from this book.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Inside the creative mind: Garrick Hamm.

A couple of weeks ago I started the series Inside the Creative Mind. A series of interviews from Lurzers Archive with the best and most brilliant creative people from all over the world. The second post is about Garrick Hamm, at the time, D&AD president and founder of Williams Murray Hamm, a design consultancy in London.
Design isn't about talented designers, is about a good, focused brief and how to set out your stall.

If you go into a meeting with ten concepts raging from evolution to revolution, guess what you'll be evolving brands for the rest of your career.

Most clients don't like "different" when its applied to their brand.

We dig around in the dirt like detectives until we discover a brand truth, then we ruthlessly magnify it.

The consumer can only read one message, in the hope of saying everything, nothing gets said. we edit and simplify, that's what we do best.

The formula of rolling out a brand across the globe, in all its fiscal efficiency, has made a lot of big brands even bigger, but very, very dull.

The designers I admire the most: Martin Lambie-Nairm, Saul Bass and Peter Saville.

To do something truly different, you need to look way beyond the genre you're designing in. Most of my ideas come from what surrounds me in life, not design annuals.

The truth is, all awards are a load of wank, until you win one.
I am very curious about Designers and their way of looking at the world, perceiving problems and how they solve them. And I think that he offers an intelligent set of principles to keep in mind. I really hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ji Lee. Happy creativity.

Since we are talking about happiness and creativity, Ji Lee probably has the best creative job (that requires a title) in the world: Creative Director at Google Labs in NYC.
He was a speaker at The 99 percent conference last week and gave us some of the reasons for his creative joy.

He talked about some of his independent guerrilla projects, which evolved from his frustration as a creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, where his best ideas kept getting killed.

As a creative Ji Lee is an especially prolific idea generator that consistently executes ideas in remarkable ways. Like most creative minds, Lee has tons of ideas. However, when it comes to actualization, Lee actually makes ideas happen. Lee’s fundamental secret, as he describes it, is “an element of fun.”

For the WTC Logo Preservation Project, the ongoing game to find at least one logo every day kept the project alive. People would hear about the project and take part in the personal challenge as a sort of ongoing game. “Games,” Lee explains, “keep things simple and keep people engaged.” It turns out that games and some element of fun have fueled Lee’s loyalty in projects in and out of the office.

Lee uses games to foster learning and motivation. Throughout the day there is an ongoing exchange of links - little findings that stretch the mind in some way - that Lee’s team and students send him. From these, Lee culls certain links that are especially interesting and blasts them out to the whole group.

These are some of the quotes from his conference.

  • "Personal & Professional projects compliment each other."
  • "Sharing is Rewarding."
  • "I cannot depend on others to make things happen."
  • “When everything else falls apart in the workplace, I can always fall back on my personal project,”
  • “These were campaigns that became viral; I discovered that creating platforms for other artists is powerful!”
Check his portfolio at Please enjoy.

Please do.