the anthropologist

How We Start Every Project, Being “an Anthropologist” // eps 58 #inthelab

When we start projects at StratLab we like to understand the organization we’re working with, the best way we’ve found is to be what David Kelly would call The Anthropologist. The most success we’ve had (and still have) is really getting to know an organization. Going to the Annual General Meeting, Christmas Party, Golf Tournament, Fundraising dinner, basically anything they will invite us to we’ll go. You get to know people on a different level when you see them out of the office in the “wild”. Don’t ever be afraid to get out from behind your laptop to do some hands-on research.

One of the most successful projects we worked on was with the Regina Police. It was an internal marketing strategy where we were to change their core values, vision and mission to better reflect their current culture. It took Six months longer than we thought because we really didn’t want to rush the research process of interviewing every level of different Police officer. It was amazing

From David Kelly’s 10 Faces of Innovation, the Anthropologist is the face of discovery and understanding.

To observe without judgement. To develop an empathetic understanding of the organization. You must look at the tiniest of details, the most mundane things can have a major impact on what the end consumer takes away in their experience.

From the book:

The Anthropologist is rarely stationary. Rather, this is the person who ventures into the field to observe how people interact with products, services, and experiences in order to come up with new innovations. The Anthropologist is extremely good at reframing a problem in a new way, humanizing the scientific method to apply it to daily life. Anthropologists share such distinguishing characteristics as the wisdom to observe with a truly open mind; empathy; intuition; the ability to “see” things that have gone unnoticed; a tendency to keep running lists of innovative concepts worth emulating and problems that need solving; and a way of seeking inspiration in unusual places.

Look into a company as if you were Sherlock on a case

look-into-a-company-as-if-you-were-sherlock-on-a-case

Asking questions, becoming very curious, always asking “why” and never excepting “that’s just the way it is here.” The Anthropologist needs to uncover the hidden story behind what the client isn’t telling them. Remember what Sherlock Homes said, “the devil is in the smallest of details.” -or something thing like that. The little things matter. Pay attention to the little things.

Create a company “idea wallet”. Much like your wallet that you carry money around in, your companies idea wallet is where you think and pitch ideas.

how-do-you-get-to-know-an-organization

How do you get to really know an organization? 

By asking questions of course you silly nilly!!

Any question that leads you closer to the central purpose of that organization, generally it’s not your run of the mill questions that are going to get to the bottom of things. People never simply open up to you, you must gain their trust first. Be positive, listen to their answers, and be very respectful (no judging). You need to get creative, the more out there the question is, the more people have a chance to show you their personality. See some ideas on research questions you could use.

Vuja De thinking (from Practically Radical)

Seeing a problem for the first time, through a new lens. The definition of Deja Vu is seeing something you’ve seen before in a ridiculously clear manner. Vuja De thinking is approaching problems like you’ve never seen them before. Trying to solve your organizational problems with novel solutions we’ve never thought about trying. The next time you want an “expert” to solve the problem instead why not ask a beginner to take a stab at it, you may surprise yourself!

17-books-for-2017

17 Must Read Books For 2017

1. How To Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams

creativity-is-allowing-yourself-to-make-mistakes

Counterintuitive thinking on how one attains success. It’s a fun read, he’s a cartoonist so you can imagine how much fun Scott has in a book. My favourite part was the first time reading through, he gives you some piece of contrarian advice and then follows it up with “remember, you are the one taking advice from a cartoonist”. He’s not afraid to make fun of himself.

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The hard thing isn't setting big hairy audacious goals

What To Do About The Struggle [a letter to entrepreneurs]

The hard thing isn't dreaming big...

The hard thing isn’t usually what you think it is. In the entrepreneurial journey there are a lot of emotions, life gets down right shitty some days. There is hope though. You’re on a journey only the greatest minds of our world start out on. A journey that most won’t try make. The journey of a true entrepreneur is plagued with disappointment, triumph, and even more let down. As long as you stay a little more positive than those negative thoughts you’re going to come out the other side a winner.

When you’re in it, it sucks. There’s no way to describe it. It’s a necessary evil, without the years of failure there is no learning, and no learning means no company.

The struggle is when food loses its taste

What is the struggle?

Something every entrepreneur human being goes through. The longer you can last, the further you will go. A lot of people don’t last. The Struggle eats them up, destroys their soul, and all they’re left with is a scared, hurtful attitude towards anything outside of what is expected. Protectionism sets in the status quo is the only way of doing things.

Why do we have to struggle?

Simple, the universe doesn’t give you anything for free. Nothing in life is easy. The more you struggle, the better the reward.

There’s a famous quote from Bill Gates “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”. You have to struggle, there’s no easy way about it. You have to go through the bad to appreciate the good.

How long has the struggle been around? 

The struggle has been around since the dawn of civilization. Our ancestors went through it. Anyone who has done anything worth talking about has been through it.  Anyone who has that crease near the corner of the eye, you know the one, the one that lets you know they’ve been through a lot.

Don't take it personally

When we’re in the struggle our minds are our greatest enemy. We tell ourselves lies, we’re delusional, we create a reality in our heads that’s just not true. Humans are amazing at finding every possible way a plan can fail. We find every loophole that might come back to bite us in the ass. In this horrible state of mind we never look for the positive horizon with the attitude of it gets better. No instead we try to warn our subconscious with these thoughts, it’s a defence mechanism sounding the alarm bells.

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We all see the world through a different lens

Perspective: The Most Underrated Quality in Creating Design || Eps 38 #InTheLab


This week Eddy and I are talking about perspective. Why do we trust designer? What do create professionals see that others do not? What’s so special about having taste?  

Trust your designer

There’s a reason they are a designer, they have perspective. Trust them. Any creative needs some free reign over what they’re doing, they are artists after all. Don’t micro manage any creative process, that’s a great way to create something extremely mediocre.

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I'm sorry I'm just too busy

Stop Saying You’re Too Busy || Eps 37 of #InTheLab


When ever someone says “I’m too busy” I’m always reminded of a story I heard about from a Volleyball coach I look up to. In grade 11 leading into grade 12 I wanted to get better at Volleyball. I told my coach I wanted to play pepper (simple volleyball drill) more and he offered to come in the morning twice a week to play pepper at 7:30 in the morning. We did this for a couple months and I really think it helped my Volleyball skill in the long run. But more importantly, he was willing to volunteer MORE of his time to make me better. That’s dedication.

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The most underrated activity in your life

The Most Underrated Activity In Your Life; Exercise || Eps 24 #InTheLab

The most underrated thing you can do for your life is exercise. There are so many positive side effects to physical activity that it’s almost insane how we live our lives sitting at a desk for hours on end. We learned that in school, businesses thought it was a good idea too, “hey put everyone in cubicles!”. What a terrible idea that was.

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Quote the crowd is always smarter than the individual

There is Always a Smarter Way

There is always a smarter way.

You just have to come to grips that it’s not going to be your idea at the centre of it. The number one thing that holds most organizations back is ego, the attitude at the top, leadership believing they are the smartest in the room. When you finally realize that the people connected around you are much, MUCH smarter at solving problems, finishing projects, and finding new solutions, that’s when you can start actually running your business. The trick is to assume your connected team is smarter than any individual on the team, then start getting ideas from everyone.

Yes I mean everyone.

The Improbability PrincipleWe communicate to quickly for mob rule not to work. You can’t tell people how to feel, just like you can’t tell them to work. You can only inspire them with a challenge and put the best people you can find around them. If your employees don’t like you, all the policy in the world isn’t going to help, you can’t force people to feel different, you can only treat them different.

Even when you have the best plan in mind, after you’ve tested it in your head a hundred times, you know the weak points and you’ve mitigated them perfectly. It’ll still fail. The greatest plans in the world are always foiled by chance and rare occurrences.
From the book The Improbability Principle, incredibly rare impossible situations occur all the time. It’s your job to plan for them.

So how do you prepare for the unexpected? How do you make sure all your bases are covered?

Counterintuitively it’s not the man with the best plan that will come out on top, it’s the women with the most flexible plan that will come out the victor.
Here’s how.

1. Learn to be a better listener.

We all must learn to be a better listener, no one is born a great listener, people learn how to just like we learn how to play sports, with practice. 

So how can you actively practice listening? Ask for feedback. Even if you completely disagree with the feedback you don’t have to let the other person know. Bite your tounge and listen.

2. Put yourself in situations that will force you to be a better team player.

Join a team, a board, a group, a cult (ok probably not a cult), an organization, join something that will force you to work as a team. As we get older our vision gets very tainted with experience. Just because you think you’re a great team player doesn’t make it so. Every day you can be a better team mate, you just need to make it a priority.

3. Try to understand kids better.

Kids see the world through a different lens. They enjoy life more, are more judgemental, but forgive much easier than most adults. When a kid approaches a problem, they do whatever it takes to overcome it. The try and try and try. Like a baby learning to crawl, failure is not an option.

We learn what failure is later on in life. We find out we can make excuses for not continuing with the learning process. Could you image if a child learning to walk gave up one day and said, “you know, I just don’t have time for this” like many of us do on the road to learning something new. We’re great at making excuses

The-obstacle-is-the-way-zero-to-one-spark-the-hard-thing-about-hard-things

21 Quotes On Bumblebees, Obstacles, Superpowers and the F-Word

It's supposed to be hard

1. I remind 8 year olds trying out Volleyball for the first time this very lesson.

ANYTHING you try for the first time is going to be hard, don’t let that discourage you.

Remember, you just need to stay in the game longer than everyone else and you’ll be the default winner. Keep treading water, keep above the water line. Another day alive is another day closer to your goal.

 

Remember-the-bumblebee-does-something-impossible-everyday

2. In Richard Branson’s “The Virgin Way” he tells a brilliant little story about the Bumblebee. For decades scientists have been stumped by the Bumblebee. When you take into account the size of the body compared to the size of the wing span, the Bumblebee on all accounts should NOT be able to fly. It is a scientific impossibility. Then Branson’s goes on to say that up until this very day, not one scientist has ever been able to explain that to a Bumblebee.

Don’t listen to people who use the word impossible. They live a shallow life and will never reap the rewards of amazing breakthroughs, innovative new ideas and groundbreaking discoveries. To the future on-word we march, into the crazy unknown.

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Most creative ads ever - she's tired of waiting

99 of the Most Creative Advertisements in the World

Every year in my class at SIAST (or Saskatchewan Polytechnic) we always go over Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick. One of the best breakdowns of why some marketing messages stick and why others don’t. The authors break it down to the “SUCCES” principles. Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories. Using this framework you can apply it to any campaign, message, or advertisement. Read the book if you want to actually understand the SUCCES principles.
I use a slide deck like the one above and ask the class to run the ads in the presentation through the SUCCES criteria. You’ll find an interesting correlation between the SUCCES principles and the best ads.

Could it be that advertising isn’t an art form but more of a science? Are the smart marketers using frameworks like the one from Made to Stick or the one in Jonah Berger’s Contagious?

As much as advertising is an art form, there’s more science to it than you think. The slide deck of the 99 most creative ads is to show you how many companies go about their advertising. These are the best of the best, for every amazing ad there are 1000 mediocre ads that just become noise in our world.

If you want to standout, if you want to create a truly remarkable ad than read Contagious(Jonah Berger) and Made to Stick(I already told you who wrote this book). They will at least give you a framework to work under to create the next viral sensation.

 

Photo Credit: http://www.apple.com

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