Thursday, 31 December 2009

The growing focus on creativity

Fast Company is terrific – inspired by Tom Peters it contains nuggets of news and opinion that keep you on your toes. Have a look at this lists a bunch of the world’s most impressive creative minds.

They leave me in awe, especially Jonathan Ive who comes in at the top of a glittering bunch. He’s the man who with Steve Jobs have transformed Apple. Here’s what design creativity can do…Steve Jobs on the MAC OS X’s user interface, from Fortune January 24th 200o “We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them”

Design, inspiration, breaking rules, hypotheses and creative breakthroughs - all the geniuses in the Fast Company do these. Here’s the challenge – let’s make it impossible for them not to stop at 25 but go on to do a top 50 at the end of 2010. And here’s how – spend a lot more time running creative workshops; if you feel stuck in a same-as, same-as gloomy place short of new ideas get a group together to eat, drink and talk innovation. Creativity doesn’t stand furtively behind a lamp post waiting to mug you…you’ve got to work at it, persuade it to come out from the shadows of routine life, to feel at home with you and all your people.

Try this New Year Resolution. Be more creative by spending more time in face to face meetings and less time behind a PC. Spend more time looking around you rather than just ahead. Be more interested in asking questions than seeking answers. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

An unashamed plug for my latest book

It’s called “Brilliant Creativity” and it’s out on January 1st 2010. You should, soon enough, see it on the shelves of WHS in airports and stations.

I wrote it because I believe passionately in the need for the human race to be more creative in the way they think about all the issues we face – from global warming to educating our children.

Creative thinking does three things – when it’s done well. It provides an action framework which
  • does things faster
  • does things cheaper
  • does things better.
The book provides an array of techniques which enable you to run dazzling workshops or if you want me to run them or arrange someone else talented to do them, e-mail me on

Being creative is easy once you discard your reserve, your desire to be a statesman and your foolish wish to be a person who ticks all the boxes. The best creative people are a bit rebellious, have a strong sense of curiosity, are always trying to find new ways of doing things and generally have a great sense of humour.

I hope this book helps.

Buy it and see if you agree. If you don’t, you know where to reach me.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

How to sell yourself into disaster

I denounce NPower.

I denounce them as an exploiter of the young and innocent and the old and needy.

Here’s the scam - a dialogue on my doorstep.

The dramatis personae. Appearing for NP - young, innocent, female and cunning. Me – old, needy and stupid (at least that is the plan, the cunning NP plan).

NPower: Hi, can I talk to you about your supplier of gas and electricity for this house?
Me: Well it’s British Gas
NP: For both Gas and Electricity.
Me: Yes, both.
NP: Cool. Do you know if you switch to NPower we’ll give you £100
And if you pay on a Direct Debit (you do? – I nod) well that is so cool
because that’s another £100 you get. So now you have £200 in your

Me: No. It’s £200 less out of my wallet if I sign up – it is not £200 in my

NP: It’s in your pocket.
Me: No, it’s not in my pocket.
NP: It is! It’s in your pocket. Is!
Me: Hmm. So I have this literature you’ve handed me with these
offers…thank you …I’ll give the leaflets to my wife to decide.

NP: You can’t keep those brochures - if you aren’t going to sign up now – the
deal may change – I have to have them back.

Me: Why?
NP: (pause – that desperate pause of a bad lie) They’re my last ones.
Me: Go. I shall keep them. You have done a bad job here.

The rest of the exchange was unhappy. I gave the poor girl a round chastisement for representing her brand so badly, for seeking the sale not the relationship. She left shaken. I was upset for her and for the poor suckers who’d said “yes” to similar approaches.

NPower shame on you.

And if anyone wants to see these wretched leaflets get in touch (or better still call, e-mail and harass NPower.)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Bankers just aren’t very bright are they?

I was prepared to forgive the poor souls their indiscretions and absurd Toad-of-Toad-Hall poop-poopness about their bonuses. I was even prepared to concede that leveraging your debt to the tune of forty four times (as Lehmans did) was a touch over bold but not exactly criminal.

But then I realised what it meant in layman (or Lehman terns) terms was if you, personally, had a house, net of mortgage worth say £600,000 and other assets, pension, cash, paintings, car, lawn mower, books worth another £300,000 then you were in Lehman terms, worth around £39.5million.

And then I read “Too Big to Fail" by Andrew Ross Sorkin (read it – it’s an essential insight into financial hell) and I realised these people quite simply weren’t very bright at all.

Firsts, yes. MBAs, of course. Millions of dollars, very many.

But they had absolutely no clothes. They were stark, bollock naked when it came to pass the parcel.

The penny finally dropped when I recently saw a poster for the shamed HBOS, trading under Lloyds TSB. Here’s what it said:-

“Our bank managers are here to help you. Their specialist subject is money.”

I think that lies on at least three counts.

And I think it means you the customer have to start giving that so called “specialist” a very hard time indeed.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Why I stopped blogging, tweeting…and bothering…

To my readers – yes you sir, over there dozing…sorry; and you madam, looking slightly grumpy.

My apologies.

It was my back, you see, which went into chronic pain and I rather lost whatever plot there was, which given the way the global economy seemed to be heading put me in good company.

We don’t talk about pain but when it gets you, you are gone.

God preserve us from, for instance, a pain-filled US President – Roosevelt, Kennedy – how did they cope?

Anyway (as if you needed to be told) a simple, relatively non invasive procedure later and now I’m almost human.

And back to asking four questions:

  1. Isn’t it going to be get a whole lot worse in 2010?
  2. Don’t we need it to?
  3. Shouldn’t we coach all our young people to cope with this new, erratic world as a number one, key priority?
  4. Isn’t this sense of change exhilarating – the new worlds, opportunities and excitements?
Being optimistic wasn’t that easy in 2009 but the resilience and creativity of those around me was inspiring. Trust me, trust us, 2010 will be better. And new ideas are what will drive it.

It’s nice to be back (as it were).