When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a
disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking
it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you
have to remember to go to the meeting. That's no problem for someone
on the manager's schedule. There's always something coming on the
next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the
maker's schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.
For someone on the maker's schedule, having a meeting is like
throwing an exception. It doesn't merely cause you to switch from
one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.
Posted this on Twitter yesterday, but it's a link i want to keep. Even though i'm chained to a managers schedule, I still need to do a lot of making (decks, emails, strategies, etc.). That's why i try – at least a couple times a week – to get to my desk by 5:30 am, so i've got 3 good hours of unbroken work for sustained concentration and, when all is good, "flow". It's hard on the sleep patterns, but good for my psyche since it feels like i'm accomplishing something meangingful (even if it is just a plan to get more banners in front of you).
So the reason newspapers are in trouble isn't that they aren't making lots of money — they still are; advertising is a huge, huge business, as any app developer will try to tell you — but that their business models and payroll depend on so much more money. The U.S. newspaper industry was built to support $50 billion to $60 billion in total advertising with the kind of staffs that a $50 billion industry can abide. The layoffs, buyouts, and bankruptcies you hear about are the result of this massive correction in the face of falling revenue.
While the cost-to-produce isn't so out of whack, i do believe there is probably a correction coming in TV at some point relatively. It won't be as severe, because so much of TV is subsidized by cable and subscriber fees, but it will come and there will be blood.
Great slide deck from Farrah Bostic (@farrahbostic) on a lean approach to planning.
GitHub was originally designed for software developers. It lets programmers upload code and share it with other developers. It keeps track of who made what changes where. And it helps merge all those changes together. It “controls” the various versions of an open source software project.
We're going to see this more and more. We're living in a programmed world, so it makes sense to find tools and methods that are working for the programmers around us and try to apply them to solve other problems. It's the hacker way.
We're going to try something on a project we're kicking off here at work: "Agile" programming methodologies in the service of sticky business problems. We're not coders, but we're going to apply what we understand of the approach. We'll use "stories" to get our focus on the problems we need to crack for the marketers we work with, the stories we want to be able to tell when we've solved them. We'll have a list of these stories and work through them one at a time. We'll do that in quick (2 weeks), focused efforts (aka "sprints"). And, we'll if we don't get it right, we'll iterate through them again until we've got it right. We'll be focusing on "shipping", that is getting the project done and implemented. We'll focus less on the beauty of a comprehensive, centrally controlled process (ie. "waterfall), and more on getting working "software" (ie the tools and methods) into the hands of the teams we work with. Lastly, we're going to try to dramatically improve communication via "huddles" and may even try full team huddles to communicate with a much larger audience. The IT group will probably laugh at how we're doing it, but we're going to take a shot and get it right over time if the first efforts aren't spot on.
Any suggestions on how to apply agile programming methods to a non-programming problem?
Updated: 8:30 PM
Lots of good suggestions from folks around the web. For sure, check out Rohn J Millers post on the subject from last year. Lot's of good ideas in there. And, here's a pretty good overview from PJ Shrivasta. Finally, i look forward to re-reading Greg Meyers Agile Marketing Manifesto in a couple months to see how we're doing.
Paul Isakson is one of my "go to" thinkers about brand building and the "future of _____". His presentation from July 2009 (!) is just as relevant today as it was phrophetic then. Worth checking out.
(This is one more reminder of how good the brand building talent is in MPLS/St. Paul. I feel fortunate to get to work with guys like this. And, i recently heard Paul was again working with clients directly, so give him a shout if your brand needs a kick in the pants)
Agency partners: Please hire Bo McDonald – http://cargocollective.com/BoMacDonald
Exactly what you think it should be. A theramin inside a taxidermied badger. What could be better? Well, how about a video of it being played?
I work with a pretty wide variety of agencies, from small digital production shops that may have 2 partners to some of the largest, best known ad agencies in the US. Almost all of them are struggling with the dramatic changes in the services brands need to thrive. The small production shops seem bewildered when we ask them to bring us "big ideas" and we reject their cool app idea. The big agencies seem bewildered when we ask them to more strategically integrate social and digital into their thinking and we reject their app idea.
Both are too focused on the output, the visible end product of their "process" and their people. What we're really seeking is smarter thinking about how brands are built and a more nuanced understanding of how to solve the business problems we're dealing with. The answer is rarely a single ad, app or video. As people are more deeply & frequently connected than ever, the business solutions, the big ideas, are going to have to be just as networked. Our brands and marketers are seeking more nuanced solutions to meet a more complex business challenge.
The best brand stories are always going to be simple, clear articulations of a well thought through position. BUt, the way those stories are built and delivered will require a command of many more tools. Its going to be an almost algorythmic approach to delivering the messages. We'll need partners with a deep appreciation of the how all the variables in the algorythm interrelate, not just the biggest ones. We'll need more McKinsey, less Madison Avenue.
I make sure to start every day as a producer, not a consumer.
When you get up, you may start with a good routine like showering and eating, but as soon as you find yourself with some free time you probably get that urge to check Reddit, open that game you were playing, see what you're missing on Facebook, etc.
Put all of this off until "later". Start your first free moments of the day with thoughts of what you really want to do; those long-term things you're working on, or even the basic stuff you need to do today, like cooking, getting ready for exercise, etc.
This keeps you from falling into the needy consumer mindset. That mindset where you find yourself endlessly surfing Reddit, Facebook, etc. trying to fill a void in yourself, trying to find out what you're missing, but never feeling satisfied.
When you've started your day with doing awesome (not necessarily difficult) things for yourself, these distractions start to feel like a waste of time. You check Facebook just to make sure you're not missing anything important directed at you, but scrolling down and reading random stuff in your feed feels like stepping out into the Disneyland parking lot to listen to what's playing on the car radio – a complete waste of time compared to what you're really doing today.
It sounds subtle, but these are the only days where I find myself getting anything done. I either start my day like this and feel normal and productive, or I look up and realize it's early evening, I haven't accomplished anything and I can't bring myself to focus no matter how hard I want to.
This is a great comment as part of a larger post, but it's a super point. Make something first, *then* consume.