Friday, February 29, 2008

Be daring, be driven & be down to earth - Heart before Head

We are reminded of what John Shaw (ex Regional Planning Director, Ogilvy & Mather, Asia Pacific) once said about the impregnable reason that creatives sometimes site for not being able to work on a brief. It is something as simple as “I don’t like it!” It sounds simple but actually it is critical and complex. There is no way to counter this.
Same is true for clients and even colleagues. No matter what we do, no matter how good we think we are or our solution might be, no matter how much hard work we have actually put in, if people (in our own office or client’s office) do not like us, nothing moves.
People like to listen constructively to only to those who they like. There is no rocket science in stating, that before expecting great work, we must naturally stoke likeability among colleagues at different levels. It is not easy to do this all the time, especially when contrasting personalities cross each other’s paths and to add to the complexity is the fact that– ‘no two people are alike’ thus no matter how many people we try and understand, we would always need to understand more.
Plus cultural diversity and cross discipline mindsets – they all offer so much variety that you can never ever ask for more. But there is a lot of joy in this diversity, there is a lot of learning to be gained from this diversity and still stoking likeability.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Be daring, be driven & be down to earth – Wait

All of us are not good at this. Actually everyone does not even need to be like this. Some of us need to be restless (and perhaps even reckless), while others need to be more settled and matured. Almost like the balance of personalities, which we talked about under the ‘Remix’ subhead. The danger in having a passionate and committed team is that they are an emotional bunch or people. Just the way a nuclear reaction needs moderation with those Cadmium Rods, a passionate team needs patience or at least a good dose of patient people who can help act as the counter balancing force.
Patience is not just as a counter-balancing force for managing passion, it is also as a tactic. Because sometimes clients just need time. You have to grant it to them. The Doors to change open from inside and you can’t just barge in by pushing in, huffing and puffing. If we give time and things do move. So sometimes slowing down can actually speed up things as we end up giving our partners more time and space to do their thing.
However it is anybody’s guess or should we say completely circumstantial as to how long a wait is too long, or how hard a push or shove needs to be. It perhaps needs a good dose of sound judgment to get this.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Be daring, be driven & be down to earth - Facilitate not Control

Before stating this we must say that there is no artificial or crafty way of doing this. We really need to feel before we can pull this off. It has to be real. If as a person we do not like people – this is virtually impossible to accomplish.
There are enough and more smart people around. Quickly (very quickly) we need to understand who is good at what and then just deploy their skills where they are needed the most. From there on we just keep checking on how they are doing.
The question to ask teammates is not “how is work?” but “are you happy?” If they are happy they will talk to you more. If they see that you are more interested in what they are feeling that just what they are doing, they will consider you to be a friend and partner. And when friends work together, they can do wonders. Just recollect how easy it is for us to tell our close friend – “we can do so much together, if we have our own business, you and I can do wonders!” Friendship is the bond that we need to build among our colleagues. Everything else will follow.

Be daring, be driven & be down to earth – Fight!

This perhaps sounds blasphemous. Why would we want to fight among ourselves? After all we just said that we are a team of friends. Well, yes we are a team of friends, but we still got to fight. Fight not without reason but to drive our individual opinions home. Nobody loses in an argument on the brand. But the brand does lose everything if there is no argument. Perennial consensus is perfect recipe for demise of ideas. If we are smart people, we all would have a point of view on everything. And if we have a point of view we must express it. We have to chase our point home. Like a man chasing the winning lottery ticket, in a dust storm.
We must stick our neck out if we are not convinced about the way things are moving on our brand or business, this should be irrespective of how young or old we are in the team (or even in age or experience).
Also, while, most of the times arguments settle down before we board the taxi to the client’s office, but there also are times when they do not settle. In such situations, we need to express that we are not convinced with the majority or hierarchy opinion. There is no reason why we should not point out our conflicting view, in front of the client. Acknowledge honestly that everyone does not agree. If the need arises, debate in front of the client again. We have observed that diversity of intelligent point of view, makes the client very confident about the quality of work being done on the brand. In other words, the client can see that the team is involved, is passionate and has looked at the situation from multiple stand points, which after all, is in brand’s best interest.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Be daring, be driven & be down to earth – Remix it!

Team compositions work best this way. Frankly we did not build any kind of teams consciously because we joined existing teams. However in hindsight, the team was just the right composition. We had almost everything in the right proportion

Without pointing at individuals, we must state that because of these diverse character traits in our group, we have had the luxury of having a psychologist, a micro manager; we have a doer, a silent sage, a fighter, and even a fire fighter. What else could one ask for?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Be daring, be driven & be down to earth - Introduction

Well, we are nowhere even close to being an authority on doing what we do for a living – advertising. Add to it we are now in a new market, new people, new culture, and most critically we need to adapt to a new language and there is a long-long way to go.
But we can’t help but give in to the temptation of sharing experiences that have gotten us excited. Like children learning to talk (our baby steps while attempting to learn a new language), trying to eat (with chop-sticks, and eat new kinds of food), dress differently (its cold & we need to wear so many clothes!), drink more (a lot more - like our Chinese brethren), and drink ‘hot’ water and do very-many other new things.
It is almost like being born again, like rebooting our career and life. It is an amazing experience, and every moment is a turning point in a new way.

But like with Windows, rebooting career and life makes it faster, better & fresher. At least that is what we are experiencing here. Despite all our inabilities or as one of us would put it, ‘hands tied behind our back’ kind of situation, we believe we have learnt a few things about going around working on brands and business here. These learnings have played a vital role in helping us in the absence of certainty of knowledge.
We are excited about these learnings and we would like to share without wanting to sound like over confident ‘know it alls’.
Also, we feel this account of our experiences is rather honest, because as we stepped back and looked at the six months gone by, we realized that the most important elements of learning from this so called ‘recipe of success’ were purely incidental. The only thing that we consciously did, was that we spotted these elements of learning early, and then repeated them again and again, modifying them in different ways to suit different situations. In hindsight, these learnings have proved to be that mechanism that helped us wade through the pool of ignorance and uncertainty.

What we are going to share in this space is not a formula in any way. It is just something that we believe has worked for us and may be in some way it can prove to be useful for a larger group.
To put it succinctly - people, perceptiveness, patience, persistence & passion have together been our firepower in this ‘hands tied behind our back’ kind of a situation.
We have structured our learnings into nine broad subheads and we sincerely hope that you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed penning them.