I just watched a live TV cast from speaker agency JLA, given by the undercover economist Tim Harford and Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland.

Tim’s new book is called Messy https://www.amazon.co.uk/Messy-Creative-Resilient-Tidy-Minded-World/dp/1408706768

Fascinating session which helped explain a few thoughts and helped me understand some of the successes we’ve had in the past year. And I drew a few conclusions of my own to help me think about next year. So here are my notes of some of the good stuff they talked about intertwined with my thoughts and conclusions.

1) The need for disruptive events to find better solutions, rather than just continually improving.

Examples inter alia:

• Using weird fonts get better exam results in kids as they have to pay more attention to what they are reading

•  Top pianist writes his best music when forced to use a piano with keys missing

•  Tube strike causes tens of thousands of commuters to discover better route than their every day route and start to use it after the strike

• Brian Eno used by top musicians as he will make them do things they wouldn’t otherwise do like swap instruments or even just use a card pack with random actions

CHANGING THE FRAME OF REFERENCE IS CRUCIAL TO CREATING DIFFERENT RESULTS

2) Tube map: is brilliant. It is internally consistent but not always the optimal route e.g. Leicester Sq to Covent Garden is quicker to walk. Or Greenwich to Charing Cross is quicker by train.

If you want to disrupt/improve markedly – ask what assumptions are people making who believe in an internally consistent model. Economists assumptions affect so many models. And they assume one dimensional improvement e.g. efficiency and money

3) People don’t make decisions in that way. “It’s much easier to get fired for being irrational than bring wrong. So people make decisions that are easy to defend and are within the system.”

POINT OUT WHAT THE SYSTEM IS AND WHAT THE ASSUMPTIONS ARE

4) Evolved instinct is more concerned about what’s the worst that can happen and avoiding it. It’s not developed around optimised decisions. e.g. McDonalds success …. you wont get ill, you wont get ripped off etc

The need to eliminate negatives in decision making. This is what marketing is really about….. not about selling the benefits. Eg to sell fancy drinks to men, show the glass. So there’s no chance it’ll turn up and make them look silly.

Economists talk about Uber and disruption but it’s about selling certainty about the taxi by watching the cab arrive on a map with a set time, consistently across the world.

Variance matters a lot unconsciously in your decisions. It’s not just about the outcome, it’s about the possibilities as well.

(It’s the very old IBM saying of FUD sales factors of fear, uncertainty and doubt )

SELL CERTAINTIES

5) If you really want something to be different it has to look different regardless of the logic or content

Red Bull has to taste weird as it’s supposed to do unusual things. i.e. to give you wings

Trump has to be weird to change the political system.

Just be distinctive – Corbyn, Farage stick out – it just gets attention from the norm. Side lining and lack of attention is the biggest weapon the system has to fight back with. Corbyn is being sidelined, Farage the opposite. Obsession of current politics with economics – it used to be wider about security, social & cultural impacts. Both the left and the right use economic arguments so there’s no difference.

Pitching for business: They will forget what was said, but will remember the raincoat you wore throughout

TO CREATE DIFFERENT, YOU HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT AND CREATE THE FEELING OF DIFFERENT

6) You can create effect for no money by using language (in marketing or interpersonally)

Posh french restaurant doesn’t want people to use their phones in the restaurant. A fine or a notice saying no phones?

Notice for people leaving: please remember to switch on your phones.

“I wonder if you can help me?” is much more powerful than “Can you do me a favour”

Status certainty autonomy relatedness and fairness (SCARF model by David Rock for neuroleadership)

“Have you ever been to Wagamamas before?” – a critical question to success of the restaurant by reframing expectations

Reframe as “a genuine Japanese experience, fresh and hot, straight from the kitchen in random order” rather than rubbish experience of things turning up in the wrong order

“Test and learn” means failures are ok as long as the cost of failure is low and early. Not otherwise. Don’t be confused that failing is ok.

USE LANGUAGE AND QUESTIONS TO REFRAME THE SYSTEM

7) Unconsciously we’re asking ourselves what’s the worst that can happen e.g. Why don’t penalty takers stay in the middle more, and what don’t goalies stay in the middle? – most likely to score or save. But most likely to look an idiot by doing so when failing.

Defensive decision making – it’s why people use big accountants and why we buy brands. Instinctively we feel it’s less likely to be totally rubbish.

Economics only understands efficiency. People don’t make decisions that way.

Telco quad play – great for the company, but would you want to be at the mercy of just one company.

FIRST KNOW WHAT IS A SAFE DECISION AND WHY THEY KEEP GETTING MADE.

IF YOU CAN AGREE THE “PLAYING SAFE IN THE SYSTEM” OPTION, THEN OTHER ALTERNATIVES CAN BE SEEN AS GOOD RISKS TO TAKE

8) Good manners are inefficient and not self interested

To generate trust, perform acts which has no obvious self interest – discretionary effort required to do this

First thing finance change is anything that is inefficient and it kills this type of behaviour

MAKE DISCRETIONARY EFFORT PART OF THE SYSTEM SO THAT IT IS A CURRENCY

9) We trust messages according to the cost of conveying them ( cost = any type of investment e.g. time, money, design, packaging…) because it shows we are invested in the message

So marketing is a message that you are the long game by demonstrating it a costly and reliable way

“A flower is a weed with an advertising budget”

WE SENSE AND DETECT THE SYSTEM BY HOW IT LOOKS AS WELL AS WHAT IT IS

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