Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Janez Rakušček, Executive Creative Director, Luna\TBWA
We, who work in communications and advertising are – each in our own way – obsessed with it. We perceive the world through the lens of the attitude of brands, through creative thinking. We admire the final product and, sometimes, giggle at someone who really missed the target about as widely as it could have been missed. Of course, we are no exceptions when it comes to obsession. My nephew, a student of mathematics, admitted to me that he often solves polynomial equations of a higher order just for fun; which is miles away from my idea of fun, regardless of the fact that math is a related subject. The truth is that I too have often found myself looking at the communication messages and campaigns of competing agencies and completely unconsciously – or for fun, if you like – I have tried to perform on them the method of deconstruction, devised by the famous global company Boston Consulting Group. Deconstruction is basically really simple, but it still requires a great deal of experience. It is a process by which we take a final product (a service, an initiative, a business model, or even an ad or a communication campaign), and isolate its building blocks, as if we were turning back time. A communication campaign, as seen by the general public, being dismantled to its starting point. We try to reconstruct the creative process that led to the final product and to determine the critical points in the process that made the campaign exceptional (or totally wrong). Altogether, this can be very useful for one’s daily work, and may also be an extremely brief diversion, and I say this from my own experience. It is as if I play a kind of sudoku which, instead of numbers in its fields, has concepts, meanings and messages that must ultimately fit together.
Of course there is even a better way of dismantling successful ideas. It is live deconstruction, whereby the strategic or creative processes are disassembled by people who have developed their competence into an academic discipline, or who were simply among the decisive factors in the whole process. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in an exceptional workshop in New York that took place over several days under the title The Festival of Leadership (yes, another festival) organized by The Leadership Network. It was intended for experienced people in senior positions in organizations that deal with creativity and innovation. Most of the participants were also from communication and advertising agencies as well as from companies such as Lego (which has its own creative director). The workshop was divided into three parts: the first dealt with strategy, the second with execution and the third with the culture of the organization, which needs to be established in order for the strategy to succeed. The most valuable part of the whole workshop was the intertwining of the objective academic approach and the subjective personal experiences which the speakers shared with the participants (it should be noted that American academicism is more pragmatic and usable than European). Ken Segall, former creative director of TBWA Los Angeles, who worked closely with Steve Jobs for 12 years, both in Job’s company NeXT and later in Apple, is known in advertising circles as the man who wrote the words to the iconic ad “Think Different”, and also authored the famous “i”, as in iMac, iPhone, iPad and other “i” products. Did you know that Jobs’ suggestion for the name of the new computer was MacMan? Can you imagine what would have happened if the MacMan actually appeared in stores? The choice of name was undoubtedly one of the critical points in creating the names for the new Apple. Ken showed us several stored messages of his correspondence with Steve Jobs. Eventually Jobs opted for iMac, but still retained complete control over entire communications. When Ken once sent a message to the proverbially stubborn Jobs that the majority of the creative team supported a certain solution for one of Apple’s ads on buses, Jobs’ witty reply was: “Oh, let it be. You know how I am. Conform to the majority – that’s my motto.”
Ken Segall is the author of the book Keep it Simple, in which he talks about the basic guidelines of Apple. Simplicity as the guiding principle of effective strategic thinking, was presented in an inspiring speech by Professor Richard Rumelt from the prestigious Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Apart from learning razor sharp definitions of what strategy is and is not (i.e. strategy is not a wish list, much less a list of targets, least of all financial ones), we also learned some deconstruction approaches to strategies. Professor Rumelt dissected the strategy of the United Nations for the fight against poverty, the US security strategy and the development strategy of an American city. All three, just as examples. According to Rumelt, a good strategy consists of three elements: a diagnosis of the situation, guidelines and principles and coherent activities. Everything else is “babbling”, or to put it in Steve Jobs’ terms: we create progress by leaving out what is unnecessary. It’s fascinating how the principles of the strategic management of organizations and the creation of groundbreaking products and services fit into this. Jobs created Apple products in the same way he saved Apple from bankruptcy in 1997 – through ultimate simplification. Jobs, in fact, when he retook Apple, reduced the number of computer models from 15 to just one, dismissed all the peripheral products, fired a third of the engineers and canceled five of the six distribution networks. The rest is history. The truth is that Apple would probably have gone bust back in 1997 had there not been a $150 million loan from Bill Gates’ Microsoft – which is a little known fact.
Be that as it may, it’s actually good that we are at least a little obsessed with what we do. Deconstruction, or reverse engineering (as this process is called in the technical professions), belongs to this field. And it’s best to do it live.