system two

system two
start-up thinking in the enterprise

Friday, 30 April 2010

I was a lloyds customer for 20 years till today....

We have 3 current accounts with lloyds - not sure why - we've kind of collected them over the years. All of them had an overdraft - some of them were quite big.

We pay 20% interest on our overdrafts......20% f**king percent.The banks borrow money from the government, for free.

We're doing ok at the moment, trying to sort out our finances so I ring lloyds to put them all into 1 loan and start paying them off.

I'm not a bad bet. Own the majority of my house. Have a london flat, decent salary blah blah....

"no sir, you can't afford it"

err.....but you're already lending me the money, have another try.....??????

They don't budge. No option to talk to someone with a brain. No.

So I used a little of the grey matter....

Who, I think, had the least exposure in the crisis, who might be being savvy about stealing good customers from bad banks?

I'm now the proud owner of a co-operative loan @ 8.9%. All our lloyds accounts in the process of being closed.

One of life's small, but satisfying victories.

The economy.....

The national debt is 780b

PFI (all the schools and hospitals you see being built) - adds a further 20% (150b) to the total

public sector pensions, for which the government is liable, amount to around....780b

How much private sector output is based on public sector spending? I reckon around 20-30%

Mervin King has made it clear he thinks we're in for a shocking 5 year period.

Ask any vaguely credible financier and they will agree (I happen to have 2 friends who head up the research departments of 2 of the world's major investment banks and they believe the same).

This country is bankrupt.

Any talk of any sort of sustained "recovery" is utter nonesense.

In the near future, perhaps as early as the next 18 months.....

As the government slashes at public spending (as the Greeks are doing), in a desperate attempt to maintain their credit worthiness and international credibility, standards of living are going to fall faster than at any time since industrialisation.

Employment is going to rise to levels we have never before experienced and public order is going to become a major issue.

There is no rational argument you can put agianst this hypothesis.

And we haven't even touched on the price of oil.......

Downsize your house, pay off debt, learn a trade and start to think about how you will live on 30% of what you currently earn.

Its the only logical thing to do....

The pope song (slightly NSFW....)

Beautifully said...

Data marketing...more good thoughts from Scott Brinker

You can't understand the social web without being open yourself....

Most of those senor execs running brands who really want to understand "social media" should consider getting some counselling - I'm part way through doing a masters in psychotherapy – (I speak with some experience...)

Counselling isn't for everyone. But by far the biggest barrier for brands in the online world,  are the people they employ.

Brand as conversation isn't complex – its being human (I also happen to write algorithms for hedge funds for fun in my spare time – they’re complex – this isn’t). Only as a happy, calm, honest and open person - someone who has an easy relationship with themselves - someone who can be honest about their deficiencies as well as their successes - can you really grasp the depth and breadth of the opportunity out there.


First, if you are open, your ideas tend to resonate more deeply with the users you’re trying to empathise with.You can, quite literally sometimes, "hear" people better, when you yourself are open and listening properly.

Second. When inevitable crises arise, you’ll be able to enjoy and learn from the experience, rather than see them as an "audit of your soul" – as you may do now. It is usually only when things go wrong we learn and grow - so although these are times most people try to avoid, with a bit of counselling, you start to figure out they can actually be some of the most rewarding times in life. Bizare - but true.

Third. Genuinely successful people tend to display many of the attirubtes of people who know theselves well, once you start down the road, you'll find you resonate with them more. At a practical level you become more attractive to successful people - someone they want to associate with, hang out with, work with (sometimes even sleep with). Crazy but true. Although it misses the point of the excercise by a country mile - psychotherapy is a career development too.....

Seriously, visit the BACP. Find someone in your area. Book an appointment. What's the worst that could happen?

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Up there with "the social media guru"....

We don't need a brief in the post digital age....

"Have a social mission, not just a commercial proposition"

"The bigger a brand gets, the smaller is should act"

This guy has a way with words...I like

But I question the premise - do we still need briefs?

Accept a brand is always on > set a strategy > do it

Gordon's gaff - "bigoted b***h" would have been better,,..

If Gordon Brown had said "bigotted b***h" - it would have been easier for people to understand.

Such a blantantly angry, revolting thing to say, might more easily have been put down to a heat of the moment, knee jerk reaction.

"Bigotted women" on the other hand doesn't quite sit - because its considered. Almost calm. Thought through.

Something said in such a pragmatic way lends weight to the charge that the man's core is rotten....

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Social marketing analytics from Altimeter...great report

Once again - top draw analsysis and simple insight from Jeremiah Owyang - his delivery style is a little stiff but you can't fault the quality of his thinking and the way he pitches his thinking to an audience he understands....

So, good, why?

Well first - because he ties measurement right back to objectives - in other words - only worry about data / metrics which relate to your objective.

Don't have a clearly defined objective? Go back to strategy school here

So for example......if you're setting up a support forum to try and reduce the call times and pressure on a call centre - you measure resolution rate, time and score - and you don't worry about share of voice 

If you're objective is to drive sales - share of voice, engagement and reach are your friends (as well as your existing hard metrics)

Sounds simple - but the truth is, it's news for most.

Second - because good, simple definitions of the key metrics - a commonality of language - is badly needed (and not something many people working in the space have the time or interest in developing)

Third - because a framework (however flawed) - is often better than nothing - to aid initial understanding. I'm not sure I 100% buy it - our 4 categories of sales, web, social and marketing I think are perhaps a little more human (and even more simple) - but I accept the need to drill into the nuances of the "social" category.

Burger King's social media efforts aren't working...according to Vivaldi Partners

From a report here.

Wasn't convinced of the value of their analysis until page 35. Seemed their core idea of social currency was getting lost in some fairly generic case studies.

However, the Burger King data was interesting. It resonated with my own experience of the brand online.

That although what BK are doing is at times funny, thought provoking and conversational - it appears they're not building much value into the brand...why? (perhaps their most on brand tactic - the delete a friend app was ironically - the only one to be banned)

My guess is because their tactic of "borrowed relevance" is too general. Its not connecting with the interests and habits of their core users. So a perfume or anthropological study - whilst admirable and whitty marketing casestudies - are not tactics the average 14 year old ordering his Whopper, is too interested in.

Monday, 26 April 2010

3 models for social business....

Social business is soon going to be the hot topic in digital / consulting land - how a company transforms itself from a closed, silo'ed organisation - into an open, listening, reactive, dynamic "hive". For definition - here

Organisations who are already out of the blocks of "social media" are at an advantage it seems. The level (and not the short term success) of that early experience is the driving factor in who is starting to effectively grapple with the challenge.

Turning that initial learning (the listening the PR team are doing - the app marketing built - the data IT want to publish) into practices and protocols which drive the whole business (and which crucially - don't bureaucratize and kill - the very thing they're trying to nurture) is going to be the number 1 issue for most CEO’s over the next couple of years.
So my top 3 models below to provide an intro for people who haven't got a clue what I'm talking about are ...

Dachis - here
Altimeter - here
Edelman here

Fascinating time for business....

Friday, 23 April 2010

Green investment, no trident and PR

Even if you don't think they can make a positive impact - where is the risk? Another 4 years of labour (btw Mr Brown it wasn't a global recession - it was an asset bubble you created, burst by our dependency on oil which you failed to address) or Cameron - spineless, unprincipled bell end.

Given 'em a go. How bad can it be?

Thursday, 22 April 2010

US debt clock - fascinating...

click here to see it live

PR 3.0 - more brilliant thinking from Philip Sheldrake

Less angry than usual - which is a shame - but the importance of what he's saying can't be overstated.

Data + API's + semantic markup = the future of marketing

UK borrowing hits 890billion....

“Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value ---- zero.” Voltaire (1694-1778)

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

37 Shreddies...

That's roughly how many shreddies make up 30grams - Kelloggs RDA for their product.

I then measured how much I pour in a small portion (I'm trying to watch my weight) - over 70grams.....

The RDA for cereals are meaningless - Kelloggs must know this, the government must know this - the consumer certainly does.

Why doesn't Kelloggs do something about it?

The 7 cornerstones to a 21st century agency....

1. earned not paid - brand not channel

2. authenticity, happiness, measurement and the truth

3. a belief in the intrinsic values of an organisation

4. adhocracies here

5.  space for a marketing technologist here

6. the desire to broaden a revenue base by developing products and ideas (with / without partner brands) - an interesting way to develop a content strategy, which in itself is the next big thing on the web….

7. Outsource and consultancy, not invoice and conspiracy


If only constantin film's legal execs were half as creative as the people mashing up Downfall...

Most Downfall mashups are now being removed from youtube.

How short sighted of the studio execs. How willfully stupid. If I were their shareholders I would demand the exec team resign - they have blantantly not maximised value.

Imagine if they'd taken a moment to think at all creatively, about how they could leveraged this massive exposure.

Off the top of my head...

1. ask all mashups to embedd a dynamic link at the end of the clip (an ad effectively) for the studio's latest film - massive, instant, cool exposure

2. put a confession button on each of the clips - ask everyone watching them to donate 10p to charity

3. get all the scriptwriters from the best mashups to work on scripts for the studio - if their clip has 1,000,000 views - they must be doing something right - have the stars in the scene film the movie / short film

4. film new clips of other dictators having similar shockers a deal with and create an app which enables everyone to script a similar mashup - adopt a freemium model and diversify the studios' revenue base


a blanked cull

in a connected world

a truly pathetic reaction....

Monday, 19 April 2010

API's - where marketing gets interesting...

Bit long winded - but its pointing the way to a new marketing world where data is the key to unlock business relationships, products and customer interaction

Be nice to have the slides from this though....mashery if you're listening!

Excellent O'Reilly Talk on the internet of things...

Brilliant talk - amoungst the highlights

on real time - "Imagine crossing a road with traffic information from 5 minutes ago"

on devices - which won't need an IP address because we can already recognise anything from a fridge to an X-box just by its energy turn on signature - we might call these ES addresses "energy signature" addresses

and the analogy between wall street and major web players - when the brokers become traders....

Friday, 16 April 2010

Using the handbrake to stop at traffic lights...

Whilst watching some bad late night TV I found myself wandering what ads the 70 year old me would be watching (we have a 3 month old daughter – late nights are the norm…)

A part of me assumes media will descend into a Kafkaesque, Minority Report style advertising blur..... but is that really likely?

Assuming limits of person freedom remain fairly constant (and I accept that could be a big if) - peoples right to manage access to their own data might well be a hedge against the worst excesses of our advertising age.

Much more likely - we'll look back on late 20th century brand culture with a quaint distain. The idea of wealthy elites being able to pay to attached meaning to simple, commodistised products as bizarre an idea as Aparteid or a war on terror....

A bygone era.

A product of historical circumstance and cultural ignorance in a disrupted transitionary age - a mismatch between what everyone – and the individual knew - an asymetry of cultural information.

Who - my frail self will ask - would accept the tenuous associations made between a hair dye and sexual prowess, when - by speaking a single sentence to whatever type of computer exists in 60 years time - the origin, utility, environmental impact, social credentials, executive pay structure and ultimate manufacturer of any product can be ascertained as quickly as we now find a brands’ facebook page.


As a business you are more likely to survive – the smaller you are as an organisation. On the face of it – ridiculous – but true.

For what passes as a career (that word - so prescriptive and dull – a career – it even shares half of cancers’ letters….) I've worked in businesses’ who are getting hurt by the online world.

My learning’s.....big businesses faced with this “threat” can't change. No…I’d go further - they “won't” change. In fact in the case of EMI I think they’d rather die than change.

I’m picking on EMI because I have first hand experience of the business (I have an email relationship with Guy Hands - I sent him a book – it’s a long story) but we could just as easily substitute NewsCorp, Palm, AA, Travis Perkins, NASA, civil service, NHS……

In a recent conference call with his senior management team I discovered their strategy was….

1.    To make their packaging better so people bought more CDs
2.    To make older people buy more music
3.    To make sure different formats were introduced

13 years since Napster. 13 years since a college student with zero resources fundamentally altered their business model - and nothing - and I mean - nothing has changed.

Why is a business, now all but bankrupt, which for so long has been watching the paint, on the writing on the wall, slowly dry, still adamantly refusing to accept reality and change?

If Guy Hands presented his shareholders with a plan to use his UPS (discovering and marketing music) - to fire everyone except the A&R teams, close the flash offices, make music free and generate revenue off the merch and tour income (which we know has been the solution for 12 and a half years – see Live Nation’s shareprice v. EMI’s for more info.) – he would probably be given the green light.

But he can't - and he won't.


Because at a fundamental level human nature - anger, fear and ignorance - breed a strong resistance to change. But that's not the whole story. This intransigence is reinforced, like steel in concrete - at a practical level - by the size of his organisation.

Even if Guy Hands bought the plan – he knows the people on my conference call - and those embedded within the business - can’t change as a group.

“If it was down to me…..”

Human nature doesn't truly explain this suicide, because of course there are plenty of people within EMI (usually at a junior level, and usually under 25) who “get it”. How is it that these few are not listened to?


Sean Fanning (Napster) injected a lethal, long acting poison into the music industry's business model because he was small. Fanning had no overhead. He needed no committee to approve his work. He had no legacy CRM system which prevented him from telling all his mates about it. There were no politics between him and a hundred other people to kill the idea (for my first meetings with Terra Firma we couldn’t meet at EMI’s offices in West London because the TF people weren’t sure we’d be welcome….). His idea lived, because there weren’t 100 other people around willing to kill it, for all the weird and wonderful reasons we humans tell ourselves are legitimate at the time.

Size is why Zappos created value so quickly. Size is the biggest single threat to google and it knows it. It is why it gives its employees time to work on their own. To try and mimick the conditions in which the original business was created.

Online then David really is stronger than Goliath - and yet the notion goes against all evolutionary logic. It is completely counter intuitive.

It is in no way an original thought. Gladwell popularised the notion of a finite number of people within an organisational hub and I’m sure there is psychological work stretching back many decades on which he built his thesis. Plenty have made the point.

What is so extraordinary to me as I work with businesses now, 13 years later, is that it is still happening. Surely someone properly bright, someone with a couple of MBAs who speaks 4 languages and owns an expensive suit has, at some point, taken the CEO aside and had a chat?

What is even more scary is that this is happening in so many “traditional” businesses, businesses on which so many of us depend for our livelyhoods and pensions. Want a possible cause of the next financial crisis? Step up the old world meeting the new….

Massive household names, corporations which you just couldn’t even consider going broke, run by intelligent resourceful people, cant move. Its like they’re in one of those dreams where you wanna………but……you…...just….can’t…..get…..any…..where

The fact bears repeating because of how amazing it is!

As a business you are making your survival exponentially less likely with every new employee you take on.

Its crazy. But its true.

This from Seth Godin here

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Reading Room "adopts" my bin bags on demand idea....

Seems my bin bag on demand idea (a meme I'd been tracking for a year after seeing performence artists beautify New York streets with pink bags - and which I presented to Keep Britain Tidy last year) - is so good - another agency - The Reading Room - has been kind enough to adopt it...even making it their lead case study......

I'm very flattered...

On a more positive note - it does seem to endorse the hands on approach we take to meme tracking and user engagement at Dig - just a pity in this particular instance we didn't get the credit for the thinking....

Monday, 12 April 2010

Russian dolls and problem solving....

My 2 year old loves her Russian doll. Pulling it apart, rebuilding it. For weeks she struggled with finding the right top and bottom, how to put the smaller, complete figure into the the larger one.

Then a couple of days ago, my partner and I started to line them up. All the heads in a row, all the bottoms in another. She immediately started to do it quicker.

By breaking the task into 2 and simply ordering the pieces in height order we'd made it exponentially easier.

I found myself explaining to her the Victorian obsession with measurement and cataloguing was the driver behind the modern industrial age. That 400 years ago people started to figure out that simply to compile. To develop a more ordered view of the constituent parts of a task - aided understanding.

No big insight. I'd just never thought of problem solving in such simple terms.

The world might be going to shit...but with this guy leading us we do have a chance....

Beware of the dog...

In theory they should be becoming more effective.....

My assumptions.....
  1. Burglars are (generally) - the more stupid amoungst us.
  2. Over the past 5 years, within the underclass only (from which the majority of burglars come) the meme of keeping dangerous dogs has taken root. For the moment the middling classes appear immune.
  3. Most humans, espeically the less cognitatively proficient amoungst us, tend to overlay our own experience on real world situations when making judgements about the behaviours of other people.
So.....unlike 20 years ago, when the stupid person, attempting to jimmy the side gate of the well kept middle class residence, would have rightly assumed the dog behind the gate broadly mirrored his own friendly family mut - he will now be, incorrectly assuming, the sailvating bark on the other side of the fence, is that of a vicious attack dog, similar to the revotling creatures he and his mates keep as pets.


"beware of the dog" sign should, in theory, be more effective....

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Kellogs is definitely not a commodity club...

Selling sugary snacks (Coco Pops) to children isn't great...

Spraying the vitamins on after you've made the product to enhance your creds is poor....

Massaging the stats on your RDA's to look better than you are is getting pretty low - next time you're pouring a bowl - check out how little 20g of Coco Pops really is (Kids tend to pour around 70g) - 20g also happens to be 10g less than the RDA they use on all their other cereals - why?

And now you're telling my kids to eat it after school as well.....

Go away - make your product and marketing human - and come back when you've had a think about how to become a commodity club....

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

If you don't subscribe to the notion of the military industrial complex...

Then watch this and try and tell yourself there is a shred of integrity in western military adventures...

Excellent slideshare on social media engagement - 4 great case studies..

"it really feels like the second coming of the CD-ROM "revolution" in which "content" people proclaimed that they were going to remake media by producing expensive (to make and to buy) products."

Brilliant analysis of the iPad here

I know...

this blog really isn't very sophisticated.

And I know my insights are frankly mostly half arsed (and half baked).

But when you read something like this here

That reality becomes painfull

Clay Shirky is at the top of his game.

its genius - but I still don't know why...

10 Line business model makover - IPC....

IPC announce a new turd polishing

Why not instead?

Fire everyone.

Reduce cost to a shared server on RIMU (Around £50 a month)

Aggregate all music blogs on your shiny new shared server (under the NME brand)

Pay small stipends to the best "journos".

"Sign" the bands they love - and give the journos a cut.

Give their music away for free.

Make money on the tickets and merch.

IPC's problems solved and its not even 8:00am yet....

Monday, 5 April 2010

Predictably irrational...

Surely labelling anything predictably irrational - is simply an admission of ignorance on the part of the observer?

Given a billion years of evolution is presumed to have slotted each species perfectly into its own niche - any behaviour, which from an external point of view, appears irrational, is simply a characteristic of the organism the observer doesn't yet understand?

Of course I get the subjective view (and I love the book) - I guess my point is we can't know anyone else's reality better than them, and the labelling of anything, or anyone as irrational - is usually unhelpful.