How kebabs can teach you not to bullshit

I didn’t write yesterday because I spent a good part of the day chasing up leads for a new car.

Buying a car takes a lot of thought. Aesthetics, reliability and character need to be in abundance for me to even think about exchanging monies.

My adventures took me to a small coastal town, and as is common when you’re near the seaside, I indulged in a traditional dish of chips. Simple, honest food with a dash of ketchup, a spatter of vinegar and a generous dollop of Ketchup.

Sadly it was ketchup from one of those sachets which require you to have a degree in engineering to even open them.

It was while I sat there that I saw something of beauty. It was an advert for kebabs. Now, I don’t really eat them myself so initially I disregarded it.

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But, then my attention was drawn back. I realised that it was a near perfect advertisement.

The language was clipped and easy to follow. The picture caught the eye. The benefits were clear.

I could even overlook the lack of punctuation as it was just so easy to read. Sometimes it doesn’t take a writing degree to write some good copy in order to flog something.

It knows the target audience – speaks directly to them, and sells the product. No bullshit, no being too clever and no glossy language.

The art of cutting out the bullshit and getting to the point is in danger. I’m all for pretty prose and slick sentences, but sometimes you don’t need either.

The difference between failing things and nailing things…

At University one of my favourite things to do was to play football.

The big characters, the big moments and the crusty football socks.

It was great.

Most of the time we played on the University astro-turf pitches.

Now you’d think, as students, they might let us use them for free?

Well, that wasn’t the case.

So, every few days we’d have the problem of coughing up enough cash to book it. Which, for penniless students, was a stumbling block.

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(back in the day, 2nd in from the left in case you care).

Sure, everyone could scrape a few quid out of their sofas (along with old pizza) on the day – BUT someone had to actually supply the money up front and book it.

No one really wanted to do that. Our group chats on Whatsapp and Facebook would be full of “who wants to book today?” or “whose turn is it now? I did it last week”.

70% of the time no one would jump at the chance. So we’d either have to really coerce one of the richer kids (or rather one of the guys who could manage their student loan),  or we just wouldn’t play.

You know what the problem was back then? No one was accountable. It was no one’s specific duty to book, so everyone looked to someone else to step up.

We should have had a rota, or at least a plan…but it was just left up to being ‘somebody else’s job’.

It’s amazing how often I see this with real working adults, particularly those who are working on collaborative projects or trying to create things.

If you don’t assign ownership to someone, or make it their responsibility – there’s a high chance that it won’t get done!

Think of it from a sporting point of view. Imagine going out to play a team game and not giving anyone a position.

Sure, you may adapt after a while…but I don’t think you’d win much.

As much as I’m all for free-flow and creativity – structure is structure for a reason. So, next time you’re working on something make sure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.

The dead project graveyard is massive, and I wonder how many of those projects died due to a lack of structure?

I’ll leave you with this little saying – the more creative things I get involved with, the more relevant it becomes:

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, 

Anybody, and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and 

Everybody was asked to do it.  Everybody was sure Somebody would 

do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody 

got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job.  Everybody 

thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody 

wouldn't do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when 

Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

(http://www.columbia.edu/~sss31/rainbow/whose.job.html)

7 things to learn from Toyota…

“Toyota has a rather unusual production process. If anybody on the production line is having a problem, or observes an error, they pull a cord which halts production across the plant. Senior executives rush over to see what has gone wrong and, if an employee is having difficulty performing their job, help them.

The error is then assessed, lessons learned, and the system adapted. It is called the Toyota Production Sysytem, or TPS, and is one of the most successful techniques in industrial history”.

(Syed, M. “Black Box Thinking”).

Fascinating idea isn’t it? Think of your workplace, and a simple problem you face in your day to day – can you imagine the whole building grinding to a halt and coming to help you?

Sure, it sounds impractical. But, just imagine it – just imagine how quickly fires would be snuffed and how easily permanent solutions would be brought into place.

Like you, I spend most of my life dealing with problems. Some bigger, some smaller.

Most of the time they niggle at my mind and I kind of tolerate them…as long as they don’t affect my day-to-day too much then it’s okay, right?

But then, imagine a day where you throw your 100% into solving any problem as soon as it comes up. Whether it be a drawer that doesn’t close properly or an argument that you’ve just had. If you dealt with it there and then, put all of your resources into and solved it.

Just how productive would you be? And, to keep in with the general theme of this blog, surely you’d be more creative too?

After all the less that’s on your mind, the more you can put your full concentration into the blank word document in front of you….right?

When the world zigs, zag.

It’s a Saturday morning, and I thought I’d kick off the day by sharing this image. It’s one that I always go back to, in a effort to remind myself that sometimes the greatest ideas are the simplest.

It was 1982 and everyone was wearing blue jeans, as they had been for many years. Levi Strauss was considered the market leader and zillions of people all over the globe would visit their stores to get their jeans.

However, there were rumours that denim was going out of fashion and so Levi’s wanted to play a daring ace card…they wanted to launch black denim. Something pretty alien to their customers at the time.

They approached advertising agency BBH and thus the poster above was born, and it was a rip-roaring success.

Many fashionistas like to go against the grain, and be different from ‘sheep’ the world over so the image of the black sheep going against the tide appealed to them.

Not only that, but the clothes we wear are a form of expressionism and we all like to think we’re an individual – just like the black sheep in that picture.

Looking at this also makes me want to go out and buy Levi’s jeans…why must I be such an easy target for advertising bigwigs the world over?