Archive for November, 2009

Although not a natural ‘joiner inner’ I’ve long since loved working on projects as part of a team – preferably a small one. Something between 3 -7 is my optimum or comfort zone. I’d never stopped to think about this. All I knew is that given a meeting of 10 people or more I found myself ill at ease and frustrated by either the lack of focus on finding a solution collectively or the dominance of one person’s conviction to a single solution. When Idris Motote talks about collaborative groups he pitches the optimum size at between 5-6 people and recognises from experience that problem solving in large groups can sometimes be fractious and tense.

“you need both convergent vs divergent thinking to optimize any groups creative output.”

We work with teams as big as thirty people through to small businesses of five. Often in our role as project managers we see the best work come out of a combination of convergent and divergent thinking and as long as there is trust it is this friction that drives the best work.

Guiding large meetings will always be challenging, so as a rule once the overall direction of the project is clarified, we divide into smaller working groups and get the heck out of there. We brainstorm delivery options and tease out the key issues, moving things on quickly (the sprint phase). We then then regroup (the huddle phase). And start all over again.

The team is more nimble, adaptive and energised. There are no long lulls between big meetings. Every member of the delivery team is responsible to each other and are able and empowered to contribute to shorter more regular meeting.

In short it drives a good pace, keeps us all thinking and most importantly it gets things done.

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You know what it’s like.  You go to a conference and you return to work upbeat and enthused about what is possible, all the really interesting things you’ve been talking about and how this is going to make a real difference in your organisation.  There comes the interesting bit  – your organisation – and how to actually make things happen in a ‘real organisation’ with all that entails.  Including the stuff that seems to stand in your way.

Earlier in the year I presented the closing session at the annual IDM/DMA West Digital Marketing Conference. Following the key note ‘The Digital Landscape 2009’ we heard from a range of expert practitioners across search, email, mobile and display.  My session, based on a case study covering our work with Visit Wales dealt with some of the more  practical lessons learnt – the ones we learnt while making digital happen in a real organisation.  Here are some of the big ones.

  1. When you are kicking off something new keep a low profile. Ironically big budgets can sometimes work against you. Test and learn. Build your case and present the facts.
  2. Doing digital well is still fundamentally about people and being smart rather than technology or media spend. Your team, internal and external, are always going to be your biggest asset.
  3. Ensure everyone is working to their strengths. Focus on what you do best and work with others who are doing the same. Yourself, your team, your agencies and suppliers.
  4. New models require new ways of working. Managing digital is as much about managing change as it is about managing digital. You need to plan for that change.
  5. Ideas rule. But don’t be seduced by ideas. You agency knows how to help you develop your business, but remember – you know your business best. Be challenged but trust your instincts.
  6. If you head up digital be prepared to spend some serious time influencing those above you.  Your challenge is to fill that gap between what your team know and what those above know.
  7. Keep it simple – never underestimate the power of the fag packet diagram or the lift shaft summary.   But let those above see all the numbers – they will ask silly, difficult and important questions.
  8. The list of things to do will never stop getting longer. The way you prioritise that list is critical to your success. Beware the opportunity cost.
  9. Don’t let anybody tell you any different. We are all still learning.
  10. I’ll let you know …

You can check out the slides I used to illustrate the stuff I mentioned above;

PS 2002 (2 years BFB) = two years before facebook. Yep, that long ago …

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Today whilst the Identity and Passport office processed my papers I found myself with an hour to squander in Newport. I wandered into a cluttered second hand shop and bought this teapot. It’s called an ‘Ever Hot Teapot’. It’s a standard teapot wrapped in a snug insulated metal jacket.  It’s around 70 years old and in flawless condition and I love it. My last three mugs of tea have been piping hot and it’s saved me three journeys up and downstairs to the kitchen. Although I’m not sure that’s a good thing, I have a tendency to get utterly engrossed in what I’m doing and if it wasn’t for comfort breaks I think I might forget to move my legs. On the flip side though it means every bit of brain power and effort is focussed on your project and your business. What a swot.

teapot

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So we’ve been trying to get around to developing our new site for almost 2 years. When you are a small business and your clients are keeping you busy stuff like that never seems to get to the top of the list. Even when digital is your business.

This is our new site. One of those clients that kept us busy during the last 2 years was howies. A really interesting business … I could write a whole lot more about howies and one day I will. Based in Wales, howies is an active clothing company that firmly believes in making higher quality and lower impact products – and finding new and better ways to do business. I always liked this t-shirt.

howies

It describes a way of working which suits digital marketing and the environment we are all working in. I’ll write more on that one day too but in the meantime welcome to our new site. We hope you like it. It will develop over time but hopefully it gives you a clear idea about what we do and most importantly the way we go about doing it and our approach to things. Let us know what you think and how we can make it better – leave a comment or contact us. It is, after all, never going to be finished.

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We’ve tried to illustrate some of the things people have been saying about us.

Visual Complexity intends to be ‘a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks’ and to help create an understanding of how different visualization methods can be applied across a wide variety of disciplines. Smart people.

internet

The following came from a clever application created by Erik Kastner.

finalLaugh-out-loud

And you can more about the legend that is Vanilla Ice if you like …

A couple of them are even our own. We apply a plethora of doodles, fag packet diagrams, mind maps and sketched out wire-frames to the projects we work on.  It helps with the rapid development and prototyping of ideas. It also means we are not staring at the computer all day.

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