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Antony Mayfield

Antony Mayfield's Public Library

17 Apr 14

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  • 4. One stat, one slide. Del Harvey, the VP of trust and safety at Twitter, gave the TED 2014 audience a window into how she keeps Twitter’s 240 million users safe. Harvey’s slides were remarkably simple and free from clutter. She used a technique I call one theme per slide. For example, Harvey opened her presentation by announcing, “Back in January 2009, we saw more than two million new tweets each day on the platform. January 2014, more than 500 million. We were seeing two million tweets in less than six minutes. That's a 24,900-percent increase.” Her slide read: “That’s a 24,900% increase.” Most presenters would have put each of the three statistics on one slide. Since Harvey wanted her audience to focus on one number, why clutter the slide with too much data? Stick to one key statistic on one slide.

  • In December 2011, Volkswagen announced that servers would stop sending emails 30 minutes after the end of employees' shifts, and only start again half an hour before the person returned to work. Their move was followed by Germany's labour ministry.


  • Disruptive email is mainly a white-collar problem. It goes with the territory for certain jobs, such as lawyer or financier, where staff are managing their own time. But others further down the hierarchy working on fixed hours contracts are perhaps also in need of protection.

  • Best of Branded Content Marketing: 10th Anniversary Edition

  • I'm not sure what's happened in the last few years but the agency business has becoming a closed, shrinking creative system. Every day the best and brightest young talent leaves the industry to join (or just bypass the industry all together) digital alternatives from start-ups to established digital players and other, more innovative established players in other industries (IDEO is an example). They might think of themselves in the marketing and advertising businesses but they don't want to take the traditional path. Working their way up through the creative ranks not only seems too slow but much too political and bureaucratic.
  • If the ad industry is to stay relevant it must open to change. Clients want it. Consumers want it. It must let go and jump into this new world of abundance. Where ideas can come from anywhere. There are a few brave souls already pioneering the way. We've been experimenting with lots of ways to apply open creativity and strategy and are constantly inspired by folks like Patagonia for asking the big questions and engaging their customers, Co: as they collectively help brands from storytelling to story doing and the Minneapolis, MN based agency, StoneArch that conduct 24 hour strategy and creative for local non-profits with their partners both inside and outside the walls of the agency.

    Innovation comes from the fringes and these are only a few, early movers that signal the rising tide of change.

  • Digital businesses must master digital customer experience and digital operational excellence. It’s easy to think of digital as your website and apps — and absolutely that’s part of it. But to reap the benefits of being a digital business, you must think about two sides of the equation — both how you enhance your customer experience and how you enhance your operational efficiency and agility using digital technology.
  • So if the leaders of two of Europe’s largest economies agree that digital needs investment, isn’t it about time that your firm got on board?


  • To recap, here are the distinctions.  First, stories are self-contained – they have a beginning, a middle and an end. Narratives on the other hand are open-ended – the outcome is unresolved, yet to be determined.  Second, stories are about me, the story-teller, or other people; they are not about you.  In contrast, the resolution of narratives depends on the choice you make and the actions you take – you will determine the outcome.
  • Very few companies have in fact developed powerful narratives. One of the best, in my mind, is Apple.  Their narrative is condensed into the slogan, “think different.” Unpack the narrative and it goes something like this: there’s a new generation of technology that for the first time in history has the potential to free us from the constraints and pressures to fit into mass society and that makes it possible for us to express our unique individuality and achieve more of our potential.  But this is not a given – it depends on one thing: you have to think different. Are you willing to do that?


    Apple’s narrative is about us and what we need to do; it’s not about Apple. Of course Apple epitomized what it meant to think different. Certainly, if you go back to its two founders – Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak – it’s hard to find two individuals who more epitomized what it means to think different. Given the power of this narrative, it’s not surprising that Apple has generated a quasi-religious movement around its products and services

  • But this is not an either/or proposition.  Stories play a key role in helping to make narratives more tangible, believable and relevant in very diverse contexts.  Narratives, on the other hand, can help to draw connections across stories and link them to a much broader series of events. Narratives also make clearer to the listeners what they can and need to do in order to achieve the potential outlined by the narrative. I strongly believe that stories and narratives not only can and should co-exist, but they in fact amplify and reinforce each other in powerful ways.


    Narratives as a connected set of related events

  • At least some of this misunderstanding stems from my somewhat abbreviated summary (this is a blog after all, not an essay or book) of the corporate narratives communicated by Apple and Nike. A number of people have commented that my rendition of these narratives seemed more like a set of beliefs or a mental model rather than a “connected set of related events.”  Both of these narratives in fact capture an important connected set of related events and it was my fault for not rendering this more explicitly.
  • A key point about this narrative that I tried to underscore in my earlier posting is that it's not about Apple - it's about us and the challenges and opportunities created by new generations of technology
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