Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Cameron's ideological handicap

This is the best description I've come across of the ideological hurdle David Cameron must leap to win the election. DC is hamstrung by a blanket mistrust of free market capitalism and his party's historical bond with that system, writes Larry Elliott in the Guardian. You might think that the biggest loser after a recession of this size would be the government that presided over it. But the polls show that voters are still a little nervous of a return to small state politics.

"Cameron is in the diametrically opposite position to
Margaret Thatcher in 1979: she was helped by the crisis of Keynesian social democracy in 1976; he is hampered by the crisis of laissez-faire. The events of the past three years have made it much harder to argue for a small state, market-knows-best approach to economic management, and the Conservatives have not yet found a plausible alternative.

"They have tried substituting the Big Society for the Big State, but it doesn't really address the fundamental weakness for the right: the ideological advantage is with those supporting more state intervention to tame the market."

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Why art should be compulsory for CEOs

In Tim Brown's book, Change by Design, the author calls for design thinking to "move upstream", closer to the boardroom, where strategic decisions are made. But there are a couple of good reasons why this is harder to execute than it sounds. Roger Martin, who with the help of Brown first coined the phrase "design thinking", says that most CEOs are completely devoid of artistic capability while many designers seem overly keen to keep it that way. "CEOs aren't nurturing their artistic sensibilities," says Martin. "Art is a little foreign to them."

"In Canada, virtually everyone who can drop art drops it. Maths and English are required subjects to the bitter end at high school. Hardly anyone takes anything that would cause any development of their artistic sensibilities at university. Some take history of art, but the numbers are minuscule in total."

If you combine that with the fact that many designers want to keep design "pure" and away from the grasp of CEOs, says Martin, you have a recipe for disintegrated organisations, in which design is wholly detached from the process of innovation. Leaders should "care about lines and form", adds Martin. It's the only way to ensure design thinking pervades the entire organisation.

"Why are iPhones so pretty? It's because when the guy who green lights them is shown an iPhone that looks pretty good and one that looks awesome, he says I'll take the awesome one".

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Social media for business: five tips for neutralising negativity

1. You will be judged on the tone of your response. Be humorous, but not flippant. Be polite, not argumentative. Consider every contact individually. Does this person require assistance, or are they simply letting off steam?

2. Don’t hide behind a logo, be human. Make one employee your single point of contact for social media. This should be a senior marketer with a good grasp of frontline customer services, not an intern with plenty of Facebook skills but little idea of how your business really works.

3. Deal in facts. If your company is being attacked for something that isn’t true, politely offer a link to a source that backs up your side of the story. Treat every comment in the same way you might in a retail environment: other customers will be listening.

4. Show that you care. Emphasise that the reason your company has a social media channel is to listen to customers’ problems and act on that information. Promise to investigate the problem and keep that promise. Social media happens in real time, so be quick.

5. You may need to move the discussion away from a social media platform to email, or even telephone. This has two benefits: first, it removes the oxygen of publicity. Second, it permits you to be much clearer and more precise than you can ever be in 140 characters.