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29 Jul, 2014 – leave a comment

global juxtapositioning system

It boggles my mind that, in my neighborhood, we monitor our heart rate, order food (and it even shows up), spend money frivolously to unlock new levels on games, watch any kind of pornography we can imagine (and some we never would), and get news from anywhere on the planet – all (simultaneously if you’re good) on our phones, devices themselves that are nearly unexplainable.

Meanwhile, in another neighborhood around the globe, for reasons too complex to truly understand, some people struggle for food, resort to eating monkeys and bats, lack a modern understanding of disease altogether, and face one of the deadliest pathogens our species has yet encountered.

Economic inequality is something we talk a lot about these days in my country. Perhaps we should also be focused on the widening, nearly-incomprehensible, and potentially destructive educational inequality in the world, too.

If not for the sake of the other neighborhood, for the sake of our apps then.


23 Jul, 2014 – leave a comment

Back to Bud

This blog is at a fork in the road, and you dear reader are as well.

If you want posts at the intersection of technology, marketing, organization design, culture, etc – you might want to read and subscribe to Responsive.org from now on. Also follow it on Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads.

If you want posts that meander from topic to topic, mostly centered on me struggling to be a rounded (yet not rotund) human being, keep reading WhatConsumesMe.com and come back soon for fresh content.

That is all. You’ve officially been warned.


20 Apr, 2014 – leave a comment

Nike and The Future of Fuelband

With inaccurate reporting, salacious headlines, and rampant speculation, I decided to dig into what Nike’s departure from wearable hardware really means. Check it out.


08 Apr, 2014 – leave a comment

Fresh Coat of Paint

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 10.36.57 PM

We just relaunched Undercurrent.com. Tell everyone.


31 Mar, 2014 – leave a comment

if you like this, you’ll like that

responsiveorglogo

Readers, I’ve moved!

If you want to follow my thoughts, get thee to Responsive.org.

Our editorial mission is simple: find people across the globe that are struggling to change their organizations for the better and do everything we can to help them.

I might still post here from time to time, but it’s likely to become more personal.


24 Mar, 2014 – leave a comment

help me think differently about hollywood

responsive-hollywood

What if Elon Musk ran a major Hollywood studio?

What could Hollywood learn from design thinking, agile software development, lean manufacturing, and sociocracy? What do edge cases like Veronica Mars mean for Hollywood’s future? How worried should the movie business be about House of Cards, True Detective, and Breaking Bad? What about Oculus Rift? What about gaming?

What’s the studio of the future going to look like? How is the movie of the future developed and distributed? What needs to change and who is poised to win and who is destined to lose?

Do those questions tantalize you? Come help me answer them. I’m looking for 2-4 strategic brains to wrestle this topic with me over the coming few weeks. Geography is irrelevant. Entertainment experience is a plus. Tenacity and persistence mean most of all. An education in Responsive OS comes with the process.

Signup to help at Responsive.org. More details will follow.


13 Mar, 2014 – 9 comments

why i left advertising

Three months ago, I quit the ad industry.

I withdrew from a talented tribe of makers and thinkers at my agency. I left a team of my own creation that stood out in the industry. I turned my back on a handful of accolades and recognition. After years spent banging the drum of invention in the ad world, I put my mallets down and walked away.

Why?

I was hired to champion and produce a new kind of creative output, but ultimately, my biggest challenge wasn’t better briefs, better talent, or even better ideas. With a team effort, the work got better. We hired some amazing people. The not-so-amazing people eventually left. My group, and our work, wasn’t always accepted – that’s true. Like a transplanted kidney, the organization struggled to not reject us. But still, this wasn’t really the problem that drove me out.

It was the clients. They were awful.

But it wasn’t their fault. Most of my clients were kind, curious, and generally optimistic people. Their organizations, though, were not kind, curious, or at all optimistic, especially about innovation or change. Processes and structures which valued consistency and control, even over adaptation and agility, killed good ideas before they could be tested. And with those ideas, the joy and excitement of invention perished with it.

There was the CMO who told us he couldn’t touch the physical store. The entire marketing department saddled with lackluster products, unrealistic sales goals, and no innovation budget. The operations staff who were told to do anything to save a company from going bankrupt, so long as ‘anything’ had nothing to do with changing their products. The brand team that was told they could only invest in ‘working media,’ even after earlier experiments actually grew their business. The legion of marketing managers given less budget and higher expectations year after year. Only on very few occasions, after months of sustained effort, did we ever carry an idea to term. Our clients simply gave up trying to win their own political battles. We were fresh inmates trying to convince resigned convicts to attempt escape.

Fortune 500 companies have such incredible power to reach the masses, do good on their behalf, and generally improve their lives. I’m still attracted to that scale. But if we want to do more with that influence than just fill a media space, if we want to reward more than consistency, if we actually want to be partners with our clients in the creation of something new and amazing that only continues to grow and improve, we must redesign our client’s organizations along with our own. And I couldn’t do that within the walls of an ad agency.

So, after a few weeks of poor sleep, stress, and guilt, I embarked on this new mission and opened Undercurrent, Los Angeles (returning to a company I loved and left). In just a couple of months, my hunch that bad orgs are a widespread problem has been wholly validated. Companies today are using an operating model that emerged alongside the national railroad system. Imagine if you could only send emails to your colleagues via Pony Express – that’s the level of mismatch of tool to environment that most companies are stuck with. The web has created a hot, flat, noisy, and connected world, a world of exponential change, and most organizations are stuck in the dried amber of a bygone era. Undercurrent has spent the last seven years studying the inner workings of a set of fringe organizations that have become mainstream (Zappos, Tesla, Twitter, Medium, Netflix, Valve, Google, and others), and have identified a series of practices and core values that make an organization responsive – able to do more and change faster in the face of overwhelming complexity.

These companies are lean, mean, learning machines. They have an intense bias to action and a tolerance for risk, expressed through frequent experimentation and relentless product iteration. They hack together products and services, test them, and improve them, while their legacy competition edits PowerPoint. They are obsessed with company culture and top tier talent, with an emphasis on employees that can imagine, build, and test their own ideas. They are maniacally focused on customers. They are hypersensitive to friction – in their daily operations and their user experience. They are open, connected, and build with and for their community of users and co-conspirators. They are comfortable with the unknown – business models and customer value are revealed over time. They are driven by a purpose greater than profit.

Our mission is to help every influential organization on the planet become a responsive organization. This will require new tools, new internal champions, new shared ideas, and new reserves of persistence and patience to be accomplished. First, we need to be able to measure this shift in order to affect it (you need a yardstick to know how far away from something you are). To that end, we’ve just published our first Responsive OS Audit using a company’s public data. Read (and please share) our open letter to Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer. We’re also testing and refining an internal survey tool to pair with this public assessment.


Undercurrent, Los Angeles’ Chief Transformation Officer

what’s next

Soon, I’m going to retire this blog to focus my writing solely on the topic of Responsive Organizations. While I’ve fostered a small but incredibly supportive community of readers here, I’m now specifically searching for clients hungry for change, and change-makers eager to get their hands dirty. If you’re reading this and thinking, “THAT’S ME!” then please sign-up to join our mission at our interim site. If you sign up, I’ll let you know when the new site is live and how you can participate (potentially even working with us on projects).

Every new beginning comes with its own excitement, stress, and uncertainty. I could use all the help I can get toward our mission, and for all of our sakes, I’m not above asking for that help.


27 Feb, 2014 – leave a comment

tomorrow’s price of gas today

Just over 2 months ago I left Deutsch LA to open the LA office of my former consultancy, Undercurrent. While I’m incredibly excited about UC’s mission (to transform organizations to be more responsive), I left behind a cadre of brilliant thinkers and makers – inside my Inventionist group and in the agency at large – who are just beginning to get the recognition they deserve.

Make no mistake – creating anything that isn’t specifically designed to fill a media hole is a herculean effort in any agency and no shop is more obsessed with making it work than Deutsch LA. I can assure you that even more brilliance is on its way from this group …

Check out Fuelcaster, the service that helps you decide whether to fill up tonight or wait for tomorrow.


23 Jan, 2014 – 2 comments

responsive os is eating the world

We used to believe that each of our clients had a unique problem. After hundreds of projects, we realized we were wrong. There is a single root cause slowing down the most capable companies on the planet: they are using an antiquated operating system to confront the speed of the 21st century. Today’s winners and losers are decided based on how responsive they are to culture, to consumers, to competition, and to the other forces of disruption.

With that in mind, every project we do helps to upgrade our client’s operating system to what we call Responsive OS. The end goal is to help legacy organizations compete with the digital upstarts that threaten them.

Responsive OS is made up of five nested domains creating a rich interplay between the why, how, who, and what of the organization:


07 Jan, 2014 – one comment

disrupting yourself

A month or two ago, via this blog, I put out a call for feedback from people tasked with changing big organizations from the inside out.

Thanks to that feedback, I wrote some words for Fast Company:

HOW TO DISRUPT YOURSELF: THE HIGH COST AND BENEFITS OF HIRING MISFITS

The article is based on the responses I received from readers like you along with my own experience in a big company.

Thank you to everyone that gave feedback. A sincere thank you to Winston Binch, who is the ‘boss’ in the article that genuinely (and fervently) supported me in all my efforts, and to my former teammates Rachel, Christine, and Celestine who I name check in the article but deserve more props than that.

Let me know what you think.