All posts filed under: essays

Your Manager as an Algorithm

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essays

If nearly any task can be governed by an algorithm, that means nearly any management role can be performed by software. The white-collar jobs that were assumed to be safe from automation may in fact be even more vulnerable—and your boss’s job might be automated before yours is. Before rushing into this brave new world, managers, employees, and AI engineers should consider the benefits and failings of AI management. We looked into algorithms as managers […]

How to save American Apparel

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This post was originally sent to Standard General, the investment firm which has assumed 44% ownership in American Apparel, on July 9th of this year. No word yet in response. At my company, NOBL – a strategic consultancy, we help large and ambitious organizations prepare for and profit from disruption. We’re also Angelenos, with an office right in American Apparel’s backyard, so we want to see the retailer regain its footing and continue its mission […]

What is Advertising?

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essays

Whether you’re borrowing it, creating it, or bucking it, advertising is the use of culture to influence commerce. Which means … Creatives need to live and breath big and small cultures, fast and slow, old and new, online and offline. Clients need to demand work that earns its own attention and ignites communities to share the work on the brand’s behalf. Agencies need to measure the work for both impact on sales and impact on […]

Five Tips for Surviving Change

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23 months ago I took on the mantle of Director of Invention at a hallowed ad agency here in LA. I assumed a title no one had ever heard of before, took what was my first gig inside an ad agency proper, and set about (with considerable help) to re-engineer a perfectly good, highly successful factory to produce an entirely new kind of output – marketing as product. Since, rightly or wrongly, I’ve been asked by clients […]

How to Scale Invention in Your Organization

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essays / orgdesign

Classically, the marketing department’s role within the larger organization has been to spread value. To take the raw product of the organization and to distribute a product or message across geographical boundaries and into the hearts and minds of a target market. Today, more and more, the role of the marketing department has become one of creating value (from entertainment to service). Market shares have solidified, mediums have matured, attention spans have shortened – and […]

Great Moments in Prediction

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“The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” – Sir William Preece, the British Post Office, 1876. “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” – Western Union, 1878. “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” – Charles H. Duell, an official at the US patent office, 1899. “Who […]

Who Do You Stand For?

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Just a couple weeks back, I got to meet Kevin Doohan, former Head of Digital Marketing at Red Bull. He actually reminded me about Stratos and told me to keep my eye on it. Hence, I woke up early (on the west coast) this morning and watched, tensely, the livestream of Felix’s triple-record-breaking-leap to Earth. I asked him about what Red Bull does for their athletes. I referenced Shaun White’s now famous, but once secret, super […]

What is Digital?

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A couple weeks back, the digital leadership team at Deutsch LA held a week-long 101 course on digital marketing for the entire company. The goal of the program was to set a common literacy of digital marketing across the agency and to create a sense of shared purpose across departments. I ran two sessions. The first was “Thinking Digital” and the objective was to share a series of perspectives on digital technologies as they’re related to marketing […]

Lessons from Bauhaus

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I was touring a photography exhibit at The Getty today in LA and spotted this diagram of the Bauhaus curriculum by the school’s founder, Walter Gropius. I find myself a bit jealous of the simplicity of this design and inherent teaching philosophy. I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to the history of design, what I do know has mostly been the unintentional consequence of theft. But I’ve always been drawn to the beauty and utility of Bauhaus and, maybe […]

The IRL Like Sign

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The First IRL Like Sign In addition to our shiny new dot-com, a small team here at Deutsch has just finished creating what we call our Like Sign. For every Facebook Like we receive on our new site, this sign lights up in the office. For now, we’ve installed the sign directly in front of the office of our Chief Digital Officer, Winston Binch, where it nearly blinds him with every click. Why we built […]

We Need a User’s Bill of Rights

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Earlier this year I had to stop using one of my favorite file sharing services, Drop.io, when they were purchased by Facebook and all of their data was shut down. I’m still waiting for Facebook to make this technology available again. I used to rely on Backtweets to track who was linking to my blog and to my client projects from Twitter. This service was purchased by Twitter and then shut down. I’m still waiting […]

Network-Based Business Model Canvas

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essays / orgdesign

This is a business model framework I adapted for network or platform based businesses from an original IDEO slideshare. The goal is to be able to plot a business model across these buckets that not only creates value for customers – but creates value FROM customers, as well. Some explanation … Costs: here I’ve broken down costs into two camps, stealing from the software engineer Fred Brooks, accidental vs essential. Essential costs (and complexity) are […]

The Big Fail

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essays

When I was 18 years old, right around the year 2000, I was the lead (and mostly sole) developer for a venture capital funded internet start-up. I was also making what seemed to be an ungodly amount of money for a high school senior – all thanks to the web, and to my incredible good fortune of being thrown into it early in my life. I had my own little shop by the time I […]

Words to Strategize By

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Think of the list as a simple set of heuristics to be mated, recombined, mutated, adapted, and evolved for specific needs. Also, feel free to debate the hell out of them. Here we go, in no particular order … DEFINE INSIDERS & OUTSIDERS Mike used to say this like a broken strategic record. Strong brands are bold enough to define who’s in and who’s out, who makes the cut, and who is left behind. Most brands, […]

The Art of Repetition and Recombinance

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By now, we all know what a giant success the recent Old Spice work has been. Yes, Virginia, it’s even moved product – culminating with a 107% sales increase in June. Nicely done, W+K. As ad folk (and as humans), we tend to have short memories. We’re good at remembering spectacular hits and not much else. With that said, it’s easy to forget just how long Old Spice has been experimenting with many of the artistic […]

Who Pays for Strategy?

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There are two types of clients that pay for strategy work. There’s the client that is deeply curious about outside perspectives and looks for a strategy partner with a set of skills that compliments their own. Client No. 1. Then there’s the client that feels too busy to do the strategy work for themselves, and who reaches out to a strategy partner to think on their behalf. Client No. 2. And for each client type, there’s really […]

The Theory of Planned Behavior

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Behavioral change has become the topic du jour in marketing, but as always, there’s little to show in way of actions per the volume of conversation. Moreover, it seems as though that the same tactics are being chased without a holistic strategy. The Theory of Planned Behavior proposes a model for how human action is guided. It predicts whether or not a specific behavior will be taken, provided that the behavior is intentional, through developing […]

New Organizational Forms

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essays / orgdesign

In the 1960′s, the historian, Alfred Chandler, crystalized his vision of corporate organizational theory with the phrase, “structure follows strategy.” Times have changed, markets have changed, the inherent usefulness of the corporation has changed, and strategies have evolved – thus it’s time again to address the structure of organizations around the globe – ours and especially our client’s. Chandler, the first true business historian, studied how the chemical company Du Pont, the automobile manufacturer General Motors, […]

Who says the future needs an advertising agency?

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I wrote this post in 2010 and it generated hundreds of comments on my site and dozens of responses across the web. Looking back, I think I was right about the conditions inside most big agencies – but the market hasn’t shifted away from them yet. Apparently there’s a roaring interest in a model for the advertising agency of the future. My aim for this post is to address some of the ideas put forth […]