If the embedded player doesn’t work go here.
Non-Spotify audio version is at the bottom of the page now.
Your nuance might not save your career
A thing that should keep you up at night is your job being replaced by software. Even if you’re in a prestigious, degree-qualified career.
Ah, you say, but I don’t just provide a mindless, tick-a-box choice between three or four courses of action. I provide nuance to that decision, based on my intelligence and years of experience.
Think of the nastiest management decision maker in your whole industry.
If they felt it would increase their bonus, would they decide that nuance is an expensive luxury? A yesteryear relic that can be done away with when they replace entire departments with AI?
I mean, why pay battalions of people to dither this way and that for hours on end when it might only mean a few percent to the end result?
You bet they’d do it. And when one company does it, the others will rush to match that cost-saving strategy.
This creepy shit is coming in the next decade.
Ideas will save you
You know what will keep you from being replaced by software? Ideas. Robots and code can do what they’re told at vast, efficient scale but they don’t break any new ground.
They can’t come up with thoughts on how to change things for the better.
You can. But good ideas are hard to have.
I’m no genius, and I can’t tell you exactly where ideas come from.
But I have spent a few decades making a living with original ideas to make clients money. On rigid deadlines.
I can tell you what’s worked, in terms of quantity and quality of ideas.
The inspiration myth
There’s so much artistic mythology around having ideas.
You picture Oscar Wilde sitting back on the chaise-lounge, toking on the opium pipe, clutching his forehead in existential pain and waiting for the muse to strike.
Get this lazy bullshit out of your mind right away.
Some people have more raw talent than others, but even if you’re Elon Musk, ideas are hard work.
Results only come from applying the same discipline as hard work in any other area.
You can’t rely on the lightning strike of genius insight, any more than you can wish your online video to “go viral”.
You have to treat it as seriously as the most business-y tasks you have. You don’t wait for inspiration to strike to write a board report. You must do the work.
What about the opium pipe?
There’s no doubt that the best music is created by people on a diverse buffet of drugs. Business ideas are not the same as music.
I’m not a drugs guy, and it bugs me when people ask “Wow, how did you think of that? What were you on?”.
No, it’s my job to have those thoughts at 9.30 am on a Tuesday like any normal working person.
If you like drugs, by all means enjoy them in your own time. But believing there can be no ideas without stimulants, including alcohol, that’s a dangerous mindset.
Your ideas will get worse over time and you will be unpleasant to be around.
Ideas aren’t just for “creatives”
Lots of people think of ideas as a job for marketing, who can hire tattooed, weird-haired creative people to deliver shiny brand entertainment.
That is wrong and limits the success of your business.
The main reason I got out of advertising and set up our own brand was so we could apply interesting ideas across everything, not just marketing comms.
Some of those ideas are mine, most are from our team.
It increases our profitability. Directly, in the form of new revenue sources. And in faster work leading to lower costs.
Plus, when your people feel like you’re listening, and you take ideas on board, that sense of ownership keeps them motivated. Our staff turnover has been under 2% ever since we started the business, and that saves us a ton of money.
The hunt for new ideas is basically asking: how can we all do our job better and stand out from our competitors? Marketing is just one element of that.
Your genius idea to reduce customer waiting times will probably bring more benefit and profit than the new online video the marketing team just dropped.
It helps if your company doesn’t persecute new ideas to protect the comfort zones of management, like so many big companies do.
Where do ideas come from?
I’m interested in that and a keen reader. So I bought Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast And Slow.
It’s a long book and one that makes you look intelligent when people see you reading it.
I’d like to bring you some choice insights. But I was not intelligent enough. My attention span gave up half way through and the book is now doing support work on a troublesome sash window.
Insight: you can write more than people want to read on a Tuesday. So I’m splitting this great big topic into two instalments.
Next week we’ll cover the practical specifics of having ideas: how to create the right environment for ideas to happen, idea-generating techniques, inspiration sources and so on. See you then.
This blog brought to you by my fun book Undisruptable: Timeless business truths for thriving in a world of non-stop change, which has more to say on proofing you and your business against disruption from the robot hordes. Buy it here, where it’s still the #1 business book by customer review rating.