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Scriberia sketch of John Willshire's Firestarters presentation

Process increasingly gets in the way of problem solving.

Thus spake John Willshire, Chief Innovation Officer at PHD, at last night’s excellent Firestarters event. The event was generously hosted by Google and masterfully curated by Neil Perkin.

John will no doubt post his slides in due course, and I’ll link to them from here when he does, but several of his points really struck a chord.

To paraphrase…

1) Process is a crutch

Piss-poor photo-journalism

Process is reassuring because it’s a thing you can see and buy.

But whilst process might help to make bad ideas good, it also tends to make great ideas good too.

Process breeds homogeneous mediocrity.

(Thus spake John Willshire).

2) Process is a broken crutch

The dynamism and interconnectedness of today’s technology and communication channels means that a silo-based, division of labour approach to process doesn’t work any more.

We should be more agricultural (generalist) than industrial (specialist) in our approach, behaviour, culture, organisation, recruitment and training.

(Thus spake John Willshire).

3) Process is anti-collaborative and counter-productive.

Crap photography again, but this got a lot of knowing laughs.

Everyone has their own proprietary, trademarked planning and creativity process to sell.

Everyone’s proprietary, trademarked planning and creativity process is better than everyone else’s.

It’s a farce that we’ve all seen played out at first hand.

I’ve felt the encouragement (pressure) from above to package, productise and hence monetise intellectual property, when experience, intuition and a base desire to just do great work tells you that a one-size-fits-all solution is no solution at all.

Modern problems demand intellect rather than pre-packaged intellectual property.

(Thus spake me).

(Inspired by a thus-spaking John Willshire).

This is why a lot of start-ups do really well coming out of the blocks. Enlightened, like-minded clients can buy direct access to experienced intellect (in its fullest diagonal thinking, t-shaped sense) in an entrepreneurial environment, before it gets sucked into a larger-company, productising, monetising, intellectual property mindset.

It’s also why my favourite creative brief format is a blank sheet of paper that allows the experienced practitioner to frame a challenge and hint at possible solutions in a bespoke, problem-specific way.

The problem with that approach is that less experienced practitioners need to be able to write briefs too. That’s when some structure, some brief writing process is useful.

But, as John spake thusly last night…

Process is a great place to start your education but a shitty place to stop.

Agencies and clients need to move on from this shitty, process-driven place at which they’ve (we’ve) stopped.

One Response to “Google Firestarters : Intellect trumps intellectual property.”

  1. blackwatertown says:

    Good thoughts about the deification of process.

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