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robertogreco : wk   18

Episode Forty One: When You're Part Of A Team; The Dabbler
"The thing is, a lot of this behaviour is very easy to mistake for cult-like behaviour from the outside. Apple frequently gets described as a cult - not only are its employees members of the cult, but its customers are described in terms of being followers, too. And you see this cult behaviour in terms of the reverence expressed toward dear leaders (Messrs Wieden and Kennedy, for example, or the brain trust at Pixar, or Steve at Apple) but also in terms of the transmission of the values of those leaders. Wieden prides itself on a number of maxims ranging from a thousands-of-thumbtacks installation done by members of its advertising school of the slogan FAIL HARDER (with requisite misplaced thumbtack) to pretty much every employee being able to understand what's meant by "the work comes first" even if they do need a bit of re-education as to how, exactly, the work comes first (ie: it is not a get out of jail free card when you disagree with the client about what counts as good work). Then there are the Other Rules, the ones practically handed down from the mount (or, more accurately, discovered in an office scribbled in pen) that state:

1. Don't act big
2. No sharp stuff
3. Follow directions
4. Shut up when someone is talking to you

and turned out to be a parent's note to their child but actually not that bad advice when you think about it.

[See also: http://wklondon.typepad.com/welcome_to_optimism/2005/02/words_from_wied.html ]

And now, another nascent organisation, another one that I constantly harp on about: the UK's Government Digital Service. I don't think it's a coincidence that from the outside two of the people (but certainly by no means the only people) influential in the success of GDS and its culture are Russell Davies and Ben Terrett, both of whom have been through the Wieden+Kennedy, er, experience.

Russell is an exceedingly smart, unassuming and humble person who has a singularly incredibly ability to be almost devastatingly insightful and plain-speaking at the same time. It feels rare to see both at the same time. But what he's articulating at the moment in terms of GDS strategy and implementation is the thought that "the unit of delivery is the team" and when you're building a new organisation from the ground up, and one whose success is tied directly to its ability to embed within and absorb the culture of an existing massive entity, the UK civil service, it feels like watching a (so far successful) experiment in sociology and anthropology being deployed in realtime. A note (and thanks to Matthew Solle for the clarification because it's an important one): while the GDS works with the civil service, it's not actually a part of it, instead being a part of the cabinet office and being more tied to the government of the day.

So there are macro-level observations about Pixar that you glean from books and other secondary sources, but it's not until you visit the place and start to talk to the people who work there that understand starts to feel that it unlocks a little more. I'm lucky enough to know one person at Pixar who's been gracious enough to host me a few times and while we were talking about the culture of the place and how, exactly, they get done what they get done, one thing that struck me was the role of the individual and the individual's place in the team.

You see, one of the things it felt like they concentrated on was empowerment and responsibility but also those two things set against context. My friend would talk about how every person on his team would know what their superpower was - the thing they were good at, the thing that they were expert at - and everyone else would know what that superpower was, too. And the culture thus fostered was one where everyone was entitled to have a reckon or an opinion about something and were listened to, but when it came down to it, the decision and authority rested with the expert.

Now, this might not sound like a stunningly insightful revelation. Allowing people to have opinions about the work of the greater team and then restricting decision-making to those best qualified to make it sounds on the surface like a fairly reasonable if not obvious tenet, and maybe even one that because of its obviousness would seem reasonably easy if not trivial to implement. Well, if you think that, then I'm sorry, it sounds like you've never been a good manager before: it turns out to be exceedingly difficult.

At this point the narrative begins to sound rather trite: Pixar, and the companies like it that consistently achieve "good" results and are able to marshall the resources of large teams to accomplish something greater, are simply trying harder than all the other ones. And in the end, it may well be as simple as that. It's easy to have a mission statement. It's easy to have values. It's significantly harder to try as hard you can, every single day, for thirty years, to actually live them.

In the same way that one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply say that one has a set of values or culture and it magically happen.

This is perhaps best illustrated in the blindness of the new wave of stereotypical valley startups that rail against bureaucracy and instead insist that their trademarked culture of holocracy inures them to the requirement of bureaucracy. That the way they instinctively do things is sufficient in and of itself. Well: bullshit to that. That simply doesn't scale, and the companies that think they're doing that - and I'm looking at you, Github, winner so far of the Best Example Of The Need To Grow Up award of 2014 and we've not even finished the first quarter of the year - are living in some sort of hundred-million-dollar VC-fueled fantasy land. Which, I suppose, goes without saying.

I began this part by implying something about teams, and I sort of alluded to it when mentioning the GDS maxim that the unit of delivery is the team.

I think it's becoming clear that the type of delivery that is expected in this age by its nature requires a multi-disciplinary team that works together. It's not enough, anymore, to have specialisms siloed away, and one thing that jumped out at me recently was the assertion in conversation on Twitter with a number of GDS members that there isn't anybody with the role of "user experience" at GDS. Everyone, each and every single member of the team, is responsible and accountable to the user experience of delivery, from operations to design to copy and research.

The sharpest end of this is where digital expertise had traditionally been siloed away in a sort of other. In a sort of check-boxing exercise, organisations would recruit in those with digital experience and either for reasons of expediency or for their own good, would shepherd them into a separate organisational unit. Davies' point - and one that is rapidly becoming clear - is that this just doesn't make sense anymore. I would qualify that and say that it doesn't make sense for certain organisations, but I'm not even sure if I can do that, and instead should just agree that it's a rule across the board.

Of course, the devil is always in the detail of the implementation."



"The thing about hobbies in the networked age is that it's incredibly easy for them to become performative instead of insular. That's not to say that insular hobbies are great, but the networked performance of a hobby comes with seductive interactions built not necessarily for the hobbyist's benefit but for the benefit of the network substrate or medium. As a general reckon, hobbies in their purest form are nothing but intrinsic motivation: whether they're an idiosyncratic desire to catalogue every single model of rolling stock in the UK or increasingly intricate nail art, before the hobby becomes performative it is for the self's benefit only, a sort of meditation in repetitive action and a practice.

The hobby as the networked performance, though (and I realise that at this point I may well sound like a reactionary luddite who doesn't 'get' the point of social media) perhaps too easily tips the balance in favour of extrinsic motivation. Whether that extrinsic motivation is in terms of metrics like followers, likes, retweets, subscribers or other measurable interaction with the hobbyist the point remains that it's there, and it's never necessarily for a clear benefit for the hobbyist. You could perhaps absolve blame and say that such metrics are intrinsic properties of the enactment of a social graph and that they're making explicit what would be rendered as implicit feedback cues in any event, but I don't buy that. They were put there for a reason. Friend counts and subscriber counts were put there because those of us who are product designers and of the more geeky persuasion realised that we could count something (and here, we get to point the finger at the recording pencil of the train spotter), and the step from counting something to making visible that count was a small one and then our evolutionary psychology and comparison of sexual fitness took over and before you knew it people were doing at the very least SXSW panels or if you were really lucky TED talks about gamification and leaderboards and whether you had more Fuelpoints than your friends.

So that's what happened to the hobby: it moved from the private to the public and at the same time the dominant public medium of the day, the one that all of us had access to, marched inexorably to measurement, quantification and feedback loops of attention."
danhon  leadership  administration  management  pixar  wk  gov.uk  russelldavies  benterrett  authority  empowerment  collaboration  teams  2014  hobbies  expertise  trust  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  motivation  performance 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Wieden+Kennedy » W+K Announces New Joint Venture Led by John C Jay, W+K Garage
"In an all-agency meeting today, Jay described W+K Garage as focusing on “expanding the definition of what a modern agency can do, and should do.” He said it will be “a strategic and entrepreneurial shop that will concept, create and invest in innovative products, experiences, content and technology that will help to redefine the idea of what a modern, global brand is.”
He added: “Simply, I want to make things. Not to make meetings, but make in new ways. Make new products, digital and analogue. I want to make new businesses. I want to make new experiences–interactive or physical, in business and in culture.”

Jay described the intersection of technology, culture, arts, science and business in our everyday lives, and noted the importance of being able to think, communicate and act globally. “We’re living in the greatest creative moment in history,” he said.

Jay also emphasized the importance of humanity and beauty to making an idea “great”.

On his decision to join W+K in 1993, he said, “I told myself, go where you can do the best work of your life–no asterisks.” In the meeting, he described W+K as a place that encourages each of its employees to become their best possible selves, leading to their best work, and said that this new venture was an opportunity to not only help W+K, but to help W+Kers achieve their creative potential, too."
wk  wieden+kennedy  2013  lcproject  openstudioproject  johnjay  technology  culture  arts  science  business  everyday  everydaylife  w+kgarage  making  meetings 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Jelly Helm Studio
""We are a communication studio in Portland, Oregon.

We work with purpose-driven people and companies to authentically and powerfully express their stories.

Our work builds community.

Clients include the Portland Timbers, Chinook Book, Oregon Humanities, Wikipedia, Imperial Woodpecker, Infectious Diseases Research Institute, Forest Ethics, Nike, Red Hat, Dell, University of California and Youth, Rights & Justice.

Jelly Helm is formerly Executive Creative Director of Wieden+Kennedy in Portland and Amsterdam, Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University Adcenter, Group Creative Director at The Martin Agency, and Founder/Director of W+K 12, Wieden+Kennedy’s experimental in-house school.

I’m interested in story, artisan values, and the open/free/sharedknowledge movement.I’m interested in the role of story in the emerging culture."
design  art  film  advertising  portland  oregon  jellyhelm  wk  wk12  wieden+kennedy 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Caldera
"…started as a summer camp in the mountains. The idea was to bring kids w/ limited opportunities, both from the city & country, together to make art. Turns out it was a pretty good idea. Kids who said they couldn’t draw found out they were artists. Students who were at risk of dropping out of school kept w/ it, graduated from high school, won college scholarships & came back to work at Caldera.The artists who worked w/ the kids found the experience made them better artists, so we invited them back during the winter to work on their own projects. & because art isn’t just for summertime, we started working w/ students every week, expanding our activities into their schools & communities in Portland & Central Oregon. Today, we work year-round w/ thousands of students, & we invite artists from all over the world for month long residencies at our arts center near Sisters. Caldera’s mission is to be a catalyst for transformation through innovative art & environmental programs."
residencies  oregon  portland  sisters  wk  wieden+kennedy  lcproject  education  art  writing  youth  teens  srg  edg  glvo  caldera  creativity  arts  expression  learning  apprenticeships  mentorships  danwieden  mentorship 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Apple - Pro - Profiles - W+K Tokyo Lab
"W+K Tokyo Lab is a new music label concept launched by Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo in 2003. Our mission is to bring new experiences that can only be created in Tokyo through a unique global mix of music, visuals, and other forms of creative expression through a DVD and CD. Tokyo attracts some of the world’s most innovative creative collaborators. We are passionate about the development of new ideas with our creators and connecting them to a new audience. Simply put, it is about good music, fresh visuals, and new concepts of creative expression."

[Now available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-6eB01J5r8 AND http://www.apple.com/ca/fr/pro/profiles/wk/ ]
design  technology  art  music  wk  wktokyolab  tokyo  apple  animation  japan  hifana 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Makin' Ads: 5 Rules from Wieden + Kennedy
"Act Stupid. "Our philosophy is to come in ignorant every day. The idea of retaining ignorance is sort of counterintuitive, but it subverts a lot of [problems] that come from absolute mastery. If you think you know the answer better than somebody else does, you become closed to being fresh."

Shut up. "The first thing we do when we meet with clients is listen. We try to figure out what their problems are. Then we come back with questions, not solutions. We write these out and put them on the wall. And then we circle the ones that we think are interesting. More often than not, the questions hold the answer."

Always say yes…

Chase Talent. "Find people who make you better. It's best to be the least talented person in the room. It's reciprocal. It challenges you to keep up."

Be Fearless. "Do anything, say anything. 'You're not useful to me until you've made three momentous mistakes.'…if you try not to make mistakes, you miss out on the value of learning from them."
advertising  rules  wk  wieden+kennedy  innovation  learning  danwieden  davidkennedy  ignorance  curiosity  listening  openminded  classideas  jellyhelm  optimism  failure  risktaking  mistakes 
august 2011 by robertogreco
“W+K12 is an experiment disguised as a school... - robertogreco {tumblr}
“W+K12 is an experiment disguised as a school disguised as an agency.

“Every spring since 2004 we’ve brought 12 or so creative people from outside the industry into our Portland office for a 12-month stretch to see what happens.

“The students work collaboratively on pro bono and paying client projects as well as make books, shoot films, hang art exhibitions and do whatever else they’re collectively excited about. We teach them what we believe in and how we work; they show us a fresh perspective.

More often than not the students are hired upon graduation. And frankly, having people who pay to be in the building makes the rest of us less lazy.”
lcproject  education  studioclassroom  learning  wk12  wk  perspective  motivation  collective  collaboration  making  doing  creating  schooldesign  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  realworldproblems  wieden+kennedy 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Edwin Himself is Edwin Negado » MUJI’s Kenya Hara speaks on “Emptiness” at Wieden+Kennedy Portland
“Earth and Human Being. There is nothing, yet everything”.

“Emptiness holds the possibility of being filled”.

“To create is not just to create an object or a phenomenon. Coming up with a question is also creation. In fact, a question that has huge receptive capacity doesn’t even need a definitive answer. Questioning is emptiness”.
kenyahara  muji  emptiness  questioning  questions  learning  process  products  product  glvo  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  simplicity  possibility  wk  wieden+kennedy 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Edwin Himself is Edwin Negado » 10 lessons for young designers. By John C Jay of Wieden+Kennedy
"1: Be authentic. The most powerful asset you have is your individuality, what makes you unique. It’s time to stop listening to others on what you should do.  2: Work harder than anyone else and you will always benefit from the effort.  3: Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture. Life is visceral.  4: Constantly improve your craft. Make things with your hands. Innovation in thinking is not enough.  5: Travel as much as you can. It is a humbling and inspiring experience to learn just how much you don’t know.  6: Being original is still king, especially in this tech-driven, group-grope world.  7: Try not to work for stupid people or you’ll soon become one of them. 8: Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.  9: The Golden Rule actually works. Do good.  10: If all else fails, No. 2 is the greatest competitive advantage of any career."
education  design  creativity  johnjay  wk  wieden+kennedy  work  travel  innovation  effort  individuality  authenticity  life  cv  learning  perspective  instinct  intuition  thegoldenrule 
july 2011 by robertogreco
W+K12 Presents No Place Like Home [The boarding school of work environments?]
"In the 21st century, living is an art. Balancing home and work is just one aspect. We work to live; we live to work. The space in which that happens is ultimately changing. As houses evolve into workspaces, and workspaces become more hospitable to longer hours, we see the lines breaking down. Microwavable breakfastlunchdinner, office living rooms, wi-fi, cloud-computing, all are demanded evolutions of a space caught in crisis.

For "No Place Like Home" WK12 combines work and home by moving both into one living-breathing space. For the month of May, 12 eats, drinks, works, plays and sleeps in the lobby of Wieden + Kennedy. Our job is to create art. Our work is to design our space.

A house warming party is open to the public on the First Thursday of May."

[Lapsed domain. Here's the Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20110128112343/http://12noplacelikehome.com/ ]
wk12  wk  worklive  livework  work  housing  homes  balance  workspace  noplacelikehome  coworking  coliving  space  place  identity  lcproject  community  learning  working  computing  experiments  wieden+kennedy  workspaces 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Demand Satisfaction! » Slides from the Summit Now Available
"SlideShare is featuring the presentations from our fantastic “Customer Service is the New Marketing” Summit speakers as their spotlight item today."
management  marketing  experience  business  advertising  ads  branding  wk  cv  presentations  slides  via:migurski  wieden+kennedy 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Creative Generalist: What Specifically Do Generalists Do?
"5 core areas at which they excel: • Wander & Wonder - finding possibility • Synthesize & Summarize - presenting information • Link & Leap - generating ideas • Mix & Match - connecting people • Experience & Empathize - understanding worldview"
generalists  work  cv  russelldavies  wk  creativity  thinking  ideas  janejacobs  howwework  crosspollination  interdisciplinary  leadership  empathy  complexity  wieden+kennedy 
february 2008 by robertogreco
The New Advertising Outlet: Your Life - New York Times
"We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive. We’re in the business of connecting with consumers.” "much of the company’s future advertising spending will take the form of services for consumers, like workout advice, online comm
nike+  ipod  advertising  marketing  viral  change  media  consumers  experience  branding  brands  wk  future  ads  wieden+kennedy 
october 2007 by robertogreco
welcome to optimism: Words from Wieden
"But the minute you think you know, the minute you go – oh, yeah, we’ve been here before, no sense reinventing the wheel – you stop learning, stop questioning, and start believing in your own wisdom, you’re dead. You’re not stupid anymore, you are fucking dead.

Well, in 23 days, we are going to leave home. And in 36 days, when we land in the Pearl (new building), much of what we thought we knew – like where the bathrooms are – we won’t for sure. Good luck with the phones, the Xerox, the ability to ship and receive, to get your shirts laundered, to find a pool hall, a pencil, a friend, that approved script, or a moment of peace and quiet. What used to come easy will take work. All the little shit that you weren’t even aware of, but that made your life comfortable, will have vanished. Life will become a little less routine, our actions a little less unconscious. I can’t wait. See I have this addiction to chaos. I love it when I’m a bit anxious. It’s a sickness, okay. But it works for me. And the older I get, the more I need what upsets me, shocks me, makes me squirm, or get angry. The older I get, the more I value what forces me to take a second look. The more I respect people who don’t automatically respect me. I love this agency the most, when it’s off balance. Moving at 7,000 miles an hour, trying to take a sharp left turn, everybody holding their breath, laughing like hell, occasionally throwing up but smiling, and leaning right to make sure the fucking thing doesn’t trip over. Chaos does this amazing thing that order can’t: it engages you. It gets right in your face and with freakish breath issues a challenge. It asks stuff of you, order never will. And it shows you stuff, all the weird shit, that order tries to hide. Chaos is the only thing that honestly wants you to grow. The only friend who really helps you be creative. Demands that you be creative. Now, clearly, there are some disciplines in this organisation that don’t really need to have chaos as their operating policy. I’m thinking finance. I’m thinking traffic. But even in those departments that need to operate with Germanic precision, even there, we need enough uncertainty that we are forced to question how we do what we do so efficiently. And maybe, why we do it all.

The other thing chaos does is challenge authority. It cares more about truth than power. Political figures are fascinated with the agency and some have come by on a fairly frequent basis, just to share a meal, get our sense of things. I remember the first time a certain senator spent a couple of hours in our conference room with about a dozen freaks from the agency. He wasn’t there to lecture, or press the flesh, but to listen. It was a fascinating meeting, very frank, wide ranging. When I drove him back to the airport, he said, “what an amazing group of people. So young, so bright, so well informed. But I gotta tell you what was most astonishing was the complete lack of deference …. To you, to me, to anyone.” He wasn’t complaining, he was just mesmerized by the informality, the absence of authority."
entrepreneurship  learning  design  wk  creativity  advertising  ads  writing  generalists  management  creative  chaos  uncertainty  change  growth  planning  life  lcproject  authority  freedom  administration  wieden+kennedy  danwieden  gamechanging 
september 2007 by robertogreco
The Year of Learning Dangerously: Wieden + Kennedy 12 as profiled in Fast Company
""12," an advertising school launched by an ad agency, is an "incredibly messy" education in solving real-world problems."
learning  education  design  schools  advertising  creativity  innovation  wk  wk12  altgdp  wieden+kennedy 
november 2005 by robertogreco
Wieden+Kennedy 12
Alernative advertising school at Wieden+Kennedy in Portland
learning  education  schools  design  advertising  creativity  altgdp  wk  wieden+kennedy 
november 2005 by robertogreco

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