As a denizen of the multiple media domains, and a public commuter, I noticed increasingly that there is a greater amount of commercial chatter practically every which way you turn.
Walk along the streets and a bus billboard pops out at you. Hop onto a bus and TV mobile assails you with its often inane programmes (Diva on a dime anyone?). Flip open the papers and ads stare back at you (including the ubiquitous [email protected]). Switch on the goggle box and be overpowered by commercials so mindless that you wonder why they bother in the first place.
Think you are safe online? Think again. With the increasing need to show ROI, even 2.0 strongholds are no longer safe from ever pervasive merchandising messages. Google ads are now so universal that they have started appearing even in personal blogs. Including this one.
As a marketer, one of the basic tenets that I was taught to believe was that people can be categorised into groups. They can be segmented either by demographics (age, income, education, household size etc), psychographics (lifestyle behaviours, beliefs, likes), geography (neighbourhoods) and so on. By dividing your “target audiences” into various groups, you have a surer chance of “hitting” them and scoring with in specific campaigns.
Lately, however, I begin to feel otherwise. Instead of emphasising differences, why not look at how similar we are?
Think about it. Every one of us go through pretty much the same things in life. We wake up in the morning, brush our teeth, wash our face, have breakfast, change, get ready for work or school, and so on and so forth. Most of us live in some social group or other, we converse in a common language, and the things that we value and hold dear are often similar, regardless of our ethnicities, incomes, education levels, dwelling types or sexual orientation.
While languishing in bed for two days last week, I managed to pick up the book “The Tipping Point” and finished reading it all in one go (almost). Malcolm Gladwell’s thought provoking tome isn’t exactly the newest trick of the trade, but some of its principles are useful to share.
In essence, it postulates that hits do not just happen by accident. There are various factors which lead to these “social epidemics” occurring, and they cause the phenomenon known as the tipping point, leading to quick and massive “infection” in the population. This idea has been much in favour recently, with many new media theoreticists claiming that web 2.0 and its inherent qualities make tipping much easier.
Before a virus, idea, shoe, movie, even disease and suicide rate “tip”, however, there are three pre-conditions and three sets of people needed to catalyse the process. Gladwell’s three rules for tipping are:
Several months ago, I attended a conference which featured uber-guru Tom Peters and the legendary Carly Fiorina. Tom, as usual, has a lot of radical ideas, some of which do make sense if you think about them properly. One of the most striking was the fact that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda still thrive despite facing the all out assault and firepower by the mighty American and European armies.
Terrorist units have a certain flexibility and mobility which makes them difficult to target. They are the epitome of amoebic organisations that are small, lithe, agile, invisible, highly networked, dispersed, decentralised and improvisional. Terrorists normally live off the land, are highly adaptable, have few rules to follow, and have a high tooth-to-tail ratio. They travel light, are well connected, and operate in a fairly flat organisational structure. Nothing and nobody is indispensable, and to them death is an honour.
Think about the new world of social media, citizen journalism and web-empowered “me.com” In a way, it throws in a spanner into the works of old, archaic hierarchical organisations with their traditional bases of power and their Jurassic command-and-control structures. With the (mostly) FREE tools available on the web – 24 by 7 – everyone of us can now be an agent of mass evangelisation (as opposed to mass destruction, although it probably works for them too). The democratization of the digital domain has made it possible for even grannies and granpas to hop onto the bandwagon and play.
Just like terrorists (or guerrillas), I believe new age organisations must learn to assemble and disassemble themselves with more agility, nimbleness and fleet-footedness. Unfettered by the old rules (please clear with your boss, your boss’ boss, your boss’ boss’ boss ad infinitum), these new guerrilla entities can behave more like bacteria and viruses. Every single agent is like a Special Operations Officer – a one-man army if you may – who is equipped with the right tools to close the deal, fix the plumbing, or diagnose the disease right at the sweet spot. Anytime. Anywhere. With anybody.
Of course, this does not mean that there is no longer any use for organisational charts. There will still be a need for some structure, system and process, especially in “rule of law” organisations such as the regulatory government agencies. You still need to know the policies, guidelines, Instruction Manuals, and other laws that rule the land. However, this new wave of thinking encourages us to devise innovative solutions that treat the root cause of problems rather than just the symptons. It pushes us to truly understand our customers – eat, live, breathe and maybe even sleep with them (figuratively) – so that we know what truly ails them, irks them, excites them, and makes them say “Wow!”
Organisational agility doesn’t mean organisational anarchy or chaos. It just means that there is now more flexibility, less rules, more room for creative expression, and less boundaries to one’s imagination, energy and enthusiasm. It means that every single employee – or club member, family member, worshipper, enthusiast – can now influence and impact his or her immediate surroundings more readily and easily. It means that we are now defined less by what we do, but more by what we believe in (think religion). Indeed, quite often, the lines between work, play, study, and family may blur with this shift.
Ok, I know that there has been quite a lot of videos and pics on my son lately, but just thought I should share the latest lion dancing escapade by Ethan. Enjoy!
Last Thursday was the media preview of Explore Singapore!, our latest foray into getting citizens and visitors alike to love heritage through museums, libraries, TV, blogs, books and other channels. What we hope to do is to get ordinary folks – like you and me – to delve, dig and dive into the extraordinary world of artefacts, artworks and archives.
Highlights include a heritage food race at Chinatown, Zouk/Lime magazine style flea market plus DJ Wayne at the Malay Heritage Centre, and a picnic and treasure hunt at the serene Yunnan Garden at the Chinese Heritage Centre (at NTU). Special mention must be made of the Heritage Road Show at the Central Library (Bugis), an amusing light-hearted spoof of the highly popular Antiques Roadshow on BBC.
Those with a funnny bone may want to rub shoulders with Hossan Leong, who will share the secrets of his mirth-appeal at workshops at the Asian Civilisations Museum. Of course, everybody will look forward to our huge closing party at the Eco Garden of Science Centre – aptly named Indie Garden – which will feature white hot acts like Electrico, Guerrilla Collective, POPTARTS, and the Great Spy Experiment. Plus the Science Centre will be open (FREE) from 6.30 pm onwards for those 16 and above. Now is that cool or what?
Here are some photos of my boy Ethan who will be 3 in November. He looks like a cross between me and my wife, with my head shape and my wife’s facial features. Hope you enjoy the photos.