Ever run into Seth Godin?
If not, a good place to start is his near-famous All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World. On page 30, he offers the following short bit of advice in the “post-Golden Age of Marketing”:
“There are only two things that separate success from failure in most organizations today:
- Invent stuff worth talking about.
- Tell stories about what you’ve invented.
“Make up great stories. That’s our motto.
“This is urgent. The transformation of our organizations has been under way for a while, but now, thanks to outsourcing and computers and increasing manufacturing quality, it’s easier than it’s ever been to get something made, shipped and stocked. Easier than ever to ensure quality and durability. What’s difficult — really difficult — is figuring out what’s worth making and then telling a story about it.”
This reminded me of a presentation that you gave down in Austin, Texas not too long ago, Randy, in which you referenced Norio Ohga, the chairman of the SONY corporation, and his thoughts about the power of ‘design’ today.
His design-oriented thoughts went something like this:
“Our company assumes that competitors’ products have the same technology, price, performance and features. Design is the only thing that sets us apart.”
The brain starts to wonder if he’s right. Apple and their infamous iPod. Nissan. Khiels pharmacy. Whole Foods. Target. Apparently, SONY isn’t the only one, or so it seems.
Clearly, you were also referencing Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age in terms of the right-brained ‘conceptual’ skills that include ‘design’ and ’story-telling’, weren’t you, Randy.
So, that leaves me with a paradox of sorts, especially when I try to lift my head out of the marketing and design language haze and remind myself that we are after something deeper and more honest when we are asked to play a role in the design of learning environments for children, for teachers, for community members of all ages.
Story-telling. Design. Mmm….
And this leads me to two final questions for you or anyone else out there listening:
Do we have to choose between quality, value, and production-oriented, technically efficient design solutions and processes vs. imagination-enticing, inspirational story-telling design processes?
Or is there a way of serving the client, the end-user, the community in a way that honors both needs simultaneously and over time?