Nov 14, 2011
Inspiration seems like a magical endowment, bestowed upon special people at mysterious times. We sit in awe of geniuses, inventors, and artists; the truly "inspired."
Sometimes inspiration condescends to impart it's graces to average folk—folk like us. Oh, if we could somehow control or bottle it.
Would it shatter anyone's reality if we stated that inspiration can actually be defined by a simple equation?
Allow us to posit this:
[ Where e = exposure, a = association, and i=inpiration]
Let's see how this holds up in a couple of examples:
Maybe inspiration favors those named Walt D, as in the examples above. More likely, The Walt's seemed to be apt practitioners of:
It's critical to inspiration that we regularly put ourselves in a position to see the world in new ways or experience new things. It's also critical that we learn to leverage what we have and know; being relevant and resourceful.
Defining and inviting the process of inspiration is one thing, while predicting or controlling it is most certainly another. However, if you plan according to this equation, inspiration just became a lot more accessible.
Aug 29, 2011
Persuasion is an interesting topic. It's a critical part of all successful relationships, especially in business. We are currently studying an interesting book entitled The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century, by Richard Perloff. We'll post cool stuff as we come by it.
Aug 17, 2011
By dumbing it down you smarten it up.
In the world of communication, this is an immutable truth. Always communicate as simply as possible.
Let’s say Nike wanted to talk to people about buying their shoes. Which of the two options below do you think is “smarter” and why?
Jul 22, 2011
Yes. That's a real mission statement for a real company—a big one too. Can you guess who? Of course not. You don't even have a clue. In fact, we'd bet that if someone from that company read it they wouldn't recognize it either.
Mine Academy recently attended a meeting with another very large company. One purpose of the meeting was to introduce the auditorium of employees to a shiny new triumvirate of corporate leadership: Mission. Vision. Values. The unveiling was preceded by "best-in-class" examples from another very large company, after which these were modeled.
It was clear that many a man-hour had been spent in the pursuit of what they certainly hoped would be a "needle-moving" burst of leaders inspiring the masses. Based on what we heard, we left with serious doubts of that. Each example demonstrated the same shortcoming; they communicated to their people like a waterfall instead of like a relay team.
We could debate what these statements should be, how you should create them, or if you need them at all, but the point is, until leaders stop raining down crushing amounts of vague jargon mingled with a storm of misty nonsense, i.e. a waterfall, nobody is going to follow anything.
Surely the solution is never easy, but try this on for starters:
Eliminate the hierarchal tendency of top-down communication and approach the people within an organization as members of a relay team. Everyone on the team is in a different position on the track, but each runner has a unique and critical role to play. If the runners before them aren't successful in their roles or hand-offs, the following legs are being set up to fail.
If the communication had been successful, everyone in that auditorium would have known:
Also notice how the example above would essentially hit the Mission, Vision, and Values for the relay team, and it would actually be useful. Clearly we're not saying that the holy MVV aren't important, rather we're suggesting that most people don't really know how to articulate and share them very effectively.
There you go. Now that we're clear on that we're at least half-way there.
Jul 12, 2011
(Nabbed from Wired magazine. Read the whole, wonderful article HERE)
"The ideal feedback loop gives us an emotional connection to a rational goal"
A feedback loop involves four distinct stages:
Jun 28, 2011
Again, from Steven Pressfield, on the need for a theme or in Mine Academy parlance, a "Souline".
...but it better happen and better happen sooner than later or you'll most likely come to regret it.
Jun 27, 2011
Here's a philosophical statement for you...buckle up.
Every relationship has a level of success directly proportionate to the effectiveness of the communication between the two parties. Mouthful—did you catch that?
Basically, the more effectively you communicate with another person, the more successful the relationship. The trick is, there is always a risk, or gap, between what you want to communicate and what will ultimately be communicated.
Good news—for those especially prone to fear, anxiety, or seriously limited resources, there is a way to mitigate that risk. Consider the following diagram:
This illustrates how one might better predict successful communication. Each of the circles above represents a bucket, or category of information you should master, relative to your tolerance for risk. The more informed and harmonious the circles, or the more the circles overlap, the less the risk. Basically:
Here's an example:
Prudence is about to celebrate her 30th birthday. Felix needs to deliver something extraordinary to make sure she knows of his love and devotion. Let's peek in on Felix as he follows the above model:
So here's the ultimate question: What are the odds that Felix's plan will result in communicating the requisite level of thoughtfulness and affection? Odds look pretty darn good. The circles overlap quite a bit. The risk, or gap, is probably very small. In fact, it might just be fail-proof. How often can you say that about a marketing tactic? Your challenge is to master the three circles of information when your stakeholder becomes hundreds, thousands, or millions of relationships, but the principle is the same.
Put another way, you're trying to make your sweet spot look like this:
Rather than this:
There you go. That should help your marketing, management, or love life be more than just a crapshoot. Go gett'em tiger!
Jun 1, 2011
To most people that work with us, I'm not sure "brief" is a word they would use to describe an experience with Mine Academy. But that's sort of the challenge and the triumph of it. A great working/strategic/creative brief is the springboard to great communication. Not just funny or cool or touching work, but communication that talks the right way to the right people. The brief is like watching a great master of art or athletics: it looks deceptively simple.
We've got process behind this process. Well, someone has to.
A friend recently shared an article from Ad Age on creative briefs. Check it out. Here are a couple of our favorite exerpts:
May 19, 2011
Are you seeing the same thing we're seeing? We think it's pretty cool. It's Mine Academy through the lens of circular theory. See, we're not just making crap up. Well we sort of are, but that's what makes this fun.
Apr 21, 2011
Success is something we all want, personally and professionally. The real question for each of us is "how?"
We feel that one key ingredient to success is spelled out in Seth Godin's Poke the Box. That ingredient is one we really embrace and hope to find an ever-growing group of smart, talented people who also embrace it.
Did you get a copy? Did you read it? We'd like to share some of our thoughts on it and we'd like to hear each of yours.
Here are some of our favorite quotes:
If no one says "go," the project languishes. If no one insists, pushes, creates, cajoles, and launches, then there's nothing; it's all wasted.
Ownership doesn't have to be equity or even control. Ownership comes from understanding and from having the power to make things happen. Only by poking, testing, modifying, and understanding can we truly own anything, truly exert our influence.
I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance.
In short: show up.
What did you get?
Feb 9, 2011
It's possible that the most difficult thing to manage about people is their expectations. Compound that by dealing with highly subjective subject matters and you've got a recipe for relationship implosion.
This spectrum was created in response to the oft asked questions: How important is the creative work? and How much is it worth to me? Between the fact that everyone's kid is a "graphics designer," the deluge of cheap, third rate creative firms, and the overblown arrogance of the few really good ones, it's important to assess a business's, or situation's, real needs with respect to their communication work. What's more, it's important that the business understands what they should expect for the effort and resources they invest.
While you can take this whole thing with a grain of salt, we think it's fair to say that most businesses can and should expect work within what we've highlighted as the Optimum, Realistic Quality Range.
We wont say "you get what you pay for," cause that's cliché, but you get the idea.
This is a tool and a process that is especially helpful for leaders who develop strategies requiring the compliance of others.
In Switch, the Brothers Heath discuss the rational and emotional minds using the metaphor of an Elephant, a Rider, and a Path. The end result is an excellent read on how we might encourage lasting change in an organization.
In a like fashion, the Behavior Modeler lays out a step-by-step process for taking a pre-defined strategy and effectively disseminating it to all participants in a way that is clear, motivational, and measurable.
This is one of our very favorite tools. It has so many practical applications. The most important thing to understand about the Fit.Alytic™ process is that it helps us and our business "partners" to make sound, strategic decisions in a more objective fashion than the classic "well we don't like that logo cause it's orange." That helps keep us from wanting to kill each other or great work, which is strategically or objectively defined.
Fit.Alytics™ is really about strategy alignment. Not sure what else we can say about this one. We use it every possible chance we get.
Throughout this site we reference our tools and processes within the context of our philosophies or services. MineCubed is a perfect example of what we're talking about. It's really the keystone of all we do. The process has three sections that each break up into individual tools or modules. The overall process is highly adaptable to meet both macro and micro business objectives, and to fit any size or category of business.
The whole point of The Excavation™ is to identify all of the core, relevant facts & known quantities about a business, and then to aggregate that information in one place in order to:
Successfully marketing your business can be a big problem. The idea of a “problem” is relative, but one thing is clear; without one there is no solution. And, without identifying the right problem, any solution you create will most likely fail, being misguided at best.
The Excavation™ is like beginning to put together a jigsaw puzzle. Without the picture on the front, the box is full of small pieces that give you no idea of what you’re dealing with. We need to dump the pieces out on the table, turn them right side up, and organize them by color, value, or texture.
Another analogy is like walking onto a crime scene. We need to bag and tag every last detail before we know what we’re dealing with and what we’re going to do about it.
The more brutal facts we can turn over, the less brutal this whole process is going to be in the long run. This tool guides you through some very detailed Q’s while you provide the A’s about the key factors that currently surround your idea, business, category, and market in general.
The name "Souliloquy," is an overly clever mashup of the concept of the "soul" and the "soliloquy," which is a dramatic device where a character expresses thoughts or feelings to themselves; like a monologue. Picture Hamlet with skull in hand.
We think the soul is a great metaphor for a brand, which is why we love Plato's quote:
The soul is the essence of a person, that which decides how we behave.
Like the name, the process is a comprehensive mashup of creative briefs we've used at past agencies, books we've read, and pains we've learned from.
Ultimately, we move from the facts we identified through the Excavation™, to articulating and committing to strategies we can use to make sound tactical decisions on all future initiatives. The final product is like the bible for the business, and can also be used in micro contexts to help develop parameters and guidance on individual projects.
What we've found is that once this is done well, good soulutions—er, solutions—tend to make themselves.
The MineField™ helps bridge the gap between strategy and execution, or as Marty Neumeier puts it, logic and magic. That's one of the core things we pride ourselves on; the ability to fuse that critical, holistic communication process into one relationship, as opposed to being fragmented or neglected altogether. As in the art of war, the more purposefully and strategically placed the mines, the better the chances for impacting your intended target.
As you may have deduced, this is also a critical process in the development of an effective marketing plan. That means a plan where you stop "doing stuff," and start doing the right stuff.
On a bit of a tangent, here is a free tool for you that will instantly make you (by saving you) thousands of dollars. If you are not going through a process like this, or if you don't engage in tactics that are tried and true ROI generators for your specific business, stop doing all marketing—effective right now. No, seriously. Your ROI wont be any worse off and your expenses will be significantly lower.
Ta-da. You're welcome.
We often use this diagram to help illustrate how the business of communication looks through our lens. We're often approached by someone because they believe they need help creating a specific tactical element, e.g. "Can you do a logo/website/TV commercial/etc. for us?"
The answer of course is "Yes, but..." That's where we tend to lose folks. While the execution is important, it's this relatively slight matter at the end of a long spectrum of work. That isn't to diminish the amount of time, talent, and resources that go into creative work—quite the contrary.
We've found that by approaching communication work in the above fashion, while tedious up front, always nets far better success with the tactics in the end (success defined as tactics that work significantly harder for your time and money), as opposed to the way people tend to approach it:
It's a lot like that school teacher that used to slap your hand with a ruler over your sloppy penmanship. You hater her at the time, but you've thanked her ever since.
Communication can play a major role in influencing a change in behavior. We follow the basic model above in approaching all such strategies. Let us expound on the illustration just a bit:
In summation, we use The Communication Cube as the basis for all of our tools and services, in case you were wondering where all that was heading.
Feb 8, 2011
Communication theorist Harold Lasswell has a famous maxim which is widely used as a working definition of communication:
Who says what to whom in what channel with what effect.
W. Barnett Pearce claims that we "live in communication" (as opposed to just something we do), basically asserting that our method or tradition of communication defines—on an individual level—what it means to be human.
It's all pretty heady stuff, but one way we talk about it is to say that:
Communication is the air a relationship breathes.
If communication ceases to exist the relationship dies. If it's stale, people are going to leave in search of something fresher.
The illustration above is intended to show where we at Mine Academy see our role within an organization.
Communication not only pervades all aspects of successfully executing specific projects, but it is also a key factor in tying related projects, processes, and relationships together (i.e. compliance).
Our mission and each of our tools and services are designed to help facilitate success in business by filling in all the relevant gaps with effective communication, which we define as:
Dec 31, 2010
In Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, he says “The world does not accord with our intuition.” His point is that human behavior and communication are generally counterintuitive. We are often amazed when seemingly great ideas get no love while ridiculous things go big. In truth, we as humans willingly do stupid things for absolutely no good reason. There is incriminating evidence all around us. Allow us to present Exhibit A: The Car Ribbon Magnet
Not to be overly harsh, but seriously? This is a phenomenon?
Somewhere at this very moment lies the next flash-in-the-pan business prosperity. What are the odds it has anything to do with anything we're associated with?