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A bird in the hand …

Vulnerabilty and the feeling that at primary and secondary school levels ‘we’ hold their education in the palm of our hands

When the client moans and sighs, make his logo twice the size …

I’ve wanted to quote this for many years.

Winston Fletcher used this with images at an Advertising Association presentation at the CBI in October 1984.

When the client moans and sighs

Make his logo twice the size

If the client still proves refractory

Show a picture of the factory

Only in the gravest cases

Should you show the clients’ faces

 

Found in ‘Welcome to Optimism’ after several false starts finding the right search terms for Google.

This is another way to look at it:

I was a trainee Rep at JWT.

My merry dance around the world of advertising continues with occasional afternoons mentoring at the School of Communication Arts which I attended in 1987.

I kept a daily diary at the time, most days a single sheet of A4 whether I felt like it or not.

This was Tuesday 9th October 1984.

It was a fortnightly or weekly IPA meeting that attracted graduate account managers from across the London advertising agencies. The diary entry reminds me who I was with, the ads we looked at, where I was and what I got up to. Plenty in fact to bring it all back in considerable detail.

The other quote or image I am looking for was a set of dimming light bulbs to illustrate the ‘Mortality of ideas’ something that threatens and crushes many a great project.

How long should a piece of video be? How long is a piece of string – an inch or a mile – both work for me


Fig. 1. Fighting for breath – part of a corporate training series aimed at practioners and patients to create greater understanding of what it is like to be an asthmatic. Drama documentary.

Some times 10 seconds is too long for a video – while ten hours doesn’t even start to do justice to the speaker or theme.

I wouldn’t give extreme views the time of day, on the other hand, I would listen to everything Mandela had to say for nours. Horses for courses.

Stats lie – they certainly require interpretation. When do peole turn off or tunein to a piece of AV, whether a movie, TV show, video or slide show mocked-up in PowerPoint. ‘Death by Powepint’ start for me in this first second.

Research from the Open University shows that people decide whether to continue watching a piece of video in under 35 seconds. This is not the same as a 45 minute lecture from an expert that is required as part of a formal course – though there should always be a transcript. Personally I work between the two and replay if there is something important.

My 35 seconds video? A party balloon is blown up by someone with breathing difficulties. The words on the balloon gradually appear – ‘The Cost of Asthma’ – the professionally composed and perfomed music tugs at the heart strings and a professional broadcaster says some pithy words.

My 35 hour video?

Interviews with some if the greatest thinkers alive in the planet today. Vitally, especially online, as producers we offer what is a smorgasbord – the viewer decides what to put in their plate and whether to eat it – and whether to stuff it down or take it in bite-sized pieces.

You had might was well ask ‘how many pages should there be in a book?’ or ‘how many posts in a blog?’ It depends on many things: context, budget, goal, resources, subject matter, audience, platform, shelf-life …

A new(ish) model for blended and applied learning (or is this an institutionalised form of apprenticeship?)

These guys and several other teams are doing some great work

25 years ago I was at the School of Communication Arts under John Gillard, an inspired educator with an original approach – get the ‘industry’ to do its bit by providing cash, thought, care, time and opportunity. My own tutors read like a who’s who of advertising and the visits to the school included industry leaders from Saatchis and Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

School of Communication Arts 2.0 works

From a learning point of view what works?

  • Attracting the best
  • They pay (it is expensive, though there are scholarships)
  • ‘Industry’ has a responsibility to make it work (and the opportunity to have first dibs at the students)
  • Ideas, on brief, well thought through, imaginative and implicitly likely to add considerable worth to a product or service.
  • Motivated students and motivated ‘mentors’ doing it for free.
  • A form of shadowing and with industry briefs and placements a form of apprenticeship too.
  • Embraces the technology, using tools to ‘sell’ ideas and to communicate with supporters
  • Simple and low cost (modest)
  • FREE of a qualification (though one is now offered). i.e. the emphasis has to be on the output, on developing the teams as creative thinkers, on making them valuable contributors to a commercial enterprise for what they can do rather than the ‘qualification’. Unlike a driving licence, a diploma in the creative arts does not mean you can ‘drive’.

Does this threaten tutors in distance learning?

What does it suggest?

Better to have those in the industry providing guidance and motivation than those with a teaching qualification or academic research pedigree and bias.

Where else does this apply?

Film & Television production, engineering, law, medicine, hotel and catering, sports coaching, fine art:

  • Taught by your heroes.
  • Use flexibility of employment and ease of communication to keep in touch.
  • Have some basic platforms and at the hub a dean with commitment and a sense of purpose.
  • Bricks and mortar?

A research basis as in tertiary education? I think not.

The Mortality of ideas

When someone says something that you find profound it sticks with you for life; I was reminded of an invaluable lesson while studying the ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change‘ elective module of The OU MBA (while actually taking the MA in Open & Distance Education).

At a IPA event at the CBI I attended a lecture given by Winston Fletcher in which he talked about how ideas can be killed off by ‘forces’ in and advertising agency and at the client end. He illustrated this with a poster showing a series of light bulbs slowly going out. There was a refrain also that ended:

‘If the client proves refactory, show a picture of their factory.

And should they put on airs and graces, show a picture of their faces’.

Which sums up regional advertisers showing the proud owner of a widget factory standing outside his widget factory, rather than showing off the benefits of the product. 

Once a ‘good idea’ has been hatched, by whatever process, intuitively or through considerable thought and development, the thing can gradually die a death as various departments and stakeholders get their hands on it.

It therefore requires a champion, someone to see it through, who is persuasive and persistent, who can shift from playfulness to power games.

Like Steve Jobs perhaps? (who I have written about extensively in my OU Student Blog).

That or you need someone to do it for you; writers have agents, creatives in advertising have the accounts team.

Use of video in elearning (Part Five)

Anyone in advertising or marketing will be familiar with the Creative Brief; it is an industry standard. I see this run to two or three pages. The copy going to the creative team (copywriter and art director) was meant to be kept to a single page of A4 (this was a JWT). I go along with this. Didn’t Churchill when he was First Lord of the Admiralty send away a lengthy document wanting it back as a single page? I like to quote Jonathan Swift who apologised for writing someone a lengthy letter as he hadn’t the time to write a short one. Like this ‘stream of consciousness’ of mine, it pays to edit, to think through and prioritize your thoughts.

In the context of elearning (indeed everything online), I felt it necessary to add the ‘delivery’ approach as an important creative consideration. I wonder if this team of two: words and visualizer ought to be a team of three that includes the programmer?

All things being equal what makes a piece of learning stand out? Who brings it alive? Who makes it memorable? I think an idea will stick if it hits the proverbial nail on the head, though it risks isolating some. Controversy works too, bland learning like bland advertising is forgettable. Inspirational educators count. There are those whose lectures you want to attend and those who you avoid.

Why not the professional presenter?

In corporate training we hire the likes of Carol Vorderman, Nick Ross and others to present our story; they know how to get a point across. Why can’t the academic stand back and accept the role of author? They still get the credit even if someone else speaks the words.

Ideas Endure

  • They make the learning stick.
  • Produce multiple ideas and present them.
  • Let the audience create and present their own.

The mortality of ideas. ‘If the client still proves refractory’.

I’ve wanted to quote this for many years.

Winston Fletcher used this with images at an Advertising Association presentation at the CBI in October 1984.

When the client moans and sighs
Make his logo twice the size
If the client still proves refractory
Show a picture of the factory
Only in the gravest cases
Should you show the clients’ faces

Found in ‘Welcome to Optimism’ after several false starts finding the right search terms for Google.

This is another way to look at it:

I was a trainee Rep at JWT.

My merry dance around the world of advertising continues with occasional afternoons mentoring at the School of Communication Arts which I attended in 1987. I kept a daily diary at the time, most days a single sheet of A4 whether I felt like it or not. This was Tuesday 9th October 1984. It was a fortnightly or weekly IPA meeting that attracted graduate account managers from across the London advertising agencies. The diary entry reminds me who I was with, the ads we looked at, where I was and what I got up to. Plenty in fact to bring it all back in considerable detail.

The other quote or image I am looking for was a set of dimming light bulbs to illustrate the ‘Mortality of ideas’ something that threatens and crushes many a great project.


The commercially branded BA, certificate, diploma or MBA

Dr. Z.A.Pelczynski takes a philosophy tutorial, Pembroke College, 1960s.

The brand is the first and trusted touch point for the learner. Whether they want to be entertained or acquire learning that can be applied to their career or job seeking is a moot point.

Does an Oxbridge education cease to be one without the college and tutorial focus?

Would it be counterintuitive for the OU to offer campus based studying?

The School of Communication Arts is industry supported and may even be a Bartle Bogle Hegarty academy; I did this in 1987. There is no qualification as the end game is employment. A piece of paper demonstrates nothing other than ‘staying the course’, that you can deliver via the process and intellectualise it.

In 2001 I was involved with FT Knowledge in their first efforts to produce an online MBA: the brand may run to this yet, indeed as digital takes over from print and they employ a Forum Manager, informal social learning occurs by default. I would study animation through Pixar, civil engineering through ABB, Health Care Management through BUPA, logistics with UGC, computing with Microsoft, marketing with P&G, and as you have mentioned, Journalism with the BBC, so how about investment banking with Goldman Sachs and commercial law with Herbert Smith (which of course they already do in-house with substantial cohorts). If the author Steven Pressfield offered an online creative writing course I’d take it, the goal not a qualification but a book published.

Could you even focus the learning on a person rather than the brand? The Max Clifford School of PR, the Cherie Booth, or come to think of it, Tony Blair School of Law?

Were not the first universities in Bologna, Paris, Oxford and Cambridge developed around individual ‘educators’ who of necessity became associated with hostelries and libraries?

Seriously though, would a Virgin MBA sell with Richard Branson as self-appointed Dean?

Creativity, Innovation & Change WK 1 (Activities 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4)

CHAPTER 1 CREATIVITY (pp13-30)

What a fool. I always thought of business as boring.

I was a creative, an actor or performer, a writer or director, a visualiser. Yet beyond the antics of the undergraduate each of these can only happen in the context of a business: they have to be financed. Perhaps for too long I toyed unsuccessfully with the idea of being alone in a space with paints or pens (actually a MAC and a Wacom board).

I take notes, pen onto paper, while reading from an iPad. I will get home and find a box of books and will then read from paper and take notes on the iPad. My inclination is to have TWO tablets, one in my left hand to read (a Kindle if it will take the PDFs) the iPad under my right hand so that I can type in notes as I go along.

MY NOTES:

* developments so fast that they are unpredictable.

* expect the unexpected (Handy, 1991)

* increasing competition

* increasing pace of change

* need to add value through continual innovation

* globalisation

* creativity, knowledge & innovation over capital, labour & land

*growth in value of intangible assets

*

I can see that B822 complements H807 ‘Innovations in E-learning’.

In truth this already is closer to what I perceived H807 would be as there is substantial use of audio and video.

Table 1.0 Innovations with major impact on human history
I want to return to this, add to it and include images.

Plenty will be available under Creative Commons and Google Images.

ACTIVITY 1.1
How would I define creativity?

Innovative problem solving (business, technical, communications, aesthetic) with the outcome a product or artefact that is unique and possibly challenging or controversial.

WHAT ASSOCIATIONS DOES CREATIVITY HAVE FOR YOU?

The arts and media, from TV to film and music, theatre, art, books, ceramics and sculpture to creativity in commerce with advertising and architecture. Even putting up a pedestrian bridge can be a creative endeavour. Or making a sandcastle.

WRITE DOWN WORDS AND PHRASES THAT IT SUGGESTS TO YOU

illustration
Design
Copywriting
Inventiveness
Innovative
Clever
Head turning
Memorable
Unique
Controversial
Skilled

ALSO THINK OF:

Problem solving (appropriate)
New
Novelty is relative
Lasting impact

ACTIVITY 2.1

WHAT DO YO THINK CAUSES CREATIVITY, AND WHERE DO NEW IDEAS COME FROM?

In adverting a creative team, a copywriter and art doctor sit together to come up with ideas to sell a product based on a Creative Brief that answers the question ‘what is the problem?’ in this respect creativity is about solving problems, indeed movie producers and directors define film making as solving problems. Greyson Perry, the ceramicist, argues that ‘creativity is mistakes’, indeed creativity needs to be a challenge and a risk if the requisite innovation is to occur. For me creativity therefore comes from the desire to overcome a problem, which applies as much to composing a new song, writing copy or a book, designing a new machine, simplifying source code, drawing a sel-portrait, even making a meal with left-overs from the cupboard.

Creativity can be taught and engendered in everyone. The ‘genius’ is rarely born with a god-given gift, often a parent has pushed them to acquire and practice skills from a very early age. The successful ‘creative’ may well put in far more hours than Others, even possess a keener, more urgent desire and curiosity.

1950s an ability
1960s mental flexibility
1970s relevant experience
1980s intrinsic motivation
1990s work culture

(Engestrom’s ideas of activity systems are worth bringing in here).

ACTIVITY 1.3

Think about two or three people fro the worlds of:
Science: Prof. Brian Cox – his ability to communicate the complex in a clear and memorable way.
Art: Stephen Appleby – transvestite cartoonist. Caravagio, but perhaps not the Pre-Raphaelites. Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali and Picaso.
Music: Bjork – weird and wonderful, Gary Neuman, David Bowie …
Business: Dyson – from the cyclone vacuum cleaner to the air-blade.
Sport: George Best – I don’t even follow football but at times his skill looks inventive, playful and in control. Some skiers and skaters.
Literature: Haruki Murakami – he has a voice of his own. Henry Miller, Will Self …
And any others: The Saatchis for their advertising in the 1980s; Terry Gilliam and the Monty Python Team.
Fashion: Jean-Paul Gaultier – how he dresses, what he design. Architects such as Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid.

QQ. What do I think is creative about them or what they produce?

It can be outrageous, it works, it solves a problem, it leaves a lasting impression. They may be extrovert, outrageous self-publicists or introvert, even quite ‘normal’ like James Dyson, Terrance Conran or John Hegarty (Bartle Bogle, Hegarty). They persevere, they are confident or know no better than to be themselves writ large. They learnt their trade from the bottom up and stuck with it.

ACTIVITY 1.4

Think of someone creative people you know, and from work: a friend, relative or child.

What sort of people are they and how do they do thing?

They are observers and can be set apart. They can be egotistical and rubbish at time keeping and the everyday and mundane. They think a lot. They draw upon multiple references. They are highly intelligent. They may be troubled souls in conflict with themselves and the world. They care about their craft skills. Are they performers of sorts seeking cognition as well as reward for what they do? They are the first to do it? They are focused and goal driven.

But the truth, in a business setting might be quite different, with the ‘creative’ in this setting the good listener and team player?

REFERENCE

Handy, C. (1991) ‘The Age of Unreason’ in Henry (1991)

Henry, J., Mayles, D., Bell, R., et al (2010) Book 1, Creativity, Cognition and Development.

Buzzing in Ga-Ga- Googleand – creativity on the fly

I’m not tired, which is the worry; it’ll catch up with me. When I wake up with a clear, original thought I’ve learnt to run with it. Time was I could have put on a light, scribbled a bit then drifted off again. 17 years of marriage (and 20 years together) I’ve learnt to get up. And once I’m up, then I know it’ll be a while before I can sleep again.

(I’ll sleep on the train into London; at least I can’t overshoot. I once got on the train at Oxford on the way into town and woke up in Cardiff).

I have the thought nailed, or rather sketched out, literally, with a Faber-Castell Artist Pen onto an A5 sheet of cartridge paper in Derwent hardback sketch book. This seems like a waste of good paper (and a good pen), but this doodle, more of a diagram, almost says it all. My vision, my argument, my persuasive thought. My revolution?

Almost enough, because I then show how I’ll animate my expression of this idea by drawing it out in a storyboard. I can do it in seven images (I thought it would take more). I hear myself presenting this without needing to do so, though, believing myself quite capable of forgetting this entire episode I’ll write it out too.

I once though of myself as an innovator, even an entrepreneur. I had some modest success too. Enough to think such ideas could make me. I realise at this moment that such ideas are the product of intense mental stimulation. To say that H808 has been stimulating would be to under value how it has tickled my synapses. The last time I felt I didn’t need to sleep I was an undergraduate; I won’t make that mistake. We bodies have needs. So, to write, then to bed.

(This undergraduate thing though, or graduate as I now am … however mature. There has to be something about the culture and context of studying that tips certain people into this mode).

You may get the full, animated, voice over podcast of the thing later in the week. I’ll create the animation myself using a magic drawing tool called ArtPad and do so using a stylus onto a Wacom board.

(Never before, using a plastic stylus on an a plastic ice-rink of a tablet have I had the sensation that I am using a drawing or painting tool using real ink or paint. I can’t wait ’til I can afford an A3 sized Wacom board … drawing comes from the shoulder, not the wrist and certainly not the finger tips. You need scale. Which reminds me, where is the book I have on Quentin Blake?)

Now where’s a Venture Capitalist when you need one at 04.07am. That and a plumber, the contents of the upstairs bathroom (loo, bath and sink) are flooding out underneath the downstairs loo. Pleasant. A venture capitalist who is a plumber. Now there’s something I doubt that can even be found if you search in Ga-Ga Googleland.

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