Saturday, June 19, 2010

Call to Adventure

In language of marketing, the "call to action" is what you want a customer to do at the end of delivering a message or conclusion of a sales presentation. Get online and order, pick up the phone, sign here...

In a world where markets are increasingly conversations (see book The Cluetrain Manifesto); and pull (being drawn toward something) is much more important than push (talking at or delivering messages to a customer or prospect), "call to action" is a weak idea.

A "call to adventure" is much more engaging.

A call to action is transactional; a call to adventure is an invitation to a journey, a relationship, and potential loyalty and advocacy for an offering or the organization that makes it.

Adapted from the heroic journey archetypes Joseph Campbell described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and the analytical psychology of Carl Gustav Jung, a call to adventure is a more compelling idea for marketing professionals interested in sparking movements.

Movements are bigger ideas that campaigns - they are organizing principles that make categories more favorable organic revenue and profit growth.

Learning more about the dynamics and functions of movements are a call to adventure for the marketing profession itself.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Lexus Paradox

I recently had lunch with a friend. She told me over the appetizer portion of the meal she rented a car from Hertz last week. Being a Gold Preferred member the car was waiting in the appointed stall after a brief glance at the reservation display.

It was a Toyota Camry.

She told me a few brief months ago this would have been a moment of elation - a portent of a great few days ahead. Instead, there was a pause - a hesitation - a faint misgiving about the rental. My friend told me how her perceptions of Toyota had changed so rapidly in such a short period of time.

I pointed out to her she owned a Lexus SUV...

...and that Lexus is owned by Toyota, and Lexus vehicles are essentially X-body Toyota vehicles.


"I really hadn't made the connection. You're right."

Toyota has two great things going for it: The Lexus sub-brand and Lean manufacturing.

People tell me Lexus ownership is SO GREAT.

Lexus has built up incredible goodwill with owners, and it isolates them from the Toyota connection even during a period of so much adverse attention. It is a case study in great brand strategy and management - and an example of exemplary end-to-end customer experience delivery. Lexus endures as a role model despite the circumstances of the parent company. Toyota: Bring some of this to the core franchise, and redemption is plausible.

Lean manufacturing as invented and practiced by Toyota in its manufacturing plants around the world is legendary. Its ability to produce quality products, give voice to employees, and be an exemplar in continuous learning and improvement makes it a widely copied manufacturing environment. If Toyota can move this ethos out of the plant and into the distribution, sales and service environment - again, brand redemption seems more than likely.

Interesting times - and time for Toyota to learn from itself and spread the wealth.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Time: the only real asset

The only asset we come into the world with is time.

We trade our time for many things; sometimes we barter, sometimes we temporarily store the value of our exchanged time in an invention we call money. We also give our time away; sometimes with intention, sometimes indiscriminately.

Business is about the creation and transfer of value - and adding value to time. Can you do something faster? Can you enhance the quality of the time you have? Business exchanges your current and stored time value for many collective hours someone else has spent distilling an offering into something you'd rather not spend your time doing yourself, or provides an exemplary experience in compressed period of time, or delivers a transformation that actually gives you more time.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thrivable Intentions: from Thrivability - A Collaborative Sketch

Thrivable Intentions

“Man shapes himself through decisions that shape his environment.” [i]

- Rene Dubos

Thrivability is fueled by intentions.

· Intent:

o Directed

o Earnest

o Engrossed

o Intense

· Intention:

o Aim

o Determination

o Planned

o Purpose

· Intentional: done with purpose[ii]

…and intentions are holons.

Holons are both wholes and parts. Intentions nest as holons – as both wholes and parts. All the way up and all the way down.

We’re adapting and honoring a concept Ken Wilber has explored extensively in our lifetime and in his book A Theory of Everything he defines holons (a term first introduced by Arthur Koestler[iii]) as ingredients in hierarchies. It’s a very simple and compelling concept.

Wilber says, “A holon is a whole that is a part of other wholes. For example, a whole atom is part of a whole molecule; a whole molecule is part of a whole cell; a whole cell is part of a whole organism. Or again, a whole letter is part of a whole word, which is part of a whole sentence, which is part of a whole paragraph, and so on. Reality is composed of neither wholes nor parts, but of whole/parts, or holons. Reality in all domains is basically composed of holons.”[iv]

The same could be said of intentions, where every purposeful act is nested in other holons of intention. For clarity:

· A “reference holon” is the holon that forms the frame of reference as a single whole/part for looking at the smaller and larger world it exists in.

· A “sub-holon chain” represents the view of the constant holon down to smaller holon wholes/parts.

· A “macro-holon chain” is the view of the constant holon up to larger holon wholes/parts.[v]

Holons of intention can create chains of thrivability.

We as humans have the inherent capacity to be the most intentional reference holons on earth. Yet we seemed to be distracted and immersed in unintentional.

Paul Hawken, the author of The Ecology of Commerce [vi] introduces a version of sustainability succinctly when he says in the preface, “Rather than a management problem, we have a design problem, a flaw that runs through all business.” He continues, “To create an enduring society, will need a system of commerce and production where each and every act is inherently sustainable and restorative.” [vii]

Good, yet still not intentional enough for our inherent capacities.

Sustainability language is frequently formed as an apology for the past and a prayer for methods to the repair damage so we can learn to just get by.

Thrivabilty is more optimistic than sustainability.

Thrivabilty is about transcending and including the current fitness landscape with intelligence and grace.

Being intentionally thrivable is using the gift of collective intelligence we can harness to do better – and together do more.

Note: This is the chapter I contributed to the book: Thrivability - A Collaborative Sketch, compiled and edited by Jean Russell -

[i] Lawrence J. Peter, Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, New York: William Morrow and Company, p. 172.

[ii] Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 733.

[iii] Arthur Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine, Macmillan Publishers, 1969.

[iv] Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality, Boston: Shambala Press, 2001, p. 40.

[v] Kevin Clark, Brandscendence: Three Essential Elements of Enduring Brands, Chicago: Dearborn/Kaplan, 2004, p. 112.

[vi] Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Harper Business, 1993, p. xiii.

[vii] Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Harper Business, 1993, p. xiv.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thrivable - an optimistic view

Paul Saffo was the keynote speaker at the World Innovation Forum last year. About half way through his presentation, Paul (who is with the Institute for the Future and teaches at Stanford University) expressed some dissatisfaction with the word "sustainability." He said most of the language around sustainability was gloomy, and about making amends for actions of the past. "I wish there was a more optimistic word we could use other than sustainability."

Out of the auditorium that morning and onto my notebook in the spring of 2009, I sent Paul this message:

"Paul, today at the Global Innovation Forum in New York City you asked for suggestions for a better word than "sustainability." Jean Russell (aka "NurtureGirl") is working on a concept she calls "thriveability" that implies more than just getting by - core to what you were suggesting today.

"...embracing change...

"Regards - Kevin"

...and Paul responded...

"Many thanks Kevin, and Jean, I love "thriveability" -- it sets just the right mix of optimism and realism. Very nice!



Today, Thrivability is a growing idea and movement about a optimistic form of sustainability that increases our capacity to do more. Find out more with this new "collabook" (collaborative contributor book, my term) on Thrivability:

I'll post what I wrote this this book in a later blog posting - for now, enjoy the collaborative sketch on what it means to be Thrivable from many positive points of view.