The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Simplicity Is Complex … At Least For Me.
March 16, 2010, 6:16 am
Filed under: Comment

My brain is a problem!

Not just because it takes a long time to warm up or because it doesn’t run very well … it’s because it continually fills up with questions to things that should be relatively simple to process.

I know planners are supposed to be able to express the complex in simpler, more interesting and engaging ways … however my problem is that I rarely feel there is one particular view that I am 100% comfortable with.

One of the pleasures of doing this blog is seeing how certain opinions of mine have changed over the years.

Actually, it’s not a ‘pleasure’ … but it certainly makes interesting reading and demonstrates the value in talking to as many people with diverse backgrounds as possible as well as the value reminder that it’s human nature to change – be it our opinions, aspirations and/or pants.

The reason I bring this up is that as much as I like being asked to present at conferences etc, I always find it a bit of a nightmare because I know they want me to express a forthright point of view and I want to express a forthright point of view … but I know there’s rarely ever only one viewpoint so I have to really look/think about all the options before I can feel comfortable saying what I personally believe [at that moment in time] is right for the issue I’ve been asked to speak about.

Saying that, I do tend to cover my arse by [1] highlighting the other key viewpoints in my presentation [2] explaining why/how I came to my conclusion and [3] acknowledging that whatever I have just spoken about could all be irrelevant by the time I’ve finished my presentation because people have this nasty habit of changing their minds and opinions.

Mind you – all that is very easy compared to when you start a company and want to put down all the ideas/values/philosophies that have been lying around your head for a few years.

Seriously, nothing is as big a mindfuck as having to articulate all your gut feelings and opinions into something that resembles some kind of well thought out, commercially viable, longer-term focused, philosophical order.

Why am I going on about all this?

Well I have been asked to talk at a conference about the power of creativity and as part of that, they’ve asked me to write a paragraph about what my general view is.

Now the thing is, the power and value of creativity is quite a massive subject … it is something that can go and grow into all sorts of areas … so to be able to come up with something that covers off all the possibilities is pretty difficult however I’ve given it a shot and I’d love to know whether you think I’ve done a good enough job or whether it’s another example of planning wank ie: conversation puffery with pseudo-intelligent sound bites thrown in.

Creativity is more powerful than guns, money, governments and Angelina Jolie.

It’s a weapon of mass construction … it builds things – great things – things that change the way we live, think, dream and do.

Without creative people challenging and changing, we would be a World full of bankers and if ever there was a time to make sure there’s not too many of them around, it’s now.

I believe creativity comes in many shapes, sizes and skills and by understanding and appreciating it, you can start to build things that can change your World and maybe a few other people’s as well.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, the presentation is called: Nothing Great Happens If You Follow The Rules … which is without doubt total planning wank, ha!

29 Comments so far
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Sounds pretty good to me except the “more powerful than Angelina” bit. Is anyone or anything more powerful than her? Even Jennifer Anniston has failed to knock her off her perch and she’s had all of America’s trash mags behind her.

Where’s the conference and can I see the presentation or will it be another CNP? LOL.

Comment by Pete

I think it’s good… and you hint at a possible flip side (allowing you to not commit to a single viewpoint) because you could even argue that creativity is also a weapon of mass destruction. ie. the bankers you spoke of and their “creative” (read: GFC causing) banking skills.

Good luck with the preso, mate.

Comment by Age

Just because they ask for a paragraph doesnt mean you have to give them sentences of PW. Be creative, ignore the brief and leave it at

Creativity is a weapon of mass construction – it builds great things that change the way we live dream think and do.

Where do I send the invoice?

Comment by John

You don’t understand how Singapore works do you John, ha!

As for where to send the invoice, please send it here so they can deal with it immediately:

Comment by Rob

of course its going to be another cnp pete, the fuckers only ever written 7 presentations in his whole poxy life and has spent the last 20 years mixing and matching the shit out of them. you dont think he sticks to his big picture, 3 word format for any other fucking reason do you? thought you were supposed to be reasonably smart. for a planner.

its ok campbell but only because i know for a fucking fact youll of defined creativity so fucking ambiguously that youll be able to drive jlos fucking ass through anything you want to say.

jlos fucking ass? now theres a presentation i would happily sit through.

Comment by andy@cynic

Where is this presentation happening Robert as I am in your neck of the woods this week.

Comment by Lee Hill

in campbells neck of the woods?

didnt know virgin had an office in cloud fucking cuckoo land lee.

Comment by andy@cynic

Sadly Andy’s comments are quite accurate … however whilst there is certainly an amount of CNP [“cut & paste” for those not in the know] I can say this new presentation features a fair bit of new stuff … which is as shocking to me as it probably will be to you too.

Lee, the conference is in Singapore and it’s on Thursday evening. Not sure if that’s where you are, but if it is, would love to see you … and I can get you in free so you can buy me a big dinner as a thank you, ha.

Alternatively, you can get the tickets here:

Let me know, I’m there from tomorrow so even if you can’t make it [and assuming you’re in Singapore] I’d love to catch up.

Comment by Rob

You put a lot of emphasis on building things and very rightly so. As for the title, from my own experience, it’s very hard to believe someone telling you not to follow the rules.

The only way you’ll believe it is if you do and the only person who’ll convince you to do that is yourself.

Comment by rafik

You’re right of course Rafik … however the Singaporean culture is based on fear and control … so whilst I am under no illusion that I won’t be able to convince anyone to fuck the system and do what they believe in, I might just give someone a bit of confidence that it’s OK to not aspire to be a banker or lawyer.

I hope.

Comment by Rob

i never thought i’d say this, but i agree with doddsy.

lookin’ forward to seeing the rushes from the conference.

Comment by lauren

I’ve just found out they’re paying me.


Of course I’ll have to use the money to pay for a lawyer to get me out of town when they see what I’ve said/done, but still – I’ll take it.

Comment by Rob

And I’m altering my invoice accordingly.

Comment by John

Round it up to the nearest 5 cents. So that’ll be 95 cents then?

Comment by Rob

You sure the Singaporean government are paying for this? Sounds more like the malaysian lot so they can get back at their annoying neighbors.

Comment by DH

That would explain a lot actually …

Comment by Rob

At the risk of being annoying, is ‘Nothing great happens if you follow the rules’ a little close to ‘Disruption’ (and you know how much I love that).
I’d argue that the construction bit is the most important – creativity needs to know which rules to break and replace them with something better.
Creativity also needs to regognise the place for discipline and ‘doing’ – ideas never come to life without doers, but doers would never get anywhere without something to bring to life.

Comment by northern

You and Rafik are absolutely right … however I do have to remind you that this preso has been done for the Singaporean market, a culture that is very ‘disciplined’ interms of what people do/think/say as the objective of the Government is to manage cultural consistency – not drive dramatic new thinking and ideas – hence the role of the preso is to provide gentle evidence how re-interpreting the ‘rules’ can provide quite dramaticly different results, which ironically, is what helped Singapore achieve such amazing results for such a small country.

I’m with you that ‘fuck the rules’ type of presos are 99% bollocks … and whilst mine might also be crap, it’s not been done interms of telling people to turn their back on the system because I know that to get anything to happen in such a society, you have to acknowledge what culturally dictates people’s thoughts/actions rather than simply slag them all off … which would be stupid given the countries success over the last 40 years.

And you know I’m with you NP interms of creativity needing thinkers and doers – but I also think they need not always be mutually exclusive. I’m not saying you think this, but I do get the impression that too many planners do.

Comment by Rob

Oh I agree, and most of what I’ve worked out about planning is that is works best when it’s the bridge between them and finding a way to make ideas work, including the evil craft of post rationalisation…

Comment by northern

I can handle post rationalisation when it’s because someone has come up with an idea that is both effective and more magical and inspiring than anything I could ever of hoped to pull off [which is 99% of the time] but when it’s to polish bullshit/laziness/ineptness … I kinda don’t handle it that well.

Which actually is a good thing I think. Ha.

Comment by Rob

speaking of post rationalization and planner wank..;jsessionid=11052B2017D324DEE388B0845B2FFEDB

and where the fuck is boucher?

Comment by niko

I’ve seen loads of brilliant ideas that were not on brief, but would get even better results because, well, they were off brief.
I’ve also seen great ideas that didn’t seem immediateley workable die because it was too hard.
I see part of my job as making ideas like this happen.
I’ve also seen brilliant ideas that would have no effect at all on the problem they were supposed to be addressing (and a certain wanker creative director insisting it was great art direction idea so should be presented). I see it my job to kill these off as soon as possible.
And yes, where’e Andy?

Comment by northern

If the right work is off brief then we should be man enough to admit it so we have credibility when we say other work is wrong.

Of course we need to encourage good on-brief work, but presuming our work is always perfect is dangerous!

RC – You need to do these in the UK, considering you were meant to come to a planning meetup (now Sup North) about 3 years ago!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

campbell was supposed to be based back at cynic hq 5 years ago so In the campbell disappoints people complaints line, youve got a long fucking wait till youre going to be heard mortimer.

Comment by andy@cynic

A queue slightly shorter than the ‘offended by Andy’ line I’m guessing.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

greatest fucking accolade.

Comment by andy@cynic

im fucking here, listening to you playing god. and i like it.

good planners make creatives better because they can explain why things are good and why things are bad and help them get to the other side. they also know when something is better than the promise of the brief and make it work. shit planners just say its off brief, go back to their room and wank themselves empty to a malcolm gladwell talk then meet their oxbridge buddies and put the world right even though they cant even fix a date with a tart.

art direction might be able to polish a turd but it cant stop it smelling of shit so i hope you lamped the old school/young school twat northern.

and campbell, changing a couple of words on the old slides does not qualify as a new fucking presentation. ive worked with you for 20 years and i had you sussed in the first fucking minute so stop talking shite and just do what you do best. whatever the fuck that is.

Comment by andy@cynic

Andy – does this make Campbell the Porsche 911 of presenters..?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

more like the morris fucking marina. at a push and on a good fucking day, he might make the jag xj of presenters. but not including the new one that actually looks like someone threw out the plans for the first time in 50 fucking years.

Comment by andy@cynic

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