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


Whoever Said Crime Doesn’t Pay Hasn’t Heard Of McKinsey …

Monday.

God it’s hard isn’t it.

If this is the point of the week where you have the most energy, how the hell will you be feeling on Wednesday?

Well I’m going to help you with that.

I’m going to give you a surge of energy that will see you through.

And that energy is going to be created through anger.

Remember last week how I wrote about McKinsey and their moral compass free attitude towards making cash?

That they thought nothing of putting in proposals that allowed their client to continue killing people as long as they made money?

Well, I guess there was a small chance that someone could say it was all a mistake. A misunderstanding. A misquote.

OK, so no one really thinks that, but I may have been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

OK, I wasn’t … because there was no way they ‘made a mistake’.

McKinsey doesn’t make those.

Every single thing they do is deliberate.

Everything.

Thought out. Considered. Evaluated. Proposed.

Their driving force is optimising profit. For themselves as much as their client – especially as they never execute what they recommend to clients. Implication free advice … morally, ethically and, in some cases, legally.

And why am I being so harsh?

Because of this:

Nothing highlights McKinsey’s knowledge of what they did – and what they didn’t do – than shredding files in relation to their client.

A long time ago there was a book called The Corporation. In it, the author argued that corporations are basically psychopaths on a relentless quest for money and power.

It’s literally why McKinsey are in business.

Who else would want to work with a company that charges huge amounts for work they don’t execute that encourages illicit or even illegal behaviour? And yet so many of the companies that work with them go on about their ‘purpose’, their ‘focus on the community’.

While there are exceptions, Joel Bakan – the author of The Corporation – was generally absolutely correct in his judgement.

When Arthur Anderson was caught shredding the files of the illegal work they did for Enron, their reputation was so tainted that they went bankrupt. That McKinsey continues to walk around like the Masters of the Universe should make you furious.

Absolutely furious.

And with that, you now have the energy to get through your week.

You’re welcome.



Teamwork Makes The Screams Work …

Teamwork.

A word used so much, by so many, to ironically control others into doing what they want them to do. It’s often got far more in common with production line subserviency than teamwork.

Then there’s the other version.

Where people spout teamwork with a big smile on their face while openly trying to fuck others over so they look better to the people who matter most. The boss, for example.

But what is even worse is when people are called out for not being a team player simply because they have a different opinion.

The great irony is they’re not doing it to be a pain or problematic or to express an ego. It’s to try and offer a viewpoint they think may help get an even better outcome so literally everyone wins.

But no.

They’re criticised, belittled, undermined and made to feel like they’re the problem.

Of course teamwork is important.

It can make a huge difference to the end result.

An exponential difference.

But to do that it’s not simply telling people to practice teamwork.

It’s about having the right people in the mix – by discipline, standards and character. It’s about ensuring everyone has clarity on what they’re all working towards beyond their individual discipline. It’s about ensuring everyone knows what is expected of them and how that works in relation to those around them. It’s about giving them the freedom to use their talent to push the standards and capabilities of what they are responsible for creating, while remaining true to the overall goal everyone is working towards achieving.

I learnt that last bit from the film director Michael Mann.

I found myself with him in a meeting so asked him how he makes films given the amount of different people and disciplines involved.

He told me he starts every project by sitting with the entire production team and explaining his vision for his movie.

The story he wants to make.
What is really important to him.
What he wants people to feel watching it.

He then added this vital element:

“I want everyone to use their talent to make this film better than I could imagine. But it’s has to be my vision of the film. Not one they think I should be making.”

I love that. I love it because his version of teamwork is encouraging everyone to play up to a standard rather than down to a tick box. Which all goes to show that real teamwork is so much more than just sticking a bunch of random people and companies in a room and expecting them to “be a team”.

But that’s what so many companies and managers do.

Either because they’re lazy or just want overall control.

Once upon a time a very good friend of mine went into his annual review.

He had done incredibly well and was hoping he would be recognised for it.

Instead he was bollocked …

Bollocked for having opinions.
Bollocked for asking questions.
Bollocked for not being a ‘team player’.

He listened patiently before replying with what is still the best fuck you, power play I’ve ever heard to that accusation.

“Oh I’m a team player …”, he said, “… I’m just the captain of the team”.

Forever proving – as the pic at the top of this post shows – that as much as people may try to tell you otherwise, there is most definitely an ‘I’ in team.

Legend.



Why Being Starstruck Stops You Seeing What You’re Saying …

The celebrity endorsement.

Favoured by brands who have nothing interesting to say.

Or by companies who want to look more important than they are.

Of course they’re exceptions.

NIKE for example … because at least their choices are directly connected to the category they operate in, which is more than can be said for Clooney and Nespresso. Or the new entrant. Another handsome, old, white male actor – who, according to his ex-wife – may have domestic abuse issues to answer for.

Maybe that’s why Brad Pitt agreed to do one of the worst ads I’ve seen in a long time. To pay for any legal trial … whereas at least Clooney does it to raise the money for the films he personally wants to make.

In the old days, celebs went to Japan to top up their pension – safe in the knowledge that no one would see their stuff. Then the internet happened and not only could everyone see the rubbish they’d do for a big pay day, they realised they could do it now in their home country given everyone had seen their willingness to sell their credibility for cash.

Which leads to this …

Neymar.

For a financial investment firm.

If that isn’t weird enough, they’ve weirdly made Neymar look like he’s the financial advisor.

What the fuck?

Are they suggesting he is so rich he can give people expert financial advice?

If they are, is his advice, “become a professional footballer for PSG”.

Or is something else …

Is he paid so badly he’s had to get a second job selling financial advice?

That would at least make some sense as Neymar HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF TAX AVOIDANCE!!!

Yeah, this financial company decided that the best celebratory endorser they could use to promote their company internationally was a convicted tax dodger.

Did no one think about that?

Did no one question what that would say about them?

Did they think that because Qatar – where QNB is based – don’t charge personal tax, it means Neymar’s crime basically doesn’t exist?

Did no one ask why were they photographing the football star as if he was a financial advisor?

Nope.

And was that because they were starstruck?

Or was it because they didn’t think about it?

Or care?

Or think anyone else would care?

Or was it all of the above … because let’s face it, there’s enough examples to show many investment firms don’t give a damn about rules, customers or tax obligations … so maybe using Neymar was the most truthful and inspired choice they could make.

How nice of QNB to make it so much easier for the authorities to find people exploiting the financial rules for personal gain, because now all they have to do is ask one question:

“Do you use QNB?”



McKinsey. Psychopaths For Sale.

I’ve written about McKinsey in the past.

From the talk I did at their conference where I took the piss out of the, through to the infamous tweet I sent about that incident through to my begrudged respect that they are able to charge so much money for things they will never get their hands dirty in executing.

And while I am fully aware that they have some incredibly smart people in their organisation, the organisations ruthlessness towards capitalism highlights they have almost zero moral compass.

Oh they talk about their values.

They go on about their commitment to purpose and integrity.

But the more and more I did into the organisation, the more I find codes of conduct that should be regarded as criminal rather than respectful.

I’m currently reading Empire Of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe about the opioid crisis – specifically OxyContin – created, aggressively marketed and exploited by the Sackler family.

It makes for horrific reading.

The way the family lied, denied and did all they could to separate themselves from the horror they created – blaming the victims and inventing terminology ‘pseudo-addiction’ to separate themselves from blame.

And what’s this got to do with McKinsey?

This.

McKinsey … the value driven, purpose driven company of integrity.

More like, the money driven, moral free, promoters of human misery.

I appreciate many people value what they do.

I appreciate they have done good things for companies in the past.

But if an organisation is OK with putting forward a proposal that basically ‘buys’ companies to continue selling a product that is killing hundreds of thousands of people [current estimate is 500,000 in the US alone with many more addicted] then at what point do companies start to realise that eventually customers will start questioning them.

We all make mistakes.

We all have put forward ideas that stretch boundaries.

But I don’t know anyone who has suggested – let alone put in a proposal – that allows people to die so a client can make more money.

And they say adland has problems …



Simple. Wins.

For all the money companies and agencies spend on trying to know their audiences better.

For all the systems and processes companies and agencies put in place to be reduce the friction of purchase for customers.

For all the data companies and agencies invest in and rely on to identify market opportunities they can leverage.

For all the investment in experience to drive brand consistency.

It’s amazing how simple it is for a brand to differentiate themselves from the competition … resonate with a specific audience … encourage emotional loyalty and build commercial value by simply having a point of view that is expressed by doing what people find important rather than what you want them to find important.

This brilliance is from Tesco in association with St John’s Ambulance.

Clothes that your baby will look good in and could – if the worst happens – help save their life.

No eco-systems.
No data analysis.
No additional experience layers.
No focus group idea blandification.

Just an idea where the value is undeniable to all.

A real idea. Not an ad idea.

A real idea where communication amplifies the solution rather than is the solution.

Done for real, not for ad award submissions.

Some agencies [and brands, like Timpson’s] do this sort of thing properly – for example the brilliant Tontine pillow [by the brilliant Mark Sareff] and H&M’s One Second Suit, not to mention the fact Colenso has consistently been doing this sort of stuff for decades – however if clients let their agencies partners solve problems without their dictatorial interference or obstacles … and if agencies listened to what their clients need rather than what they want them to want … we’d not only have more interesting, valuable, creative and effective agencies and brands, we’d be making more of a difference than all the pointless purpose statements put together.

I can but hope.

We all should, because it’s down to us.