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


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.



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 …



Listen To Yoda …

while back I read an interview with film director, voice of Yoda and countless muppets and expert puppeteer – Frank Oz.

It was a beautiful interview … a story of friendship, loyalty, creativity and compassion, so I urge you to read it … but there was one thing that really stood out to me and it was this:

Now it’s fair to say it’s no longer just corporate America who don’t understand the value of the things they’ve just bought. In some respects, we see it every day from clients who dictate and demand changes to a piece of creativity that an experienced professional has custom made for their specific situation … right through to companies who blame talent for circumstances and situations that they were directly complicit in creating and encouraging.

As I see it, the problem is three fold.

1. People judge output without any appreciation of how it happened.
2. People wildly overestimate their own talent.
3. It’s easier to look like you’re doing things than doing things.

None of these should be a surprise.

It’s why we tend to lavish our attention on individuals who are associated with ‘results’ rather than recognize the people around them who made it possible. It’s why we talk about wanting to follow similar paths to others but dismiss the pain, hardship and conflicts they endured to get there. It’s why companies build in-house creative departments without understanding the importance of objective viewpoints that lead to the work they want to replicate. It’s why people dismiss what others have done despite never having done anything of note themselves. It’s why companies talk about the importance of experience but see them as an expense. It’s why industries talk about D&I but don’t change the situations and contexts that make it an issue. It’s why companies talk about teams but have departments of exactly the same sort of people. It’s why companies become obsessed with proprietary processes even though the work and results it produces is nothing special. It’s why many consultants tell you what is wrong but never take responsibility for making it right. It’s why someone I once worked with on an airport project said – no word of a lie – “why don’t we push out the architects, because we could do a much better job”, despite the fact he wasn’t an architect and our role had little to do with it.

I could go on.

And on and on and on.

The reality is we’re all complicit in some way.

And the irony is if we learn to value what it takes to get the results we want – rather than simply focusing on the speed, power and control of ownership – then we’d all stand a much greater chance of achieving the things we want.

Or said as the wonderful Lee Hill once said to me …

Hire well.
Pay well.
Brief well.
Value well.
Trust well.

Have a good weekend.



Don’t Practice What You Preach …

Brands.

Bragging about their importance.

Their unquestionable dominance.

Their ability to solve everything you’ve ever wanted.

Their purpose to help humanity stop making fuck-ups.

Shame they miss the point when it comes to their day-to-day behaviour.

Like this lot … starting with the unsliding doors, Sliding Doors company.

Oh, it’s not just one store. It’s here too.

And here’s another.

Not quite the same as mopping is different to vacuuming, but close.

I know … I know … it’s a small thing.

But when brands act like they are the most important thing in people’s lives, then it becomes a big thing.

A big thing that makes people laugh at them rather than with them.

Don’t get me wrong, brands have importance.

What they do has – despite what some say – significance in people’s live.

But until they accept the role they really have in people’s lives and that they aren’t the be-all and end-all for human happiness/status/success/value/perfection … then they’ll keep being called out for their hypocrisy and stupidity.

No one expects perfection.

No one minds mistakes.

But they do like honesty … and until brands are as good with that as they are with amplifying their ego, they will never reach the adoration – or respect – that they aspire to have.



Deliberately Ignorant …

Once upon a time, a creative friend of mine rang me up.

He had been offered a job in China and wanted to hear my perspective on being there.

During the conversation, he asked if the pollution was bad.

When I asked why he was asking, he said he was pretty susceptible to asthma and while on his visit to the agency there, he had felt a bit ill, despite the weather being good.

He had asked some of his prospective workmates if they felt the weather was ever bad for breathing and they all said no and he wanted to know my take on it.

I laughed.

Not just because it’s pretty well documented the air there is not great, especially for an asthmatic – despite the government being the biggest investor in green technology in the World – but because it reminded me of something my Dad had told me while watching the Tom Cruise movie, A Few Good Men.

I know this is going off on a tangent, but hang in there.

You see, at the scene where Jack Nicholson spouts his immortal “You Can’t Handle The Truth” line, my Dad burst out laughing.

When I asked why, he said this:

“There are occasions where people will openly deny truth. Not because they hold a different opinion, but because to accept it means they would have to accept their complicity in a situation truth has revealed. Sometimes, the simple act of acknowledgement means people are forced to face and question the motives and values they conveniently chose to hide away”

His point was literally what my friend had experienced.

The prospective colleagues he asked about weather conditions knew full-well there is pollution in the air. However, their mind had almost forced them to forget it. Not because they were liars or bad people, but because if they admitted the truth, then they would be forced to ask themselves why they were there when they knew it was likely to be doing them harm.

We experience this every day.

Deliberate ignorance.

From people hired to purchases made.

Not because people are bad, but because we don’t want face the questionable decisions we’ve chosen to make to benefit our personal circumstances over health, values or friendship.

Which is why my mate decided not to go to China.

The moral of the story.

Remember people sometimes don’t tell you what they think, they tell you what protects them from you knowing what they think.