Sunday, July 22, 2007

Taking care of business

You’ve just flown in and already the deliverables you’re enhancing are hung on a skyhook or outright left in the parking lot. You’ve got to ramp this baby up! You’ve got to get these offerings on the freeway! You’ve got plenty to envisage going forward, and all you want is some takeup of the best-of-breed product set. Let’s call a meeting!

The only thing cooler than a guy in a suit, sitting in a hotel bar, yelling on a cell phone, is eight guys in suits, sitting in a hotel bar, all simultaneously yelling on cell phones. Don’t you want to be one of those guys who flies into town to give a PowerPoint presentation? Well, don’t you?

Synchronise watches. You and your friends are going to put on your best suits (don’t have one? Try an op shop) and hit some downtown hotel for a breakfast meeting. The more upscale the hotel, the better: a Hilton or a Hyatt is just the ticket. Don’t forget your props: laptops if you have them, some kind of portable whiteboard, and your cell phones (extra points if you have a Bluetooth headset). If your own importance isn’t inspiration enough to get you diagramming, scoping future directions and visioning, then try giving yourselves a few tasks. You could have a prize for the first person who uses a sentence including functionality, user-defined, straw man, leading provider, monetise, robust and scalable, or give an award for best use of a noun as a verb, or verb as a noun (‘how are we matrixing this, Jeff?’ 'Well, Leon, that depends on how you action the learnings you've been tasked with').

Whatever you do, don’t forget: you are a Master of the Universe.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Miro, Miro on the wall

You’ve probably played the old surrealist game where you fold a piece of paper and someone draws the head, folds it and passes it on to someone who draws the body, and they fold it and pass it on to someone who draws the legs, then you unfold it and have a laugh at the results. This is a travel version of that game.

You’ll need at least four people for this excursion, so bribe your friends. Get them all together and fold a piece of paper in four. On the first section, secretly write a destination you’re going to visit (this could be Afghanistan or the mall or the future, whatever takes your fancy, and depending on the kind of resources you and your friends have). Fold the paper over and pass it to one of your friends, who secretly writes an activity (street theatre, knitting, a running race, fishing...).

They fold the paper over and pass it to the next person, who secretly writes a dress code (black tie, dress as clowns, ballerina outfits, diapers...). They fold it over and pass to the fourth person, who chooses an item you all have to bring (a potted plant, a champagne glass, the complete works of Mark Twain...).

Unfold the paper, and there’s your expedition. Depending on how tricky it’s going to be to execute, give yourselves a set amount of time to get together the things you need, then meet up and have your surrealist experience.

If you have more friends willing to join in, you could add other items such as budget, a manner of speaking (only using thee and thou, no swearing, no first names...), a mode of transport (hop everywhere, go by bike, use public transport...), or make up some of your own.

Make sure you take lots of photos so you can embarrass yourself in front of anyone who wasn’t silly enough to come along.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Performance art

Everyone has some skill, some talent, that makes them stand out from the crowd. Even you. Perhaps you can really capture a likeness with charcoal. Maybe you play guitar like Slava Grigoryan. Perhaps you have an amazing way with kids. Whatever your talent is, it’s time you took to the street to do something completely different.

There are far too many street performers who are good at what they do. No one needs to hear another beautifully finger-picked cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish you were here’ or see their child lovingly rendered in cheeky pastel colors. What we need more of is inadequacy.

Get down to your local shopping strip and strut your stuff. Dress as a clown, blow up a couple of balloons and tout yourself as a master of the balloon animal (‘But Mr Clown, what is it?’ ‘It’s a jellyfish, poppet. Would you like a paramecium to go with that?’). Can’t even draw a stick figure? You need to set up an easel and churn out some caricatures. Won't mummy smile when she sees how you've drawn her little treasure? Borrow your brother’s guitar and make up some chords, loudly. Spray yourself silver and stand around fidgeting. Whatever you do, do it poorly, and do it with great enthusiasm. Then get out of town.