Need, Greed, Speed.

Vijay Viatheeswaran, Economist correspondent, was the Chair of the Economist Summit on Redesigning Business: The Big Rethink which ran in London last week. “Need, Greed, and Speed” was his theme for day one.

Our mission at the Summit to consider incorporating the principles of design thinking in order to avoid being tripped up by those three principles of short-term thinking. We need said Vijay, to come out of the comfortable silos in which we have operated for too long to avert the obstacles of too much legacy thinking.

There was much to think about from the speakers that followed. Jeff Denby Chief Creative Officer of PACT talked about the firm he co-founded on the principle that “Change starts with your underwear” – he makes pants. His mighty claim that new knickers will change the world would I think hold more water if they were machine washable! (www.wearpact.com)

Hugo Spowers of Riversimple claimed that he has designed a new kind of business model for the car. The firm will not actually sell cars. Spowers argues that doing this inevitably drives your objectives in the direction of building in obsolescence and a need for replacing expensive parts, so that you can sell more cars and sell manufacturer approved services, which gives you a disregard for fuel consumption. (I’m not sure any car manufacturers I know would agree with him, but you get the point). His firm has designed an urban two seater that will deliver 300 mpg. They intend to lease these cars in cities throughout the UK and, because they will sell not cars but a transport service including fuel and recovery and repair, their business model will drive reliability and fuel consumption.

You don’t get the behaviour you ask for you get the behaviour that you reward is the essential idea here. In the marketing world there can be an analogy with how agencies get paid. Just as Spowers is shifting from selling new cars to keeping cars going, so there are parallels in the agency world between being paid for producing ads or delivering discounts to being paid for business growth. So linking remuneration to performance would be a no brainer. And yet the majority of a marketer’s contracts are still being based on other criteria. Doubtless for all kinds of good reasons. But if this industry is to emerge from the recession stronger and better than before then it is time to rethink and redesign.

Lets move from Need, Greed and Speed to Disruption, Collaboration and Shared Rewards.

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