I once saw a (very) senior executive give a talk to staff that attempted to inspire new ways of working and different approaches. When he reached the last slide he made a grand announcement: "Business as usual is not enough". Everyone listened to him say that and then promptly went back to their desks and got on with business as usual. He missed the point that it is not enough to tell people that things have to change. People have to see it around them. They have to feel it.
The biggest challenge to the kind of innovation that is required in marketing and media is not breaking out of current assumptions, it's breaking out of the assumptions and habits that we don't even realise we have. It's something I was reminded of when I read Scott Karp's post on Google Ad Words:
"The challenge of innovation is that we are all boxed in by what we know, by our assumptions about how things work…The next Google-like innovation is right in front of us — we just need to see past our own assumptions. Forget what you know."
It's about where you start from. And how you benchmark success. I wonder if when we look at the success (or not) of new models we're looking at it in the right way. I wonder if we're even judging the right thing. The big-budget, big-bang, all-or-nothing approach that incorporates heavy up-front investment increasingly makes way for a different kind of model informed by the disruption enabled by the low barriers to entry and the speed (in feedback, reaction, prototyping) afforded by the web. In lean times, working in this way becomes even more critical. It's a point made by David Armano in his excellent Slideshow "10 Ways Digital Can Help You In A Recession" which is well worth a look if you haven't seen it:
I'm constantly reminded how the economics of innovation have changed forever. As James reminded me recently, it's about failing faster. Many moons ago I used to have a boss who would say to me "Failure is not an option". Funny just how wrong that now is.