South African creativity theorist, Tim Hurson developed a problem-solving technique known as the ThinkX. It was his belief that we can often suffer from poor thinking and that in order to truly innovate one must "Think Better."
For years the marketers have suffered from poor thinking and been supported by an Advertising industry resigned to compete based on yesterday's science devoid of innovation or better thinking. I will admit we are trending away from these dark days with new entrepreneurship and innovations in social driven by a need for diversity.
Every now and then we are treated to new thinking that makes us bob our head and say "Wow...that's cool... that's different." Not just in terms of creative, (we will see plenty of that during the Superbowl,) but in how we do business.
Exhibit A: Toyota. Unlike its counterparts, Toyota has chosen to recognize the growing multicultural consumer not as some fringe market to whom "discretionary" budgets are appropriated but rather a mainstream audience worthy of accounting for in its global marketing strategy.
Instead of hiring a new agency or sitting down with their existing multicultural shop to "see what they come up with," the automotive giant combined the collective resources of all its multicultural marketing agencies into one cohesive Voltron-like team dubbed "Total Toyota" or T2. Starting in April, Toyota's Agency of Record, Saatchi & Saatchi, will take the lead on T2 with Conill Advertising (Hispanic), Burrell Communications (African-American), Zenith (broadcast and out-of-home media buying) and InterTrend Communications, (Asian-American) all working together under one unified directive. One band...one sound.
While time will tell if T2 will work its not for lack of
effort better thinking. Currently Toyota is one of the market leaders in multicultural spending and is the No. 8 Hispanic advertiser ($87.5 million on Hispanic media in 2012, according to Ad Age's Hispanic Fact Pack.) They could very easily rest on their position but instead have chose to improve it through Better thinking.
Here are four tips on how your team can begin to Think Better:
1. Vision - On the surface, Toyota's vision seems simple: sell more cars. But to stay ahead you must (to steal a driving term) aim high and have a clear vision which is communicated not only within your organization but also the partners you work with. Every thought, ever decision and every action taken should be with that vision in mind.
2. Have a plan - It may seem obvious but your plan should map how to get from point a to b in the most efficient manner possible. IT MUST account for human capital, the most important resource to any organization. Your leadership team needs to work cohesively together and with your partners to realize your growth potentials. Every plan must be accountable. Identify specific metrics that measure the health and success of the organization or project.
3. Resource Map - You will always need resources at your disposal to realize your vision. Your resource map will help you uncover, identify and address your needs for the resources both human and natural.
4. People - No matter how well crafted your vision statement is, your plan is laid out or detailed your resource map is, its no good without people. Your human capital is vital and the more diverse the better. New ideas and diverse experiences, backgrounds and cultures create a positive tension that can create dynamic growth. You must surround yourself with a great team and don't be scared to bring in people better, more skilled and experienced than you at what they do. Feeling threatened by the human resources you have hired to help you, is the easiest way to fail. Leadership is about realizing the potential of others and inspiring them to be great within the framework of the team.
Joyce Meyer, one of my favorite religious authors discusses in her Battlefield of the Mind that before any action we first must conceive it mentally, we must think it. In order to be different, you must think different. In order to be better you must also THINK BETTER. Taking these first steps will put you on the path to change but with anything you must be disciplined and committed.