I picked up a great little book at the Boston Ad Club Symposium awhile back but just got around to reading it now. It's called Spark, with the subtitle "Be more innovative through co-creation," and it was written by John Winsor, CEO and founder of Radar Communications and a prolific blogger.
The book is set up in an interview style, with each chapter representing a conversation with one of sixteen marketing professionals from well known consumer brands and agencies. The chapters are then grouped into 4 categories all focused on innovation through co-creation, either via a team, the company, the customer, or the culture. Winsor's visual display of the innovation sweet spot (with the team category highlighted) is as follows:
Here are some of the excerpts that I found particularly interesting:
A spark wouldn't happen if there weren't a difference between one end of the spark and the other. It's in that gap that the potential exists.
Improv suggests that creativity is fundamentally something that arises between people and is never done by someone on their own...people can only act in response to the stimulus they are given.
Improv becomes real genius when people just say the very first thing that comes into their heads and just go with the moment and the spontaneous response...you're allowing yourself to create something new and authentic and different with each encounter because you've kind of thrown away the rule book and standard procedures.
Space for an innovation team needs to be flexible so that different people can come together in different situations to create.
Decisions need to come from the gut, and they need to come from those who deeply understand what the brand was built on.
Consumers are tough and they're smart, they have choices, they have power, and they like to use it.They understand the world of innovation. They mash together sports and music and film and gaming and art and food and fashion. They ignore the superficial scratch and hiss of brandsters. They are not beyond influence, but they are above manipulation.
That's really what the human spirit is all about - forming new ideas, merging ideas, blending things out of what exists. It's the ability to think laterally and associatively that really distinguishes us from other animals.
If we're told were not good at something according to society's norms, we probably won't pursue it. As a point of illustration, take an excerpt from Gordon MacKenzie's book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball, in which he recounts the experience of going into a kindergarten classroom and asking how many of the kids were artists. Being wide-eyed kindergartners, they all raised their hands. MacKenzie contrasts this with the experience of asking a sixth-grade class the same question; only a couple of kids raised their hands.
Cross-fertilization and free association are important. That's why it's important to get out into the culture and explore.
In these uncertain times, people want to be more in control and more in charge of the world around them. To gain this control, there is a shift from consumption to creation... [Popular reality shows] are all about making transformations in your life.
You can't build word of mouth; you can only set up the right environment for it: be a guide, hire passionate outsiders, focus on personal relationships, and experience the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The book brings together a lot of the ideas raised in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink and James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds before it. And it underscores the fact that the best marketers are social scientists: get out there and observe, talk to, and engage with your customers and prospects.