Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Force of habit.
In the last fifty months I have done time at five different agencies. Besides complaining about clients, the thing all those agencies have in common is that they spend a lot of time thinking about change, as in how they must change if they are going to survive and thrive.
The problem with change is that there is a huge lacuna between knowing you need to change and actually changing. Which is why most people and most agencies do a good deal of talking about change but damn little time actually changing.
Today, I read this article in the NY Times which asks a simple question, "Can You Become a Creature of New Habits?"
“Not choice, but habit rules the unreflecting herd,” William Wordsworth said in the 19th century. The unreflecting herd is who 99% of all people, clients, agencies, creatives and account people are. In military parlance, we fight the last war.
According to the Times, "Researchers in the late 1960s discovered that humans are born with the capacity to approach challenges in four primary ways: analytically, procedurally, relationally (or collaboratively) and innovatively. At puberty, however, the brain shuts down half of that capacity, preserving only those modes of thought that have seemed most valuable during the first decade or so of life...meaning that few of us inherently use our innovative and collaborative modes of thought."
In other words, we got out of the habit of innovation and got into the habit of analyzing. Which is why people, clients and ad agencies have such a difficult time changing.
“The first thing needed for innovation is a fascination with wonder,” says Dawna Markova, author of “The Open Mind." “But we are taught instead to 'decide.' However, “to decide is to kill off all possibilities but one. A good innovational thinker is always exploring the many other possibilities.”
That's our job. To explore possibilities.
Posted by george tannenbaum at 1:57 PM