Flat is the New Growth


“Flat is the new growth”. I heard this expression the other day, and I thought it was witty.

And then I started to really think about it and I thought is was kind of depressing…and dangerous.

I’m a realist (mostly). Well at least I read the paper (when I’ve finished the crossword) and I know what’s going on. Times are tough. But I don’t think we can let that be an excuse for complacency.

Flat may be what the markets are aspiring to, but “Flat” should never become the accepted standard for innovation.

We need to keep pressing on and moving upward, even when it feels like an uphill battle. Actually, especially when it feels like an uphill battle.

These are time of great unrest, but from this turbulence can come some fantastic ideas. The trick is to embrace the uncertainty and use it as a force of liberation and not of stagnation.

After all, it won’t always be like this. But if for now expectations are low, think how incredibly easy it is to exceed them. It may just be the perfect time to take a risk.

Many categories have quieted down in terms of spending and activity. You can make a big bang for a little buck right now.

Not that long ago I was at the launch of Virgin America’s new service to Boston. Amid all the speeches from the celebrities and politicians that were at the launch, one statement really struck a chord.

The head of Massport thanked Virgin for opening a route to Boston in these rocky times. Not just because of the business and jobs it would bring to the city …but also for the signal it sent to the consumers that life and business were moving on.

He stressed how important it was for consumer confidence for companies to keep investing and innovating and that actions like the Boston launch send a powerful, tangible message.

Consider an action you’ve been hesitating about in your business. Why not go ahead and start the ball rolling? What have you got to lose?

I believe that negative thinking breeds negative actions and that positive momentum can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

How are you taking advantage of the current lull to shake things up?

Divine Disasters

To this day, the one movie that scares me more than any other I have ever seen is Jaws.

The underwater shots of the dangling legs of unsuspecting swimmers, the music -“dunton, dunton, dunton”, the subtle disruption of the water’s calm surface as the Great White surreptitiously slithers by. All this creates a tension I can barely tolerate.

Cinematic brilliance orchestrated perfectly from script to final cut. Right?
Well actually…no.

I read somewhere that there were serious mechanical issues with the shark. Steven Spielberg had actually planned to show him full on in many more scenes. But the model wasn’t functioning properly. And he had to devise a plan to create the suspense and fear using other methods and other camera angles – and a lot less actual shark.

In the end, I think it’s a much better movie than it might have been if the mechanical shark had been functioning properly. It’s so much scarier than other disaster movies where very little is left up to the imagination.

I love this story.

It shows the power of taking an obstacle (in this case a malfunctioning -and no doubt very expensive -mechanical shark) and turning it into an opportunity for even greater creativity and impact.

It reminds me that when everything appears to be going wrong, maybe it’s time to look at the situation differently and find the “divine” in the “disaster”.

Next time something goes awry in your brand innovation plans, instead of giving up – try channeling your inner Spielberg and you might just turn a mistake into a masterpiece.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What disasters have you been able to turn into delights?