Blur your way to new opportunities
Blurring produces opportunities, outgrowths, spin-offs…fresh vantages.
When I was a graphic designer, there was a step in design where the designer stood back and looked with purposely unfocussed eyes at their design. By blurring their eyes, they could focus on placement/balance/colour without being distracted by the specific images and words of the task.
Blurriness–in the best sense of the word–is a method of truly seeing what is there without being confined to a predetermined set of parameters or outcomes.
When the lines are blurred, we can begin to look in new places for opportunity; we can forage, if you will, for possibilities. For example: a bank is also an internet cafe; a theatre bar is also a neighbourhood restaurant; a big empty building is a temporary concert hall or an art installation, or a pop-up store of local artisans; the largest consumer goods company in the world becomes the producer of environmentally-friendly products; every school becomes a community centre and a community library and stories become a business driver and an 'all you can eat buffet' for your marketing communications effort, both on and offline.
Business does not take easily to blurring the lines and removing the compartmental thinking that has been an operational reality for so long. There are three steps that can aid groups in adopting this new blurred approach - they are derived from NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques.
First: As Mr. Spock would say on Star Trek: 'Lock on' to your corporate relationships, draw concentric circles and mark all the people within your circle of influence, noting the most important at the core, and finally, do not look at your average customer; look instead at the characteristics of your most determined customer, the one 'type' of individual or company that spends the most with you, and draw a profile of that most determined customer. Become really familiar with this information. It is a huge advantage when your top team can access this information, mentally and in hard copy and incorporate it into planning and projects.
Second: Determine where your company is in its life cycle - time for a commemoration, a celebration, a relaunch, a new phase, a rethink. Have the top team spend time solo and then in small groups talking this through; this is not about what you can avoid, this is about meeting an opportunity and leaping forward.
Third: What are the cultural influences and beliefs of your organization? You will need 'all hands on deck' to participate in this stage. What should result here is similar to an interior decorator's sample board - it is a collage of pictures of people, items, events…that taken together make up the recipe for your beliefs.
Put it all together and blur your eyes for all you are worth - this is where you'll likely need help and we can take you from here to a new plan, ready for sharing. What does your future look like? What other products or services do your most determined customers buy from others? What kind of technological, lifestyle, product advancements are in the works in other companies, in other countries? What do you wish the company could be like…and finally, if you shared this information with your entire company and food chain and asked for ideas, comments and feedback, are you prepared to really entertain the flow of ideas that could result?
Take one dose of introspection, one dose of honest forecasting, one dose of getting familiar with your best customer -- share with those who are vested in your business as investors, employees, and suppliers… and ask, truly ask for ideas and feedback. Here comes the blur… When you start receiving feedback, say YES to everything - imagine what would happen if you acted on the idea - imagine in infinite detail… By linking all these YESES together you will produce opportunities, outgrowths, spin-offs and new vantages for growth.
When we are helping an organization find themselves in the competitive landscape, we use these same three steps. When we are working with a client to bring their brand to life, we use these same three steps. When DUO.CA is conceiving of a fundraising campaign or a launch to increases sales, we use the same three steps.
As communications strategists, we can help you blur the lines, establish your legacy story, live into the new opportunities.
Want some blur?
Legacy Builder | Storyteller | Creative Director
DUO.CA and the University of Toronto have just won gold in the CASE District II Accolades Awards, Annual Report category, for the 'Life in 2027' U of T Research report.And another DUO.CA project received honourable mention in the same competition –– the donor report for the University of Guelph. Both reports celebrate the power of storytelling.
The CASE District II Accolades Awards CASE District II is a regional organization of advancement professionals in the areas of alumni relations, communications, and philanthropy.