The Truth Talk to me

I use a process in my work that gets me to the core of any challenge, and leads to what I call an Essential Truth that – once formulated – informs everything else. So, what’s the Truth about Andrew Crighton and iPrimate? It’s HELP.

I’m at a place in my career where I’m exploring new horizons and breaking boundaries to help others… and help myself. I’ll tell you a lot more about it sometime, but, essentially, the new horizons have to do with VOCATION and the breaking boundaries has to do with LOCATION.

VOCATION means publishing… for a writer. And for this writer that means non-traditional publishing (you’re reading it). And it means content (you’re reading it). Whether my new horizons serve ME or YOU, they’re challenging and rewarding.

LOCATION is about flexibility. Kids have gone; home in the city less relevant. I still have one foot in Toronto, but I’m really living on the shores of Georgian Bay. Some people know I have a 1989 Volkswagen bus/camper in which I can go anywhere, anytime to write. And meet. And collaborate. But, mostly, breaking boundaries has to do with the Internet. I’m determined to get more clients/patrons/working relationships/ partners in other geographies, because we all really share the same geography, these days (you’re reading it).

So, it’s about VOCATION, LOCATION. And it’s about HELP.

May I?

Andrew Crighton, iPrimate
127 Kingswood Road
Toronto, Ontario m4e 3n4
416.356.4262

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February 1, 2010

AESOP’S STRATEGY

The moral of Aesop’s fable ”The Dog and the Oyster” is about the importance of thinking before acting. First, a little bit of scene setting.  Aesop lived in Greece 6 centuries before Christ.  Oysters were plentiful by the seaside.  So were dogs.

“A Dog, used to eating eggs, saAn Aesop's fable - the dog and the oysterw an Oyster and, opening his mouth to its widest extent, swallowed it down with the utmost relish, supposing it to be an egg. Soon afterwards suffering great pain in his stomach, he said, “I deserve all this torment, for my folly in thinking that everything round must be an egg.”

There are far too many projects in which people think everything round is an egg and, without first engaging their brains in “sufficient thought”, they jump dangerously to the creative endpoint.  Communication is about reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time…but, first, it’s about figuring out what the right things are.  Strategy – a comunicator’s best friend –  is a carefully devised plan of action.  Well, here’s a process you can put to work on every project. I do.

  1. LISTEN
    This is where the client says what’s on their mind, and we listen.  We ask probing questions, too – to make sure that everyone’s really clear (and in agreement) on what we’re setting out to do. This step is complete when we’re able to give voice to what I call ‘The Challenge’ in less than 120 words.  Importantly, it’ll become the benchmark against which the entire success of the project will be measured.
  2. LEARN
    This is research.  It’s where we dive in to find out more about what’s really going on. We’ve listened (in Step 1), and defined what ‘The Challenge’ is, but what’s ‘The Situation’ that’s getting in the way of achieving it? What are the obstacles, influences and extenuating circumstances that may have some bearing on the matter? Let’s find out. There are various kinds and levels of research. It’s cool when we can go really deep with focus groups, ethnography, polling, quantitative analysis ‘n all that. However, that’s not mandatory in all cases. Reading and reviewing whatever can be searched and found (or provided) works, too. Basically, it’s about engaging the brain in a targeted direction. It stirs up the tea leaves so we can read them.
  3. ARTICULATE
    This is where we put into words (and images) what we’ve learned, and feed it back the client. It sounds ordinary and obvious, but it’s possibly the most powerful, surprising and thought-provoking part of the whole process. A good, strategic writer will have the uncanny ability to express what you have always wanted to say, but couldn’t find the words (or time) to do so. When your thoughts are fed back to you as clearly articulated statements, they take on a presence that allows you to deal with them.
  4. THINK
    Now comes the heavy lifting of figuring out what’s what.   We’ve defined ‘The Challenge’. We’ve done a deep dive on what might be getting in the way – ‘The Situation’. Now, we need to put our thinking caps on and get those brainwaves working on the problem. And here I get to quote one of my favourite quotable quotes – “There is no problem that can stand the assault of sustained thinking.” Voltaire. Smart dude. He nails the secret of my process, which is really no secret at all. If I/we/the project team thinks long enough about the dramatic tension between the ‘The Challenge’ and ‘The Situation’, the answer (or something close to it) will make itself known.
  5. UNDERSTAND
    This is that exact moment during the activity of thinking when we crack the code and actually ‘get’ it.  It’s the magic.  The insight. I call it ‘The Essential Truth’.  It’s when the core truth about what’s really going on is grasped… allowing everything to fall into place and provide a platform of understanding.  It’s not the solution itself.  It’s the light that illuminates the rest of the process.

Don’t be a sick dog.  Be strategic!A dog who's eaten an oyster