Monday, November 13, 2006

Maverick Mojo

Authors William Taylor and Polly LaBarre studied dozens of trailblazing companies to find the most creative entrepreneurs and executives around. The result is Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win.

Some key ideas: Walk in stupid every day. That’s the motto of Dan Wieden, legendary founder of the Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency (Nike, ESPN, Miller Brewing Company). No matter how long you’ve been on top, say the authors, keep seeking out unexpected ideas, outside influences, and new perspectives.

What you think shapes how you talk. Create your own company vocabulary, like board-game maker Cranium did. In their lingo, customers are “Craniacs” and all products must be CHIFF — clever, high-quality, innovative, friendly, and fun.

Innovation through agitation. Employ splashy, unorthodox tactics to create buzz. The CEO of retail bank ING Direct USA led 700 Harley riders on a 700-mile jaunt; in Boston, the company bought subway tickets for all riders one morning.

Competition by not competing. Online classified-ad-busting uses neither advertising nor focus groups, has no logo, and is mostly free, but the company’s yearly revenues have been estimated at $20 million.

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