Tuesday, March 3, 2009

That Ah Ha! Factor

The Ah-Ha! factor is the moment all great communicators hang out for. It’s when that cartoon light bulb goes off above a head – followed by a wide grin. Nothing excites us as much as when we suddenly ‘see’ something we had been struggling over. I remember when I was working in the Middle East trying to sell Pepsi. It was a daunting task. Every store I went into already had a Coke sign above it, and if not a Coke sign, some other local beverage I’d never even heard about. The job seemed too big and too hard. That was until I had an Ah-Ha! moment. It came when my boss, Herbert Schmitz, said to me, “Stop worrying about how big the task is. Sell your product one case at a time”. And that is what we did until all those single cases added up to a big breakthrough in sales.

I had a similar moment when I first heard the Saatchi & Saatchi spirit summed up as ‘Nothing is Impossible’. The thought that anything was up for consideration was liberating. In an instant you get the power of creativity when coupled with effectiveness. In fact, that small sentence had such a powerful effect on me it clinched my decision to accept the job to be the Worldwide CEO of the company.

Creating these Ah-Ha! moments is going to be ever more critical in tough times. I believe that inspiration will guide us through and that means great communication and a lot of Ah-Ha! moments. It’s all about encapsulating new directions, making the complex simple and the surprising obvious. It needs great storytellers and intuitive analysts, new thinking, and constant reframing. When something has become invisible with overuse, or put to one side as too difficult to comprehend, it’s time to reframe.

A KRConnect reader sent a great example. Most people struggle with scale. How many of us understand just how big a trillion is? In the current economic climate it’s a figure that’s tossed around far more than most of us like, but we’ve become used to it. So, apart from knowing that a trillion is one million times a million, how big is it?

Let’s reframe a trillion as time and start counting backwards by seconds from New Year’s Day 2009.

One million seconds ago was December 20, 2008. It was just under a week before Christmas last year and retailers were worrying about the effect of the recession on Christmas sales. One billion seconds takes us back to April 24, 1977, around the time President Carter was pardoning Vietnam draft evaders and The Clash had just released their first album. One trillion seconds takes us back to November 16, 27,681 B.C., the peak of the Ice Age when Neanderthals were finally becoming extinct in Europe.

Ah-Ha! I get it.

1 comment:

Cam said...

A trillion is about one and a half Iraq wars, its about half a WWII, its roughly what what the US spends every year on general defense, and its about 7% of a single years US output. A trillion is about half of what citigroup is trying to tell us its assets are. A trillion trillion in water molecules is less than half a glass...Do you still get it?