November 1, 2008
creating blue monsters: "social objects" that articulate the purpose-idea
(Cartoon taken from The Hughtrain etc.)
Like I said in my interview with Mark Earls, The Blue Monster is a "Purpose-Idea". As Mark, the man who first coined the term explains it:
Put really simply, the Purpose-Idea is the "What For?" of a business, or any kind of community. What exists to change (or protect) in the world, why employees get out of bed in the morning, what difference the business seeks to make on behalf of customers and employees and everyone else? BTW this is not "mission, vision, values" territory - it's about real drives, passions and beliefs. The stuff that men in suits tend to get embarrassed about because it's personal. But it's the stuff that makes the difference between success and failure, because this kind of stuff brings folk together in all aspects of human life.
Real drives, passions and beliefs. Exactly.
The Blue Monster line, "Change The World Or Go Home" is not rocket science or literary brilliance. It just articulates a simple belief, a simple passion, a simple drive THAT ALREADY EXISTED, long before The Blue Monster ever came on to the scene. That's all it was ever meant to do.
[The Microsoft Blue Monster etc.]
Whether you agree or disagree with it doesn't matter, the important bit is that people within Microsoft believe it. Unlike a conventional ad campaign, it's not about you. It's about them.
Why is something like this potentially valuable to a business? Simply put, if you believe something passionately enough, for long enough, articulate it well enough, and your actions are aligned, credible and consistent with your belief for long enough, it's just a matter of time before other people start believing it, too. And next thing you know, you have an interesting conversation going on, both inside and outside the company. And as Doc Searls famously said, "Markets are conversations". Ker-Chiing.
Again, none of this is rocket science. Talking to people never is.
When people ask me what exactly is a Blue Monster, I tell them, it's not necessarily a cartoon. It's simply a social object that allows one to more easily articulate the Purpose-Idea. No more, no less.
I've been asking myself for years, what comes after conventional, Madison-Avenue-style advertising, now that we live in a post-TV, post-advertising, post-message world? "Creating Blue Monsters" is the closest I've ever come to finding an actual answer.
Besides drawing the cartoons, helping other companies create Blue Monsters is how I intend to spend the remainder of my career.
Cartoons and Blue Monsters. I really do have the world's greatest job. Rock on.
[More Blue Monster background reading here.]
Posted by hugh macleod at November 1, 2008 8:00 PM
What a great way of bringing an IDEA to paper. WOW!
Will be linking to this from Twitter.
Does the link in here > "(Cartoon taken from The Hughtrain etc.)" need the "www."?
Blue Ocean Strategy, Blue Monsters? Could we try purple, maybe?
This looks interesting. I'll keep my eye on you, Mr. Hugh.
Love the post mate, this is excellent. I've dealt with organisations, trying to help them find 'Blue Monsters' for a couple of years and find it really empowering and challenging. It certainly does rock.
Your Blue Monsters are a similar concept to the idea of Generative Workplaces, which I think Peter Senge outlines in his 'The 5th Discipline' book (I could be mistaken). The general idea being that when people are in total sync (not just with the executives 'boiler-plate' vision, values blah blah blah)with an organisations being, great things happen.
Love the post, good luck rockin on!!!
Utterly Brilliant post...
"if you believe something passionately enough, for long enough, articulate it well enough, and your actions are aligned, credible and consistent with your belief for long enough, it's just a matter of time before other people start believing it, too."
This is finally happening for our organization. It is amazing to watch my passion blossom in other hearts, to have people of authority that I respect believe that we CAN change the world with this project. Kind of scary, too.
You do know who I'm going to blame when we see the inevitable surge in the logos and mission statement businesses?
This even whittles down to search engines and web sites or blogs. I tell folks all the time that 50%+ percent of their visitors are going to come from Search Engines. Are they answering the question that brought that person there? If they don't, you just lost an opportunity.
Every page must have purpose.
This makes sense to me. Augustine's "god shaped vacuum" can also be thought of "a Blue Monster shaped vacuum" inside everyone of us.
So does "the Word become flesh" equate in some fashion to "social objects" and "communities of purpose"?
Is "living the brand" as leaders and employees equal to the incarnation of the brand?
My mind races.
I've had a theology of branding for some time but it's not usually something my clients will pay for. Grin.
Keep creating...a brand worth committing to,
I enjoy your blog very much. I usually agree with 98% of what you write. And enjoy the other 2%.
While I don't deny that the nature of advertising will change, I am going to take issue with your assertion that we live in a "post-TV world".
The 'TV is dead' argument is a fashionable and with all due respect, rather lazy one that's unfounded in compelling and persuasive evidence.
As the IBM report "The End of television as we know it" points out:
1. TV content is MORE POPULAR THAN EVER with consumers despite the availability of myriad alternatives, including digital music subscriptions, film DVD rental services,
satellite radio and massively multi-player video games. Total TV consumption hours have continued to grow, with the average U.S. household estimated to spend 1826 hours with its TV in 2005 (the equivalent of more than five hours per day. Hours viewed from content downloads and TV DVDs can be added to this traditionally measured
2. TV consumption GREW at a 1.6 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the period 1996
– 2003. Even after the point of mass broadband adoption, viewership increased year-to-year in 2005 by 2.5 percent
3. Going forward, analysts predict TV usage to GROW by an average of 1.7 percent per annum through 2008
And from Think Box in the UK:
1. The total amount of broadcast TV watched in September 2008 was UP 2.4% on September 2007, according to the latest figures from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB)
2. The average individual watched an average of 3 hours 31 minutes of broadcast TV a day in September, UP 42 minutes a week on the same month last year.
3. This pattern of growth is being driven by INCREASED viewing of commercial broadcast TV
4. Commercial TV viewing was up 4.7% in September 2008 compared to the same month last year and commercial impacts were up 9.8%
5. People watched an average of 48 minutes MORE commercial TV a week in September 2008 compared to September 2007.
6. Young people (16-24s) watched 2.8% MORE broadcast TV than September 2007 (4.9% more commercial TV), and 11.7% MORE commercial impacts.
TV will surely change.
But the evidence actually shows viewing going up, NOT down - which your argument for a post-TV world would require.
The claim that we live in a post-TV world simply doesn't withstand scrutiny.
Hey Dazed, good points.
When I say post-TV, I don't mean people are watching more or less TV. I'm thinking more in terms of Culture.
There was a time when TV was the main cultural driver in society. It was where the action was. I no longer think it that is the case.
Ah - that's a much more interesting argument!!
And on that one I think I agree.
Steady viewership plus proliferating channels means that The Audience has been blown apart into tiny pieces. And with it the power of TV as an aggregator of people, interests, passions and allegiances.
Whereas we once all viewed into the same mirror to see ourselves reflected, now we each view into our own seperate mirror.
Which all rather begs the question whether the notion of one Culture is - while not dead - at least severely diminished, at least in the developed, Western world.
If we no longer look into a common mirror and simply choose our own indivual one, what becomes of us? Do we lose our sense of connectivity, mutuality, and interdependence?
The whole web-y stuff has obviously acted as an aggregator of interests. But has it just given each of us even more opportunity to create our own indivual culture? My feed, my culture, if you will.
What happens to a society when there is no longer one common campfire for everybody?
Does this actually matter? Or is it just interesting?
Dazed, well, like Chairman Mao said, when asked what he thought of the long-term effects of the French Revolution, "It's too early to tell".