How fuzzy are you?

While in Chicago recently I was fortunate to be invited to a presentation given by David Armano, VP of Experience Design at Critical Mass. There was also a great speaker from Microsoft (IIRC one of their professional evangelists), but I can’t for the life of me remember what he spoke about so I’ll spare you that one).

A friend just sent me a link to David’s presentation, and I’d really like to share it with you for a number of reasons:

First up, delivery method. SlideShare is really neat – kind of like a Flickr for sharing presentations. This makes sense to me on so many levels. For a start, it makes it easy to share your work without worrying about having it ripped off (believe me, it happens). Like Flickr and YouTube there’s a one-click feature for embedding in blogs (as you can see below), which is a hell of a lot more compelling than simply providing a link to a ppt file. Together these mean that if you really believe in your message, it can find an audience beyond those who attend in person (case in point – this presentation has had 8,707 views so far, which is a hell of a lot more than you can squeeze into the ballroom of the Hard Rock Hotel). I also think it’s a good way of honing your presentation skills. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your presenation with your online community, you probably shouldn’t inflict it on anyone at all.

I also really like the visuals. I am sick and tired of the same old ‘Header-Bullet Point-Sub Bullet Point…’ format. It’s boring, lazy and quite ineffective. The purpose of any presentation is to take your audience on a journey from where their thinking is at the start, through to where you want their thinking to be at the end. PowerPoint can be a great help in that regard, but your visuals have to SUPPORT the presentation, and not be the presentation itself. (John Steel makes this point a hell of a lot better than I do in his recent book, “Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business” – I really recommend it). Anyhoo, to cut a long story short I’ve seen quite a few presentations lately in a similar style to the one David used (one point per slide, juxtaposed with relevant supporting imagery) and I really like it. Enough information so you can follow his jist, but not so much that you get confused or stop listing. I’ll definitely try this the next chance I get.

Finally, of course, I really like the point he’s making. It’s a pretty simple one, but at the same time critical and largely overlooked at this point in time. Our industry (this whole crazy Interweb thingy) is evolving, and we need to evolve also. ‘Website development’ is now a commodity business, with sound design and development a zero-one proposition (looking good and working properly are required just be in the business, and are certainly not a solid means of differentiation). David proposes the need for us to be ‘fuzzy’ in the way we approach and do our work – blurring the lines between areas of expertise (to be honest I found this point to be quite a relief, as I have often had difficulty explaining to people what I actually do – I guess I must be one of them ‘fuzzy people) and ‘unlearning’ our old methods in the drive to be innovative.

We can no longer afford to over-analyze our challenges. We must try to get things launched—learn from these experiences and refine. We must define ourselves and what we do more broadly while retaining the potency of our our crafts. It’s about going from left brain to right brain and ending up on “light brain”. We must become “fuzzy”.

(Being fuzzy) is about unlearning everything we think we know—so we can actually learn and adapt. It’s about less focus on rigid tasks and job descriptions and more focus on bringing our efforts together in the overlaps—where our skills compliment each other. It’s about being more nimble and adopting “fuzzy” processes to compliment our tried and true methods that have served us well in the past.

The Fuzzy Tail is my way of saying “we won’t become the blacksmiths of our time”. It’s about pushing past the commodity—the end product or service which can be outsourced. It’s about putting aside egos, getting out of silos and mixing it up with each other—I mean really mixing it up. Planners who think like designers—designers who obsess about business—information architects who write—writers who act like strategists—project managers who can direct creative and creative directors who are willing to let them. People who are willing to let others play in their sandbox.

I will concede that he puts it a lot better than I do, but this meshes well with my own thoughts on why most digital agencies are fucked (see posts 1 2 3). Times they are a changing, and the old breed (of digital professionals and agencies) just aren’t going to cut it. So let me ask you, and be honest:

How fuzzy are you?


2 Responses to “How fuzzy are you?”

  1. 1 .dom November 7, 2007 at 1:44 am

    Dude, this is quite a trip you’re on. I’m with you on many of your points. Interested to see where you end up – Gambatte! as they say in these parts…


  1. 1 Am I fuzzy? : Andrew Eberhard Trackback on December 1, 2007 at 10:03 am

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