As Mike Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.In this opinion piece, Archetype Sydney strategy director Nigel Malone explains why fluid intelligence can help when things go wrong.
Technically, I was a mistake. The unexpected, latecomer son of a Senior Lecturer in Engineering and much younger brother to two geeks following in their father’s footsteps. When other kids were kicking balls against the wall, I was helping my brothers with science and engineering projects in Dad’s workshop. When other kids were being put to bed, our family would be watching Super 8 films of man landing on the moon on a big projector screen in the backyard.
I remember a few close calls from those days in Dad’s workshop. Almost hacksawing my brother’s finger off. Unsuccessfully testing fireworks made from fertiliser. Underestimating the lift of our homemade hovercraft and nearly taking out my other brother’s eye. From a very early age I was instilled with the notion that anything was possible. All that you needed was a plan, and a preparedness to fail any number of times along the way.
For some, failure represents a dead-end street. For my brothers and I, it was an opportunity to think creatively, to see who could figure out a smarter alternative first, or at the very least an acceptable workaround, that would allow us to keep moving forward with our project. It was only many years later, when I took on an educational psychologist as client, that I realised I had been training my brain to be a strategist from a very early age.
As it turns out there are two types of intelligence. The first is crystallised intelligence, like the stuff we’ve been taught to remember at school… important dates in history, math formulas, the names of Prime Ministers, and so on. Then there’s fluid intelligence, the ability to solve problems creatively, based purely on the information available.
‘Strategy’ as I’ve always seen it, is simply ‘a plan to win’. The two operative words being ‘win’ and ‘plan’. By ‘win’, I mean you must have a clear picture of your goal. By ‘plan’ I mean the roadmap to get there. The plan begins with gaining crystallised intelligence, the research and discovery required to gain an intimate knowledge of the landscape in which you are operating.
But as the infamous boxer Mike Tyson said, ‘everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth’. This is where fluid intelligence comes in especially handy. The ability to think creatively, let go of everything you know, and adapt. The best strategists think like this from the outset.
Many agencies have ‘their own’ strategic frameworks that they put all their clients through. They see it as their IP and why clients come to them. The reality is often quite different. It can often, not always, become a cookie-cutter approach where old Powerpoint presentations and ideas get recycled over and over again. Think like a herd. End up as steak.
I favour the toolbox approach to strategy. No client is the same. No single way to solve a problem. Absorb as many models as possible. Generals, sportspeople, scientists, musicians, artists all have something to teach us about strategy. Become the ultimate hybrid, the Swiss Army knife of strategy. Because becoming be a strategist is less about learning frameworks and following process and much more about opening up the right pathways in the brain.
At the end of the day the best clients are not paying you for your agency’s IP, or your Powerpoint skills. They are paying you for your fluid intelligence. Your ability to think creatively, within a strategic framework, not simply falling back on it.
Please login with linkedin to commentarchetype
Verizon Media’s talent program has come to an end for the third year, closing with a hybrid pitch-off event for Musicians Making A Difference (MMAD). The Verizon Media Academy class of 2021, made up of 44 emerging leaders from across Australia and New Zealand media, advertising and marketing industry, were given just one hour to […]
Social purpose organisation UnLtd’s Big Games competition has raised a combined $85,000 for children and young people at risk. Running over five weeks, the competition involved 32 teams from across the advertising, marketing and media industries battling it out virtually for a chance to qualify for the Rocket League final. The tournament culminated in a […]
Stan has announced that the Stan Original Film Transfusion commenced filming in Sydney earlier this week and will premiere on Stan in 2022. Transfusion is a taut, muscular thriller starring Sam Worthington (Avatar) as Ryan Logan, a former Special Forces operative, who is battling to cope with life after the loss of his wife and is thrust […]
According to a decade of data collected by iStock, Australian brands turned to imagery depicting outdated gender stereotypes during the pandemic. Tracking the keyword ‘women’, iStock by Getty Images found that in 2020, ANZ brands and businesses reverted to gender stereotypes. Images of mothers home-schooling were used at almost twice the rate of images of […]
Schwartz Media is congratulating Maddison Connaughton on her three years as editor of The Saturday Paper. Connaughton has decided to finish up her editorship this month. “It’s been an honour to edit the paper,” Connaughton said. “The Saturday Paper is one of the brightest voices in Australian media and I have been happy to see […]
Research from EdBbirdie using Spotify data has identified the most popular songs to study to. After analysing thousands of studying and homework playlists on Spotify, American singer Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘drivers license’ came out as top song to study to. It featured on 48 study playlists, while other top songs included ‘Ophelia’ by The Lumineers, ‘Falling’ […]
Dayna Stewart is the Business Director – Digital Marketing, Media & Creative Services at The Nudge Group. Here, she discusses the challenges that come with building a successful marketing team when working remotely. Before COVID-19 changed the way businesses work, most marketing teams spent their days together in a meeting room collaborating on the next […]
The line-up for the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival has been announced as the legendary event returns live in Las Vegas in September. This year, the epic two-day lineup for the iHeartRadio Music Festival main stage will feature performances by Billie Eilish, Cheap Trick, Coldplay, Dua Lipa, Florida Georgia Line, Journey, Khalid, Lil Baby, Maroon 5, Nelly, […]
Shop! ANZ is calling on shopper and retail marketing professionals from all retail related disciplines to participate in the first ANZ Shopper and Retail Marketing Industry Survey in four years. This important research provides a guide of where the retail marketing industry in Australia and New Zealand has come from and what is anticipated to […]