Call in the Bomb Squad

September 2, 2010 — Leave a comment

One of freshest the pieces of advice offered by the w2fm workshop suggests that perhaps the best approach is to not write a brief at all. The advice comes from Mike Daniels (Ogilvy Sydney MD), who reckons the fastest way to tackle a problem is to:

“Place the problem in the center of the table and surround it with smart people.”

It’s a brilliantly simple way of looking at the whole client-agency process and it got us thinking of ways to make that actually happen. At first glance, it seems like a good old-fashioned brainstorm – but my experience of those has always been less than satisfactory (Anyone ever been in a genuinely good one? One that created action? Send us your comments below).

We felt that brainstorms tend to lack discipline and focus, mainly because these two characteristics are (mistakenly) seen as the enemy of inspiration and ideation, so we set about re-engineering the brainstorm as a vehicle for bringing Mike’s advice to life. The result:

re-engineering the brainstorm - so that it actually worksThe Pitch: Every once in a while, a situation arises that demands a fresh approach. It could be a new product, a media event, a shift in the market, changes in regulation or a threat from competitors. Whether it presents itself initially as a threat or an opportunity, the common threads are the potential for significant impact on the business and a shortage of time.

The Bomb Squad is built to allow marketing departments and their agencies to align with sales and other parts of the business to respond quickly and creatively to threats and opportunities.

The 3 secret ingredients for a successful Bomb Squad session are: preparation, structure and discipline.

The preparation is in the pre-work, ensuring that the room takes no longer than 40 minutes to get up to speed, and no one can derail the process with those tragic words: “we’ll have to go and find that out”.

The structure is in the way the team is assembled: a carefully-calibrated mix of youthful enthusiasm and learned wisdom, of technical insight and wide-eyed wonder, of careful reconnaissance and daring risk-taking.

And the discipline comes from the facilitator who maintains a swiss-rail style timetable; plus the squad leaders, who encourage decision-making build the follow-through plan.

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