Friday, 13 July 2007

Letter from the Eightfold...

Dear Greennormal,

Since your first letter to me, I wanted to give it first the proper amount of time to mull over. But before I dig in can I say, your face is digitally elusive. Luckily Russell Davies managed to snap a pic of your profile!

What seems to be moving me forward is very much what you mentioned at the very end of your letter. If winter is for hibernation and retrospection, spring and summer are about transforming theory into action (and of course remembering to relax and enjoy life). Many of my discussions have asked the same question you did – how to get some of my many pet projects off the ground?

The overly simplistic answer that I think any of these “clutter consultants” that seem to be quite in vogue would say is to prioritize and “look at what is really happening”, but I’d like to take a bit more of a romantic point of view and say we have big ideas about this world. Inspiration, like a child, needs nurturing and love and a village to really bloom. My question is how can we create that village, so that not only do we harvest good ideas but also are able to put food and hopefully drink on our tables?

It all comes down to the function of one’s network. Should there be a knowledge sharing forum or a virtual agency looking for brilliant people to solve interesting world-changing consumer problems? I would love to see what the second would look like if only to learn what that many people with passion and vision could learn from each other.

The idealist in me would say this could create an energy so strong, we could retool the structure of marketing and push the established frameworks of business into a more conscious era.

You asked me in your letter what I saw that change in consciousness to be. It’s interesting because while I believe we are all becoming interconnected, I also struggle with the barriers of interconnectedness. Just last weekend I left New York City to enter into “America” via Charleston, South Carolina. I say I entered “America” because let’s face it, by virtue of my demographic data, being a bit more conscious and in this trends world, I am not living a representative American lifestyle.
South Carolina was a good reminder of this. To go to the beach on the Isle of Palms you need to take a long bridge called “the connector”. The problem with the connector is that it is normally backed up with traffic – typically dozens of SUVs and Suburbans sitting idle and running their air conditioning. Now if you were to take the environmental stress out of this, it seems like waiting for an extra 45 minutes to get on the beach because you are stuck in traffic is a horrible waste of time and not particularly something I would call “quality of life”.

So I asked a friend why they don’t have a shuttle service from the Target (which is on one side of the connector) to the beach. It’s not like the area isn’t affluent enough to pay for it (we’re talking multi-million dollar properties on the Isle of Palms). Traffic would be better, life would be a bit nicer and the environmental impact would be reduced. I was told people in that area didn’t want to be bussed and liked their cars. And herein is a barrier. People have a perception of transport that overrides their desire for one type of quality of life (not melting in traffic and not polluting the environment) for another (having the freedom to roast in one’s expensive car).

Now does this mean this consciousness, this awareness of how we are all interconnected is a liberal fabrication? I think it depends on whether we want to accept the status quo or try to change the system of values (after all, it was only 20 years ago that men going into the delivery room was taboo). I guess my point here is that “a change in consciousness” is something I do believe in, but I am not naive enough to believe it is passively happening.

Yes things like a debate around spirituality, an aging population, networked technology create the circumstances for a perfect storm. However, we also need to take an active role in breaking through barriers to create something fresh and new and inspiring. And this is where I was inspired to use the name The Eightfold. It does draw from the Buddhist belief that we must follow “the right way”, but it is greater than simply a spiritual belief. It is a practical guideline for how defining ideas will be created in the coming years. It’s a framework for understanding how we can push boundaries and think big to make big changes be it socially, ecologically or financially.

This letter could go on for days! But I want to pause here to hear what you think and maybe start exploring less of the philosophical and more of the tactical. How have you found clients receiving this type of thinking for example? Are you finding companies getting excited about having permission to find opportunity in change or are many still frightened?

By the way, I do love the idea of letter writing. It’s so luxurious to not have to boil things down to an email or IM and gives us the benefit of really playing with ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you soon and hope you are enjoying your summer!

The Eightfold.

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