Adam Morgan
Mar 26, 2014

Which conversation do you want to be in?

Choose wisely between being a big part of a small conversation or a small part of a big conversation.

Which conversation do you want to be in?

Recently, I interviewed Malcolm Wells, who specialises in creating ‘symbols of re-evaluation’, particularly for energy companies: orchestrated sequences of events (often world records of some kind) that capture the public imagination and successfully migrate understanding and perceptions of ‘who’ a company is and what they are trying to do, in a few big steps.

I went into the interview primarily interested in the ‘how’—these are the kind of ideas that many of us talk about in brainstorming sessions, but very rarely hatch into anything real, and colourful because they are seen as too difficult to push through, internally or externally. So how does one drive this through?

Instead, he rightly focused on the strategic intent, and the importance of gaining alignment around that. He cited the work he had done for a large energy joint venture in Africa that demonstrated the value of a new fuel in three steps. At the heart of the key shift in the latter stages was a link with cheetah conservancy, ending with the first race between a man—Springbok rugby player Bryan Habana—and a cheetah.

We made a strategic decision, said Wells, that we would rather be 5 per cent part of a cheetah conversation than 100 per cent of a fuel conversation—the world is much more interested in cheetahs than they are in new kinds of fuel.

It was a perceptive reminder of two things: first, how infrequently we ask: “Which conversation do we want to be a part of?”, and second, that we need to be prepared to abandon the conversation we want to have, but that the world doesn’t care about, and instead contribute productively and engagingly in a conversation the world is interested in and does care about.

Because 5 per cent of a relevant and newsworthy conversation is better than 100 per cent of one that the world wants to ignore.

Adam Morgan is founding partner of eatbigfish. Follow him on Twitter @eatbigfish.


Related Articles

Just Published

24 minutes ago

Byron Sharp on why the best response to Covid-19 ...

He said that it is 'embarrassing arrogance' that marketers would think people were interested in what they had to say about the virus.

15 hours ago

See the full winners results from the APAC Effies

BMF Sydney and ALDI Australia take the Grand Effie for their entry, Loyalty Pointless Points, while Ogilvy was crowned Agency Network of the Year.

1 day ago

Campaign Crash Course: Leadership lessons for ...

How do leaders create effective teams? Dentsu Aegis Network Greater North chief Cheuk Chiang explains how to foster better talent by applying leadership principles, tips and learnings from past mistakes. Watch his video and test your knowledge with a quiz.

1 day ago

The most beautiful pizzas you will ever see

INSPIRATION STATION: How a pizzeria in Vietnam teamed up with boutique agency Ki Saigon to create beautifully inspiring (and edible) tributes to world peace.