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The Power of Cross-Pollination

I’ve often found it interesting that smart minds in one field (pharma, for example) can’t manage to extrapolate solid thinking from another industry and find lessons in it for their own industry’s challenges and hurdles and successes and failures. I’ve worked with a ton of different clients over the years in many different industries. Whether it’s the automotive industry, the health and wellness sphere, big pharma, major real estate, serious banking or major sports teams, the common denominator has often been one of extreme insularity, extreme focus on the buzz within their own industry. I always felt this was shortsighted.

One of the key benefits to hiring a digital agency to “handle the other thinking for you” is exactly that – to handle the thinking for you. Agencies can often bring a big picture perspective that results in shared insights across industries in a way that can illuminate the pharma product launch in the same way it can alter the way we sell pre-season box seat tickets for the new stadium.

Yet if you truly want to lead, don’t always let us agency-folks do the thinking for you. Let’s collaborate.

I’m a fan of cross-pollination-style thinking and feel certain we’d all benefit if leaders in various organizations embraced thinking from other industries instead of focusing so much on their own niche world they miss a great opportunity to see something in an entirely different light.

Two recent reads got me thinking about this cross-pollination anew:

  • But is it journalism (Damnit) by Jeff Jarvis – Though his piece is about journalism, he offers four very recent, very apropos reasons why it is time to ask big questions. Questions about the state of journalism. Questions about the goal of journalism. Questions about the ethics and standards and accepted rules of journalism. And how all those rules are/are not and should/should not change journalism as technology allows a faster, wider, less controlled sharing of “news.” If you replace the word “journalism” (italicized for your quick-scanning pleasure) with any other industry you happen to work in or are passionate about, I’m betting that the same questions could and should be asked. By you. On a regular basis. Definitely worth a read that has cross-pollinating implications.
  • Back to the future with bookstores by Alan Cooper – As you may have guessed, this is a post about what bookstores could look like if stores focused more on books as experience vs. books as commodities. It is thoughtful. It is intelligent. It carefully considers the many changes technology (read: Amazon) has brought about and what that, in practical matters, means for the state of brick and mortar bookstores. There are wonderful ideas here and as many of you know, I’m deeply passionate about finding ways to get more people to read, so of course this struck a chord with me. But this should strike a chord with you too, even if you are passionate about selling eco-friendly beauty products instead of books. Because it’s the same set of questions, the same kind of innovative thinking that’s needed to take whatever business you’re in to the next level.

What have you read lately that is about one industry but inspired you to apply that thinking to yours or another? Would love to know.


GoodGuide’s Transparency Toolbar

I’ve worked with many health and wellness brands and I know how important it is for customers to be aware of their quality ingredients and their hard work to create safe products. Consumer awareness of what’s in these products is vital to each brand’s mission and to their bottom line as businesses. When I saw the GoodGuide Transparency Toolbar this weekend, I was immediately fascinated.

Though “instantly shop your values when shopping online” is a bit too judge-y for my tastes, I do think that your ability to install this toolbar in your browser and see a rating on products as you shop is an interesting concept and one I suspect we’ll see a lot more of very soon.

Yet a cool transparency tool is only as good as the data that’s behind it, so I’m pleased to at least have a glimpse of who’s behind the data-crunching that you benefit from when checking out the tool:

“Led by Professor Dara O’Rourke of UC Berkeley, GoodGuide’s science team – chemists, toxicologists, nutritionists, sociologists, and lifecycle analysis experts – rates products and companies on their health, environmental and social performance. GoodGuide’s 0 to 10 rating system helps consumers quickly evaluate and compare products. Our mission is to help you shop your values wherever you shop.”

Wondering about who’s funding this effort? Me too:

“GoodGuide is funded by several prominent venture capital funds, including New Enterprise Associates, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Physic Ventures.  GoodGuide earns revenue from companies that purchase advertising and business intelligence products.  Neither our investors nor our paying business customers have the ability to influence GoodGuide ratings.  Our business customers want to communicate with the influential consumers who use GoodGuide for shopping advice, so GoodGuide offers ads that allow a company to promote its sustainability program (example) or to obtain priority placement for a product as a high scoring alternative on competing product pages (example).  Advertising content is always clearly marked as “sponsored.”  Our clients also buy business intelligence reports that compare their performance with competitors across a comprehensive set of health, environmental and social metrics and provide data on what metrics matter most to consumers.”

I’ve been using the iPhone app and I’m digging it. I’ve installed the transparency bar and so far, I’m digging it too. You?