10 February 2017

The Collaboration of Steve Jobs and Lee Clow

What happens when you pair two creative geniuses? Introducing one of our favourite collaborations of all time: Steve Jobs and Lee Clow.

Steve Jobs

Now recognised as the charismatic pioneer of the personal computer revolution. Famously co-founding Apple in 1976, less famously resigning in 85 and rejoining in 97 to return an ailing company to profitability (a decade later he was named the most powerful man in business by Fortune magazine).

Lee Clow

Created possibly one of the all-time greatest adverts for television in 1984 for Apple’s Macintosh and has continued creating global masterpieces that you can recognise today in Energizer, Sony, Adidas and many others.

“Think Different”

The collaboration truly started in 1997, when Jobs took the helm of Apple and offered up his advertising account to a series of agencies. It was apparently Lee’s cool and relaxed demeanour that prevented any brash interactions when Steve, met TBWA/Chiat/Day (the acclaimed agency Lee was the CEO of).

Of course, it was Lee’s pitch of the 97 “think different” campaign that won the tenure over a small host of others. So after apparently, a small amount of deliberation (2 minutes tops in the meeting room), Jobs went for it. It was this campaign that turned things around for Apple. This one campaign that got the Apple faithful all fired up again. This one campaign showed the press that Apple still had a pulse. The ‘Think Different’ campaign took the consumers off the fence as the Apple brand was now thought of in a whole new way.

The Collaboration

This collaboration is way more convoluted than just the two geniuses named above. A whole host of people played their part. A full agency of creatives backed by the corporate resource is only a small part. It excludes interpersonal or family-based support. But, the two were known as leaders and visionaries for a reason. It was through their administration, pulling together all the ideas, and pooling all the right skills that this campaign could take off.

Although simplifying Jobs’ role as pulling the trigger, although true, probably dilutes the importance of his part in ‘Think Different’. Imagine it was more like this mission was to aim a heavy Barrett .50 calibre sniper at a target just over a mile away (debatably further with the state of his company), all the while still considering wind strength, elevation, pressure measurements and the Coriolis effect. However, although Steve was a decent shot, he had Lee Clow as his spotter. The spotter’s’scope has a much wider field of view and calls in the measurements for the sniper to adjust. With Clow’s incredible creative approach of leaving nothing unjustified, paired with Jobs’ passion and drive, they managed to form a strong alliance where belief in each other’s direction cemented the partnership.

Success through Collaboration

Within 12 months of the ‘Think Different’ campaign launch, Apple’s stock price tripled. In 97 Apple was in a world of trouble, you really don’t have to look far now to see its strength and prowess.

In 2011, their 30-year journey culminated with the death of Jobs.

The ‘think different’ campaign was a celebration of creative geniuses collaborating for one of the greatest business turnarounds of all time. For 30 years, the advertising and tech legends collaborated to create some of the most iconic commercials in advertising history. From iPod shadow silhouettes to the ‘think different’ slogan, Apple’s branding was both simple and memorable.

25 January 2017

Why collaborative spaces are a great place to work

To think that offices used to be, or in some cases still are, set up like organisational charts, with upper management on higher floors and the closer your office was to the CEO, the more important you were viewed.  More and more companies are striving to create a balance between start-up innovation and modern professionalism, and so gone are the days when outdated stuffy cubicles were the norm.

Enter collaboration workspaces.  Today’s transparent open space floor plans help employees engage in spontaneous creativity in collaborative work spaces.  The concept of the collaborative workspace is used by small start-ups, big businesses, alongside other emerging companies to enhance employee’s teamwork skills and brainstorm and distil ideas

The benefits of these shared collaborative spaces go beyond simply aiding career prospects, promoting hard work and bringing out the best in your team.  They also allow opportunities for chance meetings, odd encounters, and off-topic chats, all of which can lead to new business relationships.

Here are a few more benefits to working in a co-working office space:

Networking opportunities

Whilst working in a co-working space, you will get to meet people from a wide range of different backgrounds and industries who may be good connections for you in the future.  This will help in growing your business quickly.

Increased productivity

Working at home can be full of distractions, and public work spaces such as coffee shops may have frustratingly unreliable WiFi, whereas co-working allows for maximum productivity. Research has shown that sharing a more open, social and collaborative space makes employees more efficient and productive, so encouraging this type of environment is a smart decision. Sharing a more open, social and collaborative space makes employees more efficient and productive.

Promotes creativity

Creativity is important in every industry at some level.  By allowing employees to work together and share ideas, this opens the door to creative solutions for solving business obstacles.

Eliminates office politics

Because co-working spaces consist of members who work for a range of different companies, ventures, and projects, there is little direct competition or internal office politics.  Employees don’t feel they must put on a work persona to fit in.

Skills sharing

Advantages arise from working in a culture where it is the norm to help each other out.  The variety of individuals in the space means that co-workers have unique skill sets that they can provide to other members.


Co-working spaces are often accessible 24/7, which means that people can decide whether to put in a long day to meet a deadline, or decide to take a break in the middle of the day to exercise or get some fresh air.  Their working hours can be chosen to fit their lifestyle.  This ultimately leads to greater productivity and trust amongst employees.  Co-working spaces offer both quiet working areas, which allow people to focus, or more collaborative spaces with shared tables where interaction is encouraged.


Examples of Co-Working Spaces

  1. WeWork – are located throughout the US, UK, Israel and Netherlands. Their locations act as community centres offering shared and dedicated work spaces to meet your business and networking needs.
  2. Impact Hub – located worldwide. Each hub has its own offerings from their rentals to their events. The branch in Philadelphia offers a free co-working day on Wednesdays for the community to explore the space and experience “a day in the life….”
  3. Trinity Buoy Wharf – A disused wharf off the Thames river in London has turned old shipping containers into spaces. Artists and craftsmen collaborate and innovate in the low-cost development and have built a real community, proving that innovation doesn’t have to be high-cost.

Above all, the internet is the most collaborative working space of all.  With tools like web conferencing, white boarding, and webcasting, technology makes the global web your global office.

30 December 2015

Collaboration: A complex global challenge

Collaboration occurs when a group of people have a common goal and some shared processes to pursue that goal. Collaborations can be formal, informal or a blend and occur at local and planetary scale.

The 2015 Paris climate change talks are probably the most complex collaborations taking place on the planet today. A challenge that involves an array of formal and informal organisations as well as diverse public opinion across the whole of our global diversity.

This is our future; becoming smarter at collaborating globally on complex problems across the global diversity. It is one of humanity’s leading edge challenges and for the benefit of future generations we need to get better at this fast.

Collaboration has a better chance of achieving successful outcomes when there is alignment of vision and values amongst the collaborators. Global collaborations such as climate change are tough because these conditions do not currently exist at scale across humanity.  We don’t have a sufficient sense of being ‘in it together’ and aren’t prepared to make tough trade-offs for the collective planetary good.

Much of the formal organisational frameworks for these collaborations are locked in a nation-state model that in it’s origin attaches primacy to its own interest before the collective global interest. Yet there is an emerging global population increasingly socialised in a ‘beyond beliefs and borders’ mindset. Hopefully in coming decades this stream of consciousness will reach a tipping point enabling such global collaborations to be increasingly effective.

A collaboration is profoundly shaped by the nature and intensity of common purpose held by the collaborators.  Is yours a worthy collaboration that attracts great people who can fully commit to the purpose?

I happened to be in Egypt in late January 2011 during the first flush of the Arab Spring, on reflection this nation-wide collaboration was fuelled by a shared understanding of what people did not want yet insufficient common purpose on what people did want. So the energy of the collaboration disintegrated once the initial decoupling from the Mubarak regime had been achieved.  Great purposes attract great people and for periods of time almost super human reservoirs of energy. In a sporting context the All Blacks from 2008 through to their recent world cup victory are a rare example of sustained collaborative excellence.

In recent years we have been ‘sold’ many forms of online collaboration tools and in our business we take advantage of these, enabling global clients to achieve growth in their collaborative capacity faster and at lower cost than could have been achieved pre-2005. Yet at its heart collaboration is a deeply human activity and online tools will not solve the pervasive problem of poor collaboration.

When deconstructed collaboration is about our ability, given a common purpose, to iterate at speed through the innovation-cycle. To have the right habits and practices amongst the collaborating group to navigate this cycle. The divergent phase covers problem-sensing, exploring differences of opinion, catalysing more ideas, challenging assumptions and experimenting with emerging solutions. This is a very different type of activity to the subsequent convergent phase of making decisions on options, mobilising for action, implementing and reviewing.

The habits and practices for the divergent and convergent phases are very different. Clients grasp quickly the importance of intensity of common purpose and the need for higher trust levels amongst collaborators yet the importance of aligned habits and practices to manage the innovation cycle is poorly understood. To build these aligned habits and practices requires a deliberate effort over an extended period of time.

The three core elements of a successful collaboration; purpose, trust and aligned habits and practices, can be built into any collaborating group and in a way which creates a virtuous cycle of improvement in collaborative capacity during the very process of working on the most important challenges. Unfortunately, most collaborations whilst taking pride in their purpose pay little attention to the quality of their collaboration process and then are disappointed with their outcomes.

In global organisations, culture and managerial practices can either nurture or hinder good collaboration yet the wisdom exists to enable organisations to achieve breakthrough in the way they collaborate, they just need the insight to access it.

Yet at the level of global complex challenges such as climate change we are only just sensing what collaborative capacity is required for breakthrough. We must up the pace of our learning on complex collaboration in order to have any chance of confronting the wicked global challenges of our time – time is not on our side.


12f2c26-150x150 Collaboration: A complex global challenge
Simon Preston


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