Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What Morgan Spurlock Can Teach Us About Brave Business

I recently watched this Ted Talk by Morgan Spurlock that is an oldie but a goodie (released in 2013). For those of you that may not be familiar with Morgan he came to fame with his documentaries the most famous of which is Super Size Me. He parlayed that success into a series on A&E entitled 30 Days in which he walked in other people's shoes to provide a perspective on issues that were controversial at the moment.

What I like so much about his Ted Talk is how he exposed the fearful decision making in the Advertising industry. But this isn't a hit piece on that industry and the same decision making processes and cultures exist in any industry and in most organizations.

One of my favorite moments in the talk involves a clip at the 10 minute mark where he is meeting with the Ban deodorant marketing execs and asks them what the one word they would use to describe Ban and there is silence. Then the first answer is superior technology... for deodorant!

Some of the takeaways from the talk include:
1. The brands that were obviously brave and took a risk with Spurlock's movie were ones that cut out the middle man (advertising agency) because they understood that they may not have the brand's best interests at mind. This is a theme covered in my book Corporate Bravery.
2. Spurlock's summation of what he experienced with trying to make the movie was, "When you train your employees to be risk averse, then you train your whole company to be reward challenged."
3. It is remarkable that EMC won the rights for his Ted Talk with just over $7K. A small sum for the millions of views that this clip has experienced.