Looking for the edge effect

055at-the-edge

Fresh from an interesting conversation with a candidate, and our discussion around the necessity of collaboration between strategy and creative, I stumbled across the words of the poet Alison Hawthorne Deming:

In ecology the term “edge effect” refers to a place where a habitat is changing–where a marsh turns into a pond or a forest turns into a field.  These places tend to be rich in life forms and survival strategies.  We are animals that create mental habitats, such as poetry and science, national and ethnic identity.  Each of us lives in several places other than our geographic locale, several life communities, at once.  Each of us feels both the abrasion and the enticement of the edges where we meet other habitats and see ourselves in counterpoint to what we have failed to see. What I am calling for is an ecology of culture in which we look for and foster our relatedness across disciplinary lines without forgetting our differences.  Maybe if more of us could find ways to practice this kind of ecology we would feel a little less fragmented, a little less harried and uncertain about the efficacy of our respective trades and a little more whole.

  ‘Poetry and Science: A View from the Divide’

They illuminated a truth for me – one that the cheap and easy talk of ‘collaboration’ obscures.

It is self-evident that we need specialist disciplines.

But if we find ourselves working in an environment in which the specialisms do not overlap, in which they are doing entirely different jobs, in which they do not speak a common language, in which they do not understand each others’ contribution, and in which there is no edge effect but merely a gaping chasm, then something is seriously, badly wrong.

Deming cites the mathematician Alfred North Whitehead, who in 1925 warned of the risks that came with increasing scientific and technological refinements: 

The specialized functions of the community are performed better and more progressively, but the generalized direction lacks vision.  The progressivism in detail only adds to the danger produced by the feebleness of coordination … in whatever sense you construe the meaning of community … a nation, a city, a district, an institution, a family or even an individual … The whole is lost in one of its aspects.”

Planning, account management, copywriting, art direction, interactive, design, production… whatever our specialism, and whatever new specialisms we might add, we work in the service of a greater whole.

The creation of value through the building of brands through the power of ideas.

That shared purpose demands that we feel and experience our relatedness to one another.

And it demands that rather than stick within our respective habitats, we go out to live and operate where the edge effect happens. Where our respective habitats merge and become the other.

Which is why I’m glad to say, we expect creatives to get involved in the strategic process, and expect planners to get involved in the creative process.

And it’s why we are looking for planners* who can thrive in and nurture the edge effect.

***

* 5-10 years’ planning experience – able to engage senior clients in discussions about the things that matter to them, bring both structure and inspiration to the table, play a decisive role in the development of creative solutions, have a proven ability to help develop world-class creative solutions, preferably have experience developing global or multi-market work, be able to work well with internal and external specialist disciplines, be excited at the prospect of a life in Amsterdam… and nice to be around.

If that sounds like you, e-mail sophie.worth@wk.com

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One comment

  1. Nicolas Makelberge

    Nice post Martin.

    “shared purpose demands that we feel and experience our relatedness to one another.”

    Reminds me of a Aldous Huxley quote:

    ” ‘The thing that gives people courage is ideas’ – The phrase might be expanded. For it is not only courage that comes from ideas; it is determination; it is the power to act, the power to go on acting coherently. For though it is true that most ideas are the rationalisations of feelings, which does not mean that feelings are more important in the world of action than ideas. Feeling provides the original supply of energy, but this supply of energy soon fails if the feelings are not rationalised.”
    Aldous Huxley in Music at night.

    If we share how we feel about things we gain the courage necessary to do great work.

    Which in turn reminds me of a Clifford Geertz quote : )

    “[i]n man neither regnant fields nor mental sets can be formed with sufficient precision in the absence of guidance from symbolic models of emotion. In order to make up our minds we must know how we feel about things; and to know how we feel about things we need the public images of sentiment that only ritual, myth and art provide.”

    A bit off topic maybe but many interesting implications of how we in advertising, or society at large share how we feel about things with sufficient precision.

    Cheers

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