February 05, 2011

“Here’s To The Crazy Ones”

Real innovation is, in case you haven’t noticed, kind of a bitch.

As a product manager I want to provide my team with really solid direction, thinking that there must be shining, slam-dunk use cases that will present themselves, rendering all debate moot.  Sometimes that happens; often, though, you’ve got to take some leaps of faith (“skating to where the puck is going to be”). By chance this week I came across a couple of interesting remarks:

The first comes from Steve Hayden, who helped develop Apple’s breakthrough “1984” commercial:

One of the many agency heads I’ve worked with over the years said, “When it’s great, there’s no debate.” I can’t imagine a more fatuous, false statement. There was plenty of debate around “1984.” It very nearly didn’t run.

The second concerns the creator of the famous James Bond music:

It’s impossible to imagine James Bond without Barry’s music, but apparently it almost happened:

Shortly after this Barry would receive the fateful phone call from Bond producer Harry Saltzman. “I got a phone call from Harry,” recalled Barry in a 2006 article in the Telegraph. “He never used to come down to the recording sessions, and he says: ‘John, that is the worst f*cking song I ever heard in my life. We open in three weeks’ time, otherwise I’d take that f*cking song out of the picture. I’d take it out! Out!’”

It’s not just that people didn’t grasp the concepts up front: it’s that even when presented with finished, ready-to-ship products that were about to become classics, they still didn’t get it.

I offer this simply as encouragement to anyone trying to break new ground.  If this work were easy, it’d be boring, and everyone would do it.

 

Posted by John Nack at 8:42 AM on February 05, 2011

Comments

  • GH — 11:21 AM on February 05, 2011

    Great Blogging

  • Solie Swan — 8:36 PM on February 05, 2011

    What a timely post. I appreciate the inspiration!

    Solie
    http//recareas.com

  • Christopher Anderton — 1:33 AM on February 06, 2011

    Some more stories: C3PO in Star Wars was supposed to have a large Texas accent and the title of the first movie “The Adventures of Luke Starkiller”.

  • Andrew Smith — 4:04 AM on February 06, 2011

    Real innovation always comes from outside the field.

  • uta — 4:11 AM on February 06, 2011

    John, fantastic! It’s so true. Shinny innovative, groundbreaking ideas and concepts won’t be accepted or appreciated easily most of the time. Having that fresh eyes and vision means you are thinking ahead of the time or that era and even the generation, to make it happen requires strong belief, determination, enornomous effort and lots of persuasion to the “status quo” folks. That’s not easy, to get through all, only a few left honestly. That’s the classic, phenomenon and icon. I enjoy reading your blog a lot, so inspirational and always learn a lot!

  • Jay — 4:21 AM on February 06, 2011

    Thanks for that great post, John!

  • Richard Broom — 4:52 AM on February 06, 2011

    Brilliant things usually break through one way or the other but can’t help feeling sorry for the brilliant things or people, whatever/whoever they are, that just don’t get through the sieve when they deserve to.

  • Marky — 5:43 AM on February 20, 2011

    Yes thats so true. I work in advertising also. The very best campaigns and pieces of imagery I have worked with have always been the most controversial. The ones where someone high up just doesn’t get it, gets a firm idea that its a terrible and there are battles. There is no ‘slam dunk’ which has obvious quality whatsoever. You start thinking like that, and all you will produce is run of the mill.

    I think something more complex is going on: That there is a certain mentality that reacts badly to innovation or anything that is different. So much so, that it frightens them.

    Having said that. I think in your case the secret when deciding if something actually has value or not, is to make sure you are listening to the people who have a track record of great work.

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