Making Space for Better Outcomes

Over the past week I’ve made visits to a number of interactive agency offices and noticed something significant.¬†All of them have a major part of their space under construction.The reasons offered by the senior managers of these firms as to why they are making this investment are nearly identical. They want to more closely connect team members to the arc of the process and elevate the work through collaboration on a natural, everyday basis. The days of sitting with people who have pretty much the same role; take in the assignment, add their part and then pass it along to the next team on the assembly line are over. Thankfully.

The convergence of channels and interfaces has made the need to do great marketing, branding sales and service simultaneously, and primarily in digital, of utmost importance. Every agency had a plan taped to the wall of the open space detailing the objective of the new design, sprinkled with artifacts; tables, chairs, colors and space purposes. All of this is meant to redefine how people work in a world that has been redefined by technology, devices and increased competition to stand out amid the clutter.

Corporations could learn a lot from this. Most of us are still trapped in a meeting mentality. In my opinion, work doesn’t get done in meetings. It’s kind of like planning for “quality time with your spouse or children.” It can’t be easily manufactured. Oftentimes the best experiences are spontaneous and occur at the most unexpected times. It’s the opposite of a meeting. One of the things I hear often among people who work in big firms is the following.

We should get all the stakeholders in a room for one day and knock out all the requirements and make all the tough decisions. When we walk away we’ll have exactly what we want to do and then we can go do it.

If that doesn’t speak volumes about the silos and layers and approval processes and over-collaboration, yes you can over collaborate, then I don’t know what does. There is a strong desire among people to work better, smarter and faster. Certainly no one thing or one space will magically make this happen, but I think these agencies are on to something meaningful here, and all of us should pay attention.

A Great Online Experience is like The Twilight Zone

Updated: February 8, 2009
5 years, 156 episodes

The classic 30 minute television drama is all but extinct, having given way to reality shows and various forms of forensics and autopsy programs. Thanks to

Me TV and Nick at Nite numerous classic (and not so classic) shows still live. There is one show from television past that has a unique brand, The Twilight Zone. A full 40 years after it first aired, the mere mention of its name takes everyone almost universally to the same place; ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. A dimension where things are just a little bit askew. The thought of TZ might even elicit chills. It’s one of the few programs that has sustained life outside the cathode ray tube. Rod Serling was the mastermind and creative genius behind that groundbreaking show and attracted a who’s who of actors and technical talent. Everyone wanted to work with Mr. Serling and be part of the creation of this new and exciting form of television.

So, how is The Twilight Zone like a great online experience? Many of the attributes that made The Twilight Zone so successful eerily overlap with the very best web experiences. Both:

  • Are easily accessible to a broad audience
  • Present a fresh, unique approach
  • Provide a consistent experience
  • Contain highly engaging content
  • Have the power to surprise
  • Capitalize on teachable moments
  • Are highly memorable
  • Transform skeptics into loyal fans

Which leads me to MCD Partners. I work with Magnani, Caruso and Dutton (New York), an independent interactive agency that places a premium on ideas and a priority on understanding their client’s business objectives and brand value proposition. They are skilled at helping firms craft and execute their digital strategy. I’ve been working with them for over two years now and have not only made a great business partnership, but numerous friendships as well. We work long hours trying to solve the latest problem or design the next generation web site experience. But no matter what the deadline or obstacle, we always try to make it fun.

Speaking of fun, here’s some, at least for me. I revisited those classic Serling episode introductions and altered the copy so I could include members of my MCD account team. Using a cool microphone called the Snowball, I channeled my best Rod Serling imitation in a series of recordings I call The MCD Zone. I know I’m opening up a can of worms here, inviting a response in kind which will be much more polished than my meager creative skills can muster. But that will be even more fun.

So turn up your speakers for The MCD Zone theme. Disclaimer. It’s not really a video.

The cast of characters on my MCD account team is diverse and I highly respect their talent and professionalism. As time permits, I plan on posting more episode introductions with members of my MCD team as the stars. So if you work there you may want to bookmark this page and check back. Who knows, You might be next!

Identity Crisis

Word Traveler

Machine vs. Man


Now I have to say, lest someone think I’m serious, working with MCD is not really like being in the Twilight Zone. No one has aged prematurely or been lost to roam an empty vortex for all time. But we do create some extraordinary online experiences together. Some of them have been positively other worldly. Thanks MCD team for your effort, energy and oh yes, your good sense of humor. It’s a relationship that pushes all of us beyond The Comfort Zone.

Special thanks to Mr. Rod Serling. He’s not dead, he’s just gone ahead.