Our Fascination with the Future

I think the reason we are so fascinated with the future is that we are stuck in a one-way concept of time. We need prophets and analysts to point us past the immediate so that we can anticipate and adjust to what may be ahead. We listen even if these people are wrong, or keep moving the date as if we "miscalculated" as in those who anticipate the Apocalypse, or the return of Elvis...

So what does this mean for brands and the business of marketing and innovation? A sneak peak at the future is reassuring to organizations intent on carrying through with business as planned. Unfortunately, this is a condition based on the assumption that we can "reason" our way in a world dynamic that more closely resembles chaos.

To put it another way: To create Futures is an art, not a science. Futurologists are artists, who predict calamities hoping that their prediction will prevent these calamities from happening. So good futurologists are always wrong. |

Still, we like predictables, that makes us feel more secure. So if predictable is what you want, I found this definition of the future to be quite appropriate:

FUTURE: A sign on the door of a restaurant which says:
“FREE FOOD TOMORROW” and is never removed from the door.

The truth is that future is variable upon collective thought.

What we think affects what we think about, and that in effect determines the ways we react to cumulative effects of collective realities. Another way to put it is:

When you change the way you think about things, the things you think about change.

Think about that the next time you're so sure your five-year plan for the future of your company is worth a shit.

Rethinking the position of the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer)

The nature of information is biological, and we still try to force fit into our "mechanical" mindset.

The idea that the CMO must deliver ROI for her/his existence is trying to quantify the marketing function of the business as if it were a stand alone piece of the whole. The accountability on the business as a whole (management, development, marketing and continuous innovations in all of these areas) is never really mentioned.

What about measuring the strength of the strategic ideas put forth by the CMO? Shouldn't accountability reside more in a marketing decision that affects the company as a whole such as whether or not we have a company blog, rather than ROI based on some ad spend? Is measuring the safe stuff that keeps your job intact (at least for the time being) really a measure of accountability? How about the decision to not spend a dime on advertising and do a sophisticated word of mouth campaign like what Ford's doing with its hybrid SUV? Shouldn't measuring the net effect of that decision in terms of revenue be the real measure of accountability?

How can we participate in the interconnected global economy if we still can't see the interconnections in our own organizations. Why did we create the measures for our departments in the first place? Does it still fit with the relative performance of the total company? Where does our CMOs effort really fit into the company's position in the marketplace?

I believe starting with these questions will define the role of what it means to be a CMO in the businesses of today and tomorrow. Marketing accountability MUST be a part of the entire value of the company...the value of the REAL brand in a transparent and conversational interconnected marketplace.

© 2006 GROW |