Monday, June 8, 2009

The idea protector

"Big ideas are so hard to recognise, so fragile, so easy to kill. Don't forget that, all of you, who don't have them."

These are the words of Jock Elliott. Jock was David Ogilvy's right hand man, his account guy, the administrator, the Marine, the protector of ideas. Together, they built Ogilvy into one of the world's best and biggest advertising agencies.

Our world's progress has been and will be dependant on big, challenging, different ideas.

Unfortunately, in our corporate worlds and political worlds, we are risk averse. We are more moved by inertia than the desire for positive change. Too often, we have to be dragged into new ways of thinking by rebels who just won't take no for an answer.

Here are some classic examples of short-sightedness:

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
- Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

"The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty-a fad."
- President of the Michigan Savings Bank, advising Henry Ford's lawyer not
to invest in the Ford Motor Company, 1903

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
- Western Union Internal Memo, 1876

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
- Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil, 1859

If you are a creator of big ideas, find yourself a Jock to protect you and your thoughts.

If you are in an organization with the opportunity to say yes (anyone can say no), remember the words of Jock. Without his protection, David Ogilvy would never have created one of the world's great companies.

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