There are various ways to think about how you can work with Smithery, all rooted in the idea that Making Things People Want is a better idea than Making People Want Things.
I work flexibly; on a defined project basis, on a regular retainer, or on a daily rate.
Having a chat about it is always my favourite way to take on new work. Email me here, and we can set up a call, hook up on Skype, or meet up over coffee. It has to be good coffee, though. I’m a little particular about that.
But of course, you might want more of an idea what we might talk about first. Here are some thoughts…
Where would we start?
There are three layers of a business I tend to look at:
The outer layer: working with a marketing team and existing agencies to tell a company’s story in ways that work with the complex modern media landscape, rather than fighting against it. You are confident that you’re making the right thing, but you’re not 100% sure you’re talking about it in the right way.
The middle layer: assisting in the creation and refinement of the things you make, so that the marketing communications is built-in at source, rather than bolted-on retrospectively. You’re not happy that the things your company makes are designed for the 21st century, and want to change them.
The inner layer: helping companies change they way they think and work with their community in its broadest possible definition; leaders, colleagues, fans, customers, detractors… anyone who is a part of the company’s story in the world. You suspect that rewiring your company will mean you make better things, and communicate them in better ways.
Working together, I’d approach each task in an open, flexible way, never presupposing an answer before the question is properly defined, and draw on broad range of experience in economics, marketing, media, communications, social media, business design, and technology.
How would we work?
There is a simple three step process which has served Smithery well so far:
1 – Assess
Work out what the problem is. Spend time interviewing people, observing practices, to uncover the unspoken, and test hypotheses to evaluate and frame the problem properly. Do nothing, but observe everything.
2 – Build
Create a solution. A first iteration of something that can solve the problem and be deployed quickly. It could be a prototype, a strategy, a service, a training course; anything that creates a difference immediately within your business. Build to learn, not learn to build.
3 – Cultivate
Test and revise that solution. As it winds its way through the business, work with people to observe reactions, problems, opportunities, and improve or alter the initial creation. A day in the wild is worth a month of guessing.
What would be the output?
As a rough rule of thumb, this is how long some things take…
In a day
- Offer inspiring, fresh perspectives and ideas in meetings or brainstorms.
- Deliver a thought-provoking presentation on how the world is changing to your team, and then work through implications for your business with them.
In a week
- Write a board-ready proposal on how you could tackle improving what you do, and how it fits with Making Things People Want as opposed to Making People Want Things
In a fortnight
- Devise, design and run a marketing or product innovation workshop for a core team, write up the results into an ordered series of recommendations.
In a month
- A detailed organisational appraisal, creating ideas and practical solutions to improve, amongst other things, dexterity (the work people do and things they produce), process (how your people work together from internal through to external) and technology (the things people use to improve effectiveness and efficiency).
Last question… why is it called ‘Smithery’?
The blacksmith lived and worked at the heart of every village.
He would be the provider of vital technology for the community; toolmaker, engineer, weapon-smith and more.
Whether mending carts and wagons, fixing infrastructure or designing specific tools, he would invent and iterate as he went, bringing new innovations and services into the community.
The smith would also be the one to keep a fire going all year round; the village could rely on the smithy’s furnace to roast meat, bake bread, and keep warm. He was the keeper of the fire at the heart of a community.
In short, the blacksmith was the original community generalist, a man who would turn his hand and head to any task the village asked of him.
He would innovate as required; each task a unique and specific request, a new problem looking for an effective and speedy new solution. It was an approach which would only serve to develop his skills further with every job.
We are entering a new age of smithery. But the raw materials of our age are not iron and fire, but the technology and connectivity which can be woven around the needs and desires of communities.
We must approach the modern world as the smithy would; with flexibility of thought, versatility of action, and generosity of spirit.
We can forge new ideas and reshape the world to meet our new expectations of it.