Yes, it’s true, no one really needs another t-shirt. But we do wear logos, designs we care about. And we often wear things that embody our values. I can’t wait to get my TED 2010 shirt from #remo when I get home later today because TED stands for sharing ideas that matter. And I’ll likely wear that thing into the ground when I hike or run the Los Gatos creek trail.
So I recently decided to order t-shirts for the #NewHow movement. The process itself was entirely a process of collaboration. Let me share it.
First, I reached out to a person I have only met a few times in person but stay regularly in contact via twitter, @missrogue. Having watched her do a #karaoke tour across the US last year, I figured she had to know something about swag vendors. And because I really do still have a day job I wanted to find the vendor to work with, and go fast. No surprise, 5 minutes later, I got an introduction to Mark Graham at #RightSleeve. Within hours, I had a reasonable quote, options to pursue and a rough schedule that would let me take shirts to my #fidelity talk on innovation and to the discussion on MurderBoarding #stationc in Montreal. Mark uses email like I do — highly efficient, asynchronous conversation to let us move faster and truly do high-baud work.
But at that point, I still hadn’t decided what I wanted the design to be. Um, important detail. So I emailed a truly #NewHow collaborator, @anandc and asked him something simple like, “thoughts?” and got back a very fast note that set the theme of the shirt: I am the New How. Which I liked. I want people to embody a new way of working. Coolness. So forwarded that email to Mark, chose 2 of the designs out of the @gapingvoid custom art created for #NewHow. (For those of you that haven’t yet read the #NewHow, you’ll see that Hugh’s art makes the book read so unlike most business books and his brilliance makes the ideas really come together. That was the ultimately fun co-creation process). I asked to see those in context with the shirts and color choices. When I got drafts, I simply forwarded to the #Rubicon team and a few other folks (including @anandc) and asked for quickie feedback. 5-10 minutes later, I had what I needed. My team writes back to me quickly and I respond to them in like because it’s a sign of respect that helping each other matters. Decisions were made. Order placed. Literally, the whole process probably took me a total of 30-45 minutes to do. And all in 5 minute increments. That’s a vendor and an extended set of collaborators I want to work with. (Pictures of shirt at end of blog): Connect with mark here: @RIGHTSLEEVE or http://www.rightsleeve.com/
But as I sat with “I am the New How”, I thought what if I the wearer acts more like the #chiefofanswers (good Forbes article on this topic here: http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/30/leadership-collaboration-management-technology-breakthroughs-merchant.html) rather than a leader of #co-creators? Or what if someone is just you-know-what and they wear this shirt. Hmmm. Could be a “brand problem” as they say in marketing. Maybe I need wear instructions? Yeah, that’s it, this shirt needs wear instructions. A quick 5 minute search on Etsy and I found a vendor who made labels. I didn’t even care the vendor was in Holland cause it doesn’t matter. I found something similar to what I was thinking would work, emailed a custom request idea. And within 24 hours, she had given me 3 different turns until we ended up with something I like. Rather than writing, “please don’t be an slang-word-here” the language is more positive: “wearing Instructions: Innovation, Strategy and Winning are never done in isolation. Wear this shirt when you are being a co-creator”… I got advice on how to attach the label to the shirt and will get those in my office at the same time the shirts arrive. See the final tag and (vendor):
As I gave out the shirts these last few days, I didn’t have the labels so I had to give verbal guidance. All I asked is that if the user accepts the shirt, please follow the wear instructions. Doug at #fidelity walked up to me and said he would “honor the code”. He’ll think about it; I know he will. As we all “should”. We ought to think about our stance as we come into work. The more conscious we become about how we work, the more we’ll ultimately be able to be create better outcomes. This I believe.