Clarity First Newsletter, February 9, 2018

Clarity First
A notebook about how we work, and learn, and love and live.
What if collective intelligence weren’t a nice-to-have, but pie-in-the-sky aspiration? What if our survival depended on it?
“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”
“The stakes could not be higher. Progressing collective intelligence is in many ways humanity’s grandest challenge since there’s little prospect of solving the other grand challenges of climate, health, prosperity, or war without progress in how we think and act together. We cannot easily imagine the mind of the future. The past offers clues, though. Evolutionary biology shows that the major transitions in life— from chromosomes to multicellular organisms, prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, plants to animals, and simple to sexual reproduction— all had a common pattern. Each transition led to a new form of cooperation and interdependence so that organisms that before the transition could replicate independently, afterward could only replicate as part of a larger whole.”
Article: Collective Intelligence as Humanity’s Biggest Challenge
New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.

“The vaunted human capacity for reason may have more to do with winning arguments than with thinking straight.” Ouch.
Article: Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

Our emotions play a big role in most decisions.
If we aren’t using reason to make choices, how do we choose? “Emotion is integral to the process of reasoning and decision making, for worse and for better.”
Article: How Emotion Drives Brand Choices And Decisions
How to get unstuck
Instead of asking how to solve the problem, reverse brainstorming focuses on what causes the problem. The process is so simple you won’t even notice you’re thinking. #cooltool
Article: Design Thinking Tools: Reverse Brainstorming 
Complexity bias is a logical fallacy that leads us to give undue credence to complex concepts.
“Faced with two competing hypotheses, we are likely to choose the most complex one. That’s usually the option with the most assumptions and regressions. As a result, when we need to solve a problem, we may ignore simple solutions — thinking ‘that will never work’ — and instead favor complex ones.”
Article: Complexity Bias: Why We Prefer Complicated to Simple

What if Cinderella wasn’t the damsel in distress, but a femme fatale?

The 30-second spot is now long-form.

YouTube sells a six-second pre-roll ad that is designed to be too short to skip. To promote the cerebral torture device, they challenged world-class agencies to reimagine classic fairy tales in just six seconds, and then to present the finished films at Sundance. Yup. It can be done. But, do we really want to do this to our discourse? To our brains?
Article/Videos: Six-Second Storytelling: YouTube’s 2018 Sundance Ad Challenge

Step 1: Agree on the communication problem you are solving

Regular readers, clients and students hear me say it like a parrot, “make your job easier by starting every single communication, no matter the medium or complexity, with a Creative Brief”. But, before you even get to your choice of medium or level of complexity, your entire team should agree on what specific communication problem your effort is designed to solve. It sounds simple, and it is. It is also essential to success.
Article: How to Build a Problem Statement


Daveed Goldman and DaBu Adilman started Choir! Choir! Choir! as a weekly drop-in singing event in 2011. Everyone gets a lyric sheet at the door. Everyone learns the song. Everyone sings the song. A video is recorded, and all go home feeling good.

Last month David Byrne joined the fun. After learning their parts for just one hour, Byrne joined the group to sing the lead of Bowie’s Heros. The results are beautiful and gloriously uplifting.

On his blog he wrote about the experience: “There is a transcendent feeling in being subsumed and surrendering to a group. This applies to sports, military drills, dancing… and group singing. One becomes a part of something larger than oneself, and something in our makeup rewards us when that happens. We cling to our individuality, but we experience true ecstasy when we give it up.”
Article/Video: How Do They Do It? Part 2.

Images of the week

The smaller of the two images of the week is titled The Size of Your Suffering. The larger is titled Smile Now, Cry Later. Both are by Tlacolulokos, 2017. They’re hung in the show Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A. in the LA Central Library until the end of August.

Writing about the show in the NYT, Héctor Tobar said, “This normalization of Latino and immigrant culture is an essential act in the Trump era, a time when I’ve heard stories about white school kids yelling “Trump!” at their brown-skinned classmates as if it were a slur meant to remind them of their inherently second-class status. Resisting the spread of hatred requires all sorts of actions. Go to a march, call your representative — but also bring a great work of literature by an immigrant writer to your book club and support arts education everywhere.”
Article: We Need Protests. And Paintings.

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Mitch Anthony, and Clarity, the consultancy that helps mission-driven companies use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as powerful tools for transformation. Learn more.

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