Words: Jargon, Buzz words, New words

If I hear 'Pivot' one more time.....

It’s been a long haul here in Melbourne, but we’ve finally reached the point this week of slowly being released from the restrictions that have changed our lives over the last 18 months. I’ve been reflecting on the changes in our vocabulary’s during this time and noticed that there are a lot of new words that have become part of our everyday language. Some I love, some drive me nuts!

Since March 2020 we’ve pivoted, self-isolated, quarantined and smart-coded ourselves.  We’ve been locked down, curfewed, sanitised, zoomed, skyped and socially distanced!

There were essential workers, key workers and authorised workers. We flattened the curve, monitored community spread, contact traced and aimed for herd immunity.

My personal favourite though is the ‘covidiot’. The urban dictionary defines them as “someone who ignores the warnings regarding public health or safety. A person who hoards goods, denying them from their neighbours.” (mostly toilet paper!)

During the Covid time, I’ve invented a new word of my own, and together with my partner, we’ve even written a book about it – ‘Strategisation’  The Art of Mobilising People to Implement a Winning Strategy. Strategisation isn’t really a word but rather one we have adopted as it represents what, to us, is the most critical aspect of a successful strategy – mobilising your people. Strategisation suggests movement, action, motion.To ensure that people in your organisation are willing to take action, maintain momentum and move forward (implement your strategy) you must fully engage them emotionally and intellectually. People must own the outcomes and be invested in the process.

During the development phase of this book, we researched various words and noted, with interest, that all the definitions of strategy include a reference to uncertain and uncontrollable environments. This suggests a need for agility and flexibility.

Wikipedia describes strategy as a: ‘general plan to achieve one or more long-term or overall goals under conditions of uncertainty’.

While the Oxford dictionary’s definition is ‘ a detailed plan for achieving success in situations such as warpoliticsbusiness industry, or sport, or the skill of planning for such situations

My working definition is: ‘A strategy is an integrated set of choices that uniquely positions your organisation in the market to create sustainable competitive advantage and superior value through its effective implementation.’

Another word I stumbled upon recently is ‘ambidextrous’ which means ‘the ability to use the right and left hands equally well ‘, but I’ve been wondering if it could also be applied to the way we use our brains. I was pondering this primarily with marketing people in mind. In their roles, marketers spend a lot of time heavily skewed to the left brain: analytical and methodical thinking. But, when it comes to meetings with creative people (e.g. advertising agencies) we need to put the left side on ice & ‘fire-up’ our right brain: the artistic & imaginative side. This allows our minds to open up & access empathy – to think, feel & walk in the shoes of our target market.

It’s critical for marketers to learn to access and utilise both sides of their brains when evaluating advertising proposals from their agencies. In our ‘Fanning the Spark’ Creative Approval learning program, we challenge participants to ‘start right’ before ‘moving left’:

🔥Suspend any left-brain preferences at first evaluation

🔥Develop and listen to your ‘gut’

🔥Respect ‘soft’ data – learn empathy towards your target audience

🔥Be flexible to get contributions of others

🔥Then insist on & analyse hard data – does it meet the brief?

Keep an open mind – both left and right sides!

Mikes Monthly Book Review

Good Strategy/ Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters


In this short book of just under 300 pages, Richard Rumelt cuts through the crap to provide a clear distinction of what makes a good strategy. 

Recommendation: HIGH

Key Comment: A must read for any leader responsible for developing strategy

Good Strategy/ Bad Strategy is an easy read, written by Ricahrd Rumelt, Emeritus Professor of Business & Society at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Management. With fantastic stories from business, not-for-profit, and the military world, his examples of good and bad strategy bring to life the differences and counterbalance each other.
What’s unusual is the equal focus on bad strategy rather than what makes good strategy. I’ve always felt you learn more from failures than successes. Rumelt highlights the following issues with many of the strategies he’s seen:

1. Fluff – superficial statements of the obvious sprinkled with buzzwords
2. Failure to face the challenge (or problem)
3. Mistaking goals for strategy – a strategy is the pathway to higher performance.
4. Bad strategic objectives – distinguishing between and overall goal and actionable objectives

I particularly like his straightforward framework for developing good strategy. He breaks it down into three key components, which he calls ‘the kernel’:

1. A diagnosis: The information gathered explains the nature of the challenge faced, simplifying complexity to identify and prioritise the critical problems          the strategy needs to address
2. The guiding policy or framework: The overall approach to overcoming those obstacles identified in the diagnosis
3. A coherent set of actions: In essence, the high-level steps that will be implemented to achieve the guiding policy.

What’s different to most strategy definitions is that he embeds the initial phase of strategy implementation, developing a set of coherent actions, into the strategy itself rather than implementation being something separate.

If you are about to embark on developing a strategy yourself or your annual round of ‘strategic planning’ (which Rumelt describes as normally having little to do with real strategy, more long-range planning, and budgeting) – read this book before you start. It may change the way you approach it.
I thoroughly recommend Good Strategy/ Bad Strategy as one of the most important books on strategy!

Available at Amazon and Book Depository.

The Winds Of Change

Windmills or Walls?

There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that says ‘When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and, others build windmills.’
There’s been plenty of evidence of both since the pandemic tore through the world as we knew it 18 months ago and turned our lives upside down. Is your business ready to build windmills to leverage the energy creating change, or are you trying to build walls to resist it?

If you’re building windmills it’s important to ensure that everybody in your business is on board with the challenge and willing to take action to facilitate the agreed outcome. We use a process called KUBA at Xpotential to gain emotional and intellectual engagement on most projects we are involved with.

Know:           People need to KNOW what they are supposed to do. We need to explain what we are trying to achieve. What do they need to do?
Understand: We need to make sure people UNDERSTAND what we expect from them. Why are we doing this? Why is it essential to our organisation and                       for each person involved?
Believe:        We need to help them BELIEVE they can do it and that it’s important. We need to provide the correct information and guidance.
Act:              Only when you have these in place will you get action! Now you will have people who are proactive, engaged, collaborative and willing to                             provide the discretionary effort needed to get change happening.

The days of top-down directives have long gone, you must mobilise your people behind a shared vision; companies that are slow to realise this will find themselves in the shadow of others windmills!

CHANGE: It’s Not Smooth Sailing For All of Us 

Change can be uncomfortable & confronting; for some people letting go of past behaviours & learning new ones can be challenging. Understanding the process of behaviour change may help you support those in your business who find change difficult. These people can sometimes come across as being negative and stubborn, when in fact, they are simply terrified!

The COM-B model suggests that for a new behaviour to occur, three necessary conditions must exist:
Capabilities (C)        Defined as a person’s physical and psychological capacity to engage in the desired behaviour. A person needs to have the necessary                                    knowledge & skills to complete the action.
Opportunities (O)    Defined as the factors in the person’s environment that make that behaviour possible or prompt it. This includes the physical & social                                    opportunity.
Motivation (M)         Defined as that individual’s need or want to complete the behaviour.

‘The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails’ – William Arthur Ward.
Whether you are a pessimist, optimist or realist – it takes a crew to navigate the stormy seas of change!

There is nothing like a Health Crisis to promote Wellness

By Dave McCaughan & Faiyaz Ahmed

It’s a time when we eat a bit better, watch our weight and temperature and other vital signs with more diligence, rethink our bad habits and try again to promote good ones. We are drawn to FB posts about people coping and what they are doing right, and look out for news about what others have done wrong that has not worked. We seek out some more ways to stay calm, be healthy, maybe more spiritual.

We don’t mean to be cynical but in reality, our headline does read two ways and we mean them both. The first half of 2020 has meant learning new habits that have forced us to take on new attitudes and actions about our health and those are also opportunities for businesses to offer new ideas and services to people looking for new hope and health. From learning to spend all day at home and with that the stresses and benefits of working from home. Understanding what social distancing means. Re-learning or taking up home cooking in a way we have not seen for generations. All of these activities and many more have embedded themselves in people’s lives and they are looking for help in making all this seem better. Sounds like a great place for marketers to be in to make a difference.
Cleanliness, hygiene, diet, exercise, health and wellness.

The one thing that COVID-19 has really taught us is that all of the above matter more than we can imagine and for many, many people in 2020 has been a year of health and wellness rediscovery.

It has also been a year when companies, brands, individuals with an interest in marketing in those areas have been forced to rethink. Recently we brought together two good friends and experts in health marketing, Aftab Kurshid and Steve Sowerby, in one of our continuing series of Lead Talks to discuss health and wellness marketing during and beyond COVID-19. Lead Talk is a series of “after dinner” roundtables where Marketing Futures brings together marketing leaders in Bangladesh and around the world to informally discuss the marketing issues of our times.

Here are a few of the valuable lessons we picked up :

The need to think holistically about health

Is COVID-19 a stand-alone crisis or part of an ongoing re-assessment of how we live our lives? In the last few years the rise of “wellness” as a key attribute in many categories of products and services has dramatically grown ( the Global Wellness Institute estimates the global wellness market at around $8billion now ). Our personal and business concerns about sustainability and the environment hit a new peak in 2019. The COVID-19 crisis seems like just an expected peak in a series of “possible pandemics” going back to SARS. And in the meantime, the marketing world has been swamped with the word “purpose” and the reappraisal of the need for brands to actually stand for something offering good to people and society.

In other words, even before 2020, we could see that successful brands were those that were going to target helping people live better lives in more complicated times. The question that COVID-19 times has just enhanced, not created, is “ what can my brand do for you to make your life healthier, better, more happy?”

As Aftab pointed out there is almost something mystical about what is happening … “COVID-19 seems like a punishment to many people which is part of a process of cleansing the world and we need to realize that disasters can happen fast and brands need to adapt to this emerging world where people will want help in coping”.

People are stressed

Whether in Bangladesh or any other country COVID-19 has created the same four consistent mindsets :
– FEAR (“you mean people are dying?” to “what can I do, who can help, what do we need to do?”)
– DESPERATION (from “we better overstock on toilet paper” to “where can we hide” to “I am going to search for everything and listen to anybody for help”
– ACTIVE CHANGE (“stay at home, work from home, create our own little universe of safety in these four walls” to “I am going to follow that Youtube cooking class, buy more fresh food, eat better” to “I have to learn to cope with homeschooling, home working, home entertainment, home exercise – a whole new lifestyle”
– COPING WITH DIFFERENT (“I have to find the right sources of information” to “actually some of this seemed tough but I am learning about myself and maybe making some changes in life” to “understanding which brands really were/are trying to help and which are just playing a game to sell stuff or look good” )
And for each of the above brands of all kinds have needed to make changes and decide where they fit, which questions they are answering

Health and Wellness is now actively revisited

Maybe it is a case of taking up “old” habits. Drinking hot water more often, revisiting grandma’s simple advice, or as we said learning to cook. Yes food delivery services have boomed but along with that the desire for delivered fresh food has also risen. On-line cooking classes have boomed. Where shows like Masterchef have been super popular in the last decade as entertainment, 2020 has seen a renewed interest in all sorts of cooking and especially the basics as whole generations learn to cook again. And cook healthier.

The simple act of taking our shoes off before entering our home and creating a “safety zone” around the doors to keep out the risks of the outside world is pretty symbolic of a bigger trend. Our homes may well be our castles but they are certainly our refuges. So we are looking for help and advice as to how to keep them and all of our family inside safer. Stocking up on key treatments and medicines is only one step. Re-assessing the routine of cleanliness to include washing hands to the sanitization of everything we come in contact with will have a long term effect. Think about how we have reassessed personal hygiene and how any business is and will have to continue to reassess. As markets have started to open up, we have seen continued and enhanced care with public toilets, shops and restaurants cleanliness, new regulations and new enforcement. All of which is creating heightened ongoing awareness and habits that grands will be asked to support.

Because ultimately “prevention is better than cure” and a brand needs to find a place in the world of prevention and advice. So wellness, and all it’s implications of helping lead a healthier life going forward rather than fixing problems after they have taken off will continue to boom.

HealthCare needs to step up

Of course COVID-19 times have highlighted that the day has come that even the affluent people and rich can’t travel to neighboring countries like India, Singapore, and Bangkok for health solutions. The shortcomings of every country’s health sector have come to the fore whether you are in the USA or the UK or Bangladesh. The demand for quality healthcare facilities is on the rise. And with that comes opportunities for businesses to rethink what they can do.

– The best medicine always comes with inspiration and there is a lot of opportunities in helping people cope : like creating positive mindsets, helping reduce anxiety by making any service easier, looking for solutions to help people get good sleep, exercise correctly for better short and long term health, rethink what is healthy food and how to access it, prepare it, enjoy it. Think about the supplements business. Now it needs to be seen and marketed as part of the holistic healthcare solutions that people see as the future. No more just taking a pill. Integrate what you do well with other categories to produce holistic alliances for better health. For example fresh fruit juice bars integrated with supplements brands and sleep apparel brands.

– Medicines/pharmacy/hospital brands should add value to people’s wellbeing. For example COVID-19 has also taught how to collaborate among competitors. Sanofi and GSK are working together for vaccine solutions. How about Dhaka hospital brands working with telcos and delivery services to get better diagnosis and treatment services to not just those that are seriously sick but to anyone wanting to improve their health.

– When it comes to healthcare brands “image+ reputation+ action= brand”. In Bangladesh this is the most challenging thing as too many companies are novices about modern marketing and understanding how real success will come from helping people live better lives. For example service is often weak and disjointed and for many brands the best way they can help in tough times like these is simple by making good service experiences throughout their customers journey. Call Centre> Reception>DR >Nurse> Supply Chain etc might seem obvious areas for improvement for the serious health industry. But for any brand having better service experiences like easy to access advice will make a difference and better memories of what the brand “did for me”.

Technology is being sped up by COVID-19

Technology is of course getting more central to all aspects of our lives. But the crisis speeds things up and that is certainly true of the health crisis. Just as e-delivery of every kind of FMCG and other goods has picked up so has e-medicine. Around the world, companies are pushing hard to introduce new e-consultancy services. Applying AI technology for diagnosis with higher levels of precision is the next great healthcare growth area. And it is happening in Bangladesh as much as anywhere. Services are launching in this time of crisis to ensure access to specialists, doctors, pharmacies through technological processes and proper information. What we imagined was science fiction a few years ago will by 2021 be reality and smart marketers are looking for partners to align with and be a part of these new opportunities.

COVID-19 is a disaster, there is no doubting that. As we write this column we know the worst may be yet to come. But while we pray and hope for everyone’s safety we can also see that 2020 is creating change and reassessment of the way people of all kinds are looking at health and wellness and we hope we can help any business who wants to be of greater service and create new opportunities for people to live well.

Health and Wellness is a right for all

STEVE SOWERBY, Founder and CEO of XPotential, a global consultancy to the health industry shared these thoughts during our Lead Talk The crisis has underlined the most important truth of Health and Wellness. That ”the most important ‘medicine’ is the individual who is informed, empowered and inspired”.

Before COVID-19, seduced by health-related high technologies, shiny new hospitals and ever more powerful and expensive drugs, we overlooked this simple truth at our peril. Health and Wellness should not be a ‘luxury’ for the privileged few but a right for all. We had forgotten that the most basic of solutions can massively change the course of the disease and has been proven in these last few months. The simple act of washing your hands, wearing a mask and staying away from potential sources of infection has done more in saving lives than all the intensive care units and drugs – it costs almost nothing and yet the impact is huge. We must not forget the power for having good health and wellness rests with us as individuals – no matter where we live.

The responsibility of Specialists, Doctors, Pharmacists and other Health Care Workers working in partnership with Companies in Health and Wellness is to inform us all with the best, relevant and unbiased Health information, to empower us with solutions, tools and techniques which can go from the most basic and simple changes in lifestyle or diet to the most sophisticated drugs and interventions and to and most importantly to Inspire us. To help us to believe that we can change, want to change and how to change. When a person believes there is nothing that they will not do to make a difference to their Health and Wellness. No country in the world can afford or will ever afford to take responsibility for every person. COVID-19 has bought almost all of our Health Systems to their knees. The UK National Health System (NHS), one of the world’s most comprehensive and leading Public health departments came within days of collapse after just a few short weeks.

It’s time to stop relying on others. It’s time to take responsibility for our own health and it’s time for Medical Profession and Health and Wellness companies to take responsibility to give us the best of information, solutions and inspiration.

Dave McCaughan Storyteller@Bibliosexual, Senior Associate at XPotential and The Consumer Healthcare Training Academy and Co-Founder at Marketing Futures


Faiyaz Ahmed Chief Operating Offiver at IDEAMAX and Co-Founder of Marketing Futures

Profile photo of Faiyaz Ahmed

Marketing Futures – A knowledge platform where Training, Mentoring and Brand Consultancies are carried out by international marketing veterans.

Credit: Original Article Published at ICE Business Times. Click HERE to view 

Fast ‘n Furious Innovation Virtual Workshops- Pre-work Commencing August 26

COVID-19 has thrown up many challenges and subsequently provided many opportunities. Knowing how and where to look for the opportunities now will set your businesses apart.

The Fast ‘n Furious Innovation programme kicks off with an hour-long individual company briefing session held between September 7th– 11th, followed by three 2.5-hour Virtual Workshops using the Zoom platform (September 23rd, 30th and October 7th). Each company will also receive a follow-up mentoring session 4-6 weeks after completion to support your innovation project progress.

During your briefing call, Mike takes you through your Innovation Competency Survey Results (previously completed online). He will then guide you through the process of identifying a ‘real’ business innovation that you can work on live during the course.

The Active Learning program has soft copies of presentation materials and templates.  Weekly homework tasks with coaching, guides you through your innovation challenge to accelerate its commercialisation. The focus is on practical, actionable tools and processes to use in your business right now.

There’s never been a more crucial time to think differently and innovate – to implement something new into the market that addresses current consumer and customer problems and desires. Innovation isn’t just about new products: using Doblin’s 10-types of Innovation principles, we assess opportunities to innovate across services, communication, processes and business models.

Fundamental Programme Principles:

  • Identify the role of innovation in delivering the business strategy. What type of innovation is required to ignite your business for the post-COVID-19 world?
  • Work on a specific innovation challenge that’s relevant for your business today, to accelerate business results and embed the learning. What innovation is required to grow your business now?
  • Utilise appropriate tools and processes based on Design-Led thinking and Lean Start-up principles to kick-start your innovations journey to market.
  • Understand the priority business capabilities you need to develop that will consistently improve your innovation performance and return on investment.

XPotential™ designed the course run by Mike Harley. He has over 30 years marketing, sales, innovation and export leadership experience in the food and consumer packaged goods sector around the world.

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeharleypercolate/

Register at https://www.stickytickets.com.au/fmdpe/fast_n_furious_workshop_no2.aspx

China has never had a ‘normal’

Virtual Roundtable

Join us for an interactive discussion with industry experts who will discuss:

  • The constant need for businesses to be listening to the marketplace and consumers/partners, and how such insights should feed into marketing and operations
  • Sensitivity and awareness in social media content (dealing with political issues)
  • What roles should export and growth in China play in your broader business growth strategy and why
  • How to ensure you are building a truly differentiated brand in the eyes of the consumer and how to leverage your Australian imagery in China
  • Managing cross-channel synergies and conflicts


Richard Zhu, CFO, United Media Solution

Mike Harley, Managing Director, XPotential

Dr Henry Shi, Lecturer, the University of Adelaide

Steve Davis, Managing Director, Talked about Marketing


Event Details

Date: Wed, 22 July 2020

Time: 12 pm – 1 pm ACST

Format: Zoom Webinar, Q&A and discussion





Taking Control of Change

By Trevor Gore

The new normal is a phrase we’ve all come to know, if not love!  It is true that the world after ‘lockdown’ will be different in ways that we can’t predict and in ways that will come as a surprise and shock. However, whatever normal becomes, one thing is certain, we will have to change, and change is something that many people are uncomfortable with. Whether it be for fear of the unknown or letting go of what we’ve previously had, change elicits strong emotions.

To help people through change the COM-B Behaviour Change Model is now used extensively in behaviour change interventions in scientific literature with COM-B standing for ‘Capability’, ‘Opportunity’, ‘Motivation’ and ‘Behaviour’. Capability is the psychological and/or physical ability to engage in that behaviour. Opportunity covers both the physical and social factors that are external to the individual and that make their behaviour possible or prompted, and Motivation includes the want or need to perform the behaviour more than any other competing behaviours at that moment.

It is the interplay between the 3 COM states that leads to the ‘new’ B; Behaviour. Although Many of the Capability and Opportunity skills may be outside of the individuals’ control, in this new normal, I can foresee focus changing from ‘profit to purpose’, businesses that move from ‘controlling to empowering’, and collaborations becoming more commonplace.

However, when it comes to motivation there is a lot, we can do for ourselves. The last time I looked there were over 100 different levers to encourage motivation. One of my favourites is the ‘reframe’; if you can’t change the situation, change what you call it/ how you look at it. e.g. during the lockdown, you’re not ‘stuck’ at home, you’re ‘safe’ at home.

The most effective way to increase motivation is to ‘skill up’; improve your skills so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the new normal and are therefore capable of doing what needs to be done.

So, what skills do you need to improve? Well from what we can see of the world so far, I think digital and remote working would be high on many people lists. But why wait to see what will happen? Take a break and have a look at your job/role competencies and YOU decide which ones have served you well and were good for the ‘old normal’ and which, if you were in control, would you like to know more about. Go online and explore what these missing skills are about (I’ve already completed courses on ‘Gaining Customer Insight’,’ Innovation’ and ‘Market Segmentation’).

YOU are in control of your future if you choose to be and can skill up to be prepared for the new normal. Speak to your HR professionals and discuss the competencies you believe you will need going forward. And, as Charles Darwin didn’t say “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change”

Trevor Gore Owner of Maestro Consulting and XPotential Senior Associate


Are your Consumer Health Products Campaigns polished and ready for entry into the prestigious Consumer Health Products Australia Diamond Awards?

This year we are offering a FREE Virtual ‘ Shiny Diamond’ Masterclass to CHPA Members and their Agencies for 90 minutes on two separate dates (Thursday June 25th, Thursday July 2nd) to ensure you have the winning edge. The Masterclass will focus on the critical elements that the judges are looking for:

  • Diamond Awards background and entry requirements Campaign Challenge: How to clearly articulate your challenge, including a challenge statement framework.
  • Objective Writing: The importance of SMART Objectives and the difference between marketing & marketing communications objectives .
  • Strategy and Execution: What is a strategy? How to articulate an insight. The link between execution and strategy.
  • Health Literacy: Self-care goals & judging criteria
  • Results: Ensuring these link to your Objectives

We would strongly encourage CHP Australia Members and their Agencies considering entering the 2020 Diamond Awards to participate together in these masterclasses.

Please use this link to book a spot: CHPA Australia ‘Shiny Diamonds’ Bookings

Stepping Up : What’s New Is Just More Digital

2020, the year everything we thought was going to happen just sped up. As I was dithering around getting ready to write this piece I was reading the World Economic Forum’ “spotlight on precision medicine” update, which basically is yet another reminder that an awful lot of the result of the COVID saga has been a speeding up of automated and digitally based health advisory and analysis tool use. Circumstance breeds opportunity and for the digital consumer space, this is a year we had expected to see a jump in the way people, business, media and government exchanged data and used new applications. It has just taken off in ways we had not predicted.

The trend business is a flawed one, of course. People predict what will happen and if they are lucky get it close to right, and if not can blame “unexpected circumstance” for deviations.

I was in a conversation with Steve Sowerby of XPotential and The Consumer Healthcare Training Academy just the other day, where we were discussing how things we might have predicted for 2025 are happening now. COVID makes the future happen now.

The new normal is less a ‘massive change’ but rather many things we have been “predicting” for a decade or more becoming reality. Social distancing means we turn to screens more for virtual companionship. Health concern means we use more self-monitoring. We can’t go out so we bring the “out” in with more e-commerce.

Digital Purchasing

“ The come to me economy” we have seen grow in the last decade with greater pizza delivery and the expansion of Amazon explodes as more and more people buy in to getting more and more things delivered and then pay for it with increasing use of contactless payments. It’s not that this is new, but what is different is that for a couple of billion people around the world, whatever your level of digital integration in your daily life has stepped up a couple of levels. Those that were already heavy digital shoppers, have in the last few months, had that lifestyle substantiated as normal. For the novice, it is now more normal. For many first timers, the experience will be hard to shake. The merging of offline/online shopping gets more blurred and more about the screen as the “first option”. We talk about looking forward to going “back to the shops” but for massively increased numbers that will be more window shopping and a chance to socialize in person, while buying will be via the screen of choice.

And when we do buy, it is now increasingly contactless digital payments. The credit/debit/bank/loyalty card business has been pushing the idea of “faster, easier, freer payment systems” for over two decades. The idea of digital payments via your phone, tap and go, paypal etc are all old ideas that have been pushed up through the gears this year to whole new levels of acceptance.

As we go, the use of digital tracking has now become more widely accepted. Sure, it is hotly debated in some countries, more than others, but for ideas of public health, personal security, disease control or just “I don’t have a choice if I want to get that train, go into that store, eat at this restaurant” tapping a QR code on entry, or knowing the GPS tracker on your phone is allowed to follow you everywhere has been accepted in ways we might have thought were a decade away way back in 2019.

Digital Neighbours

Of course, all this digital sharing has also brought us together in ways we could not have imagined. On Facebook, and other platforms, sharing “my bedroom window view” and other memes open up lives in a sense of “let’s get through this together”. The massive revival of “balcony culture” is a great example of the way digital connectivity has crossed over and returned us to a deeper appreciation of our physical neighbours. All those millions of posts of appreciating the ‘would be opera singer’ on the balcony next door, the guy running a marathon on the balcony in France, sharing the ‘block clapping’ for health workers or joining in a heartfelt singalong, takes us back decades to when sitting on the balcony or front stoop in the evening and swapping gossip was normal … but as with all things digital, now we do it all bigger and without geography bounds.

Working from Home (WFH)

If there is one area that has sped up more than any other it is maybe WFH. Over a century ago, Jules Verne and others assumed we would now be working from home, maybe doing 3-4 hours of work a day, all through some integrated, mechanical knowledge system. In 2019 any decent “futurist” knew it was coming but used the “in five years or so” gap to allow things to change. Come COVID and suddenly 2 billion white collar workers are thrown into a massive experiment and, wow !!

Zoom becomes the biggest rival to the grounded airlines of the world. The conference and meeting market is shattered as we figure out in only a few months how to make “webinars” normal ( and maybe too many of them), virtual conferences can be interesting, fun and functional, regular work can be done from anywhere. Yes, many offices will return to “brick and mortar” locations but an awful lot of managers will be looking at things like leasing costs and considering a permanent change in how to manage their staff. Not new ideas but again massively sped up by circumstance.

For the worker, of course, the digital working environment has its ups and downs. Five months ago, as WFH became a necessity the “upside” of more time to fill and less time in commutes was a hot topic. Then the need to do things at home, where we had normally out-sourced like eating in cafes and working out in gyms were quickly filled in with … more digital life. Home schooling fills in a lot of time with duties many parents would rather have avoided but quickly we found that systems adapted to that new normal as well. Meanwhile, a raft of new social, digital heroes helped us get through life with daily doses of help and advice ( thanks Joe Wick).

We may not like all these changes, and I am sure like me many niggle about some of it. BUT in reality it is now reality.

Health and Wellness Apps

A few years ago we saw the surge in step counters ( the myth of the 10,000 steps a day for good health ) and maybe more sophisticated wristbands and other wearables. For many, though, a fashion that was quickly forgotten. In 2020, measurement goes in to overdrive. Again, at whatever level you might have started from. The non-exerciser takes up a daily routine in the bedroom with a downloaded session from YouTube. The casual runner figures out a way to use an app to make sure they are at least getting a set number of “heartbeat minutes” in every day. The heavy user of health apps ups their anti. The idea of constant self-checking is now possible in ways we were “ifing and butting” about last year.


E-medicine services have now become a necessity. Well maybe not quite but for many. In the UK, you can’t visit a GP without jumping online, you have to use a zoom like connection to get your 15 minutes of advice. In Bangladesh, where there are just not enough doctors anyway, digital checkup services are taking off. At the high end, you can download blood pressure apps and balance testers. The number of apps that measure the nutritional value of everything you consume by photos is exploding. Companies like Nestle, that were exploring these apps to supply supplements to the aged and other outlier consumer markets now look at these as tools for the mass.

And then there is what is to come.

In most trend predictor presentations of 2019, the three BIG things that were going to impact the world in 2020 was the environment, the Olympics and 5G. The environment/sustainability debate and the need to reconsider simple things like water usage in a world of water shortage may have been on the backburner the last six months but won’t go away. And as people use their screens to shop, vet, consider and buy more, expect more and more emphasis around brands and services and health and wellness, all being integrated with messages about sustainability. Brands having to have “water tracking” apps allow people to understand the impact of what they buy on personal and collective health, and this will be just a starting point.

All things health has been heightened by COVID, all access to information about health have been raised and if the digital age has taught us one thing, it is that we don’t cut down on data and information, we just keep accessing more. So, the business winners will be those who make information easier to sort out, easier to make use of and easier to be put in context.


And that brings us to 5G. 2020 was supposed to be “the year of 5G” when we would see a huge leap in the applications we could get on our mobile devices. The year AR or VR or something like that would finally break its limitations and become normal services on our smartphones. A lot of that was going to be entertainment. The Olympics was going to be the big sporting event of the year but in reality, the winner has been e-sports. All those hours sitting on couches has meant e-sports have exploded again. And that will only explode again with 5G. But imagine what the possibilities for health and wellness will also be as we access more 5G services … holistic representation and presentation of any health issue, 3D gamification of exercise, wellness treatments, impacts of activities on body parts, doctor investigation and interpretation of complaints.

2020 the year of digital “speeding up” of use and acceptance. Expect whatever you thought to be a ‘maybe in five years’ be a reality this year … then stretch your imagination again.

Dave McCaughan Storyteller@Bibliosexual and Senior Associate at XPotential and The Consumer Healthcare Training Academy https://bibliosexual.weebly.com/

Resilience; a new team-performance standard

By Aprais

Theres’s a lot of speculation around how team behaviour will change as a result of the Coronavirus experience.

One thing is clear, the ability for teams to respond to crises has come into sharper focus.

Let’s not confuse ‘managing in times of crisis’ with ‘crisis management’. The former is a set of behaviours whereas crisis management is a specific skill-set most commonly attributed to the Public Relations field.

Crises come in all shapes and sizes. From a ‘storm in a teacup’ local market supply chain event to a full-on, global distaster like the Covid-19 pandemic we are now battling. But the fundamental behaviours required of teams in times of crisis, are the same and marketers and agencies need to respond to them almost daily. So surely this is a crucial performance requirement of business teams?

Speed, agility, flexibilty, availabilty, responsiveness, initiative and challenge are just some of the many aspects required in times of crises. We’ve been mapping these and similar crises-related behaviours for the past 20 years of evaluating teams.

Collectively, we call this behaviour; ‘Resilience’.

According to Cambridge Dictionary, ‘Resilience’ is the quality of being able to return quickly to a previous good condition after problems. Pandemic or local supply chain failure, each demand similarly of the teams involved.

Resilient behaviour is not just limited to leadership. In the client-agency relationship, Resilience is needed across all aspects of business performance and at all levels;

  • Briefing and Project Management
  • Approval
  • Leadership
  • Partnering and Collaboration
  • Research And Insight
  • Financial Management
  • Timing and Process Management

The Covid-19 crisis has accentuated the importance of ‘Resilience’ as a a new team-performance standard that deserves more attention from marketing and agency leadership going forward.

It will become increasingly important to measure, monitor and develop ‘Resilience’ behaviours to ensure team preparedness for future crises big and small.

About Aprais

Aprais is the global leader in maximising team and individual performance.

Over the past 20 years, Aprais has conducted over 21,000 evaluations of relationships between marketers and agencies globally. A purpose built evaluation platform has enabled Aprais to build a database that allows its clients to compare and manage team performance against robust benchmarks with near absolute statistical confidence.