It's hard to argue we don't live in a time of hyper change. The hyper denotation is important because any point in time is a time of change but some points entail more change than others.
The business world is experiencing this to the greatest extent. Not the mom and pop or the corner grocery store. The big business. It is no longer possible to cover up poor or commodity products with a blanket ad campaign or buying up more share of voice than the competitors.
However, it's so easy for folks and groups of decision makers to latch onto 'things' to try and solve this or as a life raft. The industry media does a great job of fueling this "Display Ads Change Everything" or "Experiential Events Change Everything" and so on.
It's so easy to try and categorize and find 'things' to solve symptoms dredged up in routine research and brand tracking. "We need a Facebook strategy damn it" echos from the halls of the corporate world. But this is just a temporary fix to meeting the cat calls of shareholders or boardmembers. But we're still working out what brands can and can't successfully use these tools and in what ways they work best. For some they work brillianlty, for others they fail tragically.
It does make sense as years of military and corporate protocol have made not knowing a fireable offense, that said the Enron and Bear Sterns folks always "knew" what they were doing when reporting up the chain of command.
But the red herring in all this is trying to find the things that will fix a problem. The great thing about today is that there truely really aren't that many problems that products don't already solve. The only real problem is interestingness, or lack of it.
Some of the most interesting thinking these days is coming out of marketing firms with a strong design focus. The design arena has good discipline to how they approach problems and they make products themselves more interesting.
Business Week covers a lot of great design innovations and innovators. This was a great article as it poses the challenges of change at a very high level, not about the 'things' we make or produce but starting at the core of what makes a brand different and desirable. I love the way they set up today's world:
Imagine a crazy wonderland where most of what you learned in business school is either upside down or backward. A land where customers control the company, jobs are avenues of self-expression, the barriers to competition are out of your control, strangers design your products, fewer features are better, advertising drives customers away, demographics are beside the point, whatever you sell you take back, and best practices are obsolete at birth. Meaning talks, money walks, and stability is fantasy. Talent trumps obedience, imagination beats knowledge, and empathy trounces logic.
The catch is this crazy wonderland is today. We've never had more ability to be interesting and fascinate consumers with interesting well made products. Products that are beatiful, intuitive and simply stunning to look at. Consumers may and should have input but expertise, crafts peoples and great creative thinkers will make them truely remarkable.
Call it interestingness, inventiveness or something else but if we're entering an era where excellence of design and interestingness of a brand's world view trump shelf space and distribution points, it's a great time to be doing what we do...