Thursday, January 15, 2009

Buddhism, football, art-pop, science and marketing

One of the key pillars in all schools of Buddhism is the doctrine of impermanence, otherwise known as the theory of instantaneous being.

Buddhist thought says that ‘since the body's energy changes in every consecutive instance of its motion, at every instance the body becomes a different thing’.

In business terms it can be seen in any thinking that involves life cycles.
Product, and brands, are all subject to this law of impermanence and pass through stages of life; birth, growth, maturity and death, just as all living things do.

Now the science bit: If we agree with Einstein - all things in the physical world can be construed as energies (E=MC2 etc) – then the logical upshot of this notion of reality is that ultimately reality is subject to the law of instantaneous being because the energy of a body/thing changes all the time.

So Buddhism and science agree, existence actually means ‘efficiency’ or the ability to ‘cause a change or be changed’.

So here’s the thing.
Something that is static, or does not change is unable to perform work - and therefore does not exist.
In simple terms; the only existence is ‘that of change, or impermanence in nature’.

Sir Alex Ferguson knows this.
Man United may be English, European and, now, World Champions but at the start of the next season this means diddly squat. They have to do it all over again.
Nothing stays the same. Who could have predicted Aston Villa challenging for a Champions League spot. Or Hull City for that matter…

Bill Drummond has built this into his own creation ethos, with his ‘choir’ project ‘The 17’.
These were ‘time-, site- and occasion-specific’ performances, where the music was never recorded.
Bill says; ‘The meaning any work of art holds – be it music, visual or literary – is always in flux depending on when it is being listened to’

What does this mean for marketing?
We need to recognise that even the greatest marketing plan is as impermanent as a performance by the 17. When it’s been done, it’s time to destroy it and start again.
The same situations (causes) for success are not going to align again.
Everything changes.
The market changes, technology changes, our business changes our customers change
We may have experience fantastic success yesterday, but that won’t necessarily rock today. And tomorrow we’ll need another plan. It’s about being present in the here and now.

Impermanence - instantaneous being - is a fundamental law of our impermanent world. We must constantly adapt in order to, not only survive, but to exist.

In 2009 more than ever - quite literally, you snooze and you lose.

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