At the Weekend Media Festival this September, we are going to enjoy Scott Morrison, a Business Accelerator and the former Marketing and Commercial Director at Diesel UK, who will be speaking about how to become an Accelerated Leader in organizations and what it takes to make a high performing marketing. Apart from Diesel, Scott has 20 years of unique experience with some of the world’s most innovative, demanding and high performing businesses including Saatchi and Saatchi, Wieden and Kennedy, P&G, Nike, Activision and Levi’s. 3 times already, Scott has been recognized as one of the UK’s 50 most influential Black people, as well as one of the 30 most influential Marketing leaders in the UK. Today we speak to him about some of the world’s highest performing cultures he has worked with, positive disruption, accelerating leaders, start-ups and business success.
Scott, you lead clients through an expansive, first-hand experience of working in and with businesses who are famous for bringing positive disruption to their markets. Recently, you said you see disruption as the most powerful tool to help business accelerate. How do shape that disruption, and why is it important for today’s constant market changes?
At one of my start-up businesses, we share with our clients the view that the businesses who will win coming out of the recession are the ones that can sense, respond and adapt to disruption in their markets. The way that they do this is to CREATE positive disruption internally to make sure that they are foreseeing things and have the internal power to make it happen.
In my Accelerated Leader program, I share what I believe to be 6 key behaviors and traits that help leaders become Accelerated Leaders. These have been distilled from my time building cultures in brands that have positive disruption in their DNA – these are the skills that help these leaders CREATE positive disruption and in turn acceleration in their businesses. Once this takes hold in an organization then the culture, the people and ultimately the organizations performance reaches optimum levels of performance. It means breaking some norms, challenging inertia and empowering your teams through clear vision and autonomy.
Scott says cultural, creative and commercial factors are to be considered for responding quickly to constant market changes. We asked him about how he applies that to startups that he works with and if they are more aware of those factors than an old company who just wants to make a change. This is what he said:
For me, start-ups are, in many ways, the pinnacle of positive disruption; that’s why I work and embed myself with their ways of working. Many start-ups are fantastic models of acceleration too and through lean and agile approaches are far more able to respond quickly to market needs.
However, there are also many start-ups who are focused on one thing and one thing only and have little experience or knowledge outside of that field. They may be headed by people who are highly skilled technically or developer-wise but once they go to market, look to build a brand or pivot the tech they get stuck in old ways, routines or ways of thinking. Also, these companies grow at such pace that building the culture and making it stick can become a real challenge. By coaching Accelerated Leaders in the organizations, start-ups can learn how to successfully build the kind of organizations that reflect their DNA.
One of the Tech startups Scott works with is a Croatian next-generation 3D retail tool, Trillenium. We asked Scott what attracted him to Trillenium and where does he see its positive disruption.
Trillenium is a bold and experiential product that will positively disrupt the world of online shopping. I loved the product the moment I saw it and wanted to be part of the team that brought it to the UK. It takes all of the positive experiences of offline shopping and adds them to the online mix. The guys are passionate and we have a strong team to take it to market. Given my past experience in retail, I think this will further revolutionize the global online shopping experience for the brands we work with.
Talking about corporations and startups, you’ve recently become a mentor and speaker with Virgin StartUp, a non-profit organization launched by the big, famous Virgin Corporation. There, we see young entrepreneurs offering food, art, fashion and gaming as the most common topics. Does that mean that a new startup should definitely be lifestyle-oriented?
Businesses have more power and relevance to people when they become positively and intrinsically linked with people’s lives. They have even more power when they positively disrupt that relationship – when they go the extra yard, when they surprise you with their thoughtfulness or when they talk to you personally to thank you. (Conversely, if you simply disrupt their lives regularly, people will gravitate away from your brand).
If, therefore, you have the chance to bring a brand into the world that can build this symbiotic relationship with your customer and build into it the concept of positive disruption through the culture you build, the communication you use and the people you hire then you are more likely to succeed. It just so happens that many of the successful start-up businesses I see are built around a gap in the market, a fantastic, service-led proposition or a great human behavior insight that people fall in love with. Once you have that, building the lifestyle link and the positive disruption become high priorities for success.
Acceleration, magic and success
During mentoring, Scott shares his principles that he believes inspire magic in teams. When we asked him to tell us who needs more magic, a small startup, or a big corporation, he said one short, but powerful explanation:
Magic finds a home where magic is most needed.
You say constant reframing is highly necessary for accelerating leaders. Are there any specific routines for that kind of reframing or do they depend on different factors?
I use heresy questions as one form of reframing – they’re a fantastic tool for getting people to focus on the very thing that they don’t want to even think about in order to get it on the table, dissect it and think about how they might reframe what they do to resolve the answer before it engulfs their business. Had video rental businesses used this 10 years ago, they’d be highly efficient, high turnover film making businesses now.
Scott was a part of some of the most successful global brands and their disruption positive messages, such as ‘Only the Brave’by Diesel, ‘Nothing is Impossible’by Saatchi&Saatchi and ‘Just Do It’by Nike. We asked him how he disrupted the world positively with them.
When you live within those cultures, the focus of the business is always on how to positively disrupt and do so in a way that changes the world people live in. I have a firm belief that you don’t have to change the world (as much as I’d like to!) If you can positively change one person’s world then you’re making a significant impact on how they see the wider picture and that in itself can be incredibly powerful. Therefore, messages were aimed at making a positive disruption on the individual – helping them to feel compelled to join what we were doing – be part of it and positively impact their world.
The most powerful ideas that have gained the most momentum are those that become movements – they evoke a set of emotions that compel people to ‘take arms’and become advocates for the message. This is where involving your consumer in your message is critical – they become the voice for the movement, recruiting their friends and delivering more and more content that keeps it alive. When we did the ‘Be Stupid’campaign at Diesel, it was incredibly potent because people bought into the manifesto, the direction and the message. They found it empowered their conversations and they saw themselves in the idea. It became a powerful movement that reinforced everything about the brand’s DNA and the consumer’s relationship with it.
Nike campaigns were always rooted deeply in the insights of the consumer. When we ran the ‘Scorpion’campaign for the 2002 World Cup, we divided London into 16 scorpion boroughs, each with its own dedicated media plan, recruitment drive, wholesale partnerships and events. Nowadays, that would have been managed primarily through social media but in 2002 none of that existed. It was testament to the power of the brand and the movement that the campaign delivered against all its KPIs.
At this year’s Weekend Media Festival in Rovinj, Scott will be talking about how to be an Accelerated Leader in an organization. We wanted to know where he sees a difference between an Accelerated Leader and an average leader and how we can distinguish one form another. This is what he said:
Ordinary leaders take all of the traits, skills and values of leadership and become competent at them. They get the job done and there are lots of them out there. Some businesses need this kind of leader as they are happy to plough the same furrow over long periods of time – they don’t want to challenge the status quo and like things where they are. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se – however, great leaders quickly want to move on from these businesses to further their challenges and career experience.
Great leaders take all of the above and are able to apply it in such a way that they ignite the passion and energy of their people to do incredible things that they never believed possible. They create the bedrock of everyday magic.
Accelerated Leaders embrace both of those behaviors and add the ability to create positive disruption in their organization – they lead their people and their organization through the chaos that is the modern world of business; they empower their teams to sense, adapt and respond to the disruption that’s happening in their market and create an environment where people are inherently motivated to achieve great things right through the chain. They create leaders within their organizations recognising that a coaching mentality coupled with the power of building an empowering culture is the way that succession planning in business happens. They believe wholeheartedly that culture eats strategy for breakfast!
Thank you Scott. We are looking forward to hearing more from you at the Weekend Media Festival in Rovinj!
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