John Moore over at Brand Autopsy occasionally gives me a real figurative kick in the pants. His post on Google Truths made me stop and think, which I usually try to avoid. But after reading it, I had mixed feelings. I like the fact that they have a list of “truths”. And I had real problems with more than one of their “truths” which I’ve found in life not to be so “true”. But Google’s market cap is higher than mine and they’ve managed to get through these tough times regardless.

In the spirit of answering John’s question – this is the meme he didn’t actually ask for – here is Steve’s Manifesto, So Far: A Collection of Wisdom Handed Down by Smart Companies, Smart Managers, and Many Trips Around the Block:

1. Facts not feelings
2. Right is better than fast
3. Accountability means letting smart people do great work
4. The devil is in the details
5. Your customer is your end user, your channel is your ally
6. Everything you do aims at increasing sell-through
7. Make decisions
8. Do the math
9. Consumers are better art critics than artists
10. Systems always beat one-off masterpieces

Facts not feelings was handed down by my first big boss, as well as friend and the only mentor I’ve had in my career, Bob Striano. This was and is a mantra and a touchstone that’s lasted for over a decade.

Right is better than fast. Doing things fast is lovely unless you’re wrong. Doing them right is what we’re paid to do.

Accountability means we all don’t have to do the same job. You do yours, I’ll do mine, we’ll do great.

The devil is in the details. The more engineering you do on a program, the more attention you pay to the finest of details, the better your results.

Your customer is your end user, your channel is your ally. Don’t get this mixed up. The buyer at Best Buy isn’t your customer. He’s your channel. Get him on your side by showing him exactly how well you know your – and his – end user. Win hearts and minds.

Everything you do is aimed at increasing sell through. This is what marketing is for and what marketers do, all day, every day.

Make decisions. Sooner or later, judgment comes into the picture. You won’t have all the data in front of you like a Harvard case study. And you won’t have time to figure it out.

Do the math. Discipline. Show the ROI. Calculate the incremental lift over baseline. Show your account the break even. It sounds so simple, and the other guys don’t do it.

Customers are better art critics than artists. Give them something to react to. Don’t ask them to do your job for you. Then, listen, retool, and re-launch.

Systems always beat one-off masterpieces. Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian of antiquity who wrote most of the first person accounts of the first century we now have, wrote of Vespasian’s legions, “their drills were bloodless battles, their battles bloody drills.” This could have described the Sony Recording Media Consumer Tape Division’s retail business in the late ‘90’s.

* * *

I left off personal favorites like, “never let a stupid comment go unpunished.”

These ten took a surprisingly short period of time to write. This may mean that because they’ve been so deeply embedded in my head at this point, they didn’t need much digging to find. This also may mean that I’ll add to the list, re-prioritize, and re-order, which is fine, too.

Feel free to give this some thought – this isn’t a meme, you’re off the hook – but it’s a good use of your time to write down what’s important to you, from time to time.

What guides you?

Copyright (c) 2007 Stephen Denny