A few weeks ago, the Cannes Creative Festival brought together thousands of practitioners in every discipline of marketing and advertising to honor the best communications campaigns and thinking from the previous year. As a marketing writer and strategist, I spend a lot of time thinking about original examples of great marketing. Good ideas are inspirations.
In particular, I love to find examples from outside of the US – as when I go and speak internationally, it is usually important to have examples from many different regions of the world. These examples are more than just global eye candy, however. They are often ideas that worked in one region, but have been untried in another. It led me to a simple thought and question:
What if every global organization got better at "transplanting" their best ideas from region to region?
To be clear, I am not suggesting just taking an exact idea and trying to replicate it in a new culture. But after applying cultural insight to global thinking, couldn't it be better used as inspiration for work in another?
The reason more brands don't do this usually has nothing to do with efficiency or with cultural insights. What stands in the way of this, typically, is ego. No marketing manager wants to admit that they are reusing an idea from a colleague, and agencies are not paid to recreate an idea that worked elsewhere – they are incentivized to create their own ideas.
This "not invented here" syndrome goes far beyond marketing – and it causes scientific research groups to recreate experiments, nonprofits to make the same mistakes over and over (or even unintentionally compete with one another for attention) and leads to redundancy in many other organizations. We all have a natural attachment to our own ideas – but the greatest missed opportunities might just come from those ideas that we dismiss simply because they aren't ours.
The future of many businesses and industries depends on putting this sort of thinking aside. Collaboration isn't just about solving problems. It can also be able taking the best ideas from one part of the world and helping to transplant them into another. The rising term for this type of thinking is a new buzzword and acronym: PFE or "Proudly Found Elsewhere." Perhaps what more global organizations need is someone who is definitively in charge of finding things elsewhere and transplanting the best ideas across an organization. This could easily become the job of the Content Curator, a role I suggested might be one of the social media jobs of the future.
The most successful global organizations are the ones who can embrace the concept of finding their next big ideas elsewhere. The surprising fact is that "elsewhere" may be closer to home than they think.