Wild ideas for progressive futures

A murmuration is a metaphor for how society and culture evolve.

The beautiful rippling effects in murmurations are called ‘critical transitions’ whereby the movement of one bird affects its seven closest neighbours, and each of their movements affects seven more and so on. Culture constantly ripples with these transitions - the moment when a stable state reaches a tipping point into something fluid. Wild ideas come from exploring critical transitions in society which challenge the status quo.

Murmurations reflect our approach of creating ideas from a multiplicity of connections.

Starlings are ordinary when alone, miraculous when together, and this inspires us to look for a diversity of thought from across disciplines, data and insight from the centre and the margins. So we allow ourselves to be receptive to different voices: the weird, the neglected, the unorthodox, the specialists, the obsessives. Wild ideas come from Bisociative Thinking: creative collisions between unconnected, surprising combinations which lead us to fresh perspectives and overlooked places.

Murmurations inspire our story-telling.

We’re all moving parts of an ever- evolving organism, so we tell sociological, not psychological stories. These are less concerned with what’s going on in someone’s head and more with how the systems they live in are shifting, and how ideas at the margins start to move towards the centre (like starlings seeking the safety of the flock). Wild ideas spark real change when they become embedded in our settings, language, norms and contexts.

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‘There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.’

Bishop Desmond Tutu 

We’re at a time of Wicked Problems – tricky, systemic, multi-layered, multi-causal problems. Covid-19 has highlighted societal fractures and inequalities. It’s caused collective introspection about how we are living and the responsibility of handing a damaged world to the next generation. It’s inspired creativity at blistering speed to solve some wicked and complex problems.   A time of resetting and rethinking; it can and should be a portal to a new world, rather than sleepwalking back into the old normal.

But brands – in their quest to understand culture – too often try to contain it, colonise and own it. Instead we should be nourishing culture, learning from it and setting it free. Cultural insight needs a new ambition:

  • envisage vs extract
  • outsight vs insight
  • contribute vs colonise

Wicked problems need Wild Ideas.  Wild ideas change the world from the edges.  Clients need ideas which push them out of their echo chambers. Bisociative thinking which gets to fresh perspectives and places where brands can be genuinely helpful.

We need time and space to reimagine. What got us here, won’t get us there. Only then we can start to tell different stories. Stories that feel exhilarating, because they don’t ‘predict’ the future but actually help invent it.

Adam and Annie have been working together for 15 years. We are a creative partnership obsessed with understanding why things happen and the poetic rigour of constructing persuasive arguments.

Six things that make our partnership work:

  • A professional chemistry. We disagree without falling out – and so push each other to do better work.
  • A psychological safety. We voice the wild ideas that are too risky for traditional agencies.
  • An intellectual shorthand. Built on years of co-working, we turn great thinking around at pace.
  • A spirit of generosity. Every project is a series of conversations. We share ideas as we go, rather than in one big reveal at the end.
  • Empathy first. We listen, ask questions and empathise with our client’s fears and ambitions. We understand the brief behind the brief.  Very often we write that brief based on what we’ve heard.
  • A commitment to flexibility. Starling work 10 months out of 12 so that we can rest, recuperate and let ideas percolate. Annie wrote FLEX before the Pandemic: we both believe that flex is better for mental health, creativity and living full and happy lives.