DLT, Burmese Nobel peace prize winner, and your business strategy

I once chided a friend for remembering a quote from former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis. (I think it was something profound like, “It’s easy if you know it.”) 

I wasn’t the only one scornful, with comedian Harry Enfield also using him as inspiration for one half of his parody of insipid disc jockeys, ‘Smashy and Nicey’.

Yet, it seems both of us may have been wrong in being dismissive of the DJ nicknamed ‘the hairy cornflake’ with news that Burmese pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi saying Dave Lee Travis’ BBC World Service music request show gave her a lifeline under house arrest.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has spent 15 years under house arrest since 1989, said Travis’s show, ‘A Jolly Good Show’ had made her “world much more complete”.

I suspect there is a BBC World Service radio controller now squirming that they dispensed with the services of DLT.

The episode highlights to me how, in any service or activity, you need variety, different elements, and sometimes it is often the least expected which can deliver the best results.

When I work with businesses and organizations to deliver new strategies I use a rule-of-thumb that 80% of what you do should be the obvious, the largely expected of your brand.

But 20% should explore new things, the unusual, the unexpected. I usually suggest a formula of:

  • 2 projects of 5% of your resource
  • 5 projects of 2%
  • with hopefully at least one of your 2% projects migrating up to become a 5% project
  • and also one of the 5% projects migrating into the mainstream of your activity.

Using this formula allows you to accommodate the different, the non-obvious – the equivalent of a DLT radio show in your offering.

In fact, it makes it mandatory that you always try new things. It allows you to explore, experiment, without being too risky. It helps you identify something which can only be seen to work if you give it a go.

With a range of experimental projects you do not have all your eggs in one basket, and the initiative with the most added value can be readily identified, than judging something on its untried, original concept. As DLT once observed: “It’s easy when you know it.”

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