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Finding Inspiration Everywhere

As the marketing landscape changes around us, it’s good to look for inspiration in unusual places. Inspiration can be found in life-changing historic events and experiences.

Tactical Mastermind

In 1804, Napoleon was crowned the Emperor of France and established himself as Europe’s dictator and is widely considered a tactical mastermind.

But the aspect that interests me in this particular victory is Napoleon’s invention and use of the Corps system, an assembly of small armies that have everything they need to engage an enemy: infantry, cavalry and artillery. These armies of 10,000 to 40,000 men march together in close proximity — no more than 10 miles apart — and could, at short notice, assist each other in fighting an enemy. At a predetermined time and location could come together to provide overwhelming fire power and defeat whomever stood against them.

The Power of Small Teams

In 2013, Gallup released a report called “The State of The American Workplace” which showed that smaller companies have more engaged employees. In fact, 42% of employees working at companies of 10 employees or fewer are engaged at work, compared to only 30% of employees engaged at larger companies. We can equate these 10-person companies to 10-person teams.

A recent Forbesarticle shared one of Jeff Bezos’rules, or philosophies, at Amazon: if a team cannot be fed by two pizzas, then that team is too large. The reasoning is quite straightforward and basic. More people requires more communication, more bureaucracy, more chaos, and more of pretty much everything that slows down projects, hence why large organizations are oftentimes pegged as being so inefficient.



But beyond the virtue of smaller, fully-functioning teams is the magic of decisive leadership. 

Smaller teams move faster, iterate at a higher frequency, and provide greater innovation for the company. The Volkswagen Golf GTI, one of the most well-known hatchbacks in history, was created by a team of eight. A little appreciated fact is that many of today’s largest technology companies created their first successful products with teams of fewer than 10 people.

This point is illustrated by J. Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University. His rule of thumb is “no double digits.”

Hackman has said, “Regardless of the exact, magic number, the idea of working within small teams is believed to help diminish various innovation killers like groupthink and social loafing. There are several other benefits for working in small teams like more effective communication, greater trust among team members, and less fear of failure”. 

Think Nimble

It’s Napoleon’s example of what we call ‘intelligent collaboration’ and ‘nimble thinking’ that inspires us at LOLA; the notion that you don’t need everything in great depth, but rather the ability to adapt with just the right understanding of everything that is needed to solve a problem. A network of similar organizations with specialized knowledge can be called upon at the appropriate moment, but not necessarily at the beginning of a project.

For any brand, a network of agile, nimble, and skilled people is essential, but the art of bringing to bear the right person at the right time requires a set of lateral moves coming from a more creative mindset. Giving clients this ability is something we strive for.Our goal is to help brands develop efficient, simple and extremely effective solutions. Napoleon’s tactics for winning the battle of Austerlitz is a sure shining example of just that. Sometimes to shape the future you have to look to the past.

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