Battle of Big Thinking part 1: Creating unique brands; Changing the world; Perth vs Sydney

Yesterday saw the APG’s Battle of Big Thinking. The first session covered big business ideas.

Speaker: Peter Williams – CEO, Deloitte Digital

Topic: The formula for changing the world

Quote: “Any match in the box can start a fire.”  

His argument:

That rather than chasing influencers, brands need to understand that when a population is ready to go through a phase transition anything can be a trigger if you understand it.

Using a home experiment involving a bottle of beer from the freezer, he showed how once one molecule of beer freezes (or changes phase), the transition moves to the next.

He also challenged the audience to clap in unison, and with no other obvious organisation, the room fell into rhythm within about a second.

He argued that formula for changing the world is simply having a self-influencing population that is ready to make that phase transition, and a trigger.

A further example was the launch of the Apple iPhone, and the apps ecosystem that goes with it.

My take: Peter’s argument that we spend too much time working out who are the influencers, rather than what the buttons are for the whole population was well made.

Speaker – Jessica Irvine – Economics writer, Sydney Morning Herald

Topic: Perth will replace Sydney as the effective capital city of Australia

Quote: “Sydney’s transport system is pretty much stuffed. Successive state governments have failed to plan for a growing population.”

Her argument:

That despite NSW premiere Kristina Keneally’s perky hair, the state government is still run by the same factions who are unable to plan for a growing population, leading to increasing transport congestion and people voting with their feet.

This will be underpinned by massive structural change to the Australian economy, driven by WA’s resource boom – much like the 1850s when Melbourne was bigger than Sydney.

My take: Although it was amusing, the argument went not much further than the SMH’s current (and probably true) line that the NSW Govenrment is rubbish and can’t be relied on to build for the future. I really wnated to hear a compelling argument for why people would be drawn to Perth, but it wasn’t there.

Speaker – Jon Bradshaw – (Incoming) Brands director, Lion Nathan

Topic: Creating unique brands in a homogenised world

Quote: “God forbid Africa should get its shit together and India starts to look like an expensive place to put a call centre.”

His argument:

Despite the cliches about people being a company’s biggest asset, the closer the world moves to economist Adam Smith’s state of perfect competition, the more the only thing left to distinguish a company or brand is the brains inside the company. As he put it: “The problem with perfect competition is that removes strategic differentiation. How do you find the elusive point of difference? The beautiful thing about people is they are unique. Nothing against HR directors but they’re the last people to look after the last bastion of strategic advantage.”

he argued that people should be top of a company’s agenda, and if needs be the mdoel shiould be changed to do this. “Why not buy 30% of your shares back and give them to your top talent? Imagine if you made people management capabilities what you prized management for.”

My take: The problem with writing a summary is that it makes a well argued presentation sound trite. And the reason that people trot out the “people are our greatest asset” cliche is ebcause it is true.

My vote: Jon Bradshaw

The voting result: First Jon Bradshaw (60%); Second Peter Williams; Third Jessica Irvine

Tim Burrowes


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.