Category: Useful Tips

Remember to look for the gorilla

Not a sentence I ever thought I’d be saying to a room full of people at work. But I did. Let me explain…

Sanctuary is implementing a new company-wide computer system (SAP) and I’m project managing the process of moving the data we have in our current computer systems over to our new one.

Man in a gorilla suit holding a banana
Can you see me?
Image from Costume Craze

Once the data has been moved over to SAP the business needs to check that what they thought had moved actually had moved, and that any financial balances are still the same. Basically that we haven’t gained or lost a few million pounds during the migration and that what we know to be a house in our existing system hasn’t magically become a garage in SAP. This process is called reconciliation and validation.

Last week my team and I presented this concept to the business. To keep it simple and get the key messages of: 1) this is really, really important and 2) you need to know what to look for when you’re reconciling and validating, we used this clip as the opener:


In the clip you’re asked to concentrate on how many basketball passes the team in white make, but a few seconds in to the game a gorilla walks across the screen, giving a little wave on his way.

About half of the audience completely missed the gorilla. They got the number of basketball passes right and had they been asked to spot the gorilla I’m sure they’d have seen it. If they’d known to look out for it, it would have been blindingly obvious.

So the point was, if you know what checks you need to perform on your data, what questions to ask, what to count, you’ll be more likely to find problems, whereas if you go into the validation process with little thought, you’ll miss the errors.

The same can be said for all things marketing and digital. When you’re proof-reading copy or checking print proofs you should be following a tried-and-tested process that will support you to find mistakes. For example when I proof-read I look for one type of problem at a time, so first I check sentence structure, then I work through the copy again and look at spelling.

With any Analytics programme you need to have an idea of what you’re trying to measure and why, before you start measuring it. A collection of numbers of site visits, bounce rate, or Likers is just a collection of numbers but if you’ve thought about its value it becomes insight which enables you to make more effective marketing decisions.

So remember, always look for the gorilla. Have some idea about what you’re trying to find before you start looking for it.



How to create the right environment for innovation

Apple logo
Many people think of Apple as an innovative company

We all know that the most successful companies innovate. With many people reluctant to embrace organisational change, a difficult financial environment and a general inability amongst businesses to compete in increasingly global markets, it’s critical for leaders to create the right environment for innovation. Here’s how to do it:

Develop cohesive work groups.

Individuals that feel part of a close team that is working towards the same goal may feel more inclined and comfortable in contributing ideas for new products or process changes. If there is a ‘no-blame’ culture and the risk of being ignored or even embarrassed for having an innovative idea is removed, staff are more likely to make suggestions.

It is important, however to tread the line carefully between cohesive working and accepting and never challenging the norm. Where the norm is not or cannot be challenged, innovation will generally not be prevalent.

Provide the right resources for innovation.

Google encouraged innovation through its 20% programme which allowed employees to devote a fifth of their working week to ‘special projects’. Having freedom of time supports the thought processes, trials, tweaks and failures that drive business change. Freeing up cash, people, machines, and materials for new or different work is essential for building an innovative environment. A support system must be in place as an enabler to freeing up resources- without management support, how would even the best idea get to fruition?

Embed HR structures that encourage a low people turnover.

If people leave often or without completing an effective amount of service, the environment and culture may not be open and honest. This is connected to cohesive working- an open environment breeds idea sharing and feedback. Innovation works best in businesses with a learning culture where staff are encouraged to exchange information. Give praise when praise is due- this will help develop team trust.

Involve staff at all levels in decision making.

It’s often the case that Senior Managers don’t know the detail of day to day operations. It can be that operational staff hold the key to more efficient ways of working, to what customers really want, or what local competitors are offering, and involving staff at all levels in the decision making process can tease these innovations out.

Complete an innovation audit.


  • The organisational ‘climate’
  • Your rate of new product/ service development
  • Customer satisfaction ratings
  • The cognitive styles of your leadership team, and
  • Whether the work groups, resources and structures are in place for innovation.

Learn from your audit and make changes to improve the environment.

Do you have the right environment for innovation?