Philip Morley, Creative Director of Think Industries, joined us in September 2012 for a thought-provoking talk on ‘finding your mushy peas.’
He’s kindly put together a summary of the key points, so if you missed it read on!
Finding Your Mushy Peas
A friend of mine is a financial consultant.
One thing he’s good at is identifying a business’ profit centre.
A typical client would be a professional service firm, such as solicitor’s practice. But the interesting story is about an untypical client: a fish and chip shop. Applying his commercial rigour, my friend observed how the fish and chip shop was operating as a commercial enterprise. He drew one surprising conclusion.
The shop’s more profitable line wasn’t cod, haddock or chips but mushy peas. One of the cheapest items in the shop. A side order.
For those of you unfamiliar with mushy peas, this is a description of the radioactive-looking green sludge served from a stainless steel cauldron behind the counter. AKA
Yorkshire Caviar. It is unclear whether real peas are actually an active ingredient.
This revelation is an excellent example of finding profit in the most unlikely place (plaice?), which can be a lesson in itself. I suppose it’s similar to finding out that Mont Blanc make more money from rollerball refills than pens. However, I think there is a different spin on this story.
Isn’t the case that we find the mushy peas story surprising because we have learned something useful from an unusual or seemingly inappropriate source?
Maybe we should be looking outside our sector for examples of best practice. I have no axe to grind about best practice. Okay, I do. It’s too sensible and sector specific. It can prohibit innovation by reinforcing tried and tested ways of doing things. Which may not be the best ways of doing things. It can reduce our appetite for learning. It can breed complacency.
One alternative is what I would call Knowledge Matchmaking. This is bringing together businesses that have a common desire to learn from one another. This is not my idea.
One of my clients, Red Gate Software, already sends working parties to a nearby teaching hospital to learn about efficiency from doctors.
Another client, an NHS Trust, revolutionised its linen room policy, freeing up extra time for patient care, based on observing working practice in manufacturing industry.
In my own personal experience, I learned about effective time management from my dentist.
And I’m indebted to Malcolm Gladwell, via YouTube, for inspiring me to invent some new breakfast cereal flavours based on his talk about spaghetti sauce.
I think we could all learn from observing and experiencing what others do and how they do it.
It’s all a question of being open minded and being prepared to gain valuable knowledge where we’d least expect to find it.
Even if it’s in a place that smells of fish.
About Philip Morley
Philip is Creative Director of Think Industries, a creative business based in Cambridge.
Copywriter since the age of seventeen, Philip did the tour of many of the best UK ad agencies before becoming Head of English for Ogilvy in Hong Kong and Creative Director of DDB Needham Worldwide, running the VW and Audi accounts.
Ten years ago, Philip founded Think Industries, which has a reputation as one of the UK’s most unusual creative consultancies and a finalist in the Cambridge Evening News’ Innovative Businesses of the year.
Photo credit: Paul Wilkinson.