The state of the game: where do we go from here?

By James Titterton 

For an England fan the World Cup in Brazil has, of course, ended predictably (albeit it probably slightly earlier than most of us anticipated).

As our club sides return to pre-season training ready for another nine month slog through rain, shine and… more rain (my beloved Sheffield United included - I’m definitely a glutton for punishment), a brief pause in watching 22 people kick a bag of wind around has provided time for reflection on the state of the ‘beautiful game.’

Seeking solace in my other passion - music - I went to watch Arcade Fire at Hyde Park last night. Sat with a friend soaking up the sun (or getting burnt, as I realise today) a young family sat next to us. Five minutes later I was kicking a flyaway about with the dad and his two lads, one of whom was at an age where dribbling requires a bib, not a football. A world away from the sponsor-laden modern game played by multi-millionaires beamed to every corner of the earth to shirt-clad spectators. And the most football-related fun I’ve had all summer. Unfortunately for you, dear reader, it got me thinking.

A universal educational tool

A game with simple rules and endless solutions built around a universally accessible object, football is the perfect communication device. As with my Hyde Park experience, it transcends age, language and other barriers, whether real or ignorantly perceived. As a result, it can be leveraged to communicate other things. Think of a see-saw, with a football as the pivoting object. Using the laws of physics, if you apply enough force (in this instance money) in one direction, you can lift something else up (or, in this analogy, promote and communicate something else). It’s the perfect educational tool.

This power can be used in extremely positive ways. For example, in the late 1990s my uncle built a three-a-side football pitch out of reclaimed wood for a Sheffield-based charity called Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD). They have travelled Europe with it, hosting football tournaments in multi-cultural areas that were open to all, particularly local young people. Using football as a vehicle, FURD have spread their message of unity to thousands of young people across the globe, aiding the fight to kick racism out of football and society. 

Similarly, football (and the surrounding paraphernalia) has the power to help us understand more about ourselves, and the way we live. As a result of their interest in football, people have begun to understand more about their bodies, and the things they put in and try to get out of them. In my eyes the big breakthrough, in this respect, took place almost 20 years ago with the appointment of a single manager at one of the games most recognisable clubs. What I call ‘The Wenger Effect’ not only transformed the careers of players like Tony Adams; over time it has made society at large sit-up (and press-up, chin-up and pull-up) and take note.

The educational power of football can even be seen in some of the work of major brands. My cousins, age 13 and 16 respectively, know more about the way their feet work from the stuff they read about football boot technology of the likes of Adidas and Nike than the stuff they learn in their GCSE PE classes. Come to think of it, I’ve learned more about British history and society from football than I ever learned in A-Level history. (Admittedly I was down the pub for most of it…). 

Education through football: powerful stuff. Unfortunately, this power isn’t always used for the greater good and is ripe for the picking for people who want to use it for their own commercial gain. 

You only have to have given the gogglebox a cursory glance over the last few weeks to see some of the main culprits. Businesses the world over who show no other interest in football for the 1000-and-odd days between tournaments suddenly declare interest, with every billboard and ad-break littered with generic football-themed spots. And, call me naive, but how a game so universal and supposedly accessible for all requires an official beer, tyre, bank or burger I’ll never know. 

These lazy adverts and sponsorships (I’ve yet to see a good one this tournament) might seem innocent enough, but they’re the tip of an iceberg slowly damaging the game beyond repair, at all levels. 

The £300k-a-week contracts, multi-million-pound sponsorship deals and extortionate ticket prices are a result of clued up business people taking advantage of the power of football. Yes, some corporate sponsors do attempt to put back a bit of what they take away (such as McDonald’s with their KickStart initiative). But, for a game evidently played in some form or another for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and honed and codified by the working classes of the c18th Industrial Revolution in Britain to give themselves something active, social and cheap to do on a Saturday afternoon when the factories paused for their weekly breath, the sight of those for whom the very game was invented being priced out of access to a live match (or even deprived of decent, basic facilities to get changed in or play on on a wet Sunday morning in their local park) is a sorry sight indeed. 

That this is largely due to the activities of the ruling classes and their business interest, shows how the game is being taken over, piece by piece, by the very people it was invented to provide escape from. Powerful stuff, but for all the wrong reasons.

A universal challenge

The current tournament in Brazil, and all that accompanies it, has shown both sides of the beautiful game. But it also shows football, in my eyes, as being in a precarious position, where the thing we all hold so dear could easily be lost to us forever, swallowed up by greed and money. 

It’s down to all of us, especially those trying to use football to their own advantage, to make sure that, in future World Cups, we’re rejoicing in a game made accessible to, and owned by, all, as opposed to reminiscing of the days before football was lost to the prawn sandwich brigade.

As fans of any player, team or country, that’s surely got to be the biggest result of all time.

James Titterton is a Senior Designer at Wolff Olins London. 

I’m scared of tech (Back to the Future)




By Danielle Zezulinski 

I’ve come to the conclusion that I know nothing about technology, and it’s freaking me out.

I mean, I spend time on social media – too much on Facebook and occasional rants on Twitter about cars that nearly crash into my bike – use GPS apps to track my running and browse Wired every now and then. But I am otherwise utterly clueless about what’s next and frankly slightly averse to it. Will I pick up wearables? I’ve worn contacts for nearly 20 years, so I can’t imagine going back to glasses that make you look like a cyborg. Ditto to talking into my watch, Go-Go-Gadget style. The Internet of Things just makes me think it’s one more thing to worry about breaking. Is there a repairman you can call to fix The Thing if it goes down? And what about Big Data? How much do companies really know about me just by monitoring what I buy?

Tech confuses me because I don’t know what I am supposed to pay attention to and what’s a fad. If I adopt a new device now, will it still be The Device next year? Everything changes so quickly that I feel like I’ll never catch up – but I don’t want to be left behind.

So I sympathise with the cabbies who went on strike a few weeks ago in London. They were protesting TFL’s licensing of Uber as minicabs; Uber charges passengers a rate based on distance traveled, instead of a flat fee, and black cab drivers want Uber cabs to be licensed as they are and held to the same rates. They feel that Uber is beating them at their own game.

But really, the protest was against how something that was once a given (the black cab business model) is being disrupted by the world changing around it, and how cabbies aren’t in control of their own livelihoods. You don’t really need to do The Knowledge to drive a cab in London anymore, because there are satnavs. You don’t really need to own your own cab, because there are tons of companies to drive for. And the cabs themselves are changing too, in design, colour, emissions technology. It’s very possible that one day there won’t be London black cabs on the streets at all – in New York, taxis will shortly go from being yellow to green.

So I’ve been thinking about what I (and London’s cab drivers) can do to feel better about our quickly changing lives.

There are a few easy shifts we can make right now that will help us sleep better.

First, I think we should stop being afraid. So many amazing things have happened because of seemingly small technological advances, and there are so many more to come that shrinking in fear of tech will limit how far we can go as a society. The opposite of being afraid is being confident and brave, and I think we can all be brave and start to view the big expanse of ‘technology’ through the lens of what positive changes it can make. For instance, I am really inspired by how technology is making important things like education available to people who couldn’t afford them before. I am really excited about 3-D printing of organs for transplants. I am really energised by the promulgation of free speech through new channels. I am really optimistic about how some of the world’s biggest problems can be solved by innovations that couldn’t have been dreamed of just a short time ago.

And in a related point, I also think that we can take comfort in going slow. It may seem that things are changing so quickly that we as human beings can’t keep up, but relatively it’s all moving fairly glacially. We just have to look back at movies made 30 years ago, like Back to the Future, to see how our imagination runs much faster than actual technological advancement. Marty McFly went to 2015 and found hover boards, mobile trash cans, power shoelaces and holographic movie theatres all in wide use; it’s possible we will see these innovations emerge next year, but probably not to the extent that we saw on-screen. It’s even more reassuring if you look at films made in 1965, thinking about 2015 – we’re not wearing silver suits or populating the moon (yet). So whilst we can imagine a world that’s radically different due to technology, in reality we’re all, en masse, a lot slower on the uptake than we thought we would be. And that’s okay.

Finally, lets all just be curious. So many studies point to ongoing learning and playing as a way to keep the brain and body young, but also as a way to stay relevant. So just trying new things, investigating new developments, and dabbling in tech is a start. My guru in this is my 86 year old grandmother: she recently added me on LinkedIn. Until recently, I had no idea why; at her age, I thought, she has no reason to join LinkedIn. And then I realised, she’s just checking it out – and why not? She’s not limited by an invisible boundary that this network might not be for her, or not relevant to who she is. Lets not think about technology as something for someone else, or potentially not relevant to your world because of your age, gender, job, or some other invisible restriction. The beauty of technology is that’s democratic, open and available to all of us.

Of course there will be downsides, and real negatives that we will need to confront together as a society. Technology will change sectors, jobs, livelihoods, our homes, our health – everything. But ignoring it or resisting it won’t make it disappear. Instead, we need to challenge it – together. Let’s discuss why Facebook experimenting with our emotions doesn’t feel right. Let’s discuss how we feel threatened by multiple screens and devices in our daily lives. Let’s discuss why our kids spend more time online than off. And of course lets discuss what mobile technology means for the transportation industry as a whole, and cab drivers in particular. What we’ll ultimately find is that technology will bring us together, rather than rip us apart – we’ll find more ways to share, connect, learn and grow, online and off, through technology in the future.

Therefore, I’Ve decided to embrace technology holistically. I know I won’t ever understand coding and the nuances of 3D printing, nor will I follow the latest software update releases with the excitement of some of my peers, but I won’t ignore them either. I am trying to see how tech can positively influence growth, change, and the future for business and society. And I’m trying to empathise with those who haven’t made the leap I have – some won’t ever get here, and that’s okay. But at the end of the day, technology is part of who we are as humans. Like it or not, we’ll always keep innovating, making, thinking, creating, and expanding. Because if you can’t beat em, join em.

And besides – I’ll bet my lunch that London’s cabbies organised their strike over email and texts.

Danielle Zezulinski is Account Management Coach and Account Director at Wolff Olins London. 


Money talk


The role of money in our day-to-day lives has changed with far reaching impacts for both individuals and businesses.

A proliferation of new customer-centric services, business models and systems – enabled by new technologies – are changing the way we think about money and creating new forms of value.

How might these changes affect the role and character of brands in the financial sector and beyond?

We are conducting a series of global initiatives to understand what these changes mean. We’re inviting leaders from established financial institutions, disruptive start-ups, economists and other thought leaders  to build a shared picture of the Future of Money. 

Join us in San Francisco on 22 July, or in London on 18 September

If you can’t join us watch out for our report, which will share the findings from each region, creating a global picture of the shifts and opportunities that changes in money presents.

How to turn your business into a teaching business


By Andre Campbell

Learning gets to the heart of what it is to be human – it gives us the power to re-create ourselves. For organisations, learning is fundamental too - it enhances their ability to grow, create and change.

For two decades HR professionals have been perfecting the ‘learning organisation’ but a commitment to learning is not enough. To lead the market you need to reinforce your position as a thought leader and the best way to do so is to teach.

Wolff Olins has always embraced the idea of teaching as a way to learn, from our founding partner, Wally Olins, who believed you expand a market by sharing your trade secrets, to our latest venture Kitchen, a school for ambitious leaders.

Earlier this month our Head of New Thinking, Robert Jones, facilitated a breakfast conversation between HR professionals and entrepreneurial types to explore the value of the teaching organisation. We invited the renowned publishing house Faber & Faber and colleagues from Wolff Olins to share their insights.

We kicked off by discussing why organisations should consider teaching in the first place. Quickly, the discussion gravitated towards how online learning is fueling further demand for learning in the workplace. Organisations can draw inspiration from massive open online courses (MOOCs), which have been successful in mobilising large audiences, eager to learn. MOOCs provide a great opportunity for organisations to lift the lid on what makes them great, whilst sparking new meaningful conversations with consumers and strengthening relationships with B2B clients. Building a teaching organisation is a new and potentially lucrative revenue stream.

Internally, employees have the opportunity to stretch their thinking, rekindle pride in their work and build entrepreneurial fiber. Teaching can help retain talent and open the door to more diverse and surprising talent through a new touchpoint dedicated to sharing expertise with a wider audience.

Theory is great but what are the realities of building a teaching organisation? Jason Cooper, Founder of Faber Academy shed light on this issue by discussing his team’s ambition to teach creative writers. Over the past 6 years the Faber Academy has remained lean and profitable by selecting teachers from it’s editorial department and authors it has published. Faber Academy’s offer is simple, ‘feedback and validation for aspiring writers’. A chuckle erupted when Jason shared the excitement learner’s felt when they visited Faber offices to learn. Many long-term fans, presented with an opportunity to go behind the scenes.

Ellen O’Connor, Head of Learning and Development at Wolff Olins followed with five learnings on how Wolff Olins went from a culture of learning to culture of learning and teaching. Ellen shared the value of:

1. Senior patronage & leading by example

As our CEO Ije Nwokorie says, ‘Very few leadership skills rank higher than the ability to teach. One that does is the ability to learn. At Wolff Olins, our success depends on leadership not being a position but rather behaviour. It is the only way we can push the boundaries and help our clients do amazing things. For this, the ability to teach, and more so, the ability to learn, is invaluable if we are to stay relevant and ahead in a rapidly changing world.’

2. Teaching, sharing and learning is part of Wolff Olins’ vernacular and embedded through our coaching framework.

3. Constantly encouraging and supporting each other.

4. Providing a clear understanding about what people get out of teaching. Reinforced, through reviews and personal plans.

5. Being intentional but patient.

Ellen concluded by introducing Melissa Andrada, co founder of Kitchen, our school for ambitious leaders. Built from the spirit and expertise of Wolff Olins, Kitchen offers classes ranging from one-hour webinars to full day workshops. Teachers are sourced from within Wolff Olins, where they design, test and deliver classes.

Melissa said, “Teaching enabled my colleagues to raise their profile and gain new skills. Simultaneously, our customers gained new skills, greater confidence and practical tools.”

We wrapped up by discussing how we could all build a teaching organisation. Things we heard were:

 That brand plays a vital role by giving organisations permission to develop a teaching offer - both inside their organisation and from the marketplace.

Where possible, hiring teachers from within presents great benefits. A useful tip for finding teachers is to tap into the passions of colleagues by asking what they do outside of work.

When building a teaching organisation employees should be prepared to challenge their organisations culture, as contradictions with the core business are likely. Building the case for the advantages of sharing trade secrets with a wider audience was viewed as important.

Developing a unique learning style through experimentation can make your teaching offer stand out. We considered blended learning, a combination of face-to-face and online learning as a model for creating richer learning experiences.

We concluded by acknowledging that the learning organisation is alive and well but teaching organisations can help activate and accelerate the learning process.

Andre Campbell is a Brand and Social Innovation Specialist at Wolff Olins follow him @andre_campbell​

Out and about in London

Dirty Rotten Socials - Design Like You Give a Damn from Matter&Co on Vimeo.

Wolff Olins were out in force last Thursday and pretty much had London covered! Two of our Creative Directors were over in the East End giving an awesome talk to 500 folks for Glug London. Meanwhile, another group of us were curating ‘Design Like You Give a Damn’ as part of the ‘Dirty Rotten Socials’ series with The House of St Barnabas and Pioneers Post in Soho.

Both events gave us a chance to champion two things close to our hearts – collaboration and social impact. At Glug we were able to share not just our work, but how we’ve worked with many other co-conspirators and specialists to make things otherwise impossible possible. And at Design Like You Give a Damn we worked with some outrageously talented people on how to tackle some of the most challenging social issues of the day.


Big thanks to The House of St Barnabas, Pioneers Post and Glug for inviting us to take part and also to our 5 brilliant speakers who participated in the Dirty Rotten Socials event – here’s who they are and the topics we tackled:


James Auger, tutor at RCA Design Interactions and co-founder of Auger Loizeu asked how can the predicting capabilities of online data be used for social good?

Nat Hunter, co-Director of Design at the RSA asked how we can have new shiny things without ruining the planet?


Steven Johnson, the founder of collaborative change, asked how we can improve empathy and awareness of mental illness?

Chris McGinley, Senior Research Associate at The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design asked how we can redesign retirement so it becomes a meaningful and exciting opportunity?

Finally, Joss Bailey, consultant at BOP and visiting scholar at the V&A asked ‘How do we protect our cities from the ravages of global capital and ensure they’re for everyone?’ Here’s something she wrote following the session. 

Lots of great discussion and content to share…just figuring out how best to do it, so let us know if you want to learn more.

Tweet us @redfishnat @mhirror @stevenbjohnson @JocelynABailey @PioneersPost @SairahAshman 
@WolffOlins @HoStBarnabas using the hashtag #rottensocialsdesign

Four good reasons why universities need brands


By Robert Jones

It’s the league table season. Universities are once again congratulating themselves on going up, or agonising about going down, or scared of the institutions biting at their heels. It’s a strange world, in which universities are obsessed with each other, rather than looking out at the world. They’re scared of losing their traditional place in the tables, rather than jumping at new roles in society.

Yet if you look outwards, the future’s never been brighter. There are four huge academic goals open to every university – to raise the academic bar, to play a greater role in shaping society, to reach millions more who are hungry for knowledge, and to find new ways to answer humankind’s deepest questions. But all depend on – among other things – brand. Not on logo or slogan, but a more modern and intelligent version of brand: the idea you stand for in people’s minds.

First, the best universities can raise the academic bar – by enlisting the best students (and the best faculty of course). But this means standing for something that future students actually want. And increasingly that’s about value: what will I get back from the money and the time I put in? Universities need to be useful in people’s lives, not just in a monetary sense: they need to offer an amazing exchange of value that goes beyond knowledge for fees. Today’s university recruitment campaigns belong to an old world of state institutions, often selling through alumni testimonials: they need to be sharper, more provocative, more challenging.

Second, the best universities can play a much bigger role in shaping the world. They can be the powerhouses of society – moulding, rather than being moulded by, public policy. The monastery was the powerhouse of the agrarian world. The factory took that role in the industrial era. Now could be the age of the university. But universities need to stand for something that suggests the essential role they play in society. They need to be the convenors of today’s most urgent public debates, and the democratisers of the best new ideas.

Third, the best universities can reach millions more people who are hungry for knowledge, through the power of digital to spread content freely, and more importantly to get people learning from each other. But to do this, universities need to stand for innovation in education, as well as tradition – or they will become increasingly sidelined. They are, like it or not, content businesses, but they too often come across as backward-looking and impenetrable institutions – symbolised by obscure heraldic imagery – rather than contemporary digital platforms.

Fourth, the best universities can move much faster to answer humankind’s deepest questions – not on their own but through partnerships with other organisations, public and private. Many of today’s intellectual questions are too complex to be solved by isolated institutions: what’s needed are ecosystems of knowledge. But to accelerate this, universities need to stand more clearly for openness and experimentation, and not to come across as closed institutions, speaking their own language to people like themselves. They need to be happy to share their brands.

Britain’s top ten universities already have a brand – either an implicit one, developed over centuries, or something newer and more deliberate, like UCL’s ‘London’s global university’. But are these brands ready for all of today’s opportunities? And few of the other hundred universities have any kind of brand at all. Now’s the time for them to look outwards, look to the future, and nurture a clear, shared sense of what they want to stand for in this decade and the next.

Robert Jones is Head of New Thinking at Wolff Olins and visiting professor at University of East Anglia. 

Image via MIT.

Five questions with Nadra Shah

This interview is one of a series of interviews with inspiring women by our global COO Sairah Ashman.

Nadra Shah is Director of Development at The House of St Barnabas, a charity that supports London’s homeless back into work through their unique employment academy, which operates at the heart of their integrated not-for-profit private members club in Soho. 

What are the most significant shifts influencing your business?

As a relatively new business - but one with a big ambition - it is important for us to speculate to accumulate at this early stage of our growth. We do this both to stay ahead of the trend as a private members’ club and also to be innovative in our fundraising. This can mean some awkward conversations with our Board. Charities in the past have been risk averse, we are quite the opposite.

We will also be closely watching what happens in London when Universal Credit is rolled out, the feedback from other areas of the UK has not been great to date.

The introduction of Social Investment Tax relief could have a huge positive impact on the sector – we are really optimistic about how this could benefit the organisation.

What do you see as the key growth accelerators for you over the next 12 months?

The continual growth of our cultural platforms as a mechanism to grow outside the four walls will be a massive game changer for us. We are about to launch our first festival Art Social 14, which is supported by the Arts Council. This is an important step towards growing our Employment Academy in to the creative industries.

Cause collaboration and partnering with like-minded social enterprises is also important. It will be interesting to see the impact of how using the club at The House of St Barnabas as an incubator for idea generation and direct action on social issues will have. 

We’ll also be expanding our Employment Academy – securing the right employer partners will be instrumental for us branching out and also discussing how we roll out apprenticeships within the hospitality sector.

Above all we need to be continually curious and never sit back to enjoy the moment for too long – there’s too much round the corner to accomplish!

What role do you see brand playing in helping achieve your goals?

It will be one of the primary reasons that we are a success. It is essential that our members, supporters and partners believe that The House of St Barnabas is a brand in which they can invest their values. However the real difference will be living and breathing our brand values; authenticity, integrity and creative philanthropy are great buzz words but making choices that underpin those values and turning down opportunities that don’t will be the linchpin to our success. 

We are now at the phase of reaching out to find brand partners. We are a charity, a business, a social enterprise and a cultural platform so positioning ourselves is no mean feat, however we know that finding a brand to align and grow with us will mean that our future as a sustainable business driving real social change in London will be a reality. 

Exciting times.

What or who inspired you in the early years of your career?

I remember a very early encounter with the people that set up Belu and was intrigued by the whole idea around business and social conscious.  To be honest it really didn’t make sense at the time but it must have resonated because I have since sought out projects that play a tangible difference in changing people’s lives.   

I would also say my drama school teacher, I trained as an actress. I have since found that having strong improvisational skills has meant that I have bluffed my way through many a situation on the pretence that I knew exactly what I was talking about.

What advice would you pass on to others just starting out?

Never lose the passion and the reason why you are doing what you do. I have actively chosen to only work with people that I like and who inspire me. A heavy dose of straight talking doesn’t you do any harm either but chose your counsel wisely.  

Believe you can be the difference. It sounds like a cliché but if you think your input isn’t worthy then it probably won’t be regarded as so. 

The House of St Barnabas presents Dirty Rotten Socials in partnership with Wolff Olins and Pioneers Post. 

Sairah Ashman is global COO of Wolff Olins. You can follow her @SairahAshman

We’re hiring: Lead Strategist (based in London)

If you see yourself as a game-changer and have a brilliant mix of imagination, logic, resilience and a special talent to make things happen then Wolff Olins may be your perfect fit. If you feel that others - inside our organisation or in client organisations of as many as 100,000 people would follow your lead, we would love to hear from you.

Currently, we’re on the lookout for a strategy team member at our mid level.  

Our Lead Strategists are the drivers of our biggest accounts. You’ll be helping to shape the pathway of our biggest projects and you’ll be responsible for managing and delivering large workstreams within those projects. You’ll have the chance to continually grow as you will be offered sizeable challenges whilst also being supported by our learning and mentoring culture.  As a Lead Strategist, you are en route to becoming one of the leaders of Wolff Olins, both commercially and culturally.

You may already work in the world of brand consulting, you may work in a single sector, or in an entrepreneurial venture. You need solid business know-how, true creative flair and an ability to not just re-define the purpose of an organization but to re-tune its culture, processes, products, services and end goals accordingly.

We work across all sectors – technology, finance, government, professional services, arts and non-profit and we hope you would be up for some sector experimentation too. Unusual mixes of experience and expertise is inherent to our approach.

It is also our hope that you share our philosophy. We’re committed to transforming existing markets, creating new markets, to helping businesses and organisations responsibly grow. And the responsibility bit is important. We put positive social impact at the heart of what we do.

For more details, please contact Xander Hough (HR Manager) by email with Lead Strategist as your subject line.

Sweat the big stuff

By Camila Grey

What kind of toothpaste do you use? Which side of the fridge did you return the jam to this morning? How many emails did you flick through and ignore? Do you know for certain? Can you really remember? Do you really care?

Routines make life easier. They’re reassuring, consistent and comforting. They get us through the days. From the little things like the time we get up, to bigger things like the meetings we attend and the way we interact with each other, having a proven way of doing it just makes logical sense. Right?

“Relentless work can also be a form of laziness, because it is work that is comfortable and familiar to us, that we know how to do. And it allows us to avoid the truly hard work and bigger questions about our present and our future: What shall we become? How must we change?”

Who said this, do you think? A great philosopher? A wise, grandfatherly type on his deathbed? An unnamed source on a “Cool Quotes” board on Pinterest? Actually no, it was Arthur Gregg Sulzberger the chairman of The New York Times.

I’ve been slowly working my way through the 97 page New York Times Innovation Report since it leaked last month. It’s high drama akin to reality TV. Reality corporate existential crises are my jam because - like the Kardashians - it always comes down to people. Whether its in a large organisation or a private jet, how people navigate the regulated normality of everyday life to achieve a wider, less tangible ambition for the future is gripping stuff.

Maintaining his Yoda-esque proclamations, Sulzberger also said this, “We need a mindset shift that allows us to invest in things we think are important simply because we think they’re important”. Shift we must, indeed. Here at Wolff Olins, we’ve been working with a client who - like The New York Times - were so busy focusing on their day-to-day, they didn’t know how to begin to focus on their wider goals. They could see their future but not their place in it. Facing EU legislation, changing consumer expectations and new, nimble competitors, it’s no wonder that everything felt important. Our task was to guide them in how best to break it all down, prioritise investment and define a roadmap for transformation.

Making large-scale shifts in these types of organisations can’t happen overnight, nor should it. Of course we helped our client to define their vision and identify their objectives, but we also developed a series of small-scale projects that would signal change and kick-start an ambitious transformation. In short, we enabled them to sweat the big stuff by doing some useful small stuff.

Habits, rituals, routines. Behaviours, processes and structure. They all add up to something eventually. For us lot trying to live lovely, happy lives as well as big organisations looking to thrive in an uncertain future, finding the time to sweat the big stuff now and then is vital. Doing so reassures us that those little things are not only comforting but also meaningful, and that they’re getting us somewhere. “It is easier to do trivial things that are urgent that it is to do important things that are not urgent”. John Cleese said that one. Pop philosophy and a wafer thin mint, anyone?

Camilla Grey is a strategist at Wolff Olins London.