Roger von Oech

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« Things Go Swimmingly at Huge Birthday Party | Main | The Dangers of Thin-Slicing for Creativity »


Stephen Denny

Roger: thanks for your note!

Thin slicing hot (and not very hot) brands? There are a lot of thin slices you can take on a brand – how you react to a brand presentation at a boardroom level, how you react as a consumer, etc. So here's a very thin slice – your potential customer’s first second of recognition when exposed to your new brand, hot or not:

Hot brands evoke one of two visceral reactions. First is The Eyebrow Arch, accompanied by the ‘ooh’. This is the “that’s very cool” reaction you want with anything you just launched at the show in Vegas. The second is The Buddha Nod and the “aah”. This is the “I’m so glad you came along and fixed this mess” reaction you want with the service you just launched.

The “not very hot” brands also prompt visceral reactions. Just different ones. You remember Nipper, the RCA dog who cocks his head to one side, hearing his master’s voice – or, perhaps he’s saying, “You do – what – exactly? And why do I want this?” The other is The Hanging “And”, so identified by the listener’s continuing rapt attention to a statement that has long since finished, whose unfulfilled expectation is that an “and” would come along to make it all finally makes sense. This is the proverbial “6 Minute Abs” video.

People can’t help being interested when they are and can’t fake it very well when they’re not.

That's the thinnest slice I can make -- hope this helps! If I come up with a more robust answer, I'll post it!

Michael Wagner

Roger - great way to get at thin-slicing! I really like Collinsworth too, but never saw what you saw.

And Stephen's very "thinnest" of thin slices is great too! Hot or not - you can tell in a blink.

Thanks for adding your voice the thin-slice meme experiment.

Keep creating,

Valeria Maltoni


Bravo on the questions you suggested. They reveal a keen interest on the blogger and a pretty good knowledge of their focus.

Kudos on being a skilled conversation starter.

Roger von Oech

Michael, Valerie: Thanks for your comments.

Stephen: I especially like your terms: "Eyebrow Arch ooh" and "Buddha Nod aah.”

Jimmy Lee

I did a thin-slice of the National Championship game on Monday. I watched the first play of the game and saw Ted Ginn Jr. return the kickoff for 93 yards. After seeing that play I thought it would be a romp in OSU's favor. I then took my wife out to dinner as it was her birthday. I come back to see the score is 34-14. Tough day for the Scarlett and Silver.

Roger von Oech

Jimmy Lee: That's a good one! Great example exposing the down-side of "thin-slicing." Our assumptions can get in the way. (BTW, that game was painful to watch.)

Timothy Johnson

Roger - mission accomplished. And I tagged four other people to thin slice aspects of their life.

ann michael

Hi Roger – Sorry for the delay, I’ve been out of town!

OK – I like the way Tim did his so I’m going to steal his format.

1. Title – If the title contains keywords that interest me, if it’s funny, or includes a twist on words (makes me think), I’ll tend to keep reading.

2. Skim – Let’s say a keyword pulled me in (creativity, for example), I’ll look for additional supporting keywords in the text (diversity, innovation, strategy, etc.). Even if a keyword didn’t pull me in, I’ll look for keywords to tell me more about the title and make sure it’s something I want to read. It’s great when there are bolded headings. To me that implies the author took time to organize his/her thoughts and break them out for me to digest. If they took the time, I’m more likely to as well.

3. Length – I have to love you to scroll! I don’t go to blogs for dissertations. I look at blogs as I can throughout my day. Even though I might have all the best intentions of heading back when I have more time to read something in detail, I rarely do. If the text is too dense (lots of long paragraphs) and/or the post is too long (more than one page down before comments), you’re likely going to lose me. My thin slice there is that you didn’t take the time to distill the important stuff and unless the topic is REALLY something I need to know right now, I won’t either!

4. Gaps – As I’m reading the post if something “whacks” me – either because it’s new to me, I think something’s missing, something old was said in a really neat new way, or it’s just generally an exciting post, I’ll keep reading and see if my big “wow” is still with me at the end.

5. Relevant or not – The bottom line (which maybe isn’t a thin slice) is that if I can’t say something relevant, encouraging, or expansive (applying the concept to another setting perhaps), I won’t comment. So if you answered all the questions, dotted all your i’s and crossed your t’s, I’m not going to have anything valuable to say. Personally, I don’t like to comment just to say “hey” – I’ll send you an email for that!

Thanks for asking – that was fun (even though I’m not sure I did it right)!

Roger von Oech

Ann: You just wrote a concise tutorial on how to write a post that gets comments. I'll try to keep your tips in mind (although my posts often make people scroll!).

ann michael

Ah - but as I said in number 3 - I have to love you to scroll- and Roger, I do love you! I scroll for Lizzie too! You've both proven to me that you make it worth it.

Matt Haverkamp

Just now catching up to all the posts. Loved your thin-slicing based on the watch - great angle. I am one of those that likes to set my clock forward.

Stephen Denny


Responses to your "call for memes" on Note to CMO (Spike Jones at Brains on Fire, John Moore at Brand Autopsy), links to Cam Beck's answer on his Chaos Scenario, and still pending with a few others.

Also just noticed a pick up on White Paper Pundit mentioning this, as well.

A lot of good reflection on this important point. Thanks !

Steven Stewart

Hey Roger,

Thanks for the insight- I have noticed that about Chris' watch also. I wear my watch on my right wrist as well and and am very picky about the time. I also notice guys who wear brown cowboy boots with khakis like I do and who walk up escalators.

DJ Rainer

Thin-slicing? Malcolm Gladwell? How praytell, does this differ in substance from the 17th century samurai Miyamoto Musashi and "The Book of Five Rings?" Wherein he states "from one thing, know ten thousand things."

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

Beyerdynamic MMX 300

Collingsworth may have had the watch as a gift and that he treasures it so. Is this trick what mentalists do?

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Roger i like your lines "Fun ideas to stimulate creativities" if chris is not a left handed do you think he will wear his watch on his lefthand? i am probably just i like chris i don't to be late at any time so i advance five minutes time on my watch.

Support Squad

Is there some bad or negative effects in wearing a wrist watch in the right hand? I don't see something wrong in that thing.

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