John Horsley
John Horsley 8 October 2014
Categories Data & Analytics

Finding Inspiration in Data - Interview with Justin Cooke, CEO of POSSIBLE

Justin Cooke, CEO of POSSIBLE discusses finding inspiration in data.

Interview with Justin Cooke, CEO of POSSIBLE


Please introduce yourself.

Hi, I’m Justin Cooke. I’m the CEO of Possible in the UK. That basically means I do anything and everything that anyone else doesn’t want to do, but most of my time is spent working on growth and spending lots of time with our clients and future clients.

Where does inspiration come from for you?

Where do I go for inspiration? I think there’s a really good word for that, actually, that I discovered quite recently. It’s a Danish word, which I believe is ‘tingfinder’. Basically it means effectively someone who is inspired by things and collects them when they’re travelling. I remember as a kid reading about Paul Smith traveling the world and finding weird objects and signs and products that he felt were kind of curious. He would bring them back and draw inspiration for his collections from that. I think tingfinder is a good way of really describing how I get inspired.

I think the other thing that I’m inspired by as well, more and more so in the work that we do, is I’m inspired by data. I think that’s something that I’ve got really good at understanding over the last few years in digital. A lot of the great ideas that we come up with, the really great creative ideas that really solve problems, are often actually inspired by data.

How are you inspired by data?

A really good example of being inspired by data is the wonderful, marvellous Emily Brooke who runs a start-up for Blaze. Emily set out to try and solve the biggest problem facing urban cyclists at the moment, whatever that could be. What she did was she spent six months with noted psychologists and data boffins to try and work out what that was. She went into that thinking, "Well, the biggest problem that urban cyclists are facing right now is they’re being hit by cars, clearly. She thought the answer was going to be sticking brake lights on the back of bikes, very sensible assumption. Actually when she delved into that data, what she found was that about 70% of all accidents are caused from the front, from cars not seeing cyclists.

What she ended up doing through that data was creating a really cool light that you stick on the front of your bike that projects an image of a bicycle, very much like a cycle path logo about five meters in front of where you’re cycling so that cars know that you’re there. She’s very much of the view that this is going to radically and dramatically reduce the number of accidents. That ultimately is a great example of data inspiring creativity.

What do you do when you have an idea?

If you’re lucky enough to have a great idea, then you need to post rationalize with as much insight as you possibly can from all sorts of different data sources. If you haven’t got an idea, but you’ve got a brief, a challenge to solve, then you’ve got to get into the data and look for those insights to help you build that idea. Once you’ve got that, I think the two big things that you need to focus on are, number one, making sure that everyone that’s around you, that’s working with you, to bring that idea to reality, is aligned. Secondly, it’s about having the right measures. If you haven’t got metrics in place that actually define what the end is, or success is, then you’re never going to be able to bring that idea to reality, or bring it to market.

What is an idea that you’ve had from conception to delivery?

The thing that we’re the most proud of at the moment is the work that we’re doing with Canon. What we did was we looked at all of the data. Basically, it told us that consumers are overwhelmed with the number of images that they have taken on their various devices. They really have no trust in a platform that can keep those images safe and secure, allow them to share, edit, or even print from. That insight is what we found. What we did with that was build Canon their first ever digital product, which is a cloud-based image platform that allows them to do exactly that. I think that probably is the great example of how we come from a load of data, and we’ve used that data to find a really powerful idea. Then we’ve subsequently brought it to market.

What are you going to talk about at Inspiration?

What at I’m going to talk about at Inspiration is inspiration and where we as an agency find that, how I get inspired every day. I think a lot of what I’m going to be talking about is how we are starting to connect data with creativity to really help transform the world through digital.



See Justin Cooke speak at ’Inspiration - Think Again’ on the 23rd of October at the Royal Geographic Society in London.




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