1 year ago today, a blogger called Hugh MacLeod sent me (and 3 others) an innocuous email with this link:
It linked to the image you see above which has become known as Blue Monster* and it has changed my relationship with Microsoft, our customers and partners more than anything in my near 10 years here.
Here’s my rough sketch of some of the stuff that has happened over the last year
- On Oct 31st I published it on my own blog with Hugh’s thoughts and my own paraphrased here as
- "I work for a company the changes the world…it’s time to help share that story…"
- Over the next few weeks and months, it got shared wider and discussed much and eventually spawned a Blue Monster series
- On January 17th a signed lithograph fetched £113 on eBay and I added £100 to that
- On January 22nd I wrote a Think Week paper and submitted to Bill Gates with Blue Monster on the cover and a central theme. It didn’t dent the world but I got some stuff off my chest 🙂
- On January 25th I published a video with my thoughts on Blue Monster
- Same day, Joe Wilcox called it Moonshine Marketing
- In May, the Blue Monster showed up on the SAP Intranet with "Channel 9 and Steve Clayton at Microsoft are great examples of employee led conversation. This beats press releases and brochures anyday"
- In May a second lithograph raised $300 for charity.
- In June, Hugh and I kicked off a Facebook Group for followers, never suspecting it’s membership would be over 1000
- In July we had some Blue Monster stickers made up. 1000 of ’em….gone in a flash and appearing on laptops around the world. More conversations.
- August 10th a bunch of people who hardly knew each other showed up at a coffee shop in London one Friday morning to talk about a cartoon and Microsoft and other stuff on their minds.
- August 14th 2007 it got its own Wikipedia entry – which was then mysteriously removed as someone suggested it was commercially led. Weird.
- Sept 12th Hugh gives a great talk at Mix UK about Social Object and Blue Monster
- Sept 17th 2007 – the Financial Times devotes half a sodding page to Blue Monster Reserve – a wine from Stormhoek carrying the cartoon. It was a strange week for me but I celebrated with a glass of wine with my pal Hugh.
- Oct 2007 Blue Monster Reserve wins a Flackenhack award!
"So what" you may say….it’s just a funky cartoon that has a big monster in it and the word Microsoft. Bound to get attention. The point for me is that it’s stirred up way more interesting conversations that pretty much anything I’ve ever been involved with from Microsoft. Some people love it, some people hate it, some don’t understand it or why it’s of any interest. However, they all have a view on it.
Blue Monster = conversation. It’s that simple. I’ve used it in several presentations at Microsoft, one where it visibly left a room of around 200 visibly moved. I was very proud that day – with a small cartoon I and few others managed to help a roomful of people realise they work for an amazing company. It kicked off a whole series of internal conversations and helped people talk in a different way I think. It’s done the same externally.
It’s been a wild ride with the Blue Monster for this last year but I wouldn’t change it. I made a great friend in Hugh MacLeod and met hundreds of others inside and outside of Microsoft who share the same passion for this company that I do. At times I thought I was about to get fired and at times I wished I’d never seen that cartoon but it sits on my desk at home and always will.
It changed me if not Microsoft. It defines Hugh’s Social Object concept. It defines much of how I think about Microsoft and has been the driving force in my desire to change perceptions that have built up over the years. Microsoft isn’t perfect, but we’re far from the evil that it’s become all to easy to portray. Microsoft is made up of smart, passionate, funny and genuine people. I think Blue Monster has done a pretty good job of helping expose that, amongst other things. One year on I feel very good about that.
Thanks Hugh….thanks to the supporters and Happy Birthday to Blue Monster.
* – little known fact that when discussing the cartoon we originally called it the "change the world or go home cartoon" but that took too long to say so one day in Pimlico Hugh christened it "Blue Monster". It stuck.