What follows is one of the "plays" that didn't make that recent strategic design "playbook" for Strelka Press—Dark Matter & Trojan Horses. I'm sharing here as it serves as a bit of a taster for that essay, describing what I call the "Maginot Line" play.
But posting this also gives me a chance to write about some work done at Arup Sydney a few years ago. With my excellent colleagues Emma Synnott, Georgia Vitale and Safiah Moore, and Sydney- and Melbourne-based comms and branding agency Naked, I worked on a project for the Australian government, outlining a strategy that would enable a meaningful shift in the housing market towards sustainable choices. Unusually, we chose to do this by addressing citizens' perceptions and behaviour directly, rather than simply focusing on the supply-side of the built environment business.
There's a lot in it, I think—it's well beyond half-hearted "nudges"—and I'd be interested in any responses to that project in particular. Naked's expertise in behavioural psychology, as well as mainstream marketing techniques, was crucial, and provided our team with new angles to explore. It also implicitly describes how you often have to re-write the brief in areas with little or no precedent (let's be clear; I doubt this was what the government though it would be getting when it wrote the tender.) And also kudos to senior leaders at Arup, who approved our bid/approach even though it was almost entirely uncharted water for the firm.
You can download the PDF report describing the strategy here (was linked to from this page.)
Read on, and you'll see how, in retrospect, I began to think of this as a kind of "Maginot Line" strategy.