What a modern agency can learn from 17th century Japanese swordsmanship
In around 1643, legendary Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi wrote ‘A Book of Five Rings’ (五輪書, Go Rin no Sho). Seen as one of the defining texts on kenjutsu its lessons still stand today and its ‘no nonsense’ philosophy can be seen to apply not only to the art of swordsmanship but to life in the wider world as well.
Musashi talks a lot about unpredictability. Variation and variety. About giving oneself the innate ability to tackle any challenge or any problem that you might face. No matter how new, unfamiliar or different, it might be. His advice - his solution - to countering unpredictability was as elegant as it was simple:
“Never have a favourite weapon”
Whilst he was referring to an enemy blade, the same is surely true for an agency today. Agencies with a built-in bias - ‘a favourite weapon’ - be it brand, performance, offline media, paid media, digital media, ‘traditional media’, can’t possibly help a brand defend, attack or even navigate an unpredictable world. What’s right this minute, might not be right the next. A modern agency needs a wide, modern and diverse range of skills and solutions and critically: a freedom from the shackles of bias and muscle memory. The days of defaulting are gone.
That’s why we’ve built Bicycle on the power of ‘and’. With brand and performance, data and digital, media and creativity at its heart. MX first, forever. It’s not easy, but like master kenjutsu, the best crafts rarely are.