Contacting Orcasci

Phone:
US +1 866 616 7366
US +1 917 387 4334
UK +44 20 3289 8375

Fax:
+1 866 616 7366

Email:
info@orcasci.com

Founder's Blog

For more insight into our founder's wide range of activities, visit Mark Turrell's blog

Book List

Check out our Reading List

Wednesday
Oct272010

Helping People – Orcasci’s Philosophy

Our goal is to help others change the world for better - faster and at scale. The notion of helping others is crucial to our approach, and it is worth delving into this philosophy to understand how we think and how we operate.

There are lots of problems and challenges out there in the world, social and commercial. It is clearly impossible to work on all challenges at the same time. Indeed all the advice you are given is to focus on a single topic in order to achieve anything of significant value.

But... what if it were possible? What if it were possible to help everyone, all at the same time?

We started exploring this notion back in 2008, when our founder, Mark Turrell, started working on the fundamental concepts that would culminate in the creation of Orcasci. His inspiration was a thought experiment, a technique successfully used by Albert Einstein in his work (no relation to Orcasci, of course).

Mark started to think through the following topic: "Could we imagine a single blog for Planet Earth?" Quickly, questions and issues emerged. Who would write it? Would anyone be able to submit suggested content? What content would be allowed? Could anyone edit? Or comment? What color scheme would the pages have? ... And so on. Silly questions.

A single blog for the planet makes no sense whatsoever. Instead we have blog software and templates so that anyone can blog (however inane their thoughts might be or appear to be to others).

Our notion of helping others change the world for better follows the same principles. We realized early on that our role should be to develop techniques and methods that could be used at scale to help other organizations, commercial and non-profit, spread their good works - their ideas, new products, and positive behavioral change. And to support this goal, we would develop techniques that could be applied with great success very quickly, within days or a low number of weeks. That would allow us to help more people faster.

We greatly respect and admire the work that organizations do at the front-line of their business or social operations. We can never hope to emulate them in the depth of knowledge of their area, or have the capacity to implement positive change in their chosen fields. What we can do, though, is help them solve their spread problems faster and achieve scale. Therefore Orcasci is the humble toolmaker, designing and applying the methods to achieve change and spread. And we look forward to helping you on your journey.

Monday
Oct252010

Putting flesh on the bones of our Methodology

One of the most fun phases in developing a new business is the creation of new tools and methods. We start with a basic 'skeleton' of a structure, and gradually find the pieces to start putting flesh on the bones, and finally clothes on the body.

We only started the company actively in September 2010, based on almost two decades of foundational work. Our current stage is fleshing out the bones, and to do that we like working on real-life projects. We also like synthezising inputs and conclusions from a wide range of projects, hence we have been working e.g. on movies (see Iron Doors case study) and engagement platforms for the arts (see AEP Platform case study) at the same time.

It is unbelievably fun approaching a new assignment, digging into psychology and neurology research, investigating what already exists on a topic, and piecing together the elements that can make a brand new 'spread' solution. (We are looking for interns to work on projects - mostly remotely, unless you're on one of our trip-routes - so mail us at info@orcasci.com). We are rapidly building a very robust method (the skeleton), and putting the muscle on the bones with tactics and techniques.

We plan to continue this process as a core part of our business. Gradually we are building solution 'templates' that can be adapted and reused across client projects. And, as we love innovation and new things, we will continue to work on first-of-a-kind projects to expand our knowledge and give us the opportunity to help even more clients spread good things.

Thursday
Oct212010

Observation on 'Behavioral Science versus Psychology'

Core to our strategy and marketing work at Orcasci is the use of scientific methods to understand the background to a situation, and to use elements of science to craft straightforward solutions to client problems. As part of our approach, we start a review of relevant scientific research at an early stage in our projects, to provide insights and guide solution development.

We recently worked on the Iron Doors movie project designing a marketing strategy and plan to create buzz around a new independent psycho thriller. Naturally, upon winning the assignment, we started to research an obvious topic, the psychology of horror movies.

Whilst we won't go into detail on this research here, the results of which are in part proprietary information for us, we did observe a clear delineation between behavioral science research and the writings of psychologists and psychiatrists. The key difference consisted of the amount of guesswork regarding the hypotheses explaining behaviors, and the level of validation to test these hypotheses.

It is quite easy to develop and test theories in physical sciences, like physics or biology. It is quite hard to do this in social sciences, like psychology. However, just because it is hard, psychologists and psychiatrists should not neglect to apply the scientific method of hypothesis generation and testing, and one certainly should be wary of publishing 'research' lacking any formal testing unless one attaches a big 'WARNING' sign to the research paper or blog post. It is easy to get lulled into believing a beautifully written, plausible research paper and forget that very often it has no proven basis in reality or fact.

We can imagine a branch of Orcasci dedicated to working on testing out some important hypotheses, in collaboration with universities and other research groups. With Internet tools, the cost of doing some types of research has dropped dramatically, and we will take advantage of this to generate more credible answers to some of the world's behavioral science challenges.

We are great fans of Richard Wiseman's work on Quirkology. Amongst his classic projects is his work to discover the world's funniest joke (and we've anecdotally tested it out - it seems to work). Our research and findings are likely to be at the fun, human end of the spectrum of psychological research, rather than hardcore topics like depression or socially deviant behavior.

We will also start soliciting research questions from the general public - to help build up our knowledge base, and to share fun insights (great for dinner-table conversations).

But in the meantime we continue to research what already exists in our target domains, and read the research and views out there on the Internet and in publications with a skeptical eye. We hope you remember to do the same.

Sunday
Oct102010

The Orcasci Method – the Importance of History

One of the fundamental problems of designing any program that involves change or spread is that you do not know if it will work until you have started implementing it, and often you will not know if it actually works for many months afterwards. Moreover, you often cannot even tell if something is broken in the method – a 'fixable' broken thing – until it is too late to do anything about it.

That leads us to history. History books offer us a wealth of insight into what works and what does not work, particularly those books that delve into great depth on single topics. Interesting examples are They Made America by Harold Evans, The Map that Changed the World by Simon Winchester, and Mould in Dr. Florey’s Coat by Eric Lax. These books perform a fantastic reality check on how things really got started, dispelling popular myths (such as Henry Ford supposedly claiming “You can have any color you want as long as it’s black’ – untrue) and illuminating techniques and methods that would be hidden without such historical insight.

We therefore have, uniquely, chosen to incorporate a historical review into the Research and Ideation phase of our methodology. This means that once we have understood the basic spread challenge, we review our base of historical knowledge (lots and lots of books and Internet references) and think through analogies of the problem with the help of appropriate web searches (and book downloads onto our iPad/iPhone Kindles). This gives us an additional stream of ideas and concepts, plus provides us with some warning signals and ideally some implementation tactics.

Our method is quite flexible and non-dogmatic. Like other aspects of research that we might incorporate, such as neuroscientific insight, sometimes a finding does not make the cut in defining a solution avenue, or become part of the end solution. However, it is good to open one's eyes to history, and rapidly we have found our 'at-our-fingertips' knowledge base of historical analogies to be large and very useful.

So, if you have not got into history books yet, we thoroughly recommend you get started. And if you do have a passion for the topic, please feel free to contact us with recommendations.

Thursday
Sep092010

Orcasci Vision and Mission

The nice thing about establishing your own company is that you can shape it the way you want. Ultimately, if customers do not want to buy from you, folks don’t fancy joining your team, and banks or investors refuse to hand over cash, you need to recognize this as a sign that your mission and vision are slightly adrift of reality and have to be adjusted.

Fortunately we are not in that position at Orcasci. Like other ventures from our founder, Mark Turrell, this company’s mission is to change the world for better – by helping spread good things. This is not dissimilar from Mark’s previous venture, Imaginatik, although it is harder to make this kind of statement in an established public firm where there are more expectations of profit and cash flow than fulfilling a mission. That being said, you can square the circle – it just takes some work.

We have taken some inspiration from firms like Google and Facebook. There are many attributes to look at in a firm. So to be specific, we looked at the focus of these companies on creating something that was valuable to their users and customers, and based on that insight working out aspects of the business model further down the line.

At Orcasci, we have a similar philosophy. Of course, there needs to be revenue and profit to keep the lights on and make people happy. But, if the vision is wider, and your eyes are stretched wide open to scout out opportunities, the money will find its way to you.

So, this is a slightly long-winded way of saying that we are open to all kinds of arrangements in how we can help organizations spread good things. We know – and have the science of complex systems to help us out – that the good things will emerge.