Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Conceptual Architecture

Interesting article today about Andrew Zambelli, former aide to Mario Cuomo and now appointed aide to his son Andrew Cuomo, describing him as a "conceptual architect" [Capital New York, 14 December 2010]. He will be responsible for the oversight and strategic integration of the communications, inter-governmental, legislative and constituency efforts of the Office of the Governor.

Zambelli has been working for a consultancy (Strategic Frameworking) that describes itself as a Corps of Conceptual Architects and defines conceptual architecture as follows.
We create strategic frameworks for business development based on significant insight regarding the evolving needs of consumers and customers. ... Heavily steeped in psychological exploration to uncover the true essence of “brand,” SFI’s proprietary approach to brand building — what we call “conceptual architecture” — has produced some of the most touted and far-reaching brand strategies over the past quarter century for clients such as PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch, Tricon (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut), Hershey, Microsoft, Colgate-Palmolive and Kraft Foods.

But perhaps the most interesting insight into Zambelli's role as aide to Cuomo senior comes from a Time article reporting Governor Cuomo's decision not to run for President in 1992. Cuomo's political advisers were "sticklers for order and slaves to planning" and wanted to know his decision ahead of time, but he refused to decide until the last possible moment. [Michael Kramer, Politics At Last: A No-Go From Mario (Time, 30 Dec 1991)] Even the uncharacteristic extravagence of an unnecessarily chartered plane to New Hampshire wasn't enough to persuade the Governor to show his hand. As top assistant, Zambelli was therefore required to prepare for something that in the end never happened. But I guess that's what conceptual architects often have to do.

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