Change Through an Idea Prism

There has been a lot of talk online and at various conferences these past years about change with management and culture. Most of these conversations have been around a single change or a single possible outcome. In my idea of change it is never a single event or single target, because change is more fluid and variable than most target.

Over the years of working with teams on change, be it for teams, management, brands or even physical representation, I have observed when groups focus on one single outcome or definition, they overlook so many more possibilities. The range of ideas become broader than their vision.

To help explain, the graphic below shows the idea of planning change in three key phases.

change-ideation-sm

At the start lies the current state. Unchanging and ever decaying for stagnation is decay. So many people have this idea that if they just do what they have always done that time will resolve any issues. The reality is that they are correct, unfortunately, the solution will probable be something they don’t want. When you do choose your course, one will be chosen for you and that choice is rarely in your favor.

Begin by determining ‘Why’ you need to change. What happens if you don’t change and everything around is? Create a clear explanation why staying the course and letting outside forces dictate your change. My guess is you will soon realize the old adage ‘Change or Die’ begins to ring in your ears.

Okay, you finally have a reason to change. Great! Now move that through a process of creative ideation. Look at various ways of how change can happen and determine what are positive and negative advantages to these changes. If you look at the change delta as a prism, the idea is to disperse all the possible variables to create a range of possibilities. It is these possibilities that can help create the possible change you can accept or are capable of performing.

These variations become the ‘What’ states of change. Like light through a prism, each variation of color does not have a distinct separation from its neighboring colors. There is a blurring between each band. This is true of ideas and change. There is no clear defined path or hard outcome. Change creates variations of complexity and it is your ability and capacity to determine how complex of a change your can create.

So, when you hear someone talk of change management or culture change, find out if they are talking variations or single outcomes or changes. If it is a single possibility then use the prism of ideas process, commonly called ideation, to create multiple options and find which solution works best for you or your business.

Avoid the static and the stagnate states of daily life, always plan by seeing your goals and mapping the journey to them.

Keep the Book “Look” a Secret

One of my mentors, James Gilmore, just completed and sent for printing his latest book called “Look” on observation skills. I think this will be a great tool for designers and planners. Can’t wait to get my first copy.

Look Gilmore sm

So keep it a secret. It becomes available on Amazon in August 2016. Here’s where to get it. 

What is the Experience

“We have a great customer experience.”

Okay, I know we all have heard this response from a lot of companies expressing what makes them different than the competition. Maybe we even caught ourselves say it. The phrase ‘A Great Customer Experience’ has become the hot buzzword response statement of the year. Yet, each time I hear this I find myself wondering and wanting to ask this question…

“What is the experience you’re staging for your customer that is so great?”

Let me be clear about one thing, a true experience is not an enhancement of services to support an offering, rather, the experience is the offering which is supported by goods and services. If the experience is the offering, than what type of customer experience are you staging?

Pine and Gilmore identified two dimensions of an experience. The first dimension is that of customer or guest participation. At one of the spectrum lies passive participation and at the other, active participation.

The second dimension of an experience is the type of connection or environmental relationship that connects the customer to the event or performance. At one end of this spectrum lies absorption, viewing from a distance. At the other lies immersion, becoming physically part of the experience itself.

Combining these two aspects helps to define the four primary types of experiences customers can partake of. In the upper left lies the passive absorption of Entertainment such as listening to music, watching a performance or even reading for pleasure. In the upper right lies the active absorption of Educational Experiences. To the lower right lies the active immersion of Escapist Experiences where customers are actively involved. In the final quadrant to the lower left lies the experience of the Esthetic such as viewing artwork in a gallery or museum.

Combinations of any two of these experience realms can create six additional blended experiences. The real differentiator for a great customer experience is the ability of hitting the sweet spot between all four realms into one blended experience like Walt Disney has achieved with the theme parks.

So, the next time you hear someone say they have a great customer experience, ask them what kind of experience(s) are they staging for their customers, because Disney never said he had a ‘Great Customer Experience’ only great experiences.

The Edge of Change

The world we live in is a funny place. Conversations, styles and even perceived needs are cyclical. What is old is new and new, well, that’s so this morning. Every thing changes. Everything. Those things, people, businesses that don’t, well, that’s so in the past. Change is the only constant they say and I find it to be true. Change up, change back, change around, change out, change into, etc… We have so many perceptions of change that the adaptations seem endless.

Change comes in various sizes and increments. Some changes are dramatic while others are subtle. No matter what, change happens to us all each day. The real goal is to try to guide change as best we can, because change never happens as we expect. It always has hidden surprises or consequences.

But what is change? When does something or someone change? I guess that answer lies in the eye of the observer. Only those closely watching can see the change happening, but for most, we see the event after the change. But what if you could plan change in some fashion. This I have asked for some time and here is what I have created.

Based on the idea that yesterday and today are unchangeable, if you avoid any theoretical ideas of time travel, that only leaves the future for change. And, if change only happens in the future, than you can guide the outcome given you can determine all the factors affected by change. And so, here is my model for change.

Change Deltasm

This is my Delta model for change. Even if you stand at the very edge, change will occur. Time always moves forward and you must move with it. But you can decide how you want the change to happen and what you want the change to create once you understand why you want or need the change to happen.

As the model indicates, change should be an improvement and performed of a duration of time through some given process. Also, you must determine any and all pitfalls and obstacles that may hinder you crossing the gap of change.

So the steps:

  1. Why is there a need for change? “Why”
  2. How will this change occur? “How”
  3. Who can help you achieve this change? “Who”
  4. What improvement will change create? “What”
  5. How long will the change take? “When”
  6. And where do you want to be when the change is complete? “Where”

Map the change before you act. Take you intangible idea and make it a tangible plan.

Not All Customer Experiences Are True Experiences

As the old adage goes, “All ponies are horses, but not all horses are ponies.” This is the same for ‘Customer Experiences.’ Not all customer experiences are truly an experience that creates economic value. Making the distinction between an Experience and a customer experience can be confusing if you assume both are the same. Let me make it simple, they’re not. Most customer experiences are merely good or great customer service labeled with an over used buzzword. Calling customer service a customer experience does not elevate it to a true experience.

The term “Customer experience” has become the catchall phrase for anything above an expected customer relationship performance by a provider. Consumers expect good, if not, great customer service, but it’s not unique enough to be called a Customer Experience. If a retailer adds extras like a coffee station or creates a good aesthetic environment through sound and trimmings to entice customers to buy, this does not guarantee that have created, or more precisely, staged an experience. All that has been accomplished is an improvement to the environment of a service or goods provider. There is no real economic value created from the experience itself only the application of dressing to increase sales.

How can you determine if your ‘Customer Experience’ is actually a true experience or packaging for promoting sales? Look at it this way; an experience is an offering where-as the consumer is willing to pay for the time spent and not the goods or services purchased. An experience is focused on creating memories and not selling things. This is not to say that an experience does not provide goods or services as part of an offering, only that it is not the focus of the offering.

Simple rule of thumb; if the focus of your offering is simply on the selling of goods or services provided and not the time spent interacting with the customer, than you are, by definition, in the Goods or Service business creating only good or great customer service to sell stuff and not a true Experience stager helping to create memories for consumers.

There is greater value in memories than in merchandise.

To learn more about the value of Experiences read; Science Daily’s:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090207150518.htm, Fast Company’s post: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3043858/world-changing-ideas/the-science-of-why-you-should-spend-your-money-on-experiences-not-thing or, I would suggest reading B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore’s book“The Experience Economy” Update version.