Reflections of 2015

Well, it’s the end of the year and when I take my traditional leave of absence from work and reflect back on the past year, my failures and successes and my life in general. But before I disconnected from all things technical and digital, I read one last email from a friend.

You see, my friend has had a very tough last few months due to family tragedies and pain. Death of a family member, cancer in his immediate family and the general weight of his company struggling to redefine itself. All this gloom and dread would make anyone sadden and place them in a dark place. Yet, for all the hardship he found a light flickering in all this darkness.

That light was merely three words. Words he heard so often from the one who passed that now ring so clearly to him that he felt he must share and share he did. He took those three simple words , wrote them in an email and shared them with over 200 others.

It’s these words, that child spoke so many times and I wish to pass on to you.

“Make it count.” 

To many times in our life, we ‘just do’ and not take the effort to do a little more. Enough makes no impact. I spoke with someone at lunch yesterday and we chatted about purpose versus process. All too many times, people start projects without defining the purpose and how it will impact others. To be successful, create purpose or improve others we simple must step up a little more. Don’t just do what is expected or just gets the job done, take a moment and ponder on how you can make each action count.

When we make something count, we can give it purpose, yes, we can even give ourselves purpose. So, when you start that new business, make that new relationship or start some new endeavor, remember these three simple words from a child whose life has passed way too soon, ‘Make It Count.’

May the coming new year bring you the best of all things, but most of all, I hope you can start 2016 with “Make It Count.”

See you all in 2016.

Staging A Remote Experience

Okay, so I completed my Experience Economy Certification this past September with James H. Gilmore & B. Joseph Pine II. Extremely intense event and education. And like most events I attend, I created some Visual Translations  (my version of sketchnotes) to help keep all the big ideas.

My grandmother and my mother always told me to give when I could, so, as part of my appreciation for my mentors and the companionship of my fellow classmates, I sent out my series of 6 thINKing Canvas to each of them as a reminder and a thank you.

What I thought was a simple gesture of friendship  returned an even greater gift from my friend Dennis Moseley-Williams. An Inspiring Video.

What a great feeling to get in return for a simple gesture. This is how experiences are staged.

Thanks Dennis!

P.S. Here are the boards the canvas from our certification class that were distributed. One for the five days of training and one recap.

DAY 1:

TEEC Day 1 sm

DAY 2:

TEEC Day 2 sm

DAY 3:

TEEC Day 3 sm

DAY 4:

TEEC Day 4 sm

DAY 5:

TEEC Day 5 sm

RECAP:

TEEC Highlight sm

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.

SPARK Your Imagination

There’s a growing trend in America. A trend where the world of art and artists are collaborating with businesses and business leaders to generate a richer offering as well as a new perspective on creating healthier and stronger businesses. There is no better avenue for this thinking in St. Louis than the SPARK Conference hosted by COCAbiz at COCA.

I was honored to be able to perform the graphic recording of the event, for Sharon Price John’s morning presentation and for the evening’s Keynote address by John Maeda. Below is the large-scale graphic recording of the full day event of SPARK at COCA.

COCAbiz SPARK 2015 sm

Please check out the wonderful services and programming that COCAbiz has to offer by contacting Steve Knight at COCAbiz. Just follow the link and get creative with business solutions.

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.

I Believe… My Purpose

Stop me if you heard this one before…

“I have a great idea for a…” or “No one else is doing this. It would be a great business…”

Like you, I have heard many of these lines over the past years from people who were thinking of starting a business or expanding an existing offering. Over time I have come to realize that potentials are not about a great idea or a gap in opportunities, rather it’s about the reason it’s important to do. So, the best question I can ask of them is this…

What’s the purpose?

Hint; ‘Purpose’ speaks to people. “Human to Human”

As Simon Sinek states, “Start with Why”. I believe the ‘Why’ will help identify the ‘Who’ if clearly defined and then possibly the ‘How.’ What you provide to support that ‘Why’ (your purpose/cause) could become your offering.

Once you determine to create, expand or even redesign your offering, map it out visually to make it a tangible plan, then heed some important advice that was shared with me. Seek out an outside professional to help you see beyond your framework to ensure that your purpose is clear and important enough to others as well to sustain growth and success.

Be a Cause, not just because.

Archetype versus Stereotype

I have always been interested in the progression of things. How they evolve, what conditions influence the progression of change and especially when they get diverted or diffused. Studying the progression of anything can teach you about the environment surrounding each phase of the progression for it is these external influences that guide the change. Understanding these changes is an essential component to predicting other progressions or understanding why they get diverted.

One of the best examples of the progression concept was provided by B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore’s in their book “The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage.” In their classic example of the economy, the progression demonstrates the progression from an era of commodities to that of experiences and the emerging economy of transformation. With each evolution in the economy, the external influences has been ‘Value,’ as perceived by the consumer. The other external influences is also ‘Competitive Advantage’ by the provider.

Take a look at the diagram below to see the phases of “The Progression of Economic Value.”

progression_economic_value

You can learn more about this topic here at their website: StrategicHorizons.com or by reading their second edition of “The Experience Economy.”

This was not my first introduction to the progression concept back in 2005, but it was the first time I began understanding on a deeper level how external influences can have rippling effects as well as how to identify key influencers. I also discovered how quickly others could distort an idea of progression theme either because of the lack of understanding all the elements, marketing need to look like experts with a signature program or simply sourced bad information and propagated unknowingly as fact.

One example I want to show that has become diverted from its progression path because of marketing or other misconception influences is the progression of consumer marketing research. For those who may not be familiar with the topic, it is the type of research companies use to study consumer markets. Most research programs focus on statistical data of the numbers of potential consumers in a given area. Like other progressions where the human factor influences, the progression takes on an interesting dynamic except at the point of divergence to something off track.

PoMR

As the illustration shows, focus around filtration of statistical data has been the influencers of the progression of market research. Research moved from the geographical where the focus was on the overall number of consumers in a given area or region. This was the most basic of data clusters. No particular values or buying tendencies are identified, purely raw numbers of bodies. This is known as population density modeling and only provides the most rudimentary of information.

Then data began using filters to “characterize” population numbers into small cluster groups. These groups could be age, income, gender, etc. or could be a combination of these factors. This method became known as Demographic Research. It offered a better look at compatibility, yet did not guarantee true alignment with the provider/consumer relationship. Demographic data research is still used even today by many businesses and market researchers.

An outside influence to data is the introduction of trends or psychology of “types” of buyers. This progression of research used much of the same data filters as demographic research as well as introduced similarities of buyers financially, culturally and socially. This type of research became known as Psychographic Research. Unlike its predecessors, psychographic profiling added in buyer habits and trends to develop market segments or types of consumers. This method opened a whole new door to approaching a market and how to communicate, not just to the masses, but to refine segments. This method became more customized to a type of consumer and allowed providers a better targeting process. Soon many large providers began utilizing this method to gain market share or competitive advantage over similar providers.

It is about here in the progression, when something changes research. Another, but older influence would dramatically change research. In 1919, a psychologist by the name of Carl Jung would develop a psychological profile method called Jungian archetypes and introduce the term “persona” to the world. This idea of psychological archetypes and personas would not begin to blend into market research until the mid 1990’s by Angus Jenkinson and OgilvyOne Agency.

Archetype and Persona market research shifted the focus from people to the needs of a person. Similar to Pine and Gilmore’s model of the progression of economic value where the driver is the shift from mass markets to markets of one, personas focus on the needs of individual “type” consumers. Behavior and motivation become the criteria for this market research process. In 2006, Pruitt and Adlin issued the benefits of using personas in product development via the publication; ‘The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design.’

The shift from statistical data filters evolves from the external condition to the internal psychological need of consumers. Unfortunately, a divergence happens with this thinking. Personally I feel it may be due to the time and education required to support this type of research that an adaptation of this concept arose creating confusion within the industry and with users.

Simplicity overshadowed the progression. Researchers may have needed to express findings as more statistical data to provide information in a way typical of earlier methods by putting a face to the data or clients did not understand the complete persona process for product development, but an alteration of the process emerged in research and off tracked the meaning of “Persona” research.

The industry took a split in its thinking from the Jungian Persona concept where it was not about a person, rather a behavior and need, rather it became about identify a person as a type of user. The method is diverting from the idea of why a person does something to what a group of people did. As Simon Sinek would communicate, this is a separation between ‘Why’ and ‘What’ of the focus of information.

So to illustrate this a bit better I took the pen to paper and visualized what the progression method of Persona/Archetype research is and what marketing and research firms are driving it to become by commoditizing the data and the process.

image

As you may noticed, the difference is much about the growing development of stereotypes as opposed to archetypes and personas that Carl Jung originally developed and Angus Jenkinson and OgilvyOne Agency refined. The methods, though share some similar terminology and history, are definitely focusing on two very different sources of information. This create confusion for myself as well as many others seeking to know more about this new progression of research.

So did I write this? The purpose was that this began as a personal research that became a journey of clarity. If you are looking to better understand your consumers and wish to create better design in your offerings, then take care to understand what you are looking for and how it is being processed. The progression of market research shifts from the collective people to that of the individual need. Anything less, in my opinion, is simple a dumbing down of the potential of a process to rationalize or commoditized its offering to become a market research of stereotypes and not archetypes.

Be in the ‘Know’ of what you are engaging in and how it creates opportunities or hurdles in your progression of value to your consumer. The best gold miners rarely minded where others stood.

Good luck and thank you for taking the time to read the ramblings of an IdeaFreak. May your tomorrows be successful and filled with wonderful opportunities!