Arbor Day: Your Chance To Be A Generous Designer

Nature is the Original Hacker

Nature is the original hacker; she’s been at it for a long time, much longer than humans. Does nature ever get it wrong? The follow-up question is, wrong from whose perspective, a human perspective? Or, is it like Leonardo da Vinci said of art, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Perhaps when we think of nature being wrong, whatever we’re observing simply isn’t completed.

Generous Design by Nature

Nature is bountiful and sustainable; it’s also very generous. Trees, for example, are a generous gift from nature. Glorious natural trees are water absorbing, pollution filtering, soil protecting, oxygen giving, and shelter providing. Planting trees is good for the planet as trees absorb carbon dioxide, one of the gases that collect in the atmosphere, trap heat, and warm the planet. Trees are good for people too, with many positive psychological benefits. Being in the presence of swaying trees reduces anxiety, lowers blood pressure and connects us to the natural environment. The soothing rhythmic motion of trees or even grass is not unlike that of mothers who instinctively use gentle swaying motion to comfort their babies. Did you ever notice that you feel better around trees or in a rocking chair?

“The symbolism – and the substantive significance – of planting a tree has universal power in every culture and every society on Earth, and it is a way for individual men, women and children to participate in creating solutions for the environmental crisis.”

Albert Arnold “Al” Gore, Jr.
45th Vice President of the United States
Author, environmental activist,
2007 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
(born March 31, 1948)

Trees are a generous gift from nature. Humans can be generous designers as well.

Generous Design by Humans

As I describe in, The Experience Design Blueprint, generous design makes people smile. When an organization exceeds expectations without any pressure to do so, people often take notice. It might mean going beyond what is required by law or code, or even the norm set by competitors. Often the thoughtfulness goes unnoticed, but the design still serves to make things a little easier or a little better.

When you experience generous design firsthand you think to yourself, “Wow, somebody thought of that. How nice!” But, more importantly, you feel that somebody cared and as a result they touched your heart and your mind. Generous design goes beyond expectations, like a dual drinking station for humans and canines alike or a stair rail that extends a little more than required, so that it comfortably greets those about to meet the stairs. Unexpected trees alongside the built environment can be generous gifts that restore the human spirit, cause us to slow down, and even provide healing. We see and feel these in urban areas, parks, boulevards, universities, and even healthcare facilities.

tree lined boulevard as generous design - Delightability

Arbor Day

Arbor Day is the day dedicated annually to public tree-planting in the U.S., Australia, and other countries around the world. You needn’t be an arborist or a landscape designer to plant a tree. Even birds (or other animals) inadvertently plant trees as they eat fruit in one area and defecate in another. Animals do this without even thinking. But, you are human, perhaps even superhuman. You can be a thoughtful, generous designer and plant a tree, if not for yourself for those who will enjoy it 100 years from now.

planting a pine tree

Culture of Care

Though Arbor Day provides you an official day to be thoughtful and generous, you needn’t be gated by such holidays. Opportunities for generous design are all around us. The best thing is you don’t have to be a designer by title or role – a bird isn’t, after all. You can participate at any time, in planting a tree or other thoughtful acts that exceed expectations and turn lips upward. The Culture of Care is afoot. If you’ve already joined – thank you! If not, we hope you’ll join our movement.

about the author

Gregory Olson founded strategy and design firm Delightability, LLC. with the belief that if you delight customers then success will follow. He believes that we all have the potential to do better, as individuals, organizations, and entire nations.
image of Greg-Olson-Managing Director of Delightability and author of Experience Design BLUEPRINTGregory Olson’s latest book is L’ impossi preneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow, a light-hearted and deadly serious book about a brighter future where we live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans.

Greg also authored The Experience Design Blueprint, a book about designing better experiences and then making them come true.

10 Ways Climate Change and Customer Experiences Are Alike

image of concerned baby for blog post about climate change and customer experienceIgnoring Climate Change and Customer Experience can result in diminished human potential and destroyed companies, brands, property, and lives. The good news is that amid deniers of Climate Change or those that don’t think the Customer Experience matters, there are many people who do care and are actively engaging others to care, too.

10 ways in which Climate Change and Customer Experience are alike:

  1. Detection Informs Design. For Climate Change and Customer Experience we can detect changes that can inform smarter design; smarter design of products, services, spaces, and organizations. We can design and deliver better Customer Experiences and we can design more thoughtful organizations, institutions, and policies to create a more sustainable and inclusive future for all. We can even design systems to protect people from the effects of Climate Change. Of course being informed is one thing; we still have to decide to actually do something differently if we expect to have different outcomes. Progress is pesky that way; we have to invest in it. Rarely does it advance on its own.
  1. Pioneers Face Resistance. There are conferences and summits that deal directly with Climate Change and Customer Experience. People attend these conference and summits; gain ideas for improvements, then return to their daily lives to face resistance, opposition, and even misdirection. These pioneers of Customer Experience and of Climate Change push headlong against social, cultural, and political opponents who would rather keep things as they are. Some of these pioneers (entrepreneurs pursuing the seemingly impossible) persevere and we eventually come to know their innovations and perhaps even their names.
  1. Little Things Together Have a Big Impact. Customer Experience and Climate Change involve many different factors that when working together make a big difference. With Customer Experience, all of the interactions across touchpoints over time in customers’ journeys work to ensure that a brand has staying power; those interactions can also spell disaster for a brand that cumulatively leaves a poor brand aftertaste in the minds of prospective and current customers. Similarly, recycling, industrial composting, production practices, and individual purchase and consumption habits, etc., don’t look like much in isolation. But, taken together they make a big impact on social, environmental, and economic systems. Things are more connected than we often realize.
  1. Policy Must Connect With Humans. Climate Change and Customer Experience solutions require holistic solutions that benefit when top-down policy direction is informed by bottom-up data and actions. Returns processing, online purchase behavior, communications, etc., are all better solutions for customers when the top and bottom meet somewhere in the middle, at the customer’s reality. When it comes to climate change, proposed policies and agreements that factor in the real world experiences of displaced (or soon to be) climate refugees, are more humane, meaningful, and long-lasting.
  1. Meaningful Metrics Needed. Customer Experience and Climate Change both suffer at the hands of operators who internalize profits while externalizing costs to customers, society, and sometimes to workers. Landfills are filled with junk products that are designed to be profitable so long as customers accept the notion they are buying disposable, nonrenewable, non-repairable, and many times nonreturnable products. People that may be marginalized in the process are invisible to most consumers. Save for the consumer that looks for Cradle to Cradle certification, Fair Trade certification, Organic, or other inherently sustainable labels, most consumers are in the dark; They serve as unwitting pawns that contribute to harming the earth and its inhabitants while the puppet masters that exploit the seemingly limitless earth’s resources and marginalize people do extremely well for themselves and their allies. Metrics that go beyond profits and include social and environmental factors are increasingly important to global citizens that share a common planet.
  1. Leadership Must Adapt. Both Customer Experience and Climate Change create victims while at the same time producing those who do extremely well under the “old system,” at least until the day they don’t. Imagine building your empire based on vast fossil fuel reserves or a particular product or technology only to find that over time it has become irrelevant as the world moved on. I wouldn’t want to be manufacturing typewriters, selling palm oil that contributes to deforestation, or base my entire country’s economy on fossil fuel production. It’s important to pay attention to and respond to the changing mood of people. Organizations and governments would do well to build more responsive organizations that balance the needs of many stakeholders. Use The Promise Delivery System of Chapter 8 in The Experience Design Blueprint to build a more responsive organization. Any organization can operationalize a promise delivery system using whatever technology and personnel it has at its disposal.
  1. Myriad Factors Are Involved. Customer service is to Customer Experience as habitat protection is to Climate Change. Either one is but one factor in a compilation of interrelated issues – necessary, but insufficient. As described in The Experience Design Blueprint, an experience is a contextual interaction between people, objects, services, and spaces. Customer service is only a small, albeit important, component of the overall Customer Experience. Likewise, there are many factors involved in Climate Change including the water cycle, the natural environment and built environment, agricultural practices, trade policy, economic empowerment, production practices, individual consumption patterns, etc. Not every factor can be controlled by any individual or organization. But, that doesn’t absolve any individual or organization from its own inaction.
  1. Opponents Think It Too Expensive. Opponents may say investing in progress whether it is Customer Experience or Climate Change is too expensive. It’s true that short-term indulgent thinking might satisfy our immediate hunger, but it’s a satisfaction like junk food satisfies. It is filling for the moment, but it lacks nutritional value and substance. And in the long run, it doesn’t work for your waistline or your health. The VW Emission Cheating Scandal may have looked like a good idea in the short run but in the long run, it’s harmful to the environment, owners of vehicles, owners of the company stock, and ultimately to the affected brands. Gimmicks to prop up earnings in the short run are too often heralded while long-term investments in employee training, organizational performance, and customer empowerment are deemed to be unwarranted expenditures.
  1. Lack of Systems Thinking. Customer Experience or Climate Change? That is somebody else’s problem to solve (or the worry of another agency or department). There is a lack of systems thinking, holistic solutions are lacking, and conversations are too small. We confuse causation with correlation. Our biases, ideologies, and patterns of behavior get in the way; so do our means of livelihood. “My tailpipe emission didn’t cause that. Leaving the light on doesn’t matter, my extra trip, extra purchase, my upgrade, my tossing that compostable product in the trash. What difference does it really make?”  Often times, in organizations, we face back office and top office decisions that undermine the remarkable actions of front-line personnel that actually strive to do the right thing for customers and the organization.
  1. What do you think? I’m sure you have ideas on how Climate Change and Customer Experience are alike, face the same challenges, are improving, etc. I’ve closed comments on this post but please do share your ideas with me and others on social media.

Things Are Connected

Things are more connected than they first appear to be. Delivering great Customer Experiences and having sustainable production and consumption patterns that don’t contribute to anthropogenic (human-caused) Climate Change are both issues that require we confront our common reality, engage in new thinking, new conversations, and that collectively we invest in progress. Good global citizens are increasingly paying attention to matters of Customer Experience and Climate Change. Brands (including governments) that embrace great customer experiences and that live up to their changing duties as the climate continues to wreak havoc on people and property, will do better in the future than deniers or bad actors that stick to outdated modes of thinking.

The Future is Better than the Past

To escape the present and explore a brighter future where we all live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans read L’ impossi preneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow.

about the author

image of one page overview of L impossi preneurs - A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow by Gregory OlsonGregory Olson’s latest book is L’ impossi preneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow, a light-hearted and deadly serious book about a brighter future where we live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans. This book challenges each of us to think differently, spark our own conversations, and play a role in nudging the world forward to create a better future for all. Find it at Amazon, CreateSpace e-Store,Barnes & Noble, Bokus, or order it from your local bookstore.

image of one page overview - The Experience Design Blueprint by Gregory OlsonGreg also authored The Experience Design Blueprint, a book about designing better experiences and then making them come true. Exercises and mental models in the book will build your confidence and competence in envisioning better possibilities and then making them come true, whether you are working alone or alongside a team. Chapters in the book that especially pertain to this article include:

  • Chapter 6: Remarkable, Unbroken and Generous Design
  • Chapter 8: The Promise Delivery System
  • Chapter 11: Barriers to Innovation and Overcoming the Wall
  • Chapter 12: The Three Psychological Zones
  • Chapter 13: Taking Flight

image of Greg-Olson-Managing Director of Delightability and author of Experience Design BLUEPRINTGregory Olson founded strategy and design firm Delightability, LLC. with the belief that if you delight customers then success will follow. He believes that we all have the potential to do better, as individuals, organizations, and communities, but sometimes we need a little help.  Gregory also serves as a volunteer board member for Oikocredit Northwest, a support association for social and impact investor, Oikocredit International.

New Book Now Available, The Experience Design BLUEPRINT

The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations

Dear Friends,

Today, we are proud to announce the publication of a new book, The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations. This highly visual book is chock full of 78 images, new mental models, and 56 recipes that you can immediately apply to your own organization, no matter your title or role.

It doesn’t matter where you sit in the organization, happier customers and a healthier organization should be front and center in what you do. But, chances are your mental models and conversations are hangovers from the industrial era. And, that prevents you and your organization from living up to your potential. If you have the courage to stop accepting mediocrity and to do something different, then The Experience Design BLUEPRINT is your actionable practitioner’s guide that can supercharge your team -whether you are an army of 1 or 1000’s.

The first section of the book is about making the invisible, visible. The aim is to see experiences, the organization, and its stakeholders, in a new light. With new eyes, you can envision promising possibilities for your customers, the organization, and those who serve within.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

The second section of the book is about making those possibilities come to life. It is about transformation and building an innovation neighborhood amid a world of work that has changed. I’ve also revealed the psychology at play and barriers that work against you reaching your intended destination. The second section of the book has more recipes, more models, and examples that will help you have more productive conversations and create a clear path forward so you can feel less argh and more aha!

I’ve done my part by writing the book and sharing models, examples, and step-by-step instructions for how to design new or repair existing experiences. Using nature and neighborhoods as inspiration, I’ve also provided a practical path forward that is equally relevant to the grass roots start up, the business on main street, or the government agency or large enterprise that struggles to remain relevant in an age of relentless change. No matter the size or type of the organization, the contents of this book apply to you as a human and a citizen of the planet.

Experience Design BLUEPRINT book purchase badge for amazonNow it is time for you to do your part. By reading this book you’ll better understand why you feel the way you do about your own experiences as a customer, an employee, or leader. But, more than that you’ll also better understand how you can shape the experiences of those around you and contribute towards building a more healthy organization and innovation culture. Read a sample of the book. Better yet, invest the equivalent price of 2 cups of coffee and purchase the book. Indulge, get lost in new possibilities, and change your world. Your customers and those serving alongside you will thank you. I thank you too!

I truly hope you enjoy the book, spark new insights, and make a bigger impact in what you do. Oh yeah, one last thing. The book is available in full-color print and also in electronic format, readable on nearly any device. Aside from the various Kindle devices, you can read the book using the free Kindle reading apps available for computers, tablets, smartphones, web browsers.

I want to share this book far and wide, to reach as many people as possible. Please help to spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or whatever medium you prefer.

smiley face for signature - Greg Olson Delightability LLC.

Very Sincerely,

Gregory Olson

about the author

Gregory Olson’s latest book is L’ impossi preneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow, a light-hearted and deadly serious book about a brighter future where we live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans. Greg also authored The Experience Design Blueprint, a book about designing better experiences and then making them come true.

image of Greg-Olson-Managing Director of Delightability and author of Experience Design BLUEPRINTGregory Olson founded strategy and design firm Delightability, LLC. with the belief that if you delight customers then success will follow. He believes that we all have the potential to do better, as individuals, organizations, and communities, but sometimes we need a little help.  Gregory also serves as a volunteer board member for Oikocredit Northwest, a support association for social and impact investor, Oikocredit International.

Is Your Flight Plan Ready for Your Small Business?

What, why do I need a flight plan you say? Because more than half of the pilots involved in mishaps did not file a flight plan before the accident flight. You might not fly a small aircraft but, if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, you need the equivalent of a flight plan too. Otherwise you may be an accident waiting to happen.

Flight plans for small craft pilots are filed with the FAA so there is a record of where the pilot intends to go. If the pilot doesn’t arrive within a window of time then a search is initiated.  The lack of a flight plan has led pilots and their craft to go missing for days. If you want the benefits of a search and rescue party, you’ll need to file a flight plan.

Free Calendar Daily Flight Plan Productivity Tool from Delightability and The Experience Design BLUEPRINT
click image to open latest Daily Flight Plan Calendar as PDF

So what does this have to do with running a small business? Well, you too, should be prepared and know where you are going each and every day. How long will you fritter about before you get down to business? Will you be distracted by social media, the next phone call, the insurmountable email inbox? If you are an emergency room doctor or a first responder your plan might be to respond and react. But, if you are an entrepreneur or small business owner wanting to grow your business, you’ll need to cut through the noise and be more proactive. You’ll also want to identify the people that can help you – your small business search and rescue; these might be customers, partners, or vendors.

Like most entrepreneurs and small business owners, you likely have a long list of things that get shoved off to the back burner waiting for another day when there is more time. But more time never actually does come right?

Today is no different than yesterday and tomorrow will look much the same. You only have 24 hours in a day. When it comes to time, there is no aristocracy of wealth. Genius or laziness is not rewarded or punished with any more time.

So, to make the most of what little time you have you must make a daily plan. At Delightability, I use the daily flight plan. It’s a free download; you can use it too.

The 3 Legged Stool

3-legged-stool of operations - promoting value - delivering value - balanced personal life - Delightability LLC.

There are a few visual indicators at the top of the flight plan that serve as reminders. The first is the 3 legged stool. Any small business owner struggles with balancing between running a smooth operation, delivering on whatever their product or service is, and performing the sales/marketing/business development function. Even if you are good at all three, you’ll struggle with the limited time available in a day. With the 3 legs being all consuming there isn’t much time for personal life – that should be you sitting atop the well balanced 3 legged stool. But, get out of balance and you and your personal life topple to the floor.

The 3 Funnels

Exposure Adoption Loyalty Funnels from Delightability LLC

The 3 funnels visual is a reminder that no matter what business we’re in we have customers to serve. Those customers didn’t start out as customers, they started out as prospects. And hopefully, they’ll move beyond being customers to become loyal advocates. So, the 3 funnels are the exposure funnel where you turn suspects into prospects, the adoption funnel where you turn prospects into customers that are using your product or service, and the retention funnel where you turn customers into loyal advocates. For a bit more read this previous post.

Touchpoints

The other visual reminder are touchpoints reminding us that we can affect the quality of the interactions that our customers have with us. Exceed the customer expectation at a touchpoint and you have the recipe for delight. Check out the previous issue of the What’s Next newsletter to learn more about the Delight-O-Meter model and see a couple of examples.

Week Numbers

Other items on the daily flight plan that can help you get about your business are the weekly calendar that goes 3 months at a time and the Guiding Principles. You don’t want your business to end up like the small craft pilot that landed with his gear up. So, download your flight plan, use it daily, and check it frequently. Use it to note the people you’ll reach out to whether they are customers or consultants.  You might not get any more time in the day but you’ll make the most of the time you have available and make a bigger impact along the way.

My Book out in September is Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations. Sign up to be notified of its release. With it, you’ll be better equipped to design more remarkable customer experiences and then make those experiences come to life in your organization and the business landscape. Sign Up to be notified of its release and please share with others.

Book Project Update

image of one page overview - The Experience Design Blueprint by Gregory Olson
click image to open one page PDF book summary

The Experience Design BLUEPRINT is now available. The first section of the book is about making the invisible visible. You’ll learn about the experience honeycomb, experience hoop and halo, and how to model experiences, whether those are for customers, employees, voters, members, investors, patients, clients, etc. You will build a rich experience vocabulary that is relevant to your audience and to your organization’s health. You’ll learn from everyday consumer examples and then learn how to apply filters, lenses, and levers to improve experiences of any type.

In the second section of the book, you’ll learn to visualize your promise delivery system, better navigate change, and improve your skills in overcoming the barriers that plague innovations and customer experience improvement initiatives. Click here or the image to download the one page book summary along with author contact information. Please reach out if you’d like some help.