Insights are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Like the road you travel daily to get to where your going, you pass by people, buildings, and landscape that seldom take notice. That is until you do. Life happens, context changes and then voila, something that was already there and invisible, suddenly appears as if out of nowhere. It now makes sense; it fits and spurs you to action. Now you call, you buy, you have a different conversation, you do something different. But this doesn’t have to be accidental. You can make this happen. You can make Voila become part of your everyday.
I witnessed a really funny thing. Well, a sadly funny thing. I accompanied a friend to Lowe’s home improvement. She had received a direct mail promotion containing a gift card that provided $10 toward any project purchase totaling $50 or more. Great! We were both excited to get cracking on that new painting project she had on her to-do list.
Trouble is Lowe’s didn’t really have what she wanted and the card expired that day. So, in the spirit of paying it forward, she went to the checkout area and targeted folks in line that obviously had more than $50 worth of merchandise.
According to the Deloitte Center for the Edge study in 2009, only 1 in 5 employees are passionate about their jobs.
Imagine the untapped potential that exists in the remaining 4/5 of your employee population. What if you could harness their potential and put it to good use, creating value for your customers and for your organization.
I had the good fortune of speaking with Yves Behar after a talk he gave at the Seattle Public Library. In his talk about Design for Good he either mentioned or hinted at repeatedly, that people need courage. I jokingly asked him if there was some sort of courage camp that these people attended, or if they found him. I seriously doubted that Yves, the founder of fuseproject, a brand and product experience company, was cold calling big brands and governments, spurring them to action. He said, the thing about courageous people is that they are looking for solutions.
Here is a sampling of what was made possible when others thought it impossible. One Laptop per Child.
You’ve heard about it. But, did you know that every primary school student in Uruguay has an XO computer. Conventional thinkers thought this to be impossible. They also thought there was a dearth of talent to maintain and upgrade the computers. It turns out that XO computers were designed for in country personnel with little training to be able to upgrade the operating system, which they have done many times.
It all started because of a question
“What if we eliminated the shoebox?” It took 21 months for fuseproject and Puma to eliminate the shoebox. They also made the entire prescription open source. Other shoe companies can follow suit without fear of encroaching on patents and other intellectual property. Good for the consumer, good for the company, and good for the planet.
Getting a laptop into every child’s hand and eliminating the shoebox were both big changes to the status quo. Nothing happens until somebody thinks and acts differently. People involved in these projects had the courage to challenge the status quo, ask questions, and explore new territory.
Do you have the courage to make the impossible, possible? What is your question? How long will your idea take? A lot longer if you don’t get started and infinitely longer if you don’t begin with a question.
As consumers we have many choices of what we do and how we spend our money. Given too many choices we get overwhelmed and tend to do nothing. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of the time, however, we rely on our subconscious to make decisions. Scientists tell us this is a good thing as our brains are not able to process the millions of information bits thrown at us daily. If we had to think about everything we do, our days would be filled with just getting through our breakfast menu.
rational thinking only represents 2% of decision making
As business people we know the importance of telling customers about the features and benefits of our products and services, so that any thinking person would be compelled to make a purchase. The trouble with this “rational thinking” approach is it only targets 2% of the decision making process and not the 98% of the buyer’s subconscious driven actions. This helps to explain why customer behavior is so often misunderstood and may explain, for example, why 75% of customers in surveys say they are satisfied right before they leave. Of course, measuring customer satisfaction can be helpful in spotting trends; the problem is using a customer satisfaction survey to understand customer thinking or justify getting a good night sleep is misguided.
You need the courage to run experiments
How many times have you thought, “we just need a better website”, or “better leads.” Don’t be surprised if one more communication or one more survey, doesn’t lead you to the Promised Land. Knowing if customers are happy or what will make them purchase is more complex. You need the courage to run experiments and observe firsthand what works and what doesn’t. Beware of gator brains reactions from those that think they already know the answers. Don’t let unproductive thinking get in your way. See related post –Innovation Squelchers: Pattern Thinking, Biases, and Gator Brains
In the next issue of the What’s Next newsletter we’ll share a free and simple exercise that enables you to detect pattern thinking in yourself as well as others.
Our primitive brains establish patterns that for the most part keep us safe and out of trouble. This has kept our ancestors out of the jaws of wild beasts. This is also what happens when you apply your vehicle brakes when it looks like the speeding car is going to plow through the intersection and smash into you. You see the pattern and act accordingly. Our brain creates and recognizes Continue reading “Innovation Squelchers: Pattern Thinking, Biases, and Gator Brains”
Gosh. That sounds mean. Why would you say that? Like a child learning to walk, uninstructed, unencumbered by rules and the walkers operational manual, we all need to run experiments, prototype and get onto the business of walking so someday we can master running. Babies run experiments and eventually they turn many failed attempts into the successful first walk. They go on to refine their walk and eventually master running, skipping, jumping and a host of related activities. In our adult lives we sometimes forget how naturally wired we are to do this. We erect and adhere to rules, systems, and process even when the situation doesn’t call for it. Failure is OK; it can be really good for you and your organization. I pray that you fail and then learn from it to make a difference.
If you can’t walk, then you can’t run. And running is exactly what you need to do to out execute the competition and to sense, satisfy, and delight the needs and wants of your customers.
Have courage to create a new conversation. Take a risk. Build a prototype. Test it for value. If you don’t fail – great. But it you do, share the failing, learn from it, and move on. Think of all of the wonderfulness in the world that we wouldn’t experience if people didn’t have the courage to face potential failure.
Now go out and fail at something to make the world a better place.