Please Step Aside and Make Way for the Great Idea

Imagine your having a lovely family dinner outside and your 11 year old daughter suddenly says, “We should throw a surprise birthday party for Grandma.” Seems like a good enough idea, right? As a parent, would you shut her down? Would you ask her to prove that the idea is worthwhile? Would she have to go through proper channels? Would her bosses’ boss have to present it at the semiannual gathering of spirit crushers? What if Grandma had a stroke or required emergency treatment? Same channels, same chain of command, same response? Do you treat an emergency message from grandma differently than a suggestion from your daughter?

If this is sounding a bit like life within your organization then it is time for some changes.

First, ideas can come from anywhere, even an 11 year old. Get used to it, enable it. Don’t fight it, you’ll lose. They’ll eventually outlive you and then they will be dancing on your grave.

Secondly, democratize ideas in your organization. Keep them moving forward and remove obstacles. You are not the idea police. If you have a police force mentality in your organization then ask yourself why is that. Are the people not trustworthy? Not smart enough? I suspect if you get out of the way, more than you get in the way, more magic will happen inside your organization. Start by establishing an idea PlayGround. Then let conversations organically happen around those ideas. Encourage others to take risks, run experiments and embrace others ideas.

Lastly, get clear on who is the who.  Exactly who you are trying to make happy?  Is it the equivalent of your daughter or Grandma or the cake maker or the grocery store or somebody else?  Get crystal clear on the who that you serve and the who that serves them.  Make both of them happy and the organization will be better able to sing along together.  And that will be a celebration worth having.

Want to know more about creating happier customers and healthier organizations? Read The Experience Design BLUEPRINT. See a book summary. Read the book reviews on Amazon. Read The Experience Design Blueprint on Kindle or any device using the free Kindle Reader application or read the full color print edition.  Already read it? Please connect and let me know.

About the Author

image of Greg-Olson-Managing Director of Delightability and author of Experience Design BLUEPRINT

Gregory Olson is a consultant, speaker, and author of The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations.

Connect with Greg on Linkedin, Facebook, or Twitter.

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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.

 

Abandoned Shopping Carts Litter the Landscape in Anytown USA

Here are a few photos of abandoned shopping carts seen around town.  This urban blight was in the Seattle area but this could be Anytown, USA or beyond. Kroger, QFC, Safeway, Bartells – no one store is immune and the problem is worsening. Bus stops, apartment homes, retirement homes, sidewalks, bike trails, parking lots, and dumpster areas seem to be the favorite dropping off stations.

See the related post: When Metric Fail: It is Time to Change the Conversation

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.

 

 

 

 

When Metrics Fail it is Time to Change the Conversation: a Walk in the Park with an Abandoned Shopping Cart

abandoned shopping cart found on sidewalk in the evening - Delightability researchLurking beneath the metrics you’ll find the truth. This truth may have slowly crept up on you and suddenly poked you in the eye as a new reality. But, you say, “We have these metrics and this is the way we measure, and see, and do things around here.” Exactly right, but exactly wrong too.

Here is an easy target to pick on. Abandoned shopping carts litter the landscape most everywhere. City Councils have metrics and want to hold stores accountable for their wayward carts. Stores have metrics and are stuck between cracking down on their patrons and giving them freedom to take carts as needed. Biases are at play too. What looks like a theft problem to the store’s Loss Prevention Manager is a transportation problem to the “bus stop mom” or “urban retirement dweller.” Once you get past the bias that this is a purely homeless problem, you’ll see that kids, and moms, and grandpas all play a part in this problem. Even police are being called upon by municipalities to “do something about this menace.” One police department recently posted on their Facebook page a reminder to the public, that it is a crime to take a shopping cart off of store premises. Each of the stakeholders, save the shopper themselves, have metrics, but who is right here?

The world has shifted – shopping carts have gotten smaller and more maneuverable, the price of gas has continued to rise, and some have opted out of owning personal transportation in favor of walking or using public transportation. But, amid these changes, stores are probably blind to the transportation realities their customers face.

While stores have found more and more ways to understand our shopping preferences and probably have metrics related to the foods we buy and the prices we’re willing to pay, they really have little understanding of why we choose their store, how we got there, and if a grocery cart will be on our list of items to take home today.

So, there you have it, amid all of those metrics the human behind the customer has been forgotten and that is exactly wrong. Imagine if the metrics for a given store revolved less around how much orange juice we purchased and at what price and instead examined who the shopper is and what transportation they used to get to and from the store. That might just spawn some new services and brand loyalty to the stores with courage enough to change the conversation.

“Don’t get so set on your goal that you lose your humanity.”
Cicero, Roman author,orator, & politician (106 BC – 43 BC)

If you are a grocery store leader, city council member, or other stakeholder to the problem and would like to talk, please contact us. We’d love to share with you the findings of a public workshop we hosted where we brought people together from all walks of life to discuss, dive into, and propose a range of possible solutions to the abandoned shopping cart problem.

Here are a few photos of abandoned shopping carts seen around town.  This could be Anytown, USA or beyond.

View the workshop photo album and visit the Big Idea Toolkit to learn more about the large format visual planning system that we used to guide our workshop discussion.

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. The models in the Experience Design BLUEPRINT are equally relevant to organizations of all types and sizes including start-up entrepreneurs, nonprofits, for-profits, and government.

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.

Why Think Positive is so Last Year

positive psychology role in the Big Idea ToolkitIt turns out that the world has been swimming in positive psychology for a couple of decades. Amid that, we have many things to cite in the world that aren’t so swimmingly positive. And how many of us have fallen prey to the motivating seminar or sales pitch, only to fail later when we return to our old habits and practices. Being positive, having unabated enthusiasm, and putting blinders up to all things negative, doesn’t create the warm, fuzzy, prosperous future we once thought it would.

In the December issue of Psychology Today, Annie Murphy Paul, explores the uses and abuses of optimism (and pessimism). Like the author of the article suggests, as in many things, context matters. It turns out that there is a time to be optimistic and a time to be pessimistic. Sometimes it is helpful to think of things that might go wrong.

positive psychology in the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.We find this especially interesting given our work with teams using the Big Idea Toolkit. It turns out people adopt two distinct psychological zones or mindsets, when using Continue reading “Why Think Positive is so Last Year”

Finding Voila: 10 Ways to Increase Creativity and Put More Spark in What You Do

Insights are everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  LZoltar at the Santa Monica Pier Californiaike 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.

You can make Voila  become part of your everyday.

So what spurs this momentary insight and subsequent action?  Few would argue that children appear Continue reading “Finding Voila: 10 Ways to Increase Creativity and Put More Spark in What You Do”

I Cannot Hear What You Say Because my Bias is Blocking You

Project Starter from Lowes - imageI 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.

A few minutes later she left the store, completely disappointed. Not because she didn’t get to use her gift card Continue reading “I Cannot Hear What You Say Because my Bias is Blocking You”

Imagine that your Employees Were Really Engaged

slice of delight o meter infographic for delighting customers
See Infographic for Full Story

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’ll bet you could improve communications, innovative your Continue reading “Imagine that your Employees Were Really Engaged”

Innovation Squelchers: Pattern Thinking, Biases, and Gator Brains

primitive brainOur 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”

Are you Going Mental?

Are you Going Mental?
Ok, phew – you’ve landed.  You got past the headline.  Now you may be wondering what this post is all about.  An article on crazies.  No – though I did like the movie by that title.Crazies Movie Poster

Going mental is what you need to do more of.   Nobody gets harmed, unlike in the movie.  When you get stuck, you lack a mental model of how to proceed, similar to a 2nd grader trying Continue reading “Are you Going Mental?”

How Can my Car Possibly Breakdown, I’m on Cruise Control?

Trends to Pay Attention To - from Now and Next - DelightabilityEverything has changed, but you’re still executing on the old strategy? Chances are you’ve been too busy to re-examine your strategy, let alone change course. Like most organizations you’ve completed your annual planning and you’re on cruise control –Set it and Forget. Of course, you’ll revisit the strategy in next year’s annual planning session. But what happens when you’re cruising down the road and a competitor, customer, partner, or legislation throws the proverbial monkey wrench in your spokes. Right – your organization will react to it when you encounter that problem. If that is what you believe, then you’ve fallen into the trap. That’s the thing, you can only react to those things you are aware of. Most things that erode your business are more subtle than the abrupt, spoke shearing monkey wrench. Think of a hidden killer like pancreatic cancer. You don’t have years of leading indicators. When it is too late, it is sadly, too late.

One of my mentors once told me “A lot can happen in a little while.” If you caught the Oscars last night, in particular the memorandum part, recall the talent that expired in the past year. Writers, Producers, Actresses, Actors, all removed from the talent pool that brought us great entertainment. The business world is no different. People, businesses, technology, relationships – it’s all changing faster than your annual planning cycle.

So, take a trip around your organization. Are your people keeping up in real time or are they unquestioningly executing on yesterday’s strategy? How ready is your organization to adapt to a shifting strategy? What are you doing to notice trends and changes in the business landscape and customer and partner ecosystems? These are key areas that present both opportunities and threats. Who is watching your organization’s back? Who is spotting dangerous currents or bountiful waters? Is anybody at the table bringing an outside perspective? Do you have sensors in the ground to take notice? Here is a visual tool and 5 steps that will keep your business apprised to the changing world outside your organization.

Trends and Technology Timeline 2010 and beyond - From Now and Next - Delightability

 

5 steps to business success

  1. Study, really study, the Trends & Technology Timeline 2010+
  2. Shift your perspective
  3. Receive feedback from Sensors in the Ground
  4. Change the dialogue in your organization
  5. Expand your innovation neighborhood to include outsiders

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