Archive for: July, 2010

Design for better behavior in mind

If we want to encourage better behaviors, we have to make it easier for people to do whatever it is that we want them to do by removing obstacles in their path. What about if we want to discourage behaviors such as smoking? We put more obstacles in the smokers path, Erik Askin proposes ‘design to annoy’. The premise is that if you design the cigarette package in a way that makes it harder for people to smoke; it might change a consumers behavior.

This is a clear example of questioning the status quo and purposely breaking the rules to encourage a behavior, in this case, to make it difficult for people to smoke.

When we look at our organizations and institutions from this lens, are we designing them to encourage the behaviors we want or discouraging them? It’s clear that if we want to encourage creative thinking in our organizations then we have to do some major changes as most organizations are designed to encourage predictable outcomes and not new ones.

Food for thought!

Innovation posts of the week: 5 Common Mistakes On Innovation And Managing Change

Make your own game

Here’s my latest post on @Oninnovation:  

Enjoy!

The essence of strategy is choosing to perform activities differently than rivals do; and the most vital competitive weapon is not lower price, but new ideas.

Across the border in Mexico, we  have a taco shop in every corner. They all sell the same thing and their business name usually starts with the name of someone plus “tacos.”  It’s safe to say that their businesses all operate very much the same way; the only difference between them is where they get the meat and ingredients.

We live in a world of sameness, and the only way out of it is to innovate.

There are brave souls who choose to question the dominant logic of competition; who chose to do something entirely different. There is one taco shop in Tijuana which doesn’t follow conventional logic; it doesn’t sell tacos, but rather, art.

Tacos Salceados created what is known as the “Quesataco,” which starts with flakes of cheese spread across the flat iron stove. Your choice of cuts are then lined down the middle and then ultimately encased in the crisp golden cheese. The stuffed crisp cheese roll is then placed in a fresh thick tortilla, and topped with house dressings and avocado. The Quesataco later spawned other creations, such as shrimp tacos covered in a sweet tasting sauce.

It is this fresh perspective which makes it stand out among the rest of the taco shops.

The thing people forget when they compete, is that you must stand out in some manner. Too many people copy their competition too much. They assume if it is working for the competitor, then it will work for them. Passion for what you are doing, consistency, and a sprinkle of uniqueness is just the start. Sticking with it and always looking for that unique tweak is key.

Here are 4 ways to help you think about defeating sameness:

Purpose matters

Conventional logic says that businesses exist to make money. Why not exist to deliver meaning? The difference between you and competitors is nothing more than how you answer the ‘why’ of your intentions: Why are you doing this? Online retailer Zappos knows why they are in business; not to sell a lot of shoes, but rather to deliver the best customer service in a meaningful way.

Reset expectations

Your customers have interacted with your competitors, as well as with other businesses, and have an idea of what to expect. These same expectations will be put into play when they interact with you, and if you deliver the “same,” then you’ll be easily ignored. You must reset those expectations by going above and beyond the normal, delivering equal or more value in a faster, more convenient, easier and meaningful way.

Define yourself by what you know not what you do

Over the time your business has existed you have accumulated a portfolio of abilities and strengths. Think about these bundle of skills that you have accumulated over time, things that you are good at and that when combined provide new value to your customers. Stop looking at your company as a provider of specific products or services for specific markets, and start seeing it as a reservoir of skills and assets that can be exploited in different ways or different contexts to create new value.

Be something your competitors are not

In order to compete businesses follow the logic that they have to target the middle of the market, the mainstream consumers. This also means they configure their business just like competitors who are already ahead of them. The problem is that everyone else is going after the same market and with so many choices, so many brands, so much noise it isn’t enough to be good at everything. You have to be the most at something. What are you the most at? Are you the fastest? The most responsive? The most innovative? The most transparent? Look up field or downfield, go to the edges, to the extremes where you can be the most at something.

Key Takeaway: Compete differently and play the game you know you can win.

What do you think?

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Innovation posts of the week: How Reframers unleash innovation in their companies

Delivering happiness: Not business as usual

A few days ago I wrote about how . They’ve designed their business model around the concept of ‘happiness’ and have made it clear that the customer IS their business. The idea is driven that by making their employees happy it further drives customer happiness. It’s common sense but we, as consumers, can’t really say that other businesses look after our well being.

But what about pre-Zappos, is there another business that does business to deliver happiness?

Enter hotelier Chip Conley. In the video above he talks about how he designed his business model based on happiness. He talks about how he was inspired, to question the truth that businesses were made to profit, by a vietnamese woman named Vivian whom he met after he bought the motel where she worked as a maid. After noticing that Vivian did her work with joy, he began to question: How can someone find joy in brushing toilets for a living?

Because of her attitude towards service. She felt her job was to make not only guests happy but also her fellow employees. Sound familiar?

Like I mentioned on my previous post:

The universal truth is that no brand really cares about YOU, they care about your buying power. With such a dominant assumption (rule) why is it that businesses don’t choose to break it?

Well as you can see from the above talk, Zappos isn’t a one time phenomenon and business can be driven by ‘happiness’. What’s needed is a change in mindset, that profit is result of two forces:

Happy employees + Happy customers = profitable business

Let me know what you think.

For brands who care about you, actions speak louder than words

“For things to change, somebody somewhere has to start acting differently.” – From the book Switch: How to change things when change is hard.

I was watching the above video from Trendwatching’s from earlier this year and it got me thinking about which brands I love and which I think care about me. Personally I can’t say that any brand really cares about me but I can tell you which one’s I love and they probably don’t even know I do: Amazon, Apple, Jordan, Nike, Evernote, Firefox, Porsche, Heineken, Jack Daniels, Antivir, Dropbox among others.

The universal truth is that no brand really cares about YOU, they care about your buying power. With such a dominant assumption (rule) why is it that businesses don’t choose to break it?

It’s hard? It can’t be done?

The Customer IS their business

There’s a crazy (in a good way!) company called Zappos that is Delivering Happiness 24/7 for 365 days a year to it’s customers and is proving that the rule can be broken. Zappos has proven that making people happy as a was of doing business is a competitive advantage by essentially deciding to act differently than every other business by .

They’ve made it clear that the customer IS their business. It’s such a powerful idea that Zappos decided to turn it into an online management consulting business to spread their gospel further (everyone will be better off). To deliver happiness requires a shift in mindset, to question the dominant assumption that business is all about profit. It requires that you do a little ‘shaking up’ and decide to act differently, to go above and beyond the normal.  They broke the pattern!

So what’s to learn about the great Zappos?

A way of showing that you care is by acting human with customers by being aware of what’s happening in their world. For example earlier this year because they would much rather have customers come back and eat than have ‘give more money away’. I later found out that this business was aware of Zappos and was implementing some out of ordinary tactics which I clearly can tell because almost everyone I’ve taken there to eat have made some remark about their attention to the customer.

Another way is by creating permanent mechanisms that reinforce the human aspect such as Zappos customer service oriented culture and their ability to go beyond the normal such as sending flowers to customers, thank you notes, etc to customers. It also must be mentioned that these mechanisms were not planned beforehand, they were just a natural evolution of the powerful ‘awe the customer’ culture they have (listen to ).

On the flipside Zappos is also a Happy place to work at, which only reinforces how they treat their customers. So here then is the new formula: Happy employees + Happy customers = profitable business

Which brands do you love and also care about you?

Innovation posts of the week: The Secrets of innovation revealed