Archive for: June, 2011

Laughter sets your mind free

pie in the face

A few days ago I was part of a brainstorming session for a client who recently opened a new restaurant in Mexico. The goal of the brainstorming session was to come up with ideas on how to create an experience that would make customers talk about it to their friends.

With that in mind, I proposed an idea:

What if we create a drink called Pulpo Enamorado that when delivered by the waiter, the customer gets a pie in the face?

Result: Everyone started laughing!

It caught everyone by surprise. Totally unexpected.

Innovation posts of the week: Secret to innovation is imitation

Steve Denning on Lean Startups – Part 1 and Part 2

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Be gone with categorization

[blackbirdpie url=”!/jorgebarba/status/72767066175848448″]

This was in response to @marihuertas, who also thinks there’s no such thing as social media experts.

Recently I fell into the categorization trap…

We are doing some branding work for a publicist. Specifically coming up with an identity that’s uniquer to her. When doing this type of work, an anything for that matter, you start off asking the client about them. You want to find out what makes them unique, sometimes this is easy but most of the time this is hard. Ultimately you want this process to result in creating an identity that the client will get excited about but also people will remember and love.

But sometimes you let old habits take control. You let the client direct what they ‘supposedly’ want. It’s a balancing act letting the client ‘direct’ and then proposing alternatives. We fell into the trap of letting the client direct and not get any traction because our client is ‘not sure’ of what she wants. Our client can tell us she wants X, Y and Z; we have to transform this into a look and feel.

We were frustrated because we haven’t hit the nail.

It then occurred to me that we might be trying to do this taking a practical approach, and as result we’re not getting excited about this process. We are not directing the scene but getting directed. And as a result our enthusiasm is sapped.

I had to remind ourselves that there are two types of work: the visionary and audacious and the practical and predictable. The first leads you to inspire others to adopt a vision. It’s all about excitement. The other leads to ‘me-too-ism’, predictability.

It’s that simple.

Defy categorization

Practical steps come into play when we want to fit into a category, in our case our client is a publicist. We take steps that worked for us before or that worked for someone else. And when letting our client direct the scene, she’s going to follow what’s in her head about what a publicist looks and sounds like because that’s the way she sees the world.

Our job is to short circuit this and propose alternatives. To stretch their minds. Our job is to excite and inspire as much as it is about executing.

After exchanging emails with my team for about half an hour, I continued pondering our mistake. I quickly glanced at Tweetdeck and saw this tweet by @lindegaard (which brought a smile to my face):

Strategy book review: Killing Giants by @note_to_cmo

Killing Giants

As someone who not just enjoys reading but also practicing strategic thinking, I just had to read Killing Giants by Stephen Denny.

Most startup advice tells us to not worry about the competition. To not set out to kill the giant in the industry. But sometimes things don’t go according to plan. If anything, thinking about stuff ahead of time and acknowledging that you are in a competitive environment and that these things could happen really matters.

Though the name of the book implies that there’s a competitor, I think the real Giants are the unforeseen problems that not even the competition is seeing. It’s also the giant blinder (psychological biases) that’s inside of us that needs to be killed.

That’s the message behind Killing Giants.

Innovation posts of the week: An Iterative Approach to Innovation Strategy

Six Creative Ways to Persuade Your Team to Implement Your Innovation

An Iterative Approach to Innovation Strategy via @ralph_ohr

How to Use Networks to Spread Ideas by @timkastelle

Four Simple Low Resolution Innovation Tests – HBR

The Slow Hunch: How Innovation is Created Through Group Intelligence – RWW

Appropriate Innovation Makes Good Sense by @paul4innovating

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Lessons from a crowdsourcing experiment

One of the great things about social media is that it gives organizations the capability (if they choose to) and advantage of co-creating new products and services with their customers.

About two years ago I persuaded a client to experiment with crowdsourcing. At the time my client, The Jumpitz Corporation, was setting up their social media presence and they had a huge offline following. Plus Valentine’s was coming in a few weeks.

They asked me how they could bring all their fans online and create some good old word of mouth.

I suggested we try crowdsourcing.

Customer service matters as much as innovation

This past week I read two amazing customer service stories. First, there’s Sarah Green’s story on how she left her friends house keys with an Amtrak employee because she forgot to deliver them herself before she left for Boston. The Amtrak employee delivered the keys of course.

Then there’s Rick Broida who’s two HP desktop PC’s died within two weeks of each other, and ended up getting both PC’s repaired for free without a warranty.

Go ahead and read them, they’re well worth it.

While both stories are shocking, it’s a shame they have to be shocking. Why can’t these types of stories be the norm?