Heart on your sleeve

How to live without being defined by edges

I spend way too much time reading. But occasionally I stumble across something that blows open my mind, making it possible for me to reach the next level of achievement, or something... a higher state of existence. If you want to go there youself, stop reading this and instead read The Web's Grain by Frank Chimero. You'll enjoy it more if you have a big screen and you may want to turn your sound low if people are nearby.  

I have a habit of drawing circles that represent a day in my life and then to divide it up and try to proportion my interests to the amount of time I have. The worst part is when I actually label the time of the day on the slices. I'm defining my life by its edges. In real life, I'm always running over those slice edges as things take longer than I anticipated. 

If the edge of a slice is the time when we have to leave to pick up a child from school, then we need to put an alarm bell on it. Otherwise we need to understand that these edges limit us. 

I want to live a life filled with passion. When we're immersed in what we're doing, then we go into "flow," and lose our sense of time. We wake up and realize we've gone over the slice edge. 

We cannot live with passion and define our life by slices. Instead we have to assemble the pieces of our lives in a way that they can hold together. It happens all the time in real life. Things just cohere or stick together. The parts grow unevenly and the shape is unexpected. 

David Hockney: Billy Wilder Lighting His Cigar, 1982

Hockney3

FrankChimero.com: The Web's Grain, 2015-Feb-20 by Frank Chimero

Simply put, the edgelessness of the web tears down the constructed edges in the company. Everything is so interconnected that nobody has a clear domain of work any longer—the walls are gone, so we’re left to learn how to collaborate in the spaces where things connect....

The size of what we’re making is unknown until we know what we’re putting there. So, it’s better to come up with an arrangement of elements and assign them to a size, rather than the other way around. We need to start drawing, then put the box around it. ...the perfect example of not drawing the box until you know what goes in it. [Emphasis mine.]

...we’re creating assemblages of elements, then associating them with the appropriate space.... 

You could say that our current technological arrangement has spread out too far, and it is starting to look and feel wrong. Fortunately, we can treat this over-expansion just like everything else I’ve mentioned. We can draw a line, and create a point of reassembly for what we’ve made. We can think about how to shift, move, and resize the pieces so that they fall back in line with our intentions.


Why you can't motivate other people

Thanks to Ann Iverson for linking up this classic McKinsey article about customer experience. We are reminded that you can manage your company culture and incentives, but you cannot actually motivate people--they decide to act based on their motivation. All you can do is set the stage for them. 

When your organizing your team, you have to anticipate a range of good and bad motivations, plan your own reactions, make some announcements, and consider the messages your own actions are sending. Incentives should allow you to elevate some people as role models without generating too much negative competition. It's one of the hardest jobs we have to do as leaders. 

McKinsey.com: The Moment of Truth in Customer Service, 2006-Feb by Marc Beaujean, Jonathan Davidson and Stacey Madge

As everyone knows, a range of motives drives human beings: from the purely selfish (fear and greed) to the more creative, altruistic, and personally fulfilling (problem solving, artistic excellence, service to others). Great customer service companies are invariably good at allowing people to discover their motivations themselves. After all, these companies know that most frontline employees actually want to help customers and to gain their goodwill. The trick is to allow these employees to express this urge while simultaneously restraining their selfish motives, which experience suggests are incompatible with good behavior at moments of truth.

"People will work hard when they are given the freedom to do the job the way they think it should be done, when they treat customers the way they like to be treated," observed Jim Nordstrom, the former copresident of Nordstrom. "When you take away their incentive and start giving them rules, boom, you've killed their creativity."


Is Friendship Being Changed by Social Media?

My assumptions about friends on social media were up-ended by this story in The Atlantic. A well-connected artist decided to get to know her 600+ Facebook "friends" better. Much to her and my surprise, many casual connections were excited to extend their friendship off-line. She visited and photographed them, usually in their homes.  Tq131020td

My hunch is that social media give us a chance to extend our social life to people we would have liked if we had met them in real life. Also, we can maintain permanent online profiles that help people reinforce their memory and understanding of us. We may really be raising our number of personal relationships in a revolutionary way. 

The Atlantic: How Real Are Facebook Friendships?, 2015-Feb-4 by Jacoba Urist

“Can you really know somebody if you’ve never seen their home?” Hollander asked. “To me, when I started, a friend was someone whose house you knew, someone you had eaten dinner with, but now I’ve realized that might not be as important to the definition of friendship.”  She felt an immediate sense of connection to the Facebook friends she visited, even those she had never met physically—as did they, she believes, evidenced by the high participation rate.


Trying not to frighten people by talking about innovation all the time

In reviewing the challenges and frustrations of the past year, it's clear I need to do more to build trust. Not trust that I'm honest, but trust that I'm dependable and responsible. I clearly spend too much time trying to encourage people to take risks.  Tq-120720-td

Innovation Excellence: Re-Framing Innovation in 2015, 2015-Jan-1 by Mukesh Gupta

Re-framing failure as "iterations" provides the employees the necessary cushion to explore slightly more riskier insights/ideas when going after innovation.

As with most of the challenges relating to culture, leaders should start talking and behaving in a way that not only tells the employees that it is OK to go after big challenges and fail now and then as long as they are able to admit failure, learn from the failure and do so quickly and cheaply, continue to pivot and address the challenge through pursuing different insight/ideas.


Why the power of relationships drives my work

Lately I've been questioning what it is that I do. Where do I contribute? I know that my passion is in helping businesses build stronger relationships. Too many businesses look for transactions. But transactions, whether of love or commerce, arise because people think they can do something better with you than without you. David Brooks expressed it beautifully when recently talking about the movie Interstellar.  Tq131020td

NY Times Opinion Pages: Love and Gravity, 2014-Nov-20 by David Brooks

Nolan introduces the concept of quantum entanglement. That’s when two particles that have interacted with each other behave as one even though they might be far apart. He then shows how people in love display some of those same features. They react in the same way at the same time to the same things.... 

...People have always bent their worldviews around the latest scientific advances. After Newton, philosophers conceived a clockwork universe. Individuals were seen as cogs in a big machine and could be slotted into vast bureaucratic systems.

But in the era of quantum entanglement and relativity, everything looks emergent and interconnected. Life looks less like a machine and more like endlessly complex patterns of waves and particles. Vast social engineering projects look less promising, because of the complexity, but webs of loving and meaningful relationships can do amazing good.


How to measure loyalty

Does your CRM system have a mechanism for capturing exceptional acts of loyalty?

  • A customer who picks up the phone and argues for your value with a referral?
  • An ex-customer who publishes an article about their positive experience with your company? 
  • Someone who skips a big discount to stay with you?

Sometimes we can't even know an act of loyalty has happened. So we have to handle our customer records as if they represent real people we know. We have to give them ratings and rankings and make notes. We make those records accessible to everyone in the company so they can add information. 

Our dashboards should include a number represented our "most loyal" customers as marked by a consensus of the people who touch the account. In business-to-business environments, the dashboard should count both companies and people. 

Colloquy: Loyalty is an Emotion, 2014-Sep-15 by Steven Dennis

Luxury brands are defined by scarcity and intangible benefits. As such, they present an example for non-luxury merchants to understand the emotional connections between a brand and its core consumers and dial up those elements in all of the marketing mix, regardless of whether a loyalty program is a core element or not. Ultimately, the loyalty that matters is that which compels customers to advocate proactively for a brand within their tribes, without a special incentive. The loyalty that matters occurs when customers choose one brand over the cheaper or more convenient competitor. The loyalty that matters occurs when customers willingly and generously invest their time to collaborate with and improve a brand’s customer experience.


Conscious values

Building a long-lasting relationship with our customers requires us to identify our values and acknowledge which of the customer's values are being served. Traditionally, advertising agencies buried those values in metaphors and stories. Now, more and more companies are just stating them outright, assuming the customers can make a quicker, more long-lasting connection.

Internet Retailer: Don't call me 'daily': The Grommet drops the chronological element in its rebranding, 2014-May-13 by Thad Rueter

TheGrommet.com now features what the retailer calls larger and “more attractive” product displays, customer reviews and “personal value icons for customers to align their beliefs with their purchases.” Those icons, for instance, can tell a shopper whether a product comes from the United States, was handcrafted, used natural materials or was manufactured by a company that donates to charities.