While the Picasso/Cezanne analogy seems to annoy people, Malcolm Gladwell's new presentation on loyalty building shows great insight. He contrasts a Picasso-like desire for immediate results with a Cezanne-like commitment to testing new ideas and "taking a journey" with your customers. He's right about one thing: customers don't expect you to be perfect, they just expect you to show a commitment to them.
1to1 Weekly: Webview: British airways Takes a Cue From Cezanne, 2008-Feb-18, by Elizabeth Glagowski
Experimental innovation (Cezanne) examples, such as Apple computers, HBO's The Sopranos, or even the Grateful Dead, deliver a lasting connection to customers and fans. "Their journey took a small audience with them, and as a result it's a relationship that's enduring and evolved," Gladwell said. In many cases the brands and customers mature together. "You want to allow customers to grow with you and build strong bonds." Unfortunately, that's not how most businesses operate, he said. In today's measure-happy climate, companies tend to throw ideas away if they don't produce immediate results.... Gladwell argues that patience is critical. "You will lose out on 50 percent of successful creativity with a 'Picasso' strategy only," he said. "We need to adjust our expectations of when we think something works." By creating a space within your organization for experimental innovation with customers, companies can balance short- and long-term innovation to allow for both types of creativity while building lasting loyalty.