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6 posts from February 2017

Communicate your value proposition with a 'solution reflex'

The 'solution reflex' is a cool tool for any business person who frequently has to introduce their business model. 

Steady CRM:

  • Problem: Businesses lose track of their customers.
  • Solution: Loyalty and/or communications programs that systematically touch customers.
  • Market: Medium-sized companies that are outgrowing their original systems.
  • Business model: Installation and support of customer relationship management tools and processes. 

Not great but it's a start. 

VentureBeat: Your Business Summary is in the Wrong Order, 2016-Nov-13 by Dave Bailey

An effective summary answers questions in four ordered categories; Problem, Solution, Market and Business Model. I’ve used this approach to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding from angel investors and VCs. It works really well.

Starting with the problem grounds your business real-world context. It presents your business as purposeful, urgent, and user-centered. But something else happens when you tell someone a problem. It triggers a “solution reflex”: When people identify with problems, they instinctively want a solution. Activating the solution reflex is a powerful way to hold someone’s attention.


The truth we can't find

To some extent, I think the rise of 'fake news' or propaganda, or whatever it is, relates to our inability to handle uncertainty. We hear something we don't want to believe, we worry it may be true, then we look for disproof. When we see something we like, we decide that must be true. 

We are too ready and willing to stop searching. Real truth is an evolving reality. We have to be searching constantly, scanning  in places we haven't look before. 

Points: The Inescapability of Uncertainty: AI, Uncertainty, and Why You Should Vote No Matter What Predictions Say, 2016-Oct-31 by Jennifer Wortman Vaughan and Hannah Wallach

Rather than conceal the assumptions and uncertainty in their predictions, AI systems should enable users to understand the roots of this uncertainty and provide them with ways to reason about it more effectively. Longer term, this is an education issue. We need to acknowledge that uncertainty is here to stay and equip future generations to embrace it. In the mean time, though, remember that regardless of how precisely stated, there are hidden assumptions behind every prediction.


Navigating the stream: the challenge of communicating context

We can't combat clickbait and fake news without understanding why they arose and which of our behaviors feed them. In fact, if we want to have any control of ourselves in the stream, we have to understand how to navigate the newsfeed. I've always been very careful to identify my sources, but communicating context is a new challenge for me. 

How We Get to Next: The Schedule and the Stream, 2017-Jan-27 by Matt Locke

The feed massively increased the visibility of your network on Facebook, and helped raise the profile of stories that were being shared by millions of people in real time. But this came with a cost: These stories were stripped of their original context. If the organizing principle of the broadcast schedule was synchronization — millions seeing the same thing at the same time — then the organizing principle of the stream is de-contextualization — stories stripped of their original context, and organized into millions of individual, highly personalized streams.

Ten years in, we can see the effects. A culture built around the stream is more open and accessible than one built around the schedule, but stories are atomized, which encourages a spectrum of negative effects from clickbait headlines and fake news to trolling. ...

Most importantly, we need to look at our own behavior within the stream. As it’s a performative, oral space, the way we speak, share, and circulate stories has a huge affect on how the stream works as a public space. We need to support behaviors that make context more visible in the stream, like identifying the original creators of content, or identifying the original context of stories before we share them.


Finding the best clients by cultivating conversations about our processes

Alex Mather points out that moving away from supplying a commodity means finding and nurturing relationships with people who are interested in creating unique and powerful work. Those people will expect a journey and not a product. 

Red Lemon Club: How to Survive the Biggest Creative Job Decline of All Time, 2017-Feb-1 by Alex Mathers

Meaningful art and design that makes an impact on its users is growing and vital, and relies on ‘expert practitioners’ who understand process to carry it out well with their clients.

But at the other end, commodity products and cheaper labour allow others to get a vital start on projects and businesses that can eventually develop into ones that do rely on more focused design expertise.


Unlearning marketing

I see a lot of problems in marketing, but I hadn't been seeing them as problems of "unlearning." Now I will.  

Harvard Business Review: Why the Problem with Learning Is Unlearning, 2016-Nov-3 by Mark Bonchek

We need to unlearn the push model of marketing and explore alternative models. For example, instead of using relationships to drive transactions, we could be building brand orbits and embedding transactions in relationships. Instead of customers being consumers, we could have relationships with them in a variety of roles and social facets. Beyond delivering a value proposition, we could be fulfilling a shared purpose.


Exciting new voice

Joshua Johnson, host of 1A radio show replacing Diane Rehms, quoted in the Washington Post:

I think from before I was old enough to know what I was onto, I was onto the idea that information was a currency, that it was a way to create influence, it was a form of power, it could confer attention, that it could confer prestige, and that it could change the way people interacted with you. It could foster trust.