Trends that could trip you

Communicating with Artificial Intelligence

I have been dragging my heels about learning ChatGPT. I know I have to do it, but I like the old way of doing things like research and editing. Plus, if I'm going to have to double-check its output, what's the point? Frank Shaw, the Chief Communications Officer at Microsoft challenges me:

LinkedIn: The Future of Communications: How to Adapt to the AI Transformation by Frank X. Shaw

As communicators, we tell stories that help people fall in love with Microsoft, the things we make, and the impact we have in the world. And now we add – using the incredible potential of artificial intelligence – to that purpose.

Okay, here's how he says we should get started:

To realize this incredible potential, we must first understand the soul of our jobs. If we don’t deeply understand this, then all the fantastic new tools in the universe won’t help us. 😊 And what is clear is this: It is human interaction that drives the insights and the stories and the emotional connections.

Looking at artificial intelligence as a way to free up my time and increase my communication quality... Well, I guess I better get started.

Plus, Frank increases my confidence with his sound insight into the innovation process:

We have an idea, we experiment with it, we measure it, we evaluate it, we share it with one another, we repeat. Some experiments will work, and we’ll celebrate! Some will fail, and we will learn! Both are great outcomes.

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Unexpected Precondition for Innovation, noted by Nilofer Merchant

When we are trying to drive innovation in an organization, we often ignore an essential precondition. This precondition is sometimes called "psychological safety." Nilofer Merchant has a valuable angle on this for managers. You can't get to psychological safety in your team until you recognize the unique value of each individual. It's not enough to say "you can express your ideas." You have to notice what each person wants to contribute and make space for them.

Nilofer Merchant: Belonging Precedes "Doing Stuff", 2017-Dec-21

We each need to belong. Having a sense of belonging is, in fact, a most fundamental human psychological need, as essential as our need for shelter, sustenance, and being safe from harm. For those of us who took Psych, is in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs....

Belonging is the Key to Innovation

With belonging, you show up in the world more fully alive. With it, you feel safe enough to share an early notion, to explore that seemingly wild idea, and even take the risks to invent the future. So, before you can “Do Stuff”— dream and think stuff up, build or create stuff, act and react to stuff — we each need to belong....

We want to be seen, and belong in a meaningful way… as ourselves. By our Onlyness. If there is one thing any leader can do to create more innovation, it’s to lead in such a way as to create belonging.


Writers can benefit from using ChatGPT to refine their drafts

Although I have not found the time to use ChatGPT myself, I have no doubt I will use it (or one of its sisters) in the future. Christopher S. Penn explains how writers can maintain their originality. I expect AI can give you (and me) insights about our writing which will help us improve.

Almost Timely News: What ChatGPT is Really Good At [...Refinement, NOT creation], 23-Jan-21 by Christopher S. Penn

This is what these tools excel at – taking data and transforming it, rearranging it, making it more useful. This preserves our originality, our ideas, our language, while improving the quality – and that’s what they’re best at. Because they’re not relying on a gigantic average of all the content they’ve ingested, because they’re using our own words and just cleaning up or rephrasing, they perform great AND keep the spirit of what we’re trying to say....

This is the power of transformer-based large language models. You can have them create something average from scratch, or provide them with the raw materials and they’ll create refined products – but keep your originality and spark in the final product.

Now you know the secret!


Upgrading Retail with Digital Access

We're rapidly approaching the moment when every retailer has to have a mobile app to serve his physical spaces. Retailers without a mobile app will be 'disabled' and at a significant disadvantage. 

Sailthru: 4 Ways Retailers Use Digital Technology to Improve the Brick‑and‑Mortar Experience, 2019-May by Mike O'Brien

When Sailthru surveyed more than 2,000 American and British consumers, we found that most of them didn’t notice or care about the absence of stores like Sears, Toys”R”Us or House of Fraser. However, we also found that people generally prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.

The catch is that consumers favor physical stores that are enhanced by technology. Using digital data to bring personalized customer experiences is challenging, but plenty of retailers are bridging the gap between on- and offline with technology such as beacons, in-store navigation and connected loyalty programs.... 

Frank And Oak, a smaller men’s retailer, shows how a more human touch can be applied to beacon technologies. When a high-ranking member of the store’s loyalty program walks into a Frank And Oak store, their mobile app, combined with a beacon, alerts a staff member to offer the customer a freshly brewed cup of coffee. 

Here is Sailthru's list of retail outlets where we can see these technologies: 

  • Beacons (some still in test): Walmasrt Nordstrom, Target
  • Loyalty: Abercrombie & Fitch, DSW
  • In-store navigation: Home Depot, Lowe's
  • Mobile payment: Macy's, Nike, Starbucks

Its new loyalty program is rewarding Starbucks, which is becoming a mobile-focused business

For Starbucks, managing growth is becoming a matter of their loyalty program. New stores will continue to be necessary, but profitability will be driven by customers using their mobile app. Not only are those customers rewarded, they are measured, tested and tracked in a way that retailers haven't known before. In the future, rents will still be paid, but managing a successful retail business will be more about a company's ability to leverage mobile-based relationships. 

The Motley Fool: How Important Is Starbucks' Loyalty Program?, 2019-May-5 by Daniel B. Kline

The program has grown steadily for two reasons. First, it's tied to the company's app, which has a mobile order and pay function that allows customers to skip the line in stores. Second, it offers real value beyond just the rewards you can earn, including access to events like Happy Hours (discounts for certain drinks on some afternoons), days where you can earn double "stars" (rewards points), and other special offers.

For consumers, it makes sense to join Starbucks Rewards because the app makes it easier to place and receive an order in a timely fashion. CEO Kevin Johnson gave an update on the program's growth during the company's second-quarter earnings call.

"With respect to driving digital relationships, we are pleased with the continued momentum of our Starbucks Rewards program," he said. "In the second quarter, we expanded our active member base by half a million customers, a 13% increase that takes active Rewards membership to 16.8 million."

Mobile Marketer: Starbucks boosts loyalty membership by 13% following switch to spend-based program, 2019-Apr-29 by Robert Williams

At the end of last year, Starbucks revamped its loyalty program, moving away from frequency-based rewards to spend-based ones, Group President John Culver said during the call. Since the change, the chain's 90-day active membership has increased 25% year-over year. "We now have 8.3 million active 90-day members, and that is a significant step change in terms of the growth rate from what we've seen previously in the program," Culver stated.... 

By switching the focus of the loyalty program from frequency of visits to how customers spend, Starbucks is attempting to broaden the appeal of the loyalty program beyond it most loyal customers with the expectation that once consumers become loyalty members, they will visit more regularly to earn rewards. The growth in Starbucks' rewards program also underscores the importance of mobile in helping to solidify its relationships with key customers who are most likely to visit its stores. 


Narratives that work

Narratives have traditionally been entertainment or history. The call to use them in advertising has had mixed results. We are finding more coaches who are pointing out HOW to design a narrative that works for a commercial message. 

Medium: Helping leaders tell strategic stories, 2017-Oct-24 by Andy Raskin

One of the most powerful ways to turn prospects into aspiring heroes is to pit them against an antagonist.


How things, including organizations, change

I tend to think that organizations won't change unless forced, but 'org designer' Kathryn Maloney reminds us that's actually not true. Managing and leading are more about steering change that instigating it. 

Another striking thought below: living systems (including organizations) naturally differentiate themselves. What if that need to differentiate drives a lot of change that seems useless? 

The Ready: Change as a Force of Nature, 2017-Feb-27 by Kathryn Maloney

Where change management may apply change to or attempt to manage change within a system, org designers are focused on unlocking capacity and potential within a system. We aim to leverage change as a natural, expected, and needed force. We believe in flow and emergence. We don’t actually believe in control and management....

According to modern science (biology, chemistry, evolutionary cosmology, quantum physics, etc.), living systems operate according to three basic principles:

  1. All living systems are interrelated and interdependent,
  2. All living systems have the capacity to self-organize, and without constraints, have the capacity to develop and evolve, and
  3. All living systems operate according to the principle of differentiation, in that to exist is to be different.