Capturing surprises likely started with the invention of the camera and it seems we will never tire seeing how ordinary people react in extraordinary situations. The popularity of sites like Upworthy has helped call attention to the kind of surprises that give people hope — the single mother of three who works as a maid is asked to clean a house not knowing that it is about to be given to her; the science fair winner whose family went bankrupt is awarded a full scholarship to a major university. While media coverage reports on an unending series of potential disasters deemed newsworthy, shareworthy news finds home and life on our social networks. This presents a unique opportunity for brands that demonstrate authentic intent. The key difference is that these types of surprises do not just improve someone’s life, they transform it. That’s what makes us cry when we see the commercial. We identify with the sensation of hope and we’re rightfully quite hungry for it.
As consumers grow more attached to their mobile phones and devices, marketers keep the cash flowing into app advertising. Mobile ad spending continued rising in 2014 and is expected to reach $28.7 billion this year, according to eMarketer's "State of U.S. Digital Advertising" report released this month. Desktop spending totaled $31.6 billion in 2014, down from $32.4 billion in 2013, and mobile ad spending totaled $19.2 billion in 2014, up from $10.7 billion in the previous year. The eMarketer report shows a continued decline in desktop ad spending for the next four years. Additionally, the report finds that mobile ad spending is expected to nearly double desktop ad spending by 2017, with an estimated $25 billion spent on desktop advertising and $49.8 billion spent on mobile advertising.
While the future for large brands increasingly lies in presence, the wider competitive future for some brands in some markets may lie in the application of a combination of principles and pace – essentially treating the scaled players as a constant backdrop against which they rally and then retreat (as reaction builds). Perhaps brands have more to learn about competing for loyalty and attention from unorthodox organizations than they realize
The executive in charge of the customer experience needs to have the courage to raise these questions, along with the instinct to look for ways to self-fund customer experience improvements. Sophisticated companies that figure out what matters most to customers, eliminate the investments that don’t matter, and finance the ones that do will thrive—and may find themselves, when the economy returns to normal, with fewer competitors
Many other service industries could benefit from a similar approach. By breaking down frontline transactions and rebuilding them with behavioral and experiential principles, companies could systematically achieve rapid, measurable improvements in customer satisfaction.
1. Four-year community college: Florida and California have recently designated community colleges with specific expertise and reputation as bachelor’s degree granting institutions, in those fields. Students will benefit as they avoid the long vexing and costly problem of not having their lower division credits accepted.
2. Private systems: Following the decades-old model of hospitals, private colleges will increasingly move to merge and share services. Thanks to technology, geography and distance won’t be factors. Following in the footsteps of the Claremont Colleges and the Colleges of the Fenway, we are seeing a variety of affiliations occur; these range from sharing library resources, as Johns Hopkins does with smaller schools all over the U.S., to “takeovers” like those of John F. Kennedy University in California, and City University of Seattle, by National University.
3. Completion colleges: These mostly public institutions are not particularly new. Most were founded in the 1970s but have been recently “discovered” by the Lumina Foundation and others, as specialized sources of expertise in helping adult learners to complete degrees. Inexpensive and progressive, these niche colleges help adult transfer students who have accumulated credit and relevant experience but need guidance in terms of pulling it all together. With their focus on the working adult, these schools do not typically serve traditional aged students.
4. Flagship networks: This model is being pioneered by Northeastern University. Instruction is distributed from Boston to its growing number of “Graduate Centers.” A hybrid format combines face-to-face instruction with online. Centers now exist in North Carolina, Washington state and California.
5. The “franchise” model: Western Governors University (WGU) has established a network of state affiliations which are largely student recruitment vehicles, offering some localization. The states now on board include Indiana, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, and Washington. Instruction primarily originates from the Utah campus for all.
6. New model—global university: A totally new model will be the emergence of the Global University Network through which U.S institutions will serve students in other parts of the world, and domestic students will have access to learning from abroad. With half the world’s population under the age of 25, access to higher education must take on new forms. Here may be a place for the next generation of MOOC.
Dr. Ebersole, president of Excelsior College, was a member of the inaugural American Council on Education “Presidential Innovation Lab,” convened in the fall of 2013. The imagining of new types of academic institutions was a part of this experience. This, and other, outcomes from the “Lab” are available on the ACE Web site.
There is no link between your education level and your personal happiness, says a new mental-health research study published by the British Journal of Psychiatry.
According to a press release, researchers from Warwick Medical School were inspired by the strong association between poor education and mental illness and wanted to investigate if the opposite was true: Does being educated lead to happiness?
Don Dea's insight:
The team discovered that the odds of happiness were equivalent throughout all levels of educational attainment.
“These findings are quite controversial because we expected to find the socioeconomic factors that are associated with mental illness would also be correlated with mental well being,” said Sarah Stewart-Brown, the lead author on the study. “But that is not the case.”
Researchers defined happiness as a state of high mental well-being in which people “feel good and function well.” They applied this to data from the Health Survey for England, which was administered to 17,030 people in 2010 and 2011.
Stewart-Brown said that her discovery means that socioeconomic factors may not be applicable to programs aimed at boosting mental well-being.
Forging new habits has become an obsession among technology companies. In an age when commercial competition is only a click away, the new mandate is to make products and services that generate compulsive behavior: in essence, to get users hooked on a squirt of dopamine to the brain’s reward center to ensure that they’ll come back.
The rise of mobile computing has intensified that imperative. The small screen crowds out alternatives, focusing a person’s attention on a limited number of go-to apps. The ones that get used are the ones people click on impulse while they’re drinking their morning coffee, waiting for the bus, or standing in the checkout line.
Don Dea's insight:
For a long time, the methodology for designing habit-forming products was haphazard: build it, put it before the public, and watch it go viral or fade into oblivion. In recent years, though, product teams have become more deliberate. Principles derived from behavioral science play an increasing role in software design, creating a demand for experts who can guide developers in the art—and science—of behavior engineering
“the productivity paradox” of information technology, the lag between the adoption of technology and the realization of productivity gains. Unleashing the power of computerization depends on two keys, like a safe-deposit box: the technology itself, but also changes in the work force and culture.
Don Dea's insight:
In health care, changes in the way we organize our work will most likely be the key to improvement. This means training students and physicians to focus on the patient despite the demands of the computers. It means creating new ways to build teamwork once doctors and nurses are no longer yoked to the nurse’s station by a single paper record. It means federal policies that promote the seamless sharing of data between different systems in different settings.
We also need far better collaboration between academic researchers and software developers to weed out bugs and reimagine how our work can be accomplished in a digital environment.
I interviewed Boeing’s top cockpit designers, who wouldn’t dream of green-lighting a new plane until they had spent thousands of hours watching pilots in simulators and on test flights. This principle of user-centered design is part of aviation’s DNA, yet has been woefully lacking in health care software design.
The real, unheralded secret to Lego's success is its serious study of play.
Don Dea's insight:
Ironically, young people’s obsession with their smartphones and apps may increase their connection to Legos. The rise of social media actually feeds into the desire for mastery that Lego inculcates. The ubiquity of Instagram, Facebook, and GoPro puts pressure on kids to stand out in the crowd, and put their own stamp on the world. Children today are more adept than any prior generation at posting unique images and craving originality. Lego calls this essential aspect of play “the joy of building, and the pride of creation.”
The question is implied within the title of the post but I’ll paraphrase it here for the benefit of discussion. The paraphrased question is “Are you a Supply Chain CIO or a Strategic CIO“? When I say “Supply Chain CIO”, I’m not talking about your industry…I’m talking about your approach to the role as technology leader within your organization. Are you an order taker that does whatever the ‘purchase order’ says? Are you a logistics manager who just pushes orders around the data center?
"There is going to be room for a lot of different ideas around this idea of connecting around live in-the-moment video," said Josh Elman, a partner at Greylock who is joining Meerkat's board. The investment pits Elman, an ex-Twitter product manager, against his former employer, though he stresses, "I don't think it's a zero-sum game."
Don’t forget about the basics Compensating employees fairly and being flexible with scheduling when you can aren’t perks. They’re baseline boss moves. You build values by showing that you care not just about your employees when they’re in-office but when they are out of office; their family issues, hobbies and professional development. It’s fine if you, as a boss, don’t want to commit to these things, but remember that when you find yourself dealing with poor attendance, abuse of PTO of sick leave and retention issues. Values are a two-way street. If you can’t afford to pay your people fairly, then you might be doing business wrong.
Don Dea's insight:
Make sure they know what they’re signing up for
We get a lot of passive applicants. Why? It’s not because we were sugary sweet in our application process. It’s because we take a completely honest stance about what it’s like to work here. The people who wouldn’t last a day rarely apply. And the people who are up for the challenge come in ready to prove it. It’s a win-win. Instead of trying to sound like every other agency on the planet (trying to talk about awards) we tell candidates that we work HARD and they will be held accountable for every action they take here. Jobseekers also get an earful about the good stuff too. No dress code? Yay. Wine every Friday? Nice. A flexible work schedule and boss willing to teach you everything she knows? Awesome. We say this flat out in our sourcing emails, reiterate it in our job postings, and go over it in detail during phone screens and in-person interviews. People can select in and OUT of working with this team and in doing this, we reiterate what our values are again and again.
Society is accelerating. In the digital world, time and geography are of little relevance. People can be anywhere and everywhere. As lines blur providing some separation between “real life” and “digital life”, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain distinct parts of our lives.
Even well-known organizations will have to rethink their recruiting practices to attract this group, and now is the time to start. Those who want to take advantage of Gen Z talent in the future need to develop relationships today with teenagers in grades seven through 12. Get into their schools, provide mentorship and education, and put yourself in a position to help shape their career decisions. They are eager to listen.
Filling the talent pipeline has never been so critical now that the United States is facing a skills gap in most industries. Even if you’re a small operation, you can still have a Gen Z internship program. These children are so mature and they learn so fast, they might just be ready to take over by the time they’re 22.
Amazon released the latest generation of its public cloud service in January 2015. Cloud Spectator recently test the Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) C4 family to evaluate any potential performance and price-performance improvements over its previous generation, the C3 family.
The results presented here indicate that the C4 virtual machines had 10 to 20 percent higher vCPU performance and approximately 6 GB/s more memory throughput than the C3 VMs across different machine sizes. However, after factoring in the price increases, the price-performance values of the C4 VMs averaged the same as the C3 VMs. Both vCPU performance levels and network throughput displayed high stability over time and across all tested machines. The results highlight Amazon’s effort to provide highly predictable performance outputs and to match its C4 family’s price-performance with that of its earlier generation C3 family.
The key, he says, is to understand how mobile technology and the IoT can serve as the catalyst for new revenue streams and greater value to customers and the business. In the end, this may require new skills, including hiring data scientists and analysts. It also may require new partnerships and alliances, as well as APIs that connect apps and data from different sources
“My definition of a leader . . . is a man who can persuade people to do what they don’t want to do, or do what they’re too lazy to do, and like it.” If we can be generous enough to overlook the sexist element of that quote, and disregard for a moment the notion of labeling anyone as “lazy,” we can learn a lot from the crux of Mr. Truman’s insight. We can even learn the secret behind a skill that any leader would do well to master: getting people to tell the truth.
Don Dea's insight:
If a leader is someone who can persuade others to do what they don’t want to do and like it, what we have found is that he can tap that quality to convince a person to reveal truthful information, even when that person has a very good reason to want to conceal it. No doubt, this is a feat that almost everyone considers to be extraordinarily difficult to accomplish—the art of getting someone to disclose information that he is strongly incentivized to withhold is the stuff of crime thrillers and spy movies, and very few of us can easily identify with characters who are challenged with that task. But think about it. As a leader, you’re faced with that challenge every day. Is that job candidate being truthful about his claim that he instituted processes for his previous employer that saved the company millions of dollars? Is that manager being honest with you when he says he never engaged in the harassment that your employee is alleging? Does the CFO of the company you’re looking to acquire really have confidence in the revenue numbers he’s projecting?
Do you know a leader who insists everything is fine when everyone else knows trouble is ahead?
Have you watched someone so oblivious to signs and signals that employees are not engaged?
How do leaders accurately assess and view how they are perceived in an organization?
Don Dea's insight:
False Signals and Leadership Danger Ahead
What is leadership vertigo?
Let me first start off by explaining what vertigo is. For most of us, the word vertigo brings to mind the famous scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film where we see the lead character looking down a staircase and seeing the floor below suddenly pushing off into the distance.
In reality, vertigo refers to a perceptual phenomenon where our brain sends us false signals about our motion, which we believe to be true. The best known example of this is the crash of John F. Kennedy’s Jr.’s plane in the Atlantic Ocean, where his brain was convincing him that he was flying his plane level, even though the gauges on his instrument panel were telling him that he was in fact heading on a downward angle towards the ocean surface.
As online communities increase in size, number, and character, marketers have come to recognize word of mouth’s growing importance. But measuring and managing it is far from easy. We believe that word of mouth can be dissected to understand exactly what makes it effective and that its impact can be measured using what we call “word-of-mouth equity”—an index of a brand’s power to generate messages that influence the consumer’s decision to purchase. Understanding how and why messages work allows marketers to craft a coordinated, consistent response that reaches the right people with the right content in the right setting. That generates an exponentially greater impact on the products consumers recommend, buy, and become loyal to.
Don Dea's insight:
A consumer-driven world
The sheer volume of information available today has dramatically altered the balance of power between companies and consumers. As consumers have become overloaded, they have become increasingly skeptical about traditional company-driven advertising and marketing and increasingly prefer to make purchasing decisions largely independent of what companies tell them about products
It’s no secret that the quality of a company’s service interactions matters greatly in creating a positive experience with customers. Yet few companies focus on how customers form opinions about those interactions. By applying well known principles of psychology and behavioral science to service designs and working harder to understand what really motivates—and irritates—customers, companies can begin improving the experience quickly and at low cost.1
Don Dea's insight:
How economic is our service?
The service offering that the rental-car company implemented was grounded in a clear economic rationale. The pick-any-car option was not only more efficient to operate than the old system but also created valuable revenue opportunities: the economy- and luxury-car choices were parked next to each other, so value-segment travelers with families were frequently tempted to splurge on larger, more expensive vehicles. Many executives miss opportunities such as these when they overlook the full economic impact of customer service.
The impact of frontline emotional intelligence on the bottom line is clear (Exhibit 2). After a positive experience, more than 85 percent of customers increased their value to the bank by purchasing more products or investing more of their assets; just as tellingly, more than 70 percent reduced their commitment when things turned sour. That vote of no confidence won't necessarily be immediate or visible, and it can take the form of shifting only a part of a customer's business to another institution.
Customers are demanding very different kinds of relationships with companies. Here are some ways to jump-start customer engagement across your organization. A McKinsey Quarterly article.
Don Dea's insight:
Appoint a ‘chief content officer’
A decade ago, when the extent of the digital revolution—the massive proliferation of media and devices and the empowerment of consumers via social networks and other channels—became clear, many companies quickly appointed “digital officers” to oversee these emerging touch points. It’s now evident that the challenge is not just understanding digital channels but also coping with the volume, nature, and velocity of the content needed to use them effectively. Companies need to create a supply chain of increasingly sophisticated and interactive content to feed consumer demand for information and engagement, not to mention a mechanism for managing the content consumers themselves generate. The emergence of companies-as-publishers demands the appointment of a chief content officer (CCO).
To avoid this competency trap, Ibarra argues, people have to regard their jobs as platforms for building “outsight” and leadership capacities. How? By creating slack in your schedule so you can get involved in projects outside your core area and participate in extracurricular industry activities. By consciously making the effort to network with people who work in different industries and have different competencies. By finding a context or situation that makes you uneasy—giving a presentation, showing up at a conference for the first time, speaking up at an internal meeting. “Act as radically different from your normal behavior as you can,” she suggests.
Don Dea's insight:
Also, the prescriptions may not work in every context. Ibarra concedes that the impulses that inform her book are characteristically American—the ability to network, to invent one’s self, and then to reinvent one’s self. In the U.S., “it’s a culture where hierarchical differences are minimized, and you can walk up to anybody and introduce yourself,” she said. “It’s not something you do as easily in France.”
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And it’s never too early to start. Becoming a leader, this valuable book reminds us, is a process, not simply an event. And it requires building a set of skills rather than following a series of prescribed steps. “Stepping up to leadership is more like becoming a great chef,” Ibarra writes, “than following a recipe.”
Think about all the change and growth Meetup has witnessed in the social-media space, since the company's birth in 2002.
That was the era of Friendster. One year later, in 2003, Meetup was just passing the 12-month mark when MySpace began its meteoric rise. The company had pulled together two years of connecting people by the time Facebook first appeared on Harvard University students' screens, and, in 2006, Meetup said hello to Twitter (but probably only in 140 characters or less).
The group-building and networking platform now boasts nearly 20 million members, according to Scott Heiferman, its co-founder and CEO. Approximately half a million events per month flow through its system, all of this managed by about 130 employees.
The point is, Meetup has survived where others haven't, and it's staked out a space all its own as a major, if somewhat atypical, player in the social-network milieu.
"Well, we existed before there was this current concept of social media," says Heiferman. "And so, hot things will come and go, but we're going to outlive and outlast them all."
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