Marketing research has its place – analyzing customer data and looking at behaviour can help us see all sorts of valuable and useful patterns. Bringing customers together in a room can add a layer of rich understanding that isn’t as tangible for you and your colleagues when looking at the data, no matter how skilled the analyst or interpreter.
What we like about bringing clients and their customers into a room together, is the shared understanding that develops. Moreover, customers or users develop a new level of trust when they can sit at the table with your team and express their experiences with your company or your products. They know their ideas and feedback aren’t going into some deep-dark data cave. Another observation about using games to solve problems, find answers, make plans, or explore opportunities, is that your team is more likely to believe what they hear, when they hear it in person. The ability to finesse an explanation means that there are fewer ambiguities and more empathy.
If you’d like to build trust in your customer relationships, we highly recommend involving them in co-creating your future. We’d like to help.
What kind of problems can you solve with a game? More than we can count. Here are just three:
Our developers want too many added features but I don’t know which one our customers will value the most – how can I get them to prioritize?
What’s holding my sales team back, and how can we fix that?
We have trouble knowing what impact our product has on our customers’ everyday lives. How can we capture that?
Stay tuned next week, when we’ll be live-tweeting from the Conteneo Collaboration Confab. And if you’re interested in enterprise collaboration or civic engagement, join us!
Learn to fail. Fail often. Fail fast. Does this sound familiar? Failure is the current focus in many schools of “entrepreneurial thinking”. We contend that it is of no consequence whether you failed – rather, it’s what you learned that’s important. For us, “You win or you learn” is the key to keeping going when things don’t turn out quite as we had anticipated.
Seeking the “why” of any outcome will build your understanding of the processes, paradigms, or procedures that got you there. That kind of insight will improve your future outcomes, regardless of whether you won – or learned.
Iterate early and often? Absolutely. But each version change to your product (or products) has the potential to move you further and further from your brand’s core. Eventually your brand looks like a copy of a copy of a…well, you understand. Your messages lose resolution. Your mission lacks clarity.
How do you keep that from happening? We like to use Innovation Games(r) to solve problems, and better yet, to prevent them. In the case of the problem we’re considering today, our clients love it when we play Prune the Product Tree to work through their product roadmap or brand strategy.
Imagine the trunk of the tree is your brand. This is your core. Your heart. Your promise. The thing that supports everything else you do. It should be immutable and unchanging. As you add leaves, flowers, or fruit…make sure they fit with your trunk. If your company is a birch tree, you aren’t going to turn out any apples. Once you’ve mapped out your “where’s next?”, think about the roots of your tree. They’re all the systems and structure that keep you upright, supporting your trunk and enabling everything you do. If your root system is insufficient, the leaves and blossoms will wither…and eventually even the trunk will succumb.
This simple but powerful metaphor is one of the most useful games in our toolkit – it’s helped us help many of our clients stay true to their purpose, and it can help you, too.
Spring is gradually sneaking up on the east coast of Canada. One day it’s 10°C and the next it’s snow flurries. It’s interesting trying to guess what’s coming around the corner.
We are, at Panoptika Central, currently inundated with greenery. There’s a new garden to be planted and we don’t know what will grow, so we’re trying many different things.
It’s a bit like the start-ups we’ve been following this year through the Dalhousie Faculty of Management. They are working with an approach we’ve talked about before, the lean canvas. The principal being that you have an idea, or several; you look at the 9 key dimensions fleshing out your idea; you formulate hypotheses to test your assumptions; and then you test your hypotheses, either validating them, or invalidating them. Either way, you end up knowing more about your idea and its potential utility.
Then your idea lives or dies by real world conditions, but not after you’ve sunk everything into it!
To use our garden analogy, we could have invested our entire budget into planting potatoes. We like potatoes; they grow them in Nova Scotia; but will they grow in our garden? So instead, we have invested in a series of small tests to see what will be the most successful. Then, having facts to go on, we can pivot in the coming years into things we can grow successfully and that we like.
Maybe we should write a book…Lean Canvas GardeningJ
Here’s to making your personal garden (or idea) grow successfully!
Do you have a project you’ve been hoping to implement – a new initiative or some sort of change in process or procedure, but you just can’t seem to get it going in the summertime? It’s easy to let things slide in the summer, when offices frequently take on a slower pace. You deserve a rest, right? Besides, half the people you need to get that project off the ground are away on holiday! So why not just let it go until after Labour Day?
Here’s why: when those team members return after the holiday, they’ll have loads of catching up to do. They may not be interested in taking on something new. Despite the perception that a “back-to-school” mentality exists in September, the reality is that many of your co-workers may feel like they need a vacation to recover from their vacation backlog.
In fact here are three reasons why it may be better to simply start that project now:
It will give other colleagues a chance to stretch themselves by taking on unfamiliar tasks.
Fresh eyes often result in more creative solutions, rather than status quo.
Those who step up in summer may be more committed to the project than those who do it just because it’s another obligation.
We have a host of new initiatives on the go right now, and it’s invigorating! By September we hope to be reaping the fruits of our labours.
There’s an old joke that says the difference between fleas and elephants is that elephants can have fleas, but not the other way around. So what happens if your inexpensive little marketing tactic suddenly becomes very costly because the niche it is targeting has changed dramatically in scope? Whereas you were reaping a great benefit by adding lots of low-cost value, now your margin is the flea – and your costs are the elephant.
Banks across the country developed special rates and packages to attract and retain seniors more than a decade ago. But now that the big boomer bump is casting a large shadow, all that “free” doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Many seniors expect the costliest level of service – face-to-face. Yet they aren’t seen by their banks as covering the costs of providing that. So rather than pass along the cost to their other customers, financial institutions are quietly cutting out their no-free privileges to this demographic. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened quietly enough to avoid the attention of the press – which is resulting in some interesting stories about penalizing senior citizens and lifelong customers.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying, despite the pace of change accelerating the way it is these days, it’s still worth looking at your market strategically – thinking about long-term scenarios and deciding how you will respond if things don’t quite turn out as you’d planned. Come to think of it, if strategic decision-making had happened, maybe this surprise wouldn’t have happened. And it begs the question – marketers are developing all sorts of free products and services now, with the intention of monetizing them later. If you’re their target, which free things will you be willing to part with, if they’re not free any longer?
This week’s race at Belmont was a disappointment for a host of people on the I’ll Have Another team – including owner Paul Reddam, trainer Doug O’Neill, and jockey Mario Gutierrez. But there’s a solid business strategy lesson to be had in the retirement of the winner of two jewels in the Triple Crown – the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
Sure, it’s possible Reddam’s team could have raced I’ll Have Another on Saturday. They might even have won. It’s easy to say on paper, that you should sacrifice the opportunity for a huge tactical win, in favour of your company’s long-term strategy. But in the modern economy, where the long-term planning horizon grows increasingly shorter, this can be incredibly difficult to achieve. Will you as a manager forfeit a huge, immediate payoff in favour of a long-term goal that may not be achieved until you’re no longer even with the company? Suddenly it doesn’t seem so simple.
The folks backing I’ll Have Another got it right. They decided it wasn’t worth causing undue pain and suffering to the horse. But there’s more. Clearly they thought about the opportunity cost as well. Had they risked running the race, they might not only have lost, but may have injured I’ll Have Another sufficiently to ruin his career as a valuable stud. So maybe I’ll Have Another was just running a different race.
Next time you’re tempted to over-reach your risk tolerance in favour of a potential short-term gain, make sure you’re not just betting on the right horse, but on the right race.