ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘book review’

When a Company Won’t Give What it Clearly Has – Designing Customer Experience

Posted by Plish on September 25, 2014

Have you ever asked for a side of Apple Chips at Panera Bread?  These are the responses I usually get:

“Sure” (He/She then types in a special instruction on the screen and I get apple chips)

“Sure” (He/She can’t find the button on the register for ‘Apple Chips’ so he/she calls the manager who then responds:)

“I”m sorry but we can’t do that.” (after which I beg and plead to no avail, except for one time when a manager responded:)

“Since you’re getting a Fuji Apple salad, and that has apple chips on it, I can add another side of apple chips.”

When turned down once, I even offered to pay extra for apple chips. The response?

“Sorry, there’s no way for me to process that payment.”

Understand, it’s not like I’m asking for something that’s not on the menu.  It’s used as a garnish on the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad and Oatmeal.    But, somewhere there is an (un?)official edict that “Thou shalt not give apple chips unless with a salad or Oatmeal.”

I’m sure that it’s probably a cost issue.  The apple chips are more expensive than regular chips, and thus don’t provide the profit margins that Panera would like, especially when they’re being given away as a side.

 That still doesn’t explain the stupidity of not supplying them to a customer who offers to buy them!

This isn’t only Panera though.  Cable and Satellite companies do something similar but dress it up differently.

Become a Subscriber now and receive 12 months of service for $24.99* a month!

What’s especially painful about this offer is that people who have been subscribers for 5 years don’t get the offer.  They still have to pay $54.99 a month.  The loyal customer gets shafted, the newcomer gets rewarded.

How is this like the Panera situation?

In both cases, a company has something but will only share it on their terms, not on the customers.  Panera has apple chips, Cable/Satellite/Cell companies have price breaks that they’re not willing to give to loyal, long-standing customers.

Don’t get me wrong.  Companies have every right to portion out their profits/losses how they want. But, it comes down to these simple questions:

Are your customers important to you?

Do you want them to have an amazing experience of your services and/or food?

Do you believe growth is directly related to how you treat your customers?

Steven S. Little, author of the wonderful “The MilkShake Moment: Overcoming Stupid Systems, Pointless Policies and Muddled Management to Realize Real Growth,” makes a point for the importance of valuing the customer, the person, over policy and profits.  Profits will follow when the customer is placed first.

It’s not complicated.

It’s simply about having the guts to care about people, to be willing to act in simple, but profound ways that scream, “You are important to me!” without fear of being called on the carpet by Corporate.  It’s about making someone a milkshake even when it’s not officially on the menu; or in my case, giving me a cup of Apple Chips.

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Posted in Customer Focus, Design, Experience, Service Design | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Communicating The New – A Book Review

Posted by Plish on December 30, 2013

I recently finished reading, Communicating The New: Methods to Shape and Accelerate Innovation by IIT Institute of Design Professor, Kim Erwin.

The premise of the book is simple but it’s a point that gets missed.  If someone is trying to communicating a new idea, the typical way is to use concepts, techniques and metaphors that are familiar. I’ve seen it in many industries.  In music we hear people say, “The music is a cross between Joan Jett and Enya.”  While the statement is provocative, it falls short because people are forming an idea of what the “Joan/Enya” amalgam sounds and looks like, a perception that is likely inaccurate in some, if not many, ways.  In business I’ve seen products described as “XYZ product but it does it in a different way and better.”  Again, this type of comparison rings hollow and doesn’t do justice to what may truly be a ground breaking concept.

So what to do?

As the book points out: If you want to communicate The New, it should be done in ways that get the message across and at the same time pave the way for bringing the idea to fruition.  It’s not just about transmitting information, it’s about bringing information alive and making it engaging on myriads of levels.  Hence the subtitle of the book: “Methods to Shape and Accelerate Innovation.”

While the book is about communication, it’s about much more than that, it’s about creating and cocreating – bringing things to actualization.  This book is about innovation tactics; it’s about dream-storming.  We all have heard and seen great ideas that don’t get a chance to spread their wings because the idea was  ineffectively communicated.  This book shares tools to give an idea wings.  In addition, it provides tools that will excite and empower stakeholders/team members so that they engage with, and develop, fledgling ideas.  The more these people are engaged, the more they feel confident and enthusiastic about pushing an idea out of the nest expecting it to fly!

The book is easy to read and is aesthetically pleasing as well.  There are multiple case studies and insights from innovators – it adds breadth to the content.  One minor complaint I have is that there are some great graphics that span adjacent pages. As a result, some of the content in the graphics is hard to see because it disappears in the seam between the pages.  Granted, the content of these ‘page spanning graphics’ are from case studies and they aren’t really pertinent to the content of the chapters, but the graphics were interesting and it drove me nuts to not be able to see the entire graphic.  If I can read part of a graphic, I want to be able to read all of it.  Just a personal pet peeve. The remainder of the graphics are well done and helpful, illuminating the text.

The resource section of this book, what people would normally consider the end notes of a book, are outstanding and provide links and directions to sources for further research.  This chapter is a gem and should be read.

A final point is that a book about communicating The New, should perhaps be more than a book. The webpage is a step in the right direction, but somewhere in the back of my mind, this book is screaming for new ways of being shared.   I am also looking forward to more case studies of people who are successfully (and unsuccessfully!) communicating The New.  This book is just getting the conversation started!

Erwin’s book is a welcome addition to the libraries of innovators and entre/intrapraneurs alike.  I highly recommend “Communicating the New” for anyone who has ideas and knows it’ll take more than an army of one to make them reality.

Posted in culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, Entrepreneurship 2.0, innovation, Tactics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Getting Naked…Innovation!

Posted by Plish on November 5, 2013

If you’d like to read a comprehensive, yet very readable book on the innovation process and the tactics of designing for people, I highly recommend the book Naked Innovation by Zachary Paradis and David McGaw.

How much does the book cost?  Right now it’s less than I paid for it when it first hit the shelves of an IIT Design Conference.  In fact, it costs nothing!  That’s right – it’s free.  The authors want to make an already good book even better, so they are re-releasing it for free, one chapter at a time, and asking for feedback from the readers.

What do you need to do?

First step: Head to  NakedInnovation.com.

Second step: Download individual chapters of the book.

Third step: Read…

Fourth step: Give your feedback.

This book is an excellent addition to your innovation library, and now is the best time to pick up a copy and contribute to making the next version even better!

Let me know your thoughts when you read it.

Posted in Books, Crowdsourcing, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, Innovation Tools, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to be Interesting (and Innovative, and Creative, and…) – A Book Review

Posted by Plish on June 10, 2013

Howtobeinteresting

 

What really struck me about, Jessica Hagy’s, “How to be Interesting (in 10 Simple Steps)“, was both its simplicity and profundity.

Through the use of her trademark simple, ‘index card’ sketches, and wonderfully succinct text, Ms. Hagy shows the reader what it takes to become an interesting person. What I found particularly wonderful was that you can replace the word, “Interesting” in the title with, “Innovative”, “Creative”, “Designful” or any other type of change agent type term and the book would still be apropos.

Therein lies the profundity of the book.

One could be tempted to simply quick flip through the book – after all, it’s just pictures, right?

Wrong.  Just because I said the book was ‘Simple’ does mean it’s ‘easy’, per se.  I purposely took my time with this little gem.  It deserves the 3 R’s: Reading, Reflection, Re-Reading.  That process of reflecting takes effort and if someone really wants to grow, it’s never going to be easy.

Being interesting, an innovator, a designer, a change agent – all those require stretching the self.  This book is a great reminder of that.

If you want to be more, create more, experience more,  share more, make-the-world-a-better-place-more, this book is for you.

Enjoy!

 

PS When you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Posted in Authenticity, Books, creativity, Design, Experience, innovation, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Makers – The New Industrial Revolution (Book Review)

Posted by Plish on February 7, 2013

The other day I picked up a copy of Makers – The New Industrial Revolution, by Chris Anderson.

It’s an exploration of the Maker movement and its place on the world-wide stage.

If I could sum up this book with one word it would  be:

Inspirational

Yes, inspirational.

He makes a good case for the argument that the Maker movement is here to stay and it’s buttressed by enthusiastic people who are empowered by the democratization of manufacturing technologies worldwide.  Indeed, as one chapter is entitled, “We Are All Designers Now.”

We can all take part in designing and manufacturing products, and even help each other in the process.  The internet is the great equalizer and it enables people to reach each other, and niches that, while perhaps not in the millions, are substantive enough to enable the development and growth of business.  The internet also gives access to manufacturing methodologies such as 3-D printing, laser cutting, and CNC machining, making the machine shop as close as your laptop.

He cites multiple case studies of companies (including his own) that leverage technology and the power of crowds (which is also the power of individual dreams) to build sustainable businesses.

The book is an easy, clean read.  There is some minor redundancy in writing style but it’s not off-putting.  Also, if you already are familiar with manufacturing technologies like 3-D printing, there are small chunks of the book that won’t give you any new information.

I’ve already shared this book with a friend who is involved in artistic co-creation, and this book excited him as well.

If you’d like to learn more about the Maker movement, if you’d like to be inspired by stories of how Makers are redefining manufacturing business worldwide, if you want to understand how Maker businesses have the potential to expand and become disruptive economic machines, you do want to read this book.

Ignore it at your own risk.

 

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There’s a great interview with Chris Anderson, about the Maker movement, over at Wharton.

 

Posted in Arts, Books, Case Studies, Co-Creation, creativity, Crowdsourcing, culture of innovation, Design, Disruptive Innovation, Entrepreneurship 2.0, Innovation Tools, invention, Open Source, problem solving, Reviews, Social Networking, Start-Ups, The Future, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

G.R.A.S.P. The Solution – A Book Review

Posted by Plish on February 22, 2012

I had the privilege of recently reading the book,  Grasp the Solution: How to Find the Best Answers to Everyday Challenges , by Chris Griffiths with Melina Costi.

G.R.A.S.P. stands for the various stages and types of thinking:

G-Generative

R-Reactive

A-Analytical

S-Selective

P-Proactive

In general, the book takes an in-depth look at the above thinking processes and couples them with a method called the “The Solution Finder”.  When used in tandem, they provide a scaffold for finding creative solutions.

While the book is dedicated to the explanation of GRASP and the Solution Finder, the authors state that there’s one thing that they hope readers take away from the book: It’s that they start thinking about thinking.

Without doubt, this book will get you pondering about how you think.  However, if you think thinking about thinking is difficult to do, perhaps it’s even more difficult to write about.

Therein lies the one negative about this book – the authors’ discussion of a recursive process can, at times, be difficult to follow.

However, there are many positives to this book and I consider it a welcome addition to any entrepreneur/innovator’s bookshelf.  I particularly was impressed with the various tools discussed as they are clearly and concisely explained.

By the authors’ own admission, there’s not really anything new, per se, in this book.  What they have done, however,  is provide a cogent methodology for creative thinking and compiled and explained the tools/resources that support it.  This is no small feat and should be commended.  (Also, if you’re a newbie to mind-mapping this book gives a quick but, as with the other tools, utterly thorough primer.)

Overall, I give this book a ‘thumbs up’ and recommend that you give it a read.

If you do, please drop me a line, or post your thoughts here.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Posted in Books, Creative Thinking Techniques, innovation, Innovation Tools, Mind Maps, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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