ZenStorming

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Posts Tagged ‘Customer Focus’

Obviously Hillary Clinton Will Win – Four Post Election Lessons for Designing and Launching Innovative Products

Posted by Plish on November 9, 2016

Poll after poll showed that Clinton would be the next president of the United States.  They also showed that even though Trump supporters said that they would vote for him, they still expected him to lose – they expected a Clinton victory.

Poll after poll were wrong.

What happened? Why the misleading numbers?  How do I make sure that I don’t make the same mistakes and misread the signs when designing and launching products?

Launching a successful product can seem like a crap-shoot.  You roll dice and hope for the best. In the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning presidential victory, there are four lessons that those designing product/service launches would be wise to heed. Let’s take a look.

People don’t want to feel like outsiders – they want to be in the ‘in’ crowd

People don’t like Donald Trump.  It was obvious.  Even people in his own party were against him. Heck, when is was clear that Trump had won, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow wasn’t even subtle in her dislike of the President Elect.  With this type of negative environment being prevalent, people who were pro-Trump didn’t want to be seen as supporting someone who was so hated.  The result?

They either lied and said they were voting for Hillary, or claimed they were undecided.

The lesson here, is that people need to feel welcomed and accepted if you’re going to get the truth out of them.  If you’re designing a product and the users don’t trust you, or think that somehow their participation in a research study will impact them negatively, odds are you won’t get the truth.  Build trust and give people a safe zone to say what they want.  But be careful, this is only part of the story.

People tell you what you want to hear

History is replete with products that tested well in focus groups and then failed miserably when launched.  One of the main reasons for this is that people will tell you what you want to hear.  Or, they simply don’t know what they want so they pick whatever it is you’re showing them and they say they like it.  Focus Groups can be funny things.  Are people really telling you what they think, or are they telling you what they think you think they think?

So be open to reality

Some years back I was working on a project that was a ‘next generation’ version of a medical product I had designed the first generation of.  Only two years had passed, and while the market, and the medical procedure the product served, hadn’t changed appreciably, I made sure that I wouldn’t be the only one doing research.  I called in additional researchers/designers to watch the procedure and asked for their feedback.  I was afraid that I was only going to see what I wanted to see and end up with a slanted, if not erroneous, perspective on what the doctors were doing.

In this election, pollsters anticipated reality.  Pollster John Zoghby believed that polls were too heavily slanted Democrat.  This lead to over-estimation of a Hillary Clinton lead, if it was even there at all!  You’ll never see reality if you think you already know how reality behaves.  We see what we want to see.  We may not be malicious about it, but sub-consciously we think we know what’s really going to happen, so we set up our research to prove that true.

In the world of product/service design research, we need to find out what’s going on, not prove we’re right.  The stakes are too high.  Companies, organizations, communities are investing in a product that is supposed to pay them back in some way.  Not understanding the situation is the first step to catastrophic failure of a product launch.

So at the end of the day, do what people do, not what they say

Yes, you can be the first to predict reality, but often the better route is to let things play out a little more and then jump in the game with a passionate verve!  This has the advantage of getting actual data, actual feedback.  This information is much more actionable and since everyone else is wrong, being  a little late to the game won’t be a negative, it’ll be a huge positive!

If you believe that you need to predict reality and launch at a specific time and place, then don’t pick one horse in a race.  Place multiple bets.  Have a Plan B, and Plan C…Plan(x).   Then, as reality starts revealing itself, roll the appropriate plan into action with modifications as needed.  Incidentally, the first generation product spoken about in the beginning of this article was just such a multi-plan launch.. That enabled it to launch with the right components at the right time, even though the very beginning was touch and go understanding what was truly essential to the offering and what wasn’t.  In the end, we got it right.

That’s ultimately what it’s all about – getting it right.

One way we can get it right is to learn from what others have done wrong.

So regardless of whether you’re crushed or elated with this election (or perhaps even feeling a little of both!) pay attention to these four tips based on what was done wrong, and your next product launch won’t unexpectedly fail – you will get it right!

 

 

 

Posted in Case Studies, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Technology Driven Design or Customer Centered Innovation? – The Imodium Experience

Posted by Plish on April 6, 2016

Think back to your last experience with…

diarrhea.

Yes, you read correctly.  Take a few moments and think about it.  Name at least five things that you feel when you have diarrhea.  It’s probably not hard because  those experiences are typically extremely visceral.

Urgency, cramping, sweat, embarrassment, loud, runny, running….  the list goes on.

Now, name five things that you typically need to deal with diarrhea.

Toilet paper, water, underwear, anti-diarrhea medication, an open toilet, Gatorade…

Nowhere in either of these two lists did you see scissors mentioned did you?

I can hear what you’re thinking, “Plish, why the heck would I think of fricking scissors??!?”

Check this out:

Yes, scissors!

So, what’s behind this packaging debacle?

Well, it’s surely not customer-centered needs.  While it is about stopping diarrhea, it’s not about improving people’s experiences with diarrhea.

At the core,  it’s about Technology.

I haven’t interviewed anyone at McNeil about the packaging.  But I’ve seen this phenomenon before.  You see, McNeil sees the contents of this package as its product.  It’s all about the drug, and packaging the drug was driven by technology.

The manufacturing facility has scores of cool, hi-tech packaging machines that can safely, securely,  deposit and seal loperamide (Imodium) caplets in their foil/paper  blister chambers.  These packets keep the white caplet inside safe from harm as thousands of boxes rattle around in a truck, and/or are thrown around at shipping docks.  Then, when the card of tablets is stuffed in a pocket or purse, the packaging needs to protect the precious, effective cargo.

Unfortunately, nowhere in this list is the customer experience.

The end result then is a hard to open package that includes (mindblowing) directions for using scissors in case the person opening it can’t tear the plastic.

What is interesting is that on the Imodium website you can read the following:

IMODIUM® A-D EZ Chews begin to dissolve quickly. And when you have diarrhea, fast relief can never come too soon. IMODIUM® A-D EZ Chews work fast, so you can get out of the bathroom and back to the things you love.

So, with the EZ Chews, they acknowledge the need for quick resolution, but curiously don’t figure this into the packaging experience in their other products.

How did they get here?

As I said before, this product was driven by technology.  While the drug was tested for efficacy,  and while the package keeps the drug safe,  the lesson here is that the product, Imodium, isn’t just a little pill*, it’s the pill and packaging – the whole experience of opening and taking the medication (which incidentally is done while people are in a, um, compromised state).

The takeaways?

  1. Look beyond the product and look at the experience.
  2. Don’t expect technology to automatically create a good experience.
  3. Think about the packaging! (Anyone out there thinking about battery packaging??) Oh, the presence of a certain packaging machine in your plant doesn’t mean that it’s a fit for every project.
  4. Streamline the process of opening the package while still keeping your package contents safe.
  5. Use some empathy! Understand what people are going through before, during, and after, touching your product.

The good news is that if you look at this list, especially number 5, there is clearly an opportunity for innovation in this space.

I’m looking forward to seeing the next generation of diarrhea packaging, but just hopefully it’s not as a user. 😉

*-Imodium is available in  other configurations, such as a liquid.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Case Studies, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, Healthcare, innovation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Designing Patient Experience at RSNA14

Posted by Plish on December 1, 2014

Today was my first day at the Annual Radiology Society of North America (RSNA) Meeting.  It’s a great conference to see what’s new in minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment.  What was especially evident was the emphasis on patient experience, on making the healthcare experience less intimidating and more interactive.

These machine wraps and environments from Bear Facts Entertainment make the environment more inviting and less intimidating for children (and this helps put parents at ease!)

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Check out these Star Wars-eque looking MRI imagers from Chinese Company: Magspin Instrument Co

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There are HD screens and vendor displays that deal exclusively with creating beautiful environments, like the works of  Physicist turned artist, Arie vant’ Riet:

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Finding ways to enable radiologists and patients to share images and information across the myriads of health record systems is also integral to giving patients greater control of their healthcare.

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There were also devices like the Medspira Breath Hold  system that help patients interact with the process to better improve the quality of images, or radiation treatments.

Last, but by no means, least, there’s the flare of Fischer-Giotto.  Fischer Medical Technologies conveys the elegant curves and movements of their digital mammography systems through a logo that seems more apropos on Michigan Ave than in a Radiology Conference.WP_20141201_010 (Copy)

It’s clear (Thankfully!!) that the healthcare industry is beginning to recognize that there’s more to

healthcare than just “Take two of these, four times a day, and call me in a week.”

 

I’ll be bringing you more from RSNA as the week continues! Would love to hear the thoughts of others that attended the conference.

Posted in Arts, children, Customer Focus, Design, Ergonomics, Experience, Healthcare, Medical Devices, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Designing Delighting Moments – Sing “Hello” to Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja

Posted by Plish on October 14, 2014

This video is the definition of delighting customers.

It’s no secret that delighting customers is extremely profitable. But it can also have another side effect.  It can create a better world.

Enter Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja.  This “Singing Doctor” has sung to more than 8000 babies as they entered the world.  His expression of joy, at a time of joy, brings joy to healthcare practitioners and patients alike.

Says Dr. Andrew-Jaja, :”Each of us has to find a way — in medicine and other walks of life — to communicate a cheerfulness to those we work for and with, and it keeps everybody happy.”

Or, as Disney says: “Every leader is telling a story about what they value.”

It’s the commitment to a value that empowers someone to stand firm in those behaviors that may elicit judgment.  This Doctor values the joy of a new life being born, and thus creates an environment of joy, anticipation, and excitement through song.  Everyone present can’t help but be touched.  In fact, people even make musical requests ahead of time!

What is truly amazing about this, is that if someone were tasked with designing a more delightful birthing experience there would no doubt be suggestions around the check-in and discharge processes, the use of the best drugs, pleasant and calming aromas and colors in the patient rooms, etc..  Perhaps someone would suggest music in the background.  But, few would suggest that the doctor lead everyone present at the birth, in a chorus of “Happy Birthday!”

Delight is a phenomenon of the Now.  It is about presence.  If you want people to experience delight, delight must be present.  Presence is best mediated through personal interaction.  I’m here, with you.  You’re here, with me.  We are together. This is what we are experiencing!  This is ours, this is yours.  Own it. Revel in it. Be free to experience it.

Research shows that delighting customers starts with putting employees first.  By doing this, delight is made present in  employees.  This pool of delight can then be freely experienced by others.

Remember this video.

Think of what it represents.

Joy. Courage. Family. Life. Love.

This is delight!

Now, make that present in your day.

Posted in Authenticity, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, Healthcare, Service Design, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

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

Going to Work With a KOL? Don’t Forget the Intangibles

Posted by Plish on June 2, 2014

Over the past couple of decades I’ve had the opportunity to work with many Key Opinion Leaders (KOL’s) during the course of developing medical products***.  KOL’s can be a vital part of a product development team.  In my experience, some were a pleasure to work with, others, quite frankly, were a pain.

There’s a good summary on selecting KOL’s here.   It’s not the whole story, but it’s worth checking out.

He mentions some great tips to sift out the KOL’s from the ‘regular’ folks (it’s important to remember that a person doesn’t have to be a physician to be a KOL):

  1. Regularly sought out by their colleagues for opinions or advice
  2. Speak often at regional or national conferences
  3. Have published articles in a major journal during the past two years
  4. Consider themselves early adopters of new treatments or procedures
  5. Help establish protocols for patient care

Also look at:

  1. The Associations to which the key decision makers belong, as well as the Research Groups that they work with
  2. The places they deem to be the key referral Treatment Centers
  3. The Treatment Guidelines/patterns employed by the various physician KOLs, as well as the general protocols that they follow
  4. The Clinical Trials they have participated in

I would add the following that get at the “intangibles”, and may cause you grief:

1. Does the clinician always seem to talk about money and/or royalties?  If so, you may have your hands full.  As I once heard a KOL say, “It’s not about the money, it’s about the money.”

2. Is the KOL talking about other ventures, or possibly products he/she wants to develop?  This could create friction about product concepts being developed in the future. There could also be ulterior motives to working with you.

3. Is the KOL personable?  Does he/she get along with people?  There’s enough stress in a product development process without a KOL adding more.

4. Does the KOL act like part of the team or like someone hired for an opinion? Even though laws seem to push you towards the latter, you want the former.  The latter knows and often acts like he/she is being paid for opinions.  That’s not necessarily a good thing.  See #5.

5.  Make sure time commitments are spelled out and understood by all parties involved.  Yes, KOL’s have their practices, but if they are truly committed to improving healthcare, they’ll understand that getting a new product to market is not clean-cut and predictable.  Everyone is short on time.

6. Because KOL’s are usually well published, they are great resources for helping to understand strategic landscapes.   That can often be more important to overall success than input on specific product attributes.

7. There are ethical and legal ramifications of using medical doctors as part of a product development process.  Be diligent about following the law.  You don’t need those types of stresses in your life.

With regards to KOL’s in general, it’s important to realize that designing a product based solely on KOL input is generally not a good idea.

Yes, a KOL may do 1000 procedures a year, but that person won’t use a product the same way as someone who does a 100 procedures, or for that matter, 10 procedures.   The majority of people who will use your products are not KOL’s.  Most KOL’s work at prestigious institutions and have resources available to them that most people don’t.  It’s important to know what the non-KOL’s have available to them.  If you design something to accommodate the majority, odds are it’ll work for the KOL.

Remember too that KOL’s are often laser sharp in their focus.  If they are great surgeons, don’t ask them about something that a surgical tech is doing during the procedure.  Ask the tech.

Better yet, don’t just ask.

Watch.

Observe what is going on before, during, and after the time when a product is being used.  Don’t just trust what people say they do.  People (even KOL’s!) often think they are performing an action, and even will tell you they are doing it if you ask them afterwards.  If you watch them, they may never do it or do it in a different manner.

Working with KOL’s can be exciting and insightful for all involved parties.  Keep these points in mind and it won’t be a drag on time, money and patience.

I’d love to hear your experiences with KOL’s.

***While this is written specifically for medical product development, these guidelines can apply to other industries.

Posted in Customer Focus, Design, Ergonomics, Healthcare, innovation, Medical Devices | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Healthcare Providers Can Learn From This Taco Bell

Posted by Plish on May 17, 2014

The Best Taco Bell For Medical Procedures

 

There’s a Taco Bell that I’ve been stopping by for a quick taco or two.  I would stop there to get medical tests if I could.

??? What???

You see, every time I’ve visited and someone at the register needed to go and help on the food assembly line, that person has done something amazing.

Well, at least it’s (unfortunately) amazing by healthcare standards.

The person washes her hands.

I’m not talking the typical ‘bathroom’ wash that you see most people do.  You’ve seen it, it goes like this:

  1. Turn on the water
  2. Use a little soap if around
  3. Wash for about 5 seconds, maybe 10
  4. Shut the water off (if it’s not automatic)
  5. Shake the hands and grab a paper towel to dry(maybe)
  6. Leave

In fact, researchers have found that only about 5 percent of people wash their hands properly.

But, these folks at this Taco Bell are amazing.  They wash the way hands are supposed to be washed, which I must say, I usually don’t see consistently happening in healthcare facilities. (I’ve even seen healthcare workers skip the easier anti-microbial hand sanitizer squirt!)

The Taco Bell folks do the following:

I actually counted to see how long these people wash and rinse and they’re following best practices.    It also doesn’t matter if they’re busy or slow.  I’ve seen workers take the time to wash (and follow with an antimicrobial squirt) no matter how crazy the atmosphere or how long the lines.

This is a TACO BELL people!

Customers are there for their food and they want it quick.   Employees could easily pull a line that’s often heard in healthcare hand-washing studies: “I don’t have time to wash.” But, these conscientious workers have made it a part of their culture to make sure they wash their hands.

What’s even more important is that if employees are taking the time to wash, they certainly are doing other things right as well.

Congrats Taco Bell on Grand!  Keep up the good work!

For all the healthcare facilities out there, it might be worth doing some self-examination and asking, “Why can Taco Bell do it and we can’t?”

If you can’t find the answer, pay Taco Bell a visit and watch.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Case Studies, Customer Focus, Design, Health Concerns, Healthcare, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

See You at FUSE14 in Chicago!

Posted by Plish on April 3, 2014

If you don’t have your tickets, make sure you check out Fuse 2014!

This is truly a great networking, educational and inspiring event.  Check out the line-up!

Fuse is about Innovation, Brand Strategy and Marketing, Trends, Design and more!  If you go, I guarantee you won’t be sorry.

Oh, and once the conference starts on April 7, tune in to the Seen page (It doesn’t go live until the conference starts).  It’s a great place to see a mashup of tweets for the conference.

If you’re going, drop me a line – would love to meet up!

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

Accelerating Innovation Using Human-Centered Design: A Seminar

Posted by Plish on October 11, 2013

If you’d like to learn more about Human-Centered Design, and how it can power your innovation efforts be sure to check out DMI’s seminar, powered by friends over at the LUMA Institute.

Developing Effective Action Plans for Accelerated Innovation is being held Chicago on November 14th at the IIT Institute of Design.  The seminar will introduce participants to:

…a versatile system for innovating with speed and agility. It is a hands-on workshop featuring an organized framework for Human-Centered Design methods and a corresponding series of collaborative planning exercises.

(Specifically participants will learn: )

  • A practical construct for repeatable innovation
  • Deeper competence in the practice of Human-Centered Design
  • A collaborative approach to drafting action plans
  • Ways to enhance an existing process
  • Ways to establish a new process

Each participant will also receive a copy of LUMA’s Handbook of Human-Centered Design Methods  as well as the Planning Cards based upon the handbook.  I’ve got the Handbook in my library and I can say first hand it’s a great resource and should be in the library of anyone doing Human-Centered Design.  (I’m planning on adding the cards to my collection as well 🙂 )

The interactive seminar is being led by Bill Lucas.  Bill has 25 years of design chops informing the seminar you’ll experience.  He’s fun, engaging, and a heck of nice guy. (Tell him I say “Hi!”  if you go.)

For Registration info click here.  If you can’t make it to Chicago, be sure to check out the LUMA site for other workshops and seminars.  They are always busy putting the education into innovation.

Oh, and if you do go, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Posted in culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, innovation, Innovation Tools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Get Insights Into Human Behavior by Paying Attention to the Everyday

Posted by Plish on August 31, 2013

Looking for insights into human behavior?

Sometimes they are right in front of us. The problem is that we are in such an automatic mode, that we don’t notice what other people have done. We are often mindless (as opposed to mindful) observers of the world around us.  It’s a shame that we are, because these insights can be powerful inspirations for innovation.

Below you will find pictures from three different locations I’ve visited lately: A restaurant restroom, a gas station and a Walmart.  In all these pictures there’s clear evidence of what people’s preferences are.  Take a look, and use these questions to guide your reflection:

  • What do I see?
  • Why might this be happening?
  • In what ways can this be improved?

I’ll share some thoughts on the other side of the pictures…

 

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The Restaurant Restroom

I find it fascinating that people clearly have a preference for the left push button handles, most likely because they presume it’s the “hot” water.  It’s not.  In fact, both left and right push buttons release cold water.   Because the wear is so lopsided, it’s also possible that as the spring timer runs out and the water stops, people re-press the left button again, even though both buttons give cold water!

Both faucets also act the same way – although, the top picture is from the faucet that’s further from the urinals.  From that we could infer that people go for what’s closest as well.

Incidentally, I frequent this establishment and still find myself pressing the left button handle both on first and secondary presses.

In what ways would you improve this?

Gas Station

This phenomenon is in multiple places, not just at gas stations.  The “No” button gets a major workout.  Apparently most people don’t want receipts, or car washes.  These pads get worn out and need replacing all because of one button.

In what ways  would you improve this design?

Walmart

I went to buy cat litter and loved this image (I took it right before I bought the litter).  The upper and lower shelves are untouched! Everyone has been pulling from the middle shelf. As you can see from the picture (albeit barely,) the cart is just below the edge of the middle shelf.  It’s almost effortless to load up the cart with kitty litter.  (I actually took some from the upper and lower shelves for fun.)

How could the experience of kitty litter purchasing be improved?

These are just three examples from everyday experiences that highlight how people’s preferences can be inferred without having to even ask a single person.  (In the past I’ve blogged about a couple of other examples where people ignore the intended design of parking lots and walking paths.)

I also look at these examples as inspiration to design things right the first time.  Sure, components can be replaced and even re-designed, but why not get it right?  Why not do some homework up front to see what it is people do?

I’d love for you to share other examples of products that aren’t being misused per se, but clearly have aspects that are being over/under used because they are under-designed in certain ways.  Share them below or on Twitter. Use hashtag #OverUnderDesign .

Looking forward to your input!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Customer Focus, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Research, Service Design | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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