the anthropologist

How We Start Every Project, Being “an Anthropologist” // eps 58 #inthelab

When we start projects at StratLab we like to understand the organization we’re working with, the best way we’ve found is to be what David Kelly would call The Anthropologist. The most success we’ve had (and still have) is really getting to know an organization. Going to the Annual General Meeting, Christmas Party, Golf Tournament, Fundraising dinner, basically anything they will invite us to we’ll go. You get to know people on a different level when you see them out of the office in the “wild”. Don’t ever be afraid to get out from behind your laptop to do some hands-on research.

One of the most successful projects we worked on was with the Regina Police. It was an internal marketing strategy where we were to change their core values, vision and mission to better reflect their current culture. It took Six months longer than we thought because we really didn’t want to rush the research process of interviewing every level of different Police officer. It was amazing

From David Kelly’s 10 Faces of Innovation, the Anthropologist is the face of discovery and understanding.

To observe without judgement. To develop an empathetic understanding of the organization. You must look at the tiniest of details, the most mundane things can have a major impact on what the end consumer takes away in their experience.

From the book:

The Anthropologist is rarely stationary. Rather, this is the person who ventures into the field to observe how people interact with products, services, and experiences in order to come up with new innovations. The Anthropologist is extremely good at reframing a problem in a new way, humanizing the scientific method to apply it to daily life. Anthropologists share such distinguishing characteristics as the wisdom to observe with a truly open mind; empathy; intuition; the ability to “see” things that have gone unnoticed; a tendency to keep running lists of innovative concepts worth emulating and problems that need solving; and a way of seeking inspiration in unusual places.

Look into a company as if you were Sherlock on a case

look-into-a-company-as-if-you-were-sherlock-on-a-case

Asking questions, becoming very curious, always asking “why” and never excepting “that’s just the way it is here.” The Anthropologist needs to uncover the hidden story behind what the client isn’t telling them. Remember what Sherlock Homes said, “the devil is in the smallest of details.” -or something thing like that. The little things matter. Pay attention to the little things.

Create a company “idea wallet”. Much like your wallet that you carry money around in, your companies idea wallet is where you think and pitch ideas.

how-do-you-get-to-know-an-organization

How do you get to really know an organization? 

By asking questions of course you silly nilly!!

Any question that leads you closer to the central purpose of that organization, generally it’s not your run of the mill questions that are going to get to the bottom of things. People never simply open up to you, you must gain their trust first. Be positive, listen to their answers, and be very respectful (no judging). You need to get creative, the more out there the question is, the more people have a chance to show you their personality. See some ideas on research questions you could use.

Vuja De thinking (from Practically Radical)

Seeing a problem for the first time, through a new lens. The definition of Deja Vu is seeing something you’ve seen before in a ridiculously clear manner. Vuja De thinking is approaching problems like you’ve never seen them before. Trying to solve your organizational problems with novel solutions we’ve never thought about trying. The next time you want an “expert” to solve the problem instead why not ask a beginner to take a stab at it, you may surprise yourself!

whens the last time you bought something from a salesperson that you weren’t in the market for

If you want donations to your cause don’t ask for money 

If you want me to buy something the last way to do that is by trying to sell it to me. What you need to do is pitch me your why. 

I still remember the Tweet. It was from Kayla Kozan, she said “Someone trying to sell you a watch is probably a watch sales-person.” Meaning, if someone is trying to get you to buy something you should simply say no because they obviously have an interest in you buying it from them.

How do you sell in a world where Vacuum Cleaner sales people no longer exist? 

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7 Buzzwords You Need to Stop Using at Business Meetings & in Life in General

7 Buzzwords You Need to Stop Using at Business Meetings & in Life in General

We all have come across those winners in meetings that love to use the latest business buzzword. You know the ones? They recite words and phrases you know they just heard for the first time while watching the Dragon’s Den last night.

You realize soon after school that the vocabulary you use has very little to do with your life and is more so correlated with pretentiousness. Yet the words below are used everyday, some times more than once, in offices and during meetings all over the world in hundreds of different languages. Well I’m sure other languages have their own overused meaningless terms that tend to follow the commerce crowd.

Before you start remember these are just opinions, please don’t be offended. Instead add your own overused word or phrase. Heck lets make this list longer!! Comment below with yours!!

Let's form proactive synergy restructuring teams

1. Synergy

The obvious one. Just stop it. Nothing says I’m a first year business student than using Synergy on purpose in a sentence. The exception to the rule you say? There is only one. Unless you work in the Easton Hockey stick Museum and you’re referring to my gold 2001 Easton Synergy Hockey stick you should never ever use the “S” word in a sentence.

 

2. Networking

Just a fancy term for people who don’t know how to make friends. Pro tip, stop networking and start doing things that matter. Volunteer, run for a board, help a non-profit, coach, be a big brother, do something that isn’t easy. Just showing up to an event and putting on a name tag isn’t hard. Volunteering countless hours for a great cause is a brilliant way to make new friends.

Do ANYTHING other then go to specific events just to “meet” people for the sake of a business relationship. Yuck.

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Once you understand everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.

The Most Important Thing You Need To Learn That Will Change The Way You Think

The Plasticity of your brain

Steve Jobs talked about it, the best educators understand it, and it’s a powerful fact rarely talked about. The fact of the matter is you can learn new things and change the makeup of your brain well into the later years in your life. The “plasticity” of your brain refers to its ability to change it’s makeup.

A professional violinist will have many more neurons firing around where their hands control the bow and violin in the brain. Mark McMorris’s brain would have many more neurons firing where his brain controls balance, and foot control being a world class snowboarder. A NewYork Times Journalist would have thousands of neurons firing in the parts of their brains that control writing, story telling, and reading.

Whatever your brain focuses a lot of time on, your brain will build up sufficient muscle around that particular area. Whether it be conscious or subconscious, you’re constantly making your brain smarter or dumber(if you’re not doing anything of future benefit to your brain).

Common knowledge has always been, what you’re born with is what you get! So if you were born “dumb” or didn’t have a good upbringing, you’re destined to fail. Wrong!

It’s those who realize that they can learn, practice and teach themselves many different skills and ideas that begin to truly flourish in life.

Learning doesn’t stop after highschool or university. This is how our society has been brought up. You go to school, learn, then get into the real world and work till you retire, then die board to death.

What if that’s the wrong way to think about it? What if we were meant to learn throughout our life? What if there isn’t a hard and fast “way” to do it? What if we could keep learning and adapting as we go becoming increasingly more valuable with every new experience?

You can learn anything

Yes you can’t go to the NHL after a certain point, the physical nature of the sport will hold you back. But that doesn’t mean you can’t train a coach, assistant coach, be a trainer, etc. It’s all in your mindset.

We’re great at telling ourselves “we can’t”. “That’s impossible!” a small part of our brains are extremely protective over what we can and can’t do. We love to quit before even trying, after all that is easier.

At Least I Tried

See this print at GapingVoid.com.

Start thinking the opposite. Start thinking you can do anything you want. It’s difficult at first but it’s the same idea as affirmations, the Tony Robbins’ system or “The Secret”. A positive attitude can literally move mountains.

I love the jobs quote from Steve Jobs:

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. And the minute that you understand you can poke life, when you push in something will pop out the other side. You can change it, you can mould it. That’s maybe the most important thing.” 

-Steve Jobs

Remember, anything is possible.

Why You Don't Need a Marketing Strategy

Why You Don’t Need a Marketing Strategy // eps 50 #inthelab

Why You don’t Need a Marketing Strategy

How many small startups have a marketing strategy? I’d venture a guess as very few. No I don’t mean a “marketing plan” I mean an actual strategy with tactics, objectives, and intended outcomes. Rarely do startups care about marketing because if you have to rely on marketing to make your product or service successful you’re not going to be.

How many recent extremely successful products or services have grown exponentially because of a marketing strategy? I’d guess very few. The reason something catches fire is one part luck and one-part remarkability.

Remarkability: The odds that someone will talk about your company, product, service or organization.

Most business owners think of marketing as logos and commercials when really it about getting people to spread your story. There’s nothing traditional about marketing in 2016.

You don’t need a marketing strategy. A lot of people will tell you you do. Professors of marketing, those who’ve never practiced their theories just taught them in the classroom are the worst at spreading the lies about why you need a marketing strategy.

They’ll say you can’t be “off brand” and that every communication you make needs to be consistent.

“Mind your four p’s!” they’ll tell you, even though three out of the four are almost obsolete or useless for your company. Price, Place, Product, Promotion.

Marketing needs to start at the beginning of the planning process of your product or service.

I love the Seth Godin quote “Advertising is the tax for the unremarkable.”

Advertising is the tax for the unremarkable

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Do you think people want to follow a faceless company online

How The Golden Rule Applies To Your Social Media Strategy // eps 45 #InTheLab

How The Golden Rule Applies To Your Social Media Strategy

Common sense is not so common when it comes to social media. “Businesses act too much like businesses online” – Conrad Hewitt

Conrad shares with us why he thinks a lot of companies get it wrong with it comes to social media and their online marketing presence. Running accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram he sees it all right now and from the sounds of it he’s not happy! It’s easy to sound professional and to echo “business jargon”, it’s hard to create a personality that people come to like and trust.

It’s hard to argue against developing a personality online with so many local examples (@ReginaPolice, @KiltedBroker, @Eric_Dillon@BradWall, @Nenshi). All these folks don’t exactly “follow the rules” when it comes to social and their fans absolutely adore it. Don’t take yourself (or your business) to seriously online.

With the amount of options we all have to buy what you are selling from someone else, you have to figure out a way to cut through the clutter. Being different is now the safest thing your brand can be.

I wish your pictures on Instagram were more business like

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The Fox and the Hedgehog-Im not that good at a lot of things

I’m Not Very Good At a Lot of Things || Eps 41 #InTheLab

The first thing I tell my class when teaching is that I’m only good at two things, baking chocolate chip cookies (I’m really good at it) and getting excited about Volleyball, as in coaching or helping a team. Everything else I’m not that good at. When you really think about it, no one is amazing at a lot of things. I mean some people just seem to be really good in several areas of their life. But when you find someone who’s amazing at something, usually they lack in many other areas of their life. And when I say “lack” I don’t mean we’re bad at those things, we just haven’t had the practice we need. I feel a lot of people need to have the power of being “smarter” than others, be it ego, self esteem or lack there of. Anyone in a leadership role (coach, teacher, professor, manager, boss) should never deliberately act smarter than anyone else. This comes out in correcting others, arguing, overtly disagreeing, putting others down, and generally being a know it all. Don’t be that person in life. No one likes a know it all.

The Oxford Philosopher Isaiah Berlin wrote the now famous essay, The Fox and the Hedgehog. The Fox knows many things but the Hedgehog only knows one important thing. It’s an analogy that works for many different life situations. Psychologist Phillip Tetlock studied the political predictions of two different types of expert speculators, foxes and hedgehogs. Throughout the 20th century Hedgehogs were more likely to get prime time television slots on Fox political hour(they made the big bold predictions) but Foxes seems to be right far more often in their predictions. An anomaly in political predictions, the more press you get, the more you think you’re right.

“I am not very good at a lot of things.” -Jeph Maystruck

I like to look at the Fox and the Hedgehog in regards to my life. I was never the Jack of all trades growing up. I didn’t fix things around the house, I wasn’t overly helpful when things broke. I still don’t fix things around the house, I just not a fox. This amuses my family. I don’t change my own oil or winter tires. They usually bug me about it. Not any more!!

I say not any more because of what happened the other weekend. I bring my car over to my parents place and my family is going to help put on my winter tires. We get half way done when two tires won’t come off the vehicle. We literally tried and tried to no avail. I went home with two winter tires on and two summer tires. The next day I had to explain to the folks at Quicklane why I had two tires changed out already! ha! I told my family they can’t make fun of me for not wanting to be “handy”. I trust experts to do what they do best. Long live the hedgehogs.

You can get great at many things but you’re much better off to focus your attention on one thing and try to be the best in the world at it.

Roand Asmunsen at the south pole

How Companies Grow, Short Vs Long Term Profits – Episode 7 of #InTheLab

The 20 mile march

In Jim Collins’ Great By Choice he tells the story of the famous discovery of the South Pole. Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott were both vying to be the first explorer to plant their country flag at the South pole. Amundsen did a lot of prep work. He learned about extreme cold, he lived with Eskimos to see how they deal with the cold, he researched the trip, he stashes much more supplies than he needed, just in case something happened along the way.

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2001 Tweeters in Regina

Who Are The Top 2,001 People on Twitter in Regina? [Searchable Local Twitter list]

I’ve been there too, sitting alone on a Friday night wondering; how many people are actually on Twitter in Regina?

Well thanks to a wonderful tool called FollowerWonk we can now find out!

Followerwonk allows you to do searches for people on Twitter. You can search by location, by a word or phrase in the bio or by several different factors. Below the list is made up of people who have self selected their location to include the word “Regina”.

The list is ranked by Social AuthoritySocial Authority is a metric developed by Moz that helps cut through the vanity metrics out there and measures influence on Twitter. Who would have thought that gaining Followers wasn’t the only thing you use Twitter for.

I first sorted them by Follower count but it wasn’t cool to see all the bots and people who hired bots and the bots who hired people at the top of that list. This is a much better look at the Regina Twitteratti.

Want to find yourself or your ex-girlfriend from Highschool? Hold ‘Control’ and press ‘F’ then type your Twitter handle.

 

In other news check out some of the more recent blog posts on the Stratlab blog!

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I'm not sure what do you think?

The Seven Most Important Words a Leader Can Say

I’m not sure, what do you think?The Virgin Way by Richard Branson

From Richard Branson’s The Virgin Way he talks about the 7 most important words for leaders to use. “I’m not sure, what do you think?” puts your staff at ease, makes everyone around you feel like you aren’t a know-it-all and willing to implement other people’s ideas.

When you ask others for their ideas you get more options to choose from. You incentivize people coming to you with innovative solutions to organizational problems. Today’s best businesses empower their people to share ideas up the chain of command. As a leader, the less ideas you come up with to implement, the more champions you’re building up around you. Also, when you adopt your staffs’ ideas, you’re creating a very important incentive for your people to want to offer their ideas (very few organizations actually care about what their frontline employees think, let alone ideas they have).

When you ask others what they think, what you’re really saying is “I actually care about you and what you think of this organization”. As funny as that sounds, unfortunately most organization leaders don’t think their people are that smart, they’ve built up a facade that business is run by executives and the people who where suits to work everyday. When it really comes down to it, the best organizations have the best people on the front lines, and no, for the most part they don’t where suits.

I think we all can learn a lot from what Mr. Branson has taught us about business. Below are a few of my favourite quotes.

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