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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
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.
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.
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.
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!
You just have to come to grips that it’s not going to be your idea at the centre of it. The number one thing that holds most organizations back is ego, the attitude at the top, leadership believing they are the smartest in the room. When you finally realize that the people connected around you are much, MUCH smarter at solving problems, finishing projects, and finding new solutions, that’s when you can start actually running your business. The trick is to assume your connected team is smarter than any individual on the team, then start getting ideas from everyone.
We communicate to quickly for mob rule not to work. You can’t tell people how to feel, just like you can’t tell them to work. You can only inspire them with a challenge and put the best people you can find around them. If your employees don’t like you, all the policy in the world isn’t going to help, you can’t force people to feel different, you can only treat them different.
Even when you have the best plan in mind, after you’ve tested it in your head a hundred times, you know the weak points and you’ve mitigated them perfectly. It’ll still fail. The greatest plans in the world are always foiled by chance and rare occurrences.
From the book The Improbability Principle, incredibly rare impossible situations occur all the time. It’s your job to plan for them.
So how do you prepare for the unexpected? How do you make sure all your bases are covered?
Counterintuitively it’s not the man with the best plan that will come out on top, it’s the women with the most flexible plan that will come out the victor.
We all must learn to be a better listener, no one is born a great listener, people learn how to just like we learn how to play sports, with practice.
So how can you actively practice listening? Ask for feedback. Even if you completely disagree with the feedback you don’t have to let the other person know. Bite your tounge and listen.
Join a team, a board, a group, a cult (ok probably not a cult), an organization, join something that will force you to work as a team. As we get older our vision gets very tainted with experience. Just because you think you’re a great team player doesn’t make it so. Every day you can be a better team mate, you just need to make it a priority.
Kids see the world through a different lens. They enjoy life more, are more judgemental, but forgive much easier than most adults. When a kid approaches a problem, they do whatever it takes to overcome it. The try and try and try. Like a baby learning to crawl, failure is not an option.
We learn what failure is later on in life. We find out we can make excuses for not continuing with the learning process. Could you image if a child learning to walk gave up one day and said, “you know, I just don’t have time for this” like many of us do on the road to learning something new. We’re great at making excuses
During the spring and summer of 2014 I was commissioned to do a drinking and driving research project. Over the past few years, Saskatchewan can’t seem to reduce the number of drinking and driving incidents. In a country where almost everywhere the drinking and driving numbers are decreasing, here in Saskatchewan that’s just not the case.
We were going to tour the province and talk to teens about “why” they drink and drive.
The wrong way to approach a problem; ask the person with the problem “why they do it” and they are most certainly going to lie. Ask students about similar problems and how they approach them and now you may be getting somewhere!
Drinking and driving is a perplexing issue. One of those social issues that people’s attitudes and actions don’t match up. The think and do gap if you will. We all know it’s a bad idea to drink and drive but how many of those people still get behind the wheel and drive after having a few pints.
We picked six different locations all over Saskatchewan. From a high school in Regina, to a day-time program in Prince Albert. We talked to an inner-city high school in Saskatoon, and a Narcotics Anonymous summer camp on a First Nations Reserve. We visited rural high schools and mid-sized city high schools all over Saskatchewan. We had a diverse student population and share information is one thing they loved to do.
We had a set of questions we’d ask once the students were comfortable with sharing their opinions. We knew we could just come right out and say, “hey, so really, why is it that students every now and then think it’s ok to drink and drive?” We had to be much smarter than that.
Some of the questions we’d ask would be:
Which do you watch more of, YouTube, Netflix, Cable?
Who do you look up to more, Celebrities, Athletes or Musicians? (Why?)
What do you use your phone for, top three things?
Which one do you like more?
Facebook or Twitter? Instagram or Vine? Snapchap or Instagram?
What’s the easiest way to communicate a message to a pre-determined audience?
What do you think of these ads? (drinking and driving ads)
What do you think of anti texting and driving ads?
How would you stop drinking and driving if you absolutely had to?
The Three Things we learned:
Highschool students (especially grade 12s) have already made up their minds. You may inform them about a potential fatal decision that they’re going to make but actually changing their behaviour? Not likely. By grade 12 you’ve made up your world view, you’re not a fan of authority in your life, and the last thing you want to do is listen to “what’s good for you”. As soon as we realize that at this stage in life (grade 12 in particular) is a relatively bad time to convince anyone of behavioural change. We need to get to them first, before the social norms of high school get them.
If you don’t believe me, try to remember what you were like in grade 12. Were you open to other people’s ideas? Did you listen to authority? Did you always do what was right for you? If you answered yes to any of those questions you’re either lying to yourself or you didn’t have much fun in highschool. We don’t need to convince the students who aren’t a problem, we need to convince the hardest to reach.
Well if you want me to listen. “Telling” people to do something or the perception of “telling” people never goes over well. This remains true throughout life, adults generally don’t like to be told what to do either.
Create behavioural change by educating early on and allowing kids to make their own decisions (even if they’re wrong), helps learn life lessons in a much more surreal and memorable way.
The problem with drinking and driving is you can’t let kids make even one mistake, because all it takes is once behind the wheel and it could be fatal. Making younger kids more aware of the situations they are going to face when they get older, and the difficult decisions they’re going to have to make will only help in preparing them. You’ll never eliminate it completely, but you can attach a stigma to it at a young age that deters kids from even trying it.
This is precisely what happened to smoking. Advertising and propaganda around smoking used to be “cool”. Many governments (including Canada) passed laws (http://www.smoke-free.ca/filtertips04/tobacco%20act%20provisions.htm limiting tobacco companies the amount of advertising they were allowed to do and where they were allowed to do it. Making a much better chance a kid doesn’t see James Dean on a billboard in downtown smoking a dart. Present day (Sept 2014) smoking is on the decline (obviously not for all populations of society, I’m making an over simplification). But there is an argument that once something isn’t deemed “cool” society has a lovely way of reducing the “uncool” behavior.
They younger they are when they realize that “drinking and driving is not cool” the odds that they do it when they are older go down.
Every grade 9 class should have to put a campaign together on how to stop drinking and driving. Putting the messaging up in the school, implementing the best ideas that come up, throughout the year the students in grade 9 become the Champions of reducing drinking and driving incidents. They grade 12s vote on the best campaign and a cash prize is awarded for the best project and the most influential school. (I’m completely offering my services if you want to get this off the ground, I think it could work great helping students educate students on drinking and driving).
When it comes down to major decisions that we make in life, whenever we’re on the fence, we’ll generally look to people similar to us and see what they did in the same situation before we make our decision. The psychological term is social proof. I first read about social proof in Robert Cialdini’s Influence The Psychology of Persuasion.
Social proof is gaining in popularity as our world gets more confusing, more going on, demanding more of your attention, you have to make better decisions faster. For years we’ve used social proof. Before we take a look at a new car we ask a neighbor about theirs and what they like about it. If we look up to that neighbor we’re even more likely to take their opinion as the truth.
Social proof is a powerful influencer. In a world where it’s very simple to see where people live, what they drive, who they interact with, what they wear and what they do for fun, we don’t need to look far to get ideas on what to buy. A simple stroll through Instagram will show me a lot of information on what you care about, what you spend your money on and where you spend your time. I don’t have the answer on how to use social proof to curb drinking and driving, I do however have a couple ideas.
You need the students that other students look up to to be the ones making it very uncool to drink and drive. I say I don’t have the answer because I think I’d rather ask the students what would work, and get ideas from them.
A project at the grade 12 level creating a campaign or project answering the question: “how do you reduce drinking and driving?” again offering up a cash prize for the winner. Make it a part of a class; make it a major part of the curriculum. If you get students creating amazing campaigns addressing the negatives of drinking and driving in a new creative or different or interactive way, in time they will convince themselves it’s a bad idea.
Think about it, the more research you do in a subject area the more the information you’re uncovering will affect you. This happens all the time. Why couldn’t it work for kids and drinking and driving?
Lets get to them younger, stop telling people to change their behaviour and start using social proof to influence people in a smarter, more effective manner. In the future, the status quo is going to be easy to seek out. Why change? In the future you’re going to come to this question more and more often. The smartest organizations know that change has to be a part of the plan. Try new things, try new ideas, as long as you’re sticking with the status quo, you’re never going to know what you’re missing. You’re never going to see the future of your product or service.
Business is change, and how we communicate with our younger generation is something we’re all going to need to get better at. Yes yes, try something new, who knows, you might just prove yourself wrong.
You can download the PDF here: Why do they drink and drive, a Strategy Lab Research Project
As I hope you’ve read in my recent post, An Urgent Message for All Businesses on Twitter, it’s (still) time to stop shouting about yourself and start listening to others on social media platforms and in life in general. Marketing is now way more about what others are saying about you than it is about what you are saying about yourself. If there’s a disconnect between these two things, people will find out. That’s now easier than ever to do so. Think of marketing as being completely reversed. Advertising and bleeding incessant brand info is the old way. Now, you can be the most effective by zipping your lip for awhile and listening to what others are saying and, whether its positive or negative, using the information constructively to make improvements to your product or service’s core and rectify customer dissatisfaction.
I’ve tweeted my thanks to multiple businesses on this week upon receiving slightly above average customer service and quality repairs. I’ve received a response or acknowledgment roughly one third of the time. Yes, ONE THIRD. ONLY ONE THIRD. I’m basically tossing Jose Bautista an underhanded lob in the middle of the strike zone and watching him refuse to swing. As far as I’m concerned, these businesses who aren’t listening might as well delete their accounts immediately. Their tweets about themselves have very little value and EVEN LESS VALUE if they aren’t going to respond to their satisfied customers.
I’m going to cease this rant to illustrate three easy ways to listen to your customers online:
1: Twitter Search
This is so simple. Search your business name, your product name, or some industry keywords to get a perception of what people are saying. Just be sure you’ve got all your basic bases covered before you do this (replying to those who have mentioned you, thanking people for sharing your information, and acknowledging new followers). Twitter culture allows you to jump in on conversations that pertain to you without being deemed a troll. Try this out and don’t fear negative feedback. It presents a world of opportunity.
2: Net Promoter Score
Net Promoter Score is a feedback system easily added to websites and bricks and mortar businesses that asks customers to answer one simple question: How likely are you to recommend our product or service to a friend or family member? We love it and think no business should move a muscle until NPS becomes their starting point. View a quick slide show.
3. Asking Simple Questions
Sometimes listening and getting feedback is as simple as asking. Don’t be so afraid of the answers you’re going to get that you avoid asking your customers questions. Avoid asking just for the sake of asking or asking questions with the sole intention of sounding like you care. Embrace any information you receive. This is a tactic that will result in valuable information if executed correctly AND create the kind of engagement that will be constructive for your business.