The Moment of Clarity


I’ve been busy preparing for a new summer course at the Copenhagen Business School this summer called “Corporate Anthropology and Organizational Ethnography” – a juicy title for academics!   For normal people, the course is designed to examine corporate culture – how to create and maintain cultures that drive competitive advantage.  One company who will be coming to visit the class is ReD Associates, a group of corporate anthropologists who have offices in Copenhagen and New York. I found this interesting group last year while wandering Copenhagen.  Two of the partners, Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel Rasmussen have written a new book – The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve your Toughest Business Problems.  I am also using this book as a text for the business course – so you know how much I like it!  Why? To quote the authors “The business culture is using the wrong model of human behaviour. It is getting people wrong.”  The authors are introducing a different lens to look at customers, consumers and employees – one that takes into account human emotion. They also show why smart organizations are looking for business anthropologists to join their ranks.  The authors deliver a practical framework rooted in both theory and experience and a problem-solving method to help you start to get people ‘right’.

Do you want to attract top talent to your organization? This book helps pave the way. Its available in hardcover and kindle (I have finally succumbed to carrying my favourites on my computer – it helps to eliminate overweight luggage). Happy reading!

The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems

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A case study on inclusive design: ethnography and energy use

gingergrant:

A great article on why ethnographic research is a must in business.

Originally posted on Ethnography Matters:
Dr. Dan Lockton (@danlockton) is a senior associate at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, at the Royal College of Art in London. Originally a design engineer, he became interested in including people better in design research while working on mobility products. For his PhD at Brunel University, he developed the Design…

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Creative Confidence


The Kelley brothers from IDEO are at it again. After David Kelley has his brush with cancer, he decided to focus on what was most important to him – a wake up call not so gently delivered. The result is this new book on Creativity. Ever since Ken Robinson stated that ‘creativity is as important as literacy‘ – it has become a cause worth promoting and celebrating. I had the pleasure of listening to David Kelley last week talking about design thinking, bringing to the forefront the human element in products and in organizations. Innovation comes from people, and people can enhance their innate creativity. Nothing is more important to economic viability then leveraging creative capital in our people. A message worth repeating over and over again. The piece that many executives seem to miss is that working from this mindset increases employee engagement, reduces turnover, keeps your talent at home and drives profitability. So what is holding us back? A worthwhile read to get you headed in the right direction.

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

Daring Greatly


I’ve admired Brene Brown for some time. Her honesty, her humour, her courage. Inspiring enough to watch repeatedly myself and also bring into the classroom. Its been a really busy Fall and I’m glad for some downtime. Enough that I finally got around to reading her latest book, Daring Greatly.  What a treat!  If you haven’t had the pleasure of her first talk, or her follow up – the Ted videos are are great place to warm up.  Daring Greatly was an even greater pleasure.  Mainly because I had the time to absorb the message – and its a tough subject – shame. What holds us back and keeps us from attempting whatever it is that is within us trying to get out.

Jung always said that there are no accidents. The timing for me was perfect – the beginnings of a new research project. Time to read and reflect. Time to spend with student researchers plus a little time in the classroom.  Time for an adventure into the unknown and uncharted. Mapping out new territory. Time to dare greatly.

Brown gives good advice. She says she only accepts and pays attention to feedback from others in the arena. I’ll try and keep that in mind! Wise words to to start a new project, a new adventure, a New Year.   I’ll let you know what I find out on this next phase of the journey. Best wishes for 2014!

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

The Crowd Sourced Performance Review


Canada is big on crowdsourcing – in fact, Chaordix out of Calgary, Alberta – is leading the field worldwide (we can produce something other than hockey players). Crowdsourcing is a lot more than just likes and dislikes. This new technological approach to customers and clients also is an excellent resource for the HR department with employees.  When was the last time you had an accurate performance review that reflected your true contribution to your organization?  Never? Same here.  Talk about an archaic practice.

So … how about rewriting the rules around performance reviews to make them a valuable and more importantly, ACCURATE reflection of performance?  How about a dynamic and collaborative system of performance measurement that bypasses bad bosses, insecure bosses and the like? How about feedback from everyone you have worked with? Positive feedback that feeds your individual growth and your worth to your organization?  You need this book – its a must read if you care about keeping and feeding your talent.

Eric Mosley and Globoforce have developed not just the why but the what and how of performance reviews that will make a difference.  Its a great way to manage and cultivate a healthy corporate culture. Mosley has reinvented employee recognition so that it delivers on its true potential – keeping the best and brightest employees. He has combined the power of crowdsourcing with social media and a positivity-dominated workplace. Its an amazing collaboration that will revolutionize how you manage and motivate your employees.

An A++ for excellence in my bookspace.

The Crowdsourced Performance Review: How to Use the Power of Social Recognition to Transform Employee Performance

Linchpin


Back from Copenhagen and getting over jet lag. So catching up on my reading and went looking for a little treasure that is a great start to the Fall madness.  Seth Godin put this book out in 2010 and if you haven’t done so, its worth the read. Our economy is sluggish and the only people who can pick it up – is us. Linchpin is a reminder – sometimes not so gentle – but maybe a little push is needed. One of the quotes from the book that sticks in my mind is “Raising the bar is easier than it looks, and it pays for itself. If your boss won’t raise your bar, you should.”

Maybe its the influence of hanging out for the summer at a world-class business school in Copenhagen. Maybe its heat stroke. But it gets me to thinking. What if we all decided to raise the bar? Regardless of what our employers expect? What if we all started to change the ending of our own journey? Godin speaks to the fact that many of us have been asked to hide our empathy and our creativity in service to a job description which is more than likely, outdated. What if we went outside our own ‘box’ and started using our innate creativity – for our own purpose? Even if you aren’t sure what your purpose is, you probably won’t find it in your job description. Your family doesn’t know either or else you wouldn’t be looking for it now.

So a little expansion while we still have great weather?  Methinks its worth the effort.  Part of my expansion is working on a Tedx talk for September 14th in MIlton, Ontario. A little part scary and a big part exciting. The theme? Linchpins. Hope to see you there.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

 

True Story


My adventures as a Visiting Professor here in Copenhagen are coming to an end. Teaching at the Business School here has been a fabulous experience – even more so by the realization that I don’t have to explain the importance of storytelling in Denmark. Nor to the international students or faculty who are in attendance. As I found in the Middle East, storytelling is considered foundational to insightful  communication.  It signifies sophistication.  So keeping up with my reading in this area was a double delight.

I have a newly released offering for you. Ty Montague has supplied a welcome addition to the field of storytelling.  Taking the telling into actionable results.  He starts from the premise that all of us have a personal story or metastory. From there, he makes the move towards interpretation of these metastories, as a shortcut to understanding the people around us.  He drives home the point that our stories are about meaning, what we value.

Montague then moves towards brands – also emphasizing meaning over product and the corporate cultures that drive the brands. He speaks of “story doing” and claims this is the new landscape for brands.  He asks an interesting question for consideration: What if you built a process around first understanding the story that needed to be told, and then used that story to inform every aspect of the company? The emphasis to be placed not on the telling – but on the doing. He offers an action map that can be used to drive this process. Everything stems from the metastory – any new products or serves, new experiences, new team structures, new processes and new communication. This new approach? Social innovation by design.

It’s an interesting lens on a powerful proven method. It follows the same logic that Roberto Verganti gave us in his  “Design-Driven Innovation” with a few additional twists. Bottom line is narrative communicates meaning. Narrative is here to stay and for any business that doesn’t realize its potential well – survival is optional.

True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business

Ctrl Alt Delete


OK the title got me.  I spent years hitting those keys.  Needing a little break from summer school, this book called my name. Yes, fun reading – but big message.  The new true marketing imperative is telling a great brand narrative. One word? Storytelling. Mitch Joel takes us on a journey that will open your eyes to the future that is already here.  He maintains the true opportunity for business going forward to to create and maintain a direct relationship with consumers. To look forward with the eyes of a consumer and not as a business person.  Consumers are social – more than they have ever been before. Consumers are more hands on – because they can be.  A great example used by Joel is “Kickstarter” – a New York startup founded in April 2009 and has raised more than $275 million for more than sixty-five thousand projects since it started. Can’t get the attention of venture capitalists because you are too small (or too whatever)?  Kickstarter may be the vehicle for you. Driven by consumers. Supported by consumers. A great example of crowdsourcing – if your public supports you, who needs VCC’s?

Some simple rules:

1. Deliver value first.

2. Be open.

3.  Be clear and consistent.

4. Create a mutally beneficial world.

5. Find your true fans – your evangelists.

Start looking at media as one platform – text, images, audio and video. Once your delivery platform becomes one digital pipeline – you can put it anywhere.   The biggest challenge will be to figuring out exactly where that ‘where’ is. Our world now entails the exponential growth of new media.  What does that mean? Think fast and agile AND slow build.  Responding to market forces or even better, staying ahead of the trends while at the same time, a slow build with your customers – relationships take time.  That relationship gives you insight – not just data. And then he turns to rebooting your life. A very interesting read!

Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It.

Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters


As I sit here listening to the rain outside my window in Copenhagen, I am staying warm and dry by prepping for next week’s classes. I have a great mix of international students who have given up their summer to explore new frontiers in business. Staying ahead of them is keeping me busy! I am always amazed at the insights to be gained by crossing interdisciplinary boundaries.  The business professors also come in from all over the world and our lunch and dinner conversations keep ideas flowing. I think the beer in Denmark has something to do with it!

This week our focus in advanced market research at CBS is on Aristotle and social innovation (phronesis).  “Telling the story” is the job of marketing in the world of business. And exploring new markets gives ample opportunity for developing a new story. Hopefully – to change the ending of our current economic tale. As a reference guide, Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters is an invaluable tool that works equally well for strategists.  In order to gain competitive advantage, you need to go where other people are not (remember Blue Ocean Strategy)?

Michael Tierno has done a masterful job of walking the reader through the best of Aristotle. Whether or not he realizes it, Tierno has also done a masterful job of walking the reader through the complexities of experiential marketing.  The principles are the same: engage your reader – engage your customer. Create a memorable experience. A story worth telling. A story worth remembering. If you need to insert some new life into the ‘story’ of your business, here is a worthwhile primer. And you get a little philosophy lesson as a bonus. Contemplation for the beach perhaps? You can bring the beer.

Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets From the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization

Character Development and Storytelling for Games


I waited a long time for this baby. Lee Sheldon has come out with his second edition of a fabulous resource book on character development. I know it says for games. You may not be a gamer, but if you ever construct a story – then this book deserves your attention. Storytelling is a discipline and as a discipline, it has some basic structure that is the difference between a good and a great story. The same holds for developing characters. So if you are building personas in scenario planning or marketing, this book is a great guide. If you are thinking of working with transmedia, then this book is invaluable. When you read this review, I will be starting a new course in marketing and storytelling at the business school in Copenhagen. Reviews over the next 6 weeks will be done in one of the oldest schools in Europe. Museums, cafes, architecture and great food are on the agenda. I’ll keep you posted.

Character Development And Storytelling For Games