Lead the change 4

IMPOSSIBLE THOUGHTS™

Remove the barriers

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | May 2, 2013 | 0 Comments

So often when we try to engage people with a new idea, or sell a new product or even launch a movement, we’re so wrapped up in making our idea awesome that we forget to consider the barriers that might get in the way for people.

Having recently done some work with Hairdressing businesses all around the country, we did some research and learned that the biggest barrier for a woman trialing a new salon is that they feel like they’re cheating on their current hairdresser.

Now, let’s be clear, women are just as likely to cheat as men, they just need a better excuse. So that’s what we got these hairdressers to look for.

What we did in our one day program with these businesses was to help them create a suite of new products and services, that were aligned with the identity of their business, but were not something women could get at their current hairdresser.

That way, it didn’t feel like cheating!

We created things like “The Besties Big Night” package. A package where a regular customer is encouraged to bring in three or four of her best friends for a champagne fueled shampoo and blow dry in preparation for a big night out. They all get to feel (and look) amazing, none of the women feel like they’re cheating on their current hairdresser (they don’t have this service after all) and they had a memorable experience of what being a regular at that salon might feel like.

Now obviously each salon still needs to work on generating amazing service and building a distinctive, unexpected and pass-on-able experience for their customers, however, without considering first what the barriers might be, this new suite of products and services wouldn’t have ever been conceived.

So, if you’re looking to drive innovation and trial within your business, here’s a few steps that might be worth considering:

  1. How anchored in their current behavior are your potential customers?
  2. What comes up as a barrier for potential customers when trialing or assessing a new offering?
  3. Do you really know what’s driving your customers (it’s not always what you think)?
  4. What unique experiences can you create to reduce potential customers’ barriers to purchase?
  5. How can you add value to your existing customers so they become evangelists on your behalf?

Innovation and marketing is obviously about creativity, but it’s also about human insight and being willing to look into what’s really driving human behavior. So how well do you know your customers?

DAN GREGORY & KIERAN FLANAGAN

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Collaboration: CO-PIs™ not just KPIs

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Apr 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

Collaboration has always been seen as a bit of a touchy-feely nice to have. But the truth is, in a far more complicated and interconnected world, Collaborative Intelligence, or We-Q™, as we call it is a critical skill for success today.

We really don’t do anything on our own. For example, the process of making a sandwich typically involves at least 5 distinct industries – farming, baking, logistics, retail sales and in some cases service.

Yet the myth of solo success is all pervading – we talk about the solo athlete, the one-person show and even the Lone Ranger. Surely that nickname had to be hurtful to Tonto!

What’s perhaps more interesting is that collaborative teams learn more quickly and effectively and are more productive when they are constructed in the correct way.

Case studies like that of “Fold-it”, a video game that allowed video gamers to make one of the most significant discoveries in modern medicine, a discovery that had eluded the far more qualified medical community, offer compelling examples of how a collaborative WE beats a talented ME.

Of course, collaboration requires more than an open plan office, a buddy system and a managerial instruction to play nicely together in the sand pit.

It turns out, most of the organizations we work with (and we can only assume it to be true of most organizations generally) have departments and individuals with KPIs set up in opposition. In order for one group to succeed, another must fail. Often catasrophically.

As a result, Sales are at war with Accounts who hate Marketing and they drive Production up the wall.

And we wonder why so many staff describe corporate cultures as toxic.

The reason KPIs were implemented in the first place was because of the old maxim, “If you don’t measure it, it doesn’t get done.”

The same holds true for collaboration. If we don’t make it a performance measure, if we don’t link team success to each individual’s success, our people will simply smile, nod in agreeance and then do exactly what they wanted to do anyway.

If we genuinely want to build collaborative cultures and networks, we must create collaboration encouraging measures that each individual is held to.

At the Impossible Institute, we help organizations develop Co-PIs™ and conduct KPI audits that help build teams with alignment and more importantly, a personal incentive for thinking and acting collaboratively.

In doing so, These organizations are not just telling their people to play nice together, they’re directing them to play more effectively together.

DAN GREGORY & KIERAN FLANAGAN

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New Ideas: Ding dong mediocrity is dead

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Apr 2, 2013 | 0 Comments

A lot of marketers are lamenting the death of ‘traditional advertising’ and the demise of the communications world as we know it. “We’re all going to die!” is the catch cry delivered in a tone of voice that would make Lost In Space’s Doctor Smith look ruggedly heroic.

The truth is, ideas aren’t dying – the bad ones are. Those ideas that  need a heavyweight media schedule to have any impact are what’s on the soon-to-be-extinct list.

We say that’s a cause for celebration.

It’s the dawning of the age of ideas. No longer do we all have to be bombarded by well-funded rubbish! It is natural selection in action, where only the most dazzling, clever, capable and creative will thrive.

Organizations can no longer ask “how often will we make them watch?” they  now need to ask “Will people even want to watch?” We are being forced to be responsible with the way we communicate. It is a privilege to be invited into people’s homes and lives and we need to start seeing it that way.

We actually need to be entertaining, witty, attentive and generous. We need to be ‘likeable’ not simply demand it – someone they would want to introduce to their friends willingly. It is a challenge to do better. To be more inspiring, funnier, more surprising, more noble, more delightful than we’ve had to be before.

Marketers need to think more like Hollywood directors, authors or comedians and imagine how they’d engage their audiences with their ideas if people had to fork out their hard earned money for the experience. Think about that for a minute. What kind of marketing would you create if people had to pay to see it? Would you be using the same thinking and the same ideas you are today? Hope not.

Ding, dong mediocrity is dead!

DAN GREGORY & KIERAN FLANAGAN

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We’re awesome at everything

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Mar 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

OK, clearly that’s a lie.

The truth is, we’re all good at a few things but exceptional at only one or two.

Yet so many marketers spend a fortune trying to convince us that they’re good at everything. “We want to say we’re good value… but not cheap… and good quality… but accessible… with friendly service… and environmentally sustainable… and did we mention the steak knives?”

It’s all motivated by a fear of missed opportunities. “If I don’t tell them everything, I’ll miss out.” But when you try to stand for everything, you actually stand for nothing and you become generic.

Even huge corporations, who actually do have the capacity to fulfil a variety of people’s needs, know they must stand for one thing. Well, the intelligent ones do anyway.

Woolworths (a supermarket chain that literally do sell almost everything) stands for being the “Fresh Food People”. Volvo stands for “Safety”, Apple stands for an un-PC computer experience while Nike stands for the heroism of participation.

There’s a reason it’s called The Single-Minded Proposition.

Small business, in particular, falls into this trap all the time and they’re the ones who can least afford to.

The only way David can truly compete with Goliath is to specialize, focus and serve their customers more personally than the big players ever could… slinging small stones aimed very specific targets.

While it might initially seem like a limiting strategy, in fact, narrowness saves you money, wastage and allows you to go deeper than your competitors are able to and ultimately, own your corner of the market.

DAN GREGORY & KIERAN FLANAGAN

 

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Put the hammer down

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Mar 17, 2013 | 120 Comments

There’s an old adage that posits, “When you have hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.”

No doubt an argument favored by those who support gun control. But in business, our reliance on process as usual at the expense of good judgment leaves us bashing away at every problem we confront with the same old Ball Pein (a kind of tool used by metal workers for those of you who attended an uppity private school).

“Process as usual” rarely leads to innovation or solutions no one has seen before, and the problems we’re presented with initially often turn out to be symptoms, not the real issue.

So until we can properly identify what the real question is, perhaps best to not hit it… with anything!

Yet accountants still look to trim budgets, marketers look to run ads and production types look to push more stuff out the door. That’s why it’s so important to construct problem-solving teams from multidisciplinary backgrounds.

Cross category innovation allows one member of the team to say, “Dude, that’s a Philips Head screw, put down the hammer and use my screwdriver.”

Some of the most effective solutions we’ve been a part of have involved clients who were foreigners, or new to their jobs, or who had come to the job from completely different categories. They couldn’t say, “That’s not how we do things around here…” because, they had no idea how things had been done.

Ignorance, it seems, can help you focus on the result, not just process.

DAN GREGORY & KIERAN FLANAGAN

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