Unimaginative And Imaginative – The Difference

Many products and services are not bought by customers for they think ‘it’ won’t happen to them. This is the ‘Invulnerable Customer’ syndrome. This is not something new in the market segments of Insurance, Healthcare, Vehicle and Home Safety. It is in this context, the following interesting story comes from Roger Dooley writing at: http//www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/invulnerable-consumers.htm

“…The prescription for this marketing dilemma was found in a hospital, of all places. Can you imagine a group likely to be more careful about hand-washing than healthcare professionals in hospitals? Not only are they well educated about hand hygiene practices and the reasons for them, but they actually see patients who suffer from the same kinds of infections that can be transmitted when hands aren’t washed properly. Surprisingly, according to Penn psychologist Adam Grant, even among health care professionals hand-washing practices leave a lot to be desired.

Grant attributes this behavior to a feeling of invulnerability on the part of the healthcare pros. This feeling is amplified by the fact that they are exposed to germs often in the course of their work but rarely become ill. So, Grant conducted an experiment by placing a sign next to a hand hygiene area. One version of the sign read, “Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases,” while another version said “Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases.”

Bearing out the invulnerability theory, the sign that pointed out the threat to the healthcare professionals didn’t change their behavior at all. In contrast, the sign that changed just one word but pointed out the danger to patients (a group seen as vulnerable to disease) increased the use of soap and sanitizing gel by 33% and boosted the probability that the healthcare pros would wash their hands by 10%. (See Science Daily and the original paper. HT to Wray Herbert.)

Many products are sold on the basis of self-concern, and rightly so. But, if that’s not working with some customers, alter the message to reflect the risk to others!…”

Well, Insurance companies are already on this track talking about protecting near and dear ones.

How about relooking at civic-minded injunctions that presently score nil impact and may even be distracting like:

‘Do not litter here.’
‘Keep Your City Clean.’
‘Do Not Cut Lanes.’ …

And, throw in visuals too for drama and numbers for emphasis. Well, at places, statistics on road accident or run-away population count do appear.

There are numerous other scenarios, I’m sure, where this principle could be tried out. For instance, should we apply to pithy time-worn much ignored injunctions in ethics?

While the above expresses it as a sales/marketing problem and a possible solution, let me point out a interesting manifestation of this principle of concern for others in an entirely different area: Information Systems!

I recall how we designed an application for an insurance company. Our UI design experts claimed their design had taken care of many things: colors, images, etc. Shorn of these frills, the main business was done on a screen displaying a form to be filled in by the customer. And on this screen, the usual UI gimmicks meant very little as it was a plain and simple form-filling exercise. How can the user-experience be improved at all in this all-too-common context of form filling? I wasn’t happy with what we came up with though I could not put my finger on how it could be done better to push our experts.

That’s when I got onto the net and zeroed on software solutions providers in the same space. And I found my answers with one vendor! He had used two devices that vastly improved the interaction, I thought:

a) He called the column that we had titled as ‘Persons to be covered’ as ‘Beneficiaries’. A small thing, you would say. But the word ‘Beneficiaries’ is much more positive encouraging the user in what he is doing for his near and dear.

b) More importantly there was a small pie-chart that showed what is the coverage he is buying presently and what he has left out, prompting him to think about including more. The dreary form-filling chore now has a little more punch of value to the user as well as the service provider.

While these may not be the ultimate in what could be done, it certainly gives you a flavor of what could magic could be wrought by an imaginatively designed IS application. A small sliver of what is meant by IT as a business-enabler.

Let us not settle for less with our designers.

End

More interesting stuff at http//www.neurosciencemarketing.com.

Well, We Are Not In The Army!

How Army Policy Began:

Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, an ape will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the Banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the apes with cold water. After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result – all the apes are sprayed with cold water.

Continue until, when another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes try to prevent it.

Now, turn off the cold water.

Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other apes attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not?

“Because that’s the way it’s always been around here.”

That’s how Army policy begins…

End

Taken with thanks from ArcMax at http://www.arcamax.com/entertainment/jokes/s-1099159-422832.

Raising the bar: Steve Jobs style

There’s a wonderful example of how Steve Jobs caused the initial Apple iPod’s development team, to raise the bar. The story may or may not be true, but it’s said that the iPod development team presented Jobs with the first build of the new device, which they had worked on, around the clock, for months.

Jobs took one look at it and said; “It’s too big!”

The team leader said; “It’s as small as possible.”

Legend has it that Steve Jobs then dropped it into a fish tank. The design team gasped in horror.

Jobs then said to the team; “You see those bubbles coming out? That’s air. Make it smaller!”

The team responded by making another version, which was significantly smaller, even though they had originally believed the previous version was as small as possible, until Steve Jobs caused them to raise the bar on what was possible. Without the external influence of Jobs, the development team would have shipped a chunkier, less attractive iPod and the resurgence of Apple may have been very different.

End

Jim has stories such as this in his blog:http://jimsmarketingblog.com/

Add A Dash Of Inefficiency

This was a store that besides selling provisions in standard-weight packages, also sold grains in the loose. And customers were always backing up at the counter selling loose grains. It caught the eye of the efficiency expert from the head-office in one of his periodic visits. He decided to work on this one.

He observed the man at the counter, graying in his fifties, taking a long time to measure out grains on the scale. He was always short on his first attempt and getting it right on the third attempt, often on the fourth, adding a little at a time. This was always the pattern.

It was a little strange since the scoops were precisely sized. For instance, to weigh out one kilogram of wheat, the scoop in a fill would draw a kilogram and a little more for fine adjustment. Obviously he was not scooping a full fill on the first attempt and so goes back for the second, the third and the fourth. The expert decided to have a little lunch-time chat with the man:

‘I’m sure the line-up at your counter must be causing you concern as much as it does to us?’

‘Yes,’ turning a little coy, ‘they want to buy when I’m around.’

‘Me thinks it may not be what you think.’

‘You can check it up, if you wish.’

‘It could be that you taking longer to service a customer.’ The expert continued: ’You’re not filling the scoop to the full as enjoined in your training. If you did there would be fewer tries.’

‘I recall that bit in the training, but learnt something different on the floor.’

‘And what would that be?’

‘When I do what I do, folks thinks I’m being careful about what they’re getting. Going short and adding grains goes much better with them than going in excess and removing grains thereafter. When I add grains, I’m for them and when I remove, I’m the store.’

On that day, a piece of inefficient practice was written into the instruction manual for the men in the store.

End

Lessons from the Lizards Tail

The black-and-white cat was paying rapt attention to something in front of the fireplace.


Crouching house cat, hidden lizard

He had that ears-cupped-and-tilted-forward look, and was holding absolutely still, eyes wide open. He does this only when there is something of great interest to him, and that is almost always something that is about to become part of his toy repertoire.

I got up, and looked at the spot on the tile. It looked like a stick. Suddenly, almost all of the stick shot across the room, leaving a wiggling piece behind. Nature works really well. The thing was a lizard, and it had dropped its tail, which wriggled appealingly, allowing my cat to focus on it, while the rest of the lizard scrambled to safety away from the cat.

Picking up the now-tailless lizard with a paper towel, I stepped out the door and shook the paper towel out gently, close to the ground by the fig tree. The little lizard body tumbled out.”Must have picked it up too hard,” I thought, feeling guilty. I thought I’d killed it, after the cat had missed it. Just as guilt waved over me, the lizard pulled out of its frozen position, and shot, tailless, up the fig tree to safety.

Some lizards drop their tails to save their lives, leaving their prey interested in the wiggly, but not vital to life part. I’d never seen it work so well. The cat was perfectly happy to let the business part of the prey escape if he got to keep the funny, wiggly part.

It seems like such a good idea to be able to drop a non-vital body part to save the important working parts. We don’t come equipped with convenient tails, but we do drag around burdensome “tales”–the stories we drag around as baggage. The sad story of how our parents didn’t give us what we needed. The mean roommate in college who was so thoughtless. The boss who wasn’t a mentor we’d hoped for, but gave us all the drudge jobs.

All those stories pile up and slow us down. They make us prey for anger, stress, decisions based on revenge and stored-up resentment. We can drop our “tales” of hurt and pity, leave them wiggling for someone else to become fascinated with. Because they aren’t helping us. No doubt, it’s hard to give up the story we live, the perspective we have on them, how we make choices based on past hurts and injustice. And those stories of injustice get us a lot of attention as our friends condemn those who hurt us. That’s what friends do. They think it’s helpful, although often attention simply encourages clinging to behavior.

Recasting our past is hard work and not appealing. The work of letting go of the past means admitting that our perspective isn’t working and deliberately looking for a new perspective, one that allows us to live a less-burdened, less blame-riddled life. It won’t be done in a single day, but the small steps and work is certainly worthwhile…

We can’t change how our story began, but we can change how it continues and build for a happen ending.

End

This inspiring piece comes from Quinn McDonald, a creativity coach and author of the book ‘Raw Art Journaling’, helping people choose the story they want to live. Visit her blog at http://quinncreative.wordpress.com to read more. Thanks, Quinn, for your kind consent to reproduce it here.

Amazing Presence Of Mind Or A Prayer Answered?

Wet Pants

Come
with me to a third grade classroom…… There
is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk and
all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his
feet and the front of his pants are wet. He
thinks his heart is going to stop because he
cannot possibly imagine how this has
happened. It’s never happened before, and
he knows that when the boys find out he will
never hear the end of it.. When the girls find
out, they’ll never speak to him again as long as
he lives…

The boy
believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his
head down and prays this prayer, ‘Dear God, this
is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes
from now I’m dead
meat.’

He looks
up from his prayer and here comes the teacher
with a look in her eyes that says he has been
discovered.

As the
teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named
Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled
with water.. Susie trips in front of the teacher
and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the
boy’s lap.

The boy
pretends to be angry, but all the while is
saying to himself, ‘Thank you, Lord! Thank you,
Lord!’

Now all
of a sudden, instead of being the object of
ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy.. The
teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym
shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All
the other children are on their hands and knees
cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is
wonderful . But as life would have it, the
ridicule that should have been his has been
transferred to someone else –
Susie.

She
tries to help, but they tell her to get out.
You’ve done enough, you
klutz!’

Finally,
at the end of the day, as they are waiting for
the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and
whispers, ‘You did that on purpose, didn’t you?’

End

Received on the Internet without identifying the source (thanks, Gul, for the forward).  

 

Thinking Out of the Box

Many hundreds of years ago in a small Italian town, a merchant had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to the moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the merchant’s beautiful daughter so he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the merchant’s debt if he could marry the merchant’s daughter. Both the merchant and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. The cunning moneylender suggested that they let providence decide the matter.

The moneylender told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag. The girl would then have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become the moneylender’s wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the merchant’s garden. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick her pebble from the bag.

Now, imagine you were standing in the merchant’s garden. What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her? Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble – not really a choice for it would send her father to the jail.

2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat – the moneylender was powerful and wily, there would be certainly an exagerated show of hurt and indignation at the head-on allegation and there was no telling how he would turn the tables on her.

3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment – a choice of desparation.

The consequences are not pleasant whichever logical answer she chooses.

The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking.

What would you recommend the girl do?

Well, this is what she did:

The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

“Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

End

I couldn’t resist including it when I came across a version of it at: ezines@arcamax.com. Here it is, with a little bit of editing.