The American Code for cars – IDENTITY
When people spoke about the moment when they were allowed to drive for the first time, they made it sound as though their lives began right then. Conversely, when elderly people spoke of the moment their car keys were taken away, they reported feeling as though their lives were over.
Clotaire Rapaille: The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way To Understand Why People Around The World Buy And Live As They Do
Have you see then the Chevy Runs Deep commercials? I have – and like them. Not only because I have always been partial to Chevy, but also because the very idea that a brand would run deep feels like just the right kind of nostalgia –a longing for the simpler, more certain days of yesteryear.
In watching the commercial, I tried to chronicle the actual cars that I have ridden in and then driven over the course of my lifetime. Starting with what I rode in as a boy, and then on to my driving years, here are the cars (I think I have remembered them all – I may have missed one or two), by maker (not by specific car):
A brand new, beautiful! 1959 Chevy
A Rambler (handed down from a relative – glad to have it!)
The latest is a now two-month old Chevy Cruze Eco. I almost feel like I’ve come home.
So, if Chevy runs deep, what else runs deep? Maybe not as much as we think. I’m going to confess something that I view with a touch of sadness. Except for Chevy, and Apple, I can’t think of any other brand loyalty that I have that runs anywhere close to deep. I buy the toothpaste that is on sale. I read lots of books, but could not even tell you the publisher of most of the books I read – and, don’t much care. I’ve always loved books, but I switched from the local/independent book-store to the big box store in the blink of an eye (even though I did bemoan the loss of the independent book store). Then, I switched from the big box store to the mouse-click-and-then-home-delivery of Amazon in another blink of an eye. And, unlike my blogging and First Friday Book Synopsis colleague Karl Krayer, I am just as happy to read a book on my iPad (I do prefer iBooks over Kindle, but I’ll take either) as I am to read a physical book. I made that switch in yet another blink of an eye.
In fact, if you ask me what I prefer, I think I want two things – assuming quality (bad quality is a deal killer!), I want price and convenience. And maybe the greatest of these, if it does not cost “too much more,” is convenience.
Convenience! This may be the magic bullet at the moment. I bank at the bank just off the freeway exit to my house. That is the only reason I chose that bank. My son: he banks where he can deposit checks through his iPhone. I suspect that is why I like the iBooks experience. I read a book review on our blog by Bob Morris. I open my iPad. I download the sample of the book. I read the sample, and then decide whether of not to go for the full book. Getting the sample, and then the book if I decide to purchase it, is all done in under a minute (well under a minute!). Amazing!
But… this is not about Chevy, or Apple, or ebooks vs. physical books. It is about brand and product loyalty. And I think such loyalty is simply part of that yesteryear we talk about. It is awfully shallow. And what we buy/use/prefer today may be gone in the blink of an eye. (Just remember MySpace!)
So, imagine the pressure that every business feels — how do you keep your customers when someone else can take them away in the blink of an eye? Now, that’s quite a challenge.
The first steps of a creative act are like groping in the dark: random and chaotic, feverish and fearful, a lot of busy-ness with no apparent or definable end in sight. There is nothing yet to research. For me, these moments are not pretty. I look like a desperate woman, tortured by the simple message thumping away in my head: “You need an idea.”
You need a tangible idea to get you going. The idea, however miniscule, is what turns the verb into a noun – paint into a painting, sculpt into sculpture, write into writing, dance into a dance.
Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit
Steve Jobs is still Chairman, and may still hold more sway at Apple than any of us know. (I hope so!)
But the compilations of Jobs’ stories and quotes are everywhere, including on this blog (just scroll through yesterday’s posts). I found this terrific article at the Poynter site, How Steve Jobs has changed (but not saved) journalism by Jeff Sonderman. The entire article is worth reading, but here is a key quote, from a 2004 Business Week article:
“Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.
And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
So, where does that very best new idea come from? From an environment that is a swirling hotbed of conversations, ongoing, coming up with lots of ideas, and saying no to all of the good ones until you are left with only the very, very best ONE.
The appeal of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (New York: Hyperion, 2008) is universal and longstanding. It was on the bestseller list for many months and has received great critical acclaim.
Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon. At the time he gave the lecture that this book was based upon, he had been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. The lecture focused on living, not dying. His preface to the book states, “with thanks to my parents who allowed me to dream, and with hopes for the dreams my children will have.” The lecture and book discusses achieving your childhood dreams, overcoming obstacles, and how to seize every moment that you have while you are living.
I am requiring this book in my communication courses this fall. When students give their persuasive presentation, I want them to imagine that it is their “last lecture,” and deliver their topic with the passion that resontates with this book.
Think about how you would sound if you were giving your last chance to make an appeal to change someone’s mind or call people to action. Your last.
What do you think?
Let’s talk about it this week!
Here’s the challenge: our future networks can “make us not only more connected but, let us hope, more human.”
I am grateful to Thomas Kuhn and then to Joel Barker for filling one of my several knowledge gaps, in this instance the dual concepts of paradigm and paradigm shift. They have prepared me well for books such as this one in which David L. Rogers observes, “Today, business needs a new paradigm: the customer network. In customer networks, customers are no longer viewed as isolated individuals but are seen as dynamic and interactive participants in a network…To succeed, businesses, nonprofits, and organizations of all kinds need new strategies that match the behavior of customer networks. But first we need to rethink our image of customers, from individuals to networks. We need to stop thinking about the bees and focus on the hive.”
After identifying and briefly discussing four basic mistakes to avoid (Page 11), he shifts his attention to “Five Customer Network Behaviors” (12-15) and “Five Customer Network Strategies (15-20), then alerts his reader to 10 of the examples customer network strategies that are featured within the remaining narrative. They include a few of the usual suspects (Apple, Nike, Dell, Cisco, and Ford) but also a few unexpected exemplars such as author Stephanie Meyer (the “Twilight” series) and the 2008 Obama presidential campaign. All this is included in the first chapter (1) and by then, Rogers has begun to generate some momentum that carries him (and his eager reader) through more than 100 mini-case histories in Part II: Five Strategies to Thrive with Customer Networks, previously introduced (Pages 12-15). Briefly:
1. ACCESS: Be faster, easier, everywhere, “and always on.”
2. ENGAGE: Become a source of valued, preferably indispensable “content” [e.g. information, advice, constructive criticism].
3. CUSTOMIZE: Make offering adaptable to various customer needs.
4. CONNECT: Become included during your customer’s most important conversations and considerations.
5. COLLABORATE: Involve your customers at “every stage of your enterprise” [e.g. brainstorming to meet a specific need].
Rogers is dead-on. All of the customer feedback studies I have examined agree that “feeling appreciated” and “easy to do business with” are among the highest rated by respondents. With regard to #5, one of the most neglected opportunities to strengthen a customer relationship is to help each customer to strengthen its relationships with each of its own customers.
In Part III: Leadership and the Customer Network-Focused Organization, Rogers answers two separate but related questions with thorough explanations: “How specifically to plan and then execute a complete customer network strategy?” and “How to create the customer network-focused organization?” By now the reader understands that the five core strategies are appropriate for almost any organization, whatever its size and nature nay be. He introduces the “Five Step Customer Network Planning Process” and patiently guides his reader through each step. In the final chapter, he explains how to complete a transition from a customer focus to a customer network focus. He again stresses the importance of (a) intelligence generation, (b) intelligence dissemination, and (c) responsiveness to intelligence. Rogers then illustrates several key points when discussing Dell, SAP, and the aforementioned Obama campaign in 2008.
No brief commentary such as this can possibly do full justice to a book that contains such an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel. However, by now, I hope I have at least suggested the scope and depth of the potential benefits of the new paradigm that Rogers calls for. He expresses dismay (but not astonishment) when acknowledging that “we have not yet seen more customer network-focused organizations.” He suggests a few reasons for that, then concludes the book with still another affirmation of his faith in what needs to occur: a call to defend and strengthen digital access, equal access to knowledge and ideas, “those digital expressions, and our digital freedoms. If we do, then our future networks will continue to make us not only more connected but, let us hope, more human.” Amen.
Here is an excerpt from David K. Hurst’s review of The Economics of Enough, written by Diane Coyle and published by Princeton University Press, 2011. To read the complete review and c heck out other resources provided by strategy+business magazine online, please click here.
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Economist Diane Coyle, a visiting professor at the University of Manchester and former advisor to the British government, sees the recent worldwide financial crisis as a valuable opportunity to grapple with fundamental shortcomings in the creation and measurement of economic policy. In The Economics of Enough: How to Run the Economy as if the Future Matters, she identifies and addresses what she regards as the two root causes of the crash of 2008: the failure of macroeconomics to frame and measure policy objectives and the chronic inability of politicians to make policy decisions that are in the best long-term interest of their constituents (i.e., that address the “trilemma” of efficiency, equity, and liberty).
Coyle divides the book into three unequal parts that cover the challenges (about 60 percent of the book) and the obstacles (25 percent) to better economic policy, and a manifesto for achieving it (15 percent). As this proportion suggests, the book is long on problem identification, but rather short on solutions. Nevertheless, it is helpful for the targets it identifies. For instance, Coyle tackles the current monopoly of GDP growth as a measure of collective happiness. Like most economists, she thinks that growth and happiness are causally connected, but cites evidence showing that maximizing growth isn’t always appropriate when the future is taken into account. This is the central dilemma of “enough”: that we need enough growth to make us happy, but not so much as to make future generations unhappy.
Coyle’s adoption of the intangible objective of happiness, with its dependency on multiple, complex phenomena, underlines the inadequacy of GDP as a metric. Measurements of GDP are already seen as deeply flawed in their failure to discriminate among differences in quality and to capture the value of unpaid work, such as parental care and volunteer activities. In addition, GDP’s focus on the flow of value versus its accumulation allows nations to enhance their output at the expense of their balance sheets.
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To read the complete review, please click here.
David K. Hurst is a contributing editor of strategy+business. His writing has also appeared in Harvard Business Review, the Financial Times, and other leading business publications. Hurst is the author of Crisis & Renewal: Meeting the Challenge of Organizational Change (Harvard Business School Press, 2002).