Value Proposition Design – “Just Do Me Up One Of These”

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Part 1 of 2

THIS IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF POSTS AROUND VALUE PROPOSITION DESIGN. THE SERIES WILL COVER WHAT IT IS, WHAT ITS BENEFITS ARE, HOW IT FITS INTO A LARGER DIGITAL STRATEGY. ALONG THE WAY I SHARE SOME STORIES ABOUT WHY WE’VE COME TO USE IT REGULARLY. FOR PART2, CLICK HERE.

Flying At 10,000 Feet Vs. Being In The Weeds

Have you ever had a client who you think has “no attention for detail?”

Do their eyes glaze over as soon as you start talking about the particulars of your proposed web design, investment in UX, SEO, Analytics, PR? Sound familiar to the web designers, SEO folks, content marketers, UX practitioners?

Value Proposition Design LensWe as designers and service providers tend to spend much of your time in the weeds – operating at a detail level that our clients or bosses may have no interest in, or patience for.

And our clients, as business owners, are often operating at 10,000 feet. Some may feel inadequate about their own domain expertise when it comes to technology details. And some “get it”, but don’t want, or need, to be involved with understanding the implementation.

It is rare that you get a client or boss who wants to understand and learn about the ins and outs of our craft, whatever it may be. Read more

Appreciative Inquiry and App Development

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I am so delighted and filled with gratitude when my clients, or my prospective clients, spontaneously say to me in a somewhat surprised tone:

“You have really helped me think this through.”

“I hadn’t seen it quite like that before.”

“I’m now seeing possibilities I hadn’t considered.”

“You’ve opened me up to a new way of thinking.”

Developmental Conversations

I’m delighted because that kind of feedback tells me our conversation has helped the client progress her thinking.  Together, we’ve created a developmental conversation.  The conversation has constructed something new for both of us.  She has some insights about her situation and me, and I have new insights about my situation and her.  And, I’m grateful because she was open to the inquiry.  She was receptive. She wanted to find a new way.  She was willing to explore and discover. Our generative conversation created the new possibilities.

appreciative inquiry design processOn the surface, Polymash is an app development agency.  But scratch a little below the surface and you’ll find that what we really do is develop people, and their ideas, and ultimately develop innovation behaviors.  We know that through our inquiry-based approach to our client engagements, we help them express that which they want to express.  We begin conversations with our goal to guide them so that eventually clients are able to express what they are wanting to achieve in the most positive way; they express what delights them; what they aspire to; and what brings life to their purpose in life and business. In our app development, we tap into the highest potential for people and for product. Our experience has been that people dig deep to contribute to something larger than themselves, something that allows their voice and creativity to rise to the top.  That’s how innovations happen. That’s how great design and user experience (UX) emerge organically.

Innovation Behaviors

When we come to a project with the mindset of people development over product development, we are focused on the human experience over the technological solution.  Our mindset, when we engage with clients, is that we want them to realize that through engagement with their apps, they can positively impact their user-base. Our Wild Dolphins iPad app and FilmOneFest iPad and smartphone apps are two examples where the inquiry-based approach resulted in not only producing highly attractive apps with great entertainment and utility, but also developed entire client teams involved in gathering all the content for the apps.  Teams can evolve to new heights in their relationships and productivity.  And, apps have the potential to create innovation behaviors among their customers – the users.

In the case of Wild Dolphins, we had members of the organization saying that being part of the content creation for the app was the best experience in their career to date.  They were amazed at how everyone just wanted to jump in and Wild Dolphins Appreciative Inquirycontribute.  They said productivity increased and leadership emerged where they had not seen it before.  New, innovation behaviors that have come from the app users have been greater awareness of what endangers the species, and what new, innovation behaviors they can adopt to help protect wild dolphins.  The Wild Dolphins‘ client wanted to put their mission into the world and be a force for good by bringing awareness to the positive human behaviors that will help protect dolphins in the wild.

FilmOneFest II app was also community-wide effort, where we engaged with various stakeholders whose content and ideas would be included in the app – filmmakers, film critics, sponsors, volunteers, business people. The articulated goal was to be able to show the one-minute films selected for viewing at the one-day film festival to help promote the filmmakers,  the event and the town.  What emerged from our inquiry was a whole new innovative approach to help promote the event and attract new filmmakers for future film festivals and an entirely innovative way of having filmmakers participate in all future events.

Greatest Energy and Excitements

Our approach to our work is grounded in a special kind of inquiry:  Appreciative Inquiry.  By “Inquiry,” we mean asking carefully crafted questions that to seek to expand the thinking and enlarge the conversation and its potential.  By “Appreciative,” we mean inquiring through a lens that seeks to appreciate or  “increase in value” whatever the topic of the inquiry is.  So applying the Appreciative Inquiry framework, we engage with our clients through a lens that looks for what is to be valued, successful and appreciated.  Energy and engagement result.  Creativity is unleashed and innovations pop up from unexpected sources.

What if, instead of looking for “the pain points and problems” in clients’ situations, we inquired into areas of “greatest energy and excitements.”  What if we stopped thinking and acting from a position of “what we lack and our weaknesses” and instead began to focus on “past successes, current best assets and individual and collective strengths?”  When you inquire from that perspective, shift happens!

To learn more and apply Appreciative Inquiry, download our iPad app Embracing Change which leads users through change.  To learn more about the principles of Appreciative Inquiry as a method of inquiry that results in stories of personal and professional triumph, download our smartphone and iPad app Appreciative Inquiry – an Introduction.

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of QR Codes for small businesses

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What is a QR code and how can it help your business? It’s simply a unique barcode that takes you to a specific place in cyberspace. Mobile coupons, click to call, directions, it can be a URL, a text message or a phone number.

The possibilities are unlimited! For an overview, watch this:

New SlideShare with HTML5 plays on any device, plus a mobile App

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SlideShare on IPad and iPhoneI am as big fan of SlideShare, but have been visiting less often over the last year since my primary web browsing device has become the iPad. So I’m happy to hear that SlideShare is now introducing an HTML5 compatible upgrade of their site that will allow slideshows to display on mobile devices, including the iPad. Plus they are launching a mobile App, so Kudos!

So look for some great embedded slide presentations on Polymash.com as well as in our Apps soon, and in the meantime, check out their announcement:

We have been listening to your feedback, reading your tweets and talking with you about the evolution of SlideShare. As our CTO Jon Boutelle explains in his blog post, you want your presentations to load faster, cleaner, and display on any platform including iPads, iPhones and all kinds of mobile devices. Is that too much to ask? Community, your wish has come true. We are pleased to introduce the new HTML5 SlideShare!

read the full article at slideshare.net

Digital Magazines and Books need to Evolve!

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This was a week for some great ideas to emerge on how tablet platforms and digital readers need to evolve in terms of functionality, features, user experience, social media integration.

Now that the iPad has been on the market for some time and a slew of other tablets are about to drop, usage and behavior patterns are starting to emerge, and ideas on extending tablet functionality are becoming more concrete.

Here at Polymash we have been humbly completing work on extending tablet magazine reader functionality for the information product and educational market, adding plug-in features such as in magazine notepads and social media integration for Apple and Android platforms.

But for a more comprehensive and compelling glimpse at future possibilities, I’d invite you to check out this video from IDEO entitled “The Future of the Book”

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

My favorite concepts here:

  • The idea that interactivity needs to extend to participatory and community based discussions about the material being read. (Ideo calls this “Nelson”)
  • The idea to link to book clubs, reading lists and recommendation engines (Copeland)
  • Ideo also proposes a concept (Alice), which allows for co-creating the story, affecting the plot, interacting with characters and so on, and while I love the idea I do see it more in the realm off app and game development.

However long term the creation of truly interactive content will blur the line between app development and content creation…

Frankfurt Book Fair

Also this week the Frankfurt Book Fair took place, and following twitter feeds and blog entries it was apparent that there was much tablet talk and discussion. I’d like to share Joe Wikert’s presentation he gave “My eContent Wish List–Frankfurt TOC 2010” as posted on slideshare, which mirrors some of VIMEO’s vision in a perhaps more pragmatic way:

Having worked with, and around, the limitations of today’s tablet reader technology, the critical element to me is to create platform independent APIs that allow developers to directly access and interface to the publications content

My favorites:

  • Platform independent readers, with platform independent APIs
  • Better Social Media integration, for example tweeting from within and article or story
  • The ability to highlight and annotate content, and then be able to share, archive, collect and search these annotations across publications

There are some great ideas in these presentations, and I hope publishing houses and tool makers in the tablet industry are listening and adjusting to the market needs being formulated.

5 Techniques to Choose Better Language for Innovation and Collaboration

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1.) Learn to Focus on the DOs, and let the DONTs take care of themselves

You go into a team innovation meeting, and spend the first 30 minutes analysing what is wrong with the current state.

Has this happened in your team? Does this create the right environment to innovate in? Observe the mood, energy, body language of such meetings…

Woman with Hat

Image by JB Photo via Flickr

Image by JB Photo via Flickr

Innovation is about what is possible, about inspiration, about a positive mindset, and the language we use directly impacts our ability to contribute. Gripe sessions get in the way. Positivity engages.

Broadening our horizons to focus on the possible rather than on what constrains us is difficult enough without focusing on what is wrong with the current state, and it requires a disciplined use of affirmative, additive, positivie language. What we focus on grows, and if we focus on all that is wrong with the current state it is much more difficult to shift to thinking about what is possible.

Susan Mazza at Random Acts Of Leadership recently had an (as usual) inspiring post about self-destructive behaviors of people trying to protect their jobs in this economic downturn, and she suggested 5 things one should STOP doing, as well as 10 behaviors to START doing… I absolutely love her post, AND I feel the language she uses has the potential to be even more powerful by primarily focusing on what to START doing, and allowing STOPS to take care of themselves.


2.) Learn to Reframe your Language

In fact I think that reframing our language has tremendous potential, let’s take an airline example:

Would you rather go into a meeting where the agenda is to discuss “Lost Baggage Customer Complaints”, or would you feel more energized to discuss “Achieving Optimal Customer Arrival Experience”? A successful outcome of creating an optimal customer arrival experince would almost certainly address anything that would need to be done to eliminate lost baggage.

Develop the skill to stop and deliberately review your language, emails, agendas. Ask yourself: How can I reframe this to shift the focus on the positive, the strenghts of our organization, colleagues, resources? Will my language engage people? Will it inspire positivity rather than focus on something negative?


3.) Innovation and Collaboration – Venting Optional

In “Six Thinking Hats” approach there is a view that “venting” is a catharsis necessary and useful to move forward: I disagree. Rather I agree with Peter Drucker‘s philosophy on the role of leadership as cultivating one’s strenghts in a way that makes ones weaknesses irrelevant. As in the airline example, issues that need to be addressed or fixed will still allow discussion, disagreements and a certain amount of “venting”, but it should not be allowed to have central focus, and will almost certainly be seen as a negative once everyone is already focusing on how to move forward.

4.) Our Language Reflects Our Emotions, And Our Emotions Reflect Our Language

Our reality is shaped and co-constructed by our perceptions, emotions and our language. Recognizing that positive language yields positive emotions can be a great contributor and enabler in the innovation process. Therefore, learn how to harness the power of positivity, in order to translate it into language we use constructively when dealing with each other.

Robyn at pursuingpassions.com writes on the Practice of Positivity:

Positive emotions increase our thought-action repertoire creating a broadening effect that opens us up to generativity, to creativity and to each other.

5.) Develop and  cultivate a “Yeah, and…” perspective, for yourself and your team

Gary Bertwhistle in his post over at Innovation Tools perfectly illustrates how language is important to promote and cultivate good ideas:

While working in New Zealand recently, I met the CEO of a large manufacturing company. Although he agreed with my philosophies around leading innovation, he was one of those “yeah but” guys.

As I presented my keynote, he would very politely ask questions which always began with “Yeah, but…” After he’d done it a few times, I shared with the audience an intriguing part of leadership that starts with language. I challenged the audience (and indirectly this CEO) to answer the question – are you a “yeah but” guy or a “yeah and” guy?

You see, if whenever you are reviewing a new idea, and the first thought that comes into your mind is “Yeah but…”, you’re basically putting a full stop straight on the end of the idea.

Do you have examples of where language played a part in setting the right tone for a meeting? Where reframing the language of the  agenda resulted in a more energized and productive discussion?