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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Study finds Germans and Canadians Biggest App Users

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I’m motivated to share some valuable findings from a study about consumers’ behaviors as they relate to the use of mobile devices and apps.  The study, The Pulse of the Consumer: Global Trends in Mobile Communications was presented by Deloitte Dbriefs as part of their technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) series.

The study included the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey.

Survey Findings

Device awareness and usage

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  • The average monthly spend on smartphone contracts was $60, ranging from less than $20 per month at the low end to more than $170 per month at the high end.
  • When it came to choosing their current smartphone, the top seven most important features listed by respondants were: design, touchscreen, brand, operating system, reliability, camera and applications.

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Tablets have changed consumer behavior.

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At the time of the survey, May 2012:

  • 18% of tablet owners hardly use their laptops any more.
  • 23% use their laptops less often.
  • We know from other research (Forrestor and Gartner) that it’s anticipated that in less than two years – by mid 2014 –  more consumers will be accessing the web on their mobile devices than on their desktops.

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App user awareness and downloads

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When it comes to app awareness and downloads on smartphones and on tablets, Japan pips the post, with US not far behind.

As far as age demographic globally, among app users:

  • 18 – 34 year olds scored  the highest number of downloads in the 70- 80% range
  • 34 – 44 year olds download around 60%
  • 45-54 age group hovering on 50%
  • 55 years and older, 30% of them download apps.

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The Canadians and Germans are greater app users, downloading more apps and spending more money

German and Canadian App UsersWhile, globally, 73% of those surveyed download 1 – 4 apps per month, and 58% spend zero dollars per month, 21% of Canadians spend more that $5 per month and 29% download more than 5 apps per month. The Germans appear to be the heaviest downloaders with 30% downloading more than 5 apps per month and 14% spending more than $5.  These statistics apply to smartphones.

Germany and Canada came out on top as app users when it came to tablets. 41% of Germans tablet owners download more that 5 apps per month, and 17% more than 10 downloads. As far as spend, 31% of German tablet owners spend more than $5 per month.  Among the Canadian tablet owners, 37% download more than 5 apps per month and 28% of them spend more than $5 per month.

Least appreciated smartphone capability

NFC - app userThe most misunderstood and undervalued smartphone capability is near field communications NFC, especially for m-commerce. 49% of the respondents indicated that would not want NFC capability at all.  Only 3% replied they would only want a phone with such capability.  Despite having responded that way, around 50% of respondents indicated they would use the activities that NFC enables, implying NFC functionality is not yet fully understood or appreciated.  See the graph below.

Deloitte Webinar - App user NFC SlideIf you are interested to learn more, you can download the PDF of the full set of slides of Deloitte’s presentation: The Pulse of the Consumer: Global Trends in Mobile Communications

Tablet Wars 2012: It’s the Apps, Stupid!

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The Apple and Samsung patent trial is expected to come to a close this week. Samsung is accused of infringing on iPhone and iPad patents in the design of their own devices. The outcome, be it either a win for Samsung or Apple, will likely influence the direction of how tablets will be designed and marketed worldwide.

In an Article in the NY Times, Nick Wingfield reports:

“But the effects of the case are likely to be felt far beyond these two companies. If Apple prevails, experts believe Samsung and other rivals in the market will have a much stronger incentive to distinguish their smartphone and tablet products with unique features and designs to avoid further legal tangles.”
read the article…

And this will be good news, because if the case goes Samsung’s way, then tablet features and design will continue to emulate the iPad and iOS experience, and I for one would look forward to seeing more innovation from Apple’s competitors both on the hardware and software side.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

tablet wars 2012 What was interesting for me as an app designer was that attention to detail Samsung paid in copying software features of what they clearly perceived to be a superior product. An internal 132 page Samsung report complained about the fact that Samsung’s design fell short of Apple’s example in key areas, and did so through a comparison of the two devices in the minutest detail; for example a discussion about the pixel width of the separator line between numbers displayed in the of the built in calculator.

This surprised me a bit, as Samsung is a device manufacturer, and I would have expected them to be concerned with tablet hardware features and price to differentiate itself from other Android based tablets and smartphones.

But it seems that the 132 page report points to examples of how Samsung tweaked the Android OS software. And thus contributing to one of the biggest issues that keep Android based tablets from winning the tablet wars for now: Device Fragmentation. There are 700 some varieties of Android devices, with 30+ different screen resolutions and countless manufacturer specific OS tweaks, and this is what presents enormous quality and design challenges for cross platform developers like us.

Tablet wars aren’t won by hardware: It’s the Apps, Stupid!

As an app designer and developer I may be biased, but to me the tablet wars in the end will come down to neither device features or price. To mis-quote Bill Clinton: “It’s the apps, stupid”. Having a vibrant app marketplace, and therefore having an enthusiastic developer community is what I think will continue to primarily influence the tablet wars.

Do hardware features matter?

Manufacturers would like you to believe that hardware features and price make a significant difference to consumers, but in the end the iPad tablet is not that deficient on the hardware front. And on the software side? Of course there are great apps available for Android, but on the whole an extra megapixel of camera resolution on a lesser known tablet may simply not make up for the variety, quality and choice of fantastic apps available on the iTunes App Stores.

All Apple has to do to keep pace and marketshare is to announce a slightly less expensive tablet, perhaps with a 7″ screen size…

Quick Poll: What is your opinion?

What do you value in your tablet?

What does it take to make an App?

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Are you thinking of creating an app?

In this post we outline some readiness factors to consider before getting started.

Since 2010 we’ve had lots of people approach us with great ideas for apps. Many clients share our vision that the future of accessing content is on mobile devices, and they visualize their own ideas or content as engaging, beautiful, stunning apps.

But before launching straight into developing an app, we help our clients understand the mobile market as a whole, and also help them assess their own readiness to launch a mobile strategy for their business. With this we introduce our assessment tool, and also invite you to download our comprehensive and free “Mobile 2012” white paper.

Mobile Devices? It’s humans who are mobile.

Mobile devices are still relatively new.  The fact is humans have always been mobile.  It’s only now we have the technologies that allow us to access the content we value 24/7 in exciting ways.  This has been possible only in the last couple of years…. thinking here of how the iPad has transformed publishing, news, social media and just about everything else the internet allowed us to do in limited ways.  Apps on mobile devices allow us to interact with content and people in much more compelling, more beautiful and playful ways, wherever we are and whenever we want.  Pretty powerful stuff.

Transform Your Existing Content

If you are already mobile savvy and have fresh app ideas or novel app concepts, you may like following our app design process to create rapid wireframes & prototypes. Many others, like authors or leaders in their field, may be less mobile savvy but already have content they believe is of value to people.  Perhaps the following examples resonate with you:

  • It could be a book you’ve already published, or want to publish
  • It could be training materials that you have developed
  • It could be you have a particular methodology or tool kit that has helped clients in your professional field
  • It could be you have curated a photo or art collection of specific era, or subject matter
  • It could be you have a hobby that you want to document and share with others who share the passion
  • It could be you are a specialist in your discipline of health, fitness, education, medicine, history, astrology, biology, anthropology, or any of the sciences.
  • It could be you have a children’s story that you’ve created and want to interactivate it!

So the question to ask is “How mobile ready are you?” You want to give yourself or your business the best launch possible into the mobile space.

If you have the dream, a strong belief and the content, that’s what counts

Polymash has had 100s of conversations on this topic with individual content owners and businesses.  After years of building relationships and educating clients, we have been able to distill the key drivers to successful app creation to six major dimensions.  This assessment takes a very real look at what it takes to make a successful app in a still relatively new, yet rapidly growing market place.  The self-assessment is not for the faint-hearted.  And, it’s not to say, if you’re strong in few dimensions that you can’t start.  If you have the content and a strong belief and a dream, that’s what counts.

What does it take to make an app, and how ready are you?

  • Know your market – who your users are and what they will do with your app
  • Compelling content – what assets can you provide – images, stories, models, videos, graphics
  • Organization culture – the supportive work context – leadership support, finances, timeframes, innovative mindsets
  • Mobile Device awareness – experience consuming content on mobile, so you’re able to discern good user experience
  • Marketing and Social Media Savvy – a product launch is a product launch, requiring marketing investment and social proof
  • Aligned Strategy including Web – going mobile is a strategic undertaking; a holistic integrated web strategy is important

What does it take to make an app?

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Readiness Assessment Tool

What does it take to make an app? Take Polymash’s Assessment Tool to find our your current state of readiness.

  • Discover where your strengths already exist.
  • Find out what opportunities there are for you to prepare yourself for your greatest success.
  • Learn from our experience and how we have helped many like you who have created apps to serve their user base and grow their global reach.

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As part of the free Readiness Assessment Tool and in addition to your results, you will also receive a comprehensive report and state of the mobile landscape as of July 2012.

Get ahead now in understanding mobile trends and position yourself for the future!

Appreciative Inquiry – an introduction

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Available Now: on iPhone, iPad and Android!

A brief introduction to Appreciative Inquiry, which is a perspective on the world that invites users to see themselves and the world through an appreciative or valuing eye.  Users will learn how language, questions, and stories shape destinies.

This app has come about by public demand after the author’s success with her iPad app, Embracing Change, for which there have been thousands of downloads and reached Number 2 on iTunes in the Business Category.

“When will you do a version for smartphones?” was the request.

The app provides tips about the principles and practices of Appreciative Inquiry through stories, images, RSS feeds from related blogs, videos and interactive models of Appreciative Inquiry 4-D cycle.

The app allow users to practice the appreciative mindset through images, audio and notes: Users can upload their own photos to the App’s Facebook’s Page with their stories, create audio recordings of their own insights, as well as annotate their thoughts using the app’s notepad.

App features:

– Interactive models of the Appreciative Inquiry 4-D cycle of discover, dream, design, destiny
– Stories that illustrate the principles of Appreciative Inquiry
– Image gallery with inspirational quotes
– RSS feeds from related blogs
– In-built camera to document the world through the appreciative eye
– In-built audio to record personal insights
– Notepad for recording thoughts
– Facebook and Twitter pages for community of practice

Facebook Page

Please consider liking Appreciative Inquiry – an introduction on Facebook.

App Support:

Feel free to contact us with any feedback and app support questions using our contact page

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:

Why is the tablet app market so popular right now?

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I was recently interviewed by Business News Daily on the popularity and trends in the Tablet app market, and one of the questions asked was why the tablet app industry is so popular right now.

A Seismic Shift

Of course there are too many dimensions to this questions, but I’d like to go into one facet briefly: The tablet based delivery channel matters because it represents not only a new technology meme, but seismic shift from current computing experiences and practices. It is the harbinger of more liberating ways of interaction with computers, information and entertainment. Pediction: These trends will continue to fully take shape in the next 10 years, but the tablet experience is the first instance of this future right here and now, and people want a part of it, with a completely new interactive and gesture enabled way of computing, completely new usage scenarios and use cases, completely new interfaces. In short: It is all about a new user experience that is self-directed, intuitive, integrates with your life.

The “mobile aspect” is important for things other than just mobility. Mobile is important because it creates and leads to the user experiences of the future. Read more

Polymash Prediction: Monetization features of OS 3.0 will change the iPhone app landscape completely

I was following today’s iPhone OS3 announcement live event, and one thing in particular struck me:

Most of the advancements are focused on the app developer community, and while I agree that these will enable this community to produce far better and innovative apps, one feature in particular I think will change the application landscape for the iPhone completely: the ability to have optional paid content and subscription models within an app.

iPhone 3.0 in-application payments

In general I am in favor of multiple business models for developers to monetize their apps, however I do see this eventually resulting in a completely changed application landscape compared to what we know today, where freemium vs. free will reign, and where I believe a majority of applications will have limited functionality and some sort of premium concept.

Now Apple promised that free applications will indeed remain free, “no new taxes, read my lips”… But I think the temptation for re-designing existing apps to build in monetization will prove too tempting for the app dev community, and will result in fewer free apps in general, and fewer choices for consumers eventually.

Additionally, the concept of getting prompted via a fairly intrusive pop-up boxes to purchase content, or sign up for a subscription, rankles me a bit. My iPhone experience is based on being used to pay for an app once, and then enjoy seamless service, and the user experience of reading something only to be then prompted for premium content mid-stream does not sit well with me. Signing a once a year subscription may be OK too, if I value the service, but I don’t know if I’ll like to “pay as you go” for content.

Let’s hope that the bevy of OS3 features announced will make it all worth it in the end, and that the resulting increase in innovative apps will be just so cool, we will all be happy to pay for them, one subscription at a time.

What do you think?