I was cranky yesterday afternoon; I also had no idea what to do for the first assignment for our service design course. So I went for a run. As I often do when I’m running or cranky, I started making a list of things I’m grateful for: God, thank you for my feet, that I’m healthy enough to run, that I live someplace where it’s safe for me to run, that I got back to Austin safely, that rest of my cohort got back safely from their travels… and so on. By the time I was I was rounding the capital (thanks to Jess Kolko for suggesting this route), my mental funk had cleared enough to consider the assignment again.
The assignment is to read the chapter on Convergence from Innovation X by Adam Richardson, identify key points from the reading, push those points through a framework we use to understand the world, and generate new ideas in the process. One piece of advice stood out from the lecture: Start some where.
Ok, start somewhere. I had done the reading, what frameworks could I try?: photosynthesis, Dante’s model of heaven, hell and purgatory? More running; more gratitude list.
I list things I’m grateful for when I’m out of sorts because what you focus on seems to increase and because gratitude has a multidirectional positive effect.
It’s a place to start.
Below is a diagram of how an instance of gratitude works from both the point of view of the appreciator and the appreciated. It is presented as a magnifying glass to represent the increase in what is focused on.
What does this mean in relationship to the business concept of Convergence? In addition to the obvious warm and fuzzy dictate to appreciate one’s customers, a more nuanced concept appears: Even in a seemingly unidirectional interaction, like gratitude flowing from one person to another, each person experiences it as reflecting on herself and the other person. This suggests that this type of positive exchange is an excellent tool for directing customer focus because we like to think about things that make us feel good about ourselves.
Here are three key ideas from the reading and some musing based on this framework:
Increasingly value is created by integrated systems not stand alone products. This means that complexity is an opportunity to be seized rather than a problem to be avoided because complexity allows for convergence.
What does it mean in complex system if unidirectional communication is still understood to reflect on all parties involved? From a more tactical stand point, what parties in the system could be connected to create additional positive sentiment? For instance, how could a company empower a new user to express gratitude to an established user who acted as an evangelist for the company?
Although customers focus on the big shiny touch points in an ecosystem, the “connective tissue” and un-sexy logistics around the touch point have a huge influence on how customers experience those touch points and the success of the ecosystem as a whole.
Richardson touched on the difficulty of creating an eco-system across organizational boundaries. Use internal gratitude to inspire buy-in from parts of the organization that work on the “connective tissue” in the ecosystem that does not receive much appreciation from the customer. (This is of the more warm and fuzzy insight variety).
Managing point of control and lack of control is key to a successful ecosystem. A company must decide what are the things that are of chief importance to control internally and how to deal with touch points out of its control.
How can a company refocus a customer to feel good about their decision to purchase or use a product at an uncontrolled touch point, like interacting with the retail staff in a big box store that carries your companies product? Can the packaging make them feel smart enough for making their selection that it out weighs frustration with an inefficient clerk?