Tribes

I love the notion of tribes.  It’s a gut-level ancestral haul back to ancient times. It’s also hot right now.  Seth Godin, marketer extraordinaire, extols tribes as key to effective marketing. We all want to belong, fit in, be a part of.

David Logan, co-author of Tribal Leadership and The Three Laws of Performance, breaks tribe culture into five stages as summarized in his 2009 TED talk.

FIVE STAGES OF TRIBES:

  1. Life Sucks
  2. My Life Sucks
  3. I’m Great (and you’re not)
  4. We’re Great
  5. Life is Great

Logan says that tribes are comprised of between 20 and 150 people, but that the goal for managers, leaders, and marketers, among others, is to help people move from the lower stages up to the next higher stage.  In fact, as I see it, moving people to the highest level should be the objective for all of us as humans.

I would love to be a part of a tribe/group in which everyone in it could genuinely say “Life is Great” all day long.  Logan says that only 2% of tribes reach stage five. How could we increase the percentage of “Life is Great” tribes to 3% or 4%? That fifth stage is the world-changing, innovating, creating springboard to a better life.  Start by moving your tribe up by inviting more people into yours. Then move yourself and them up. If you’re at stage five, congrats. Can I join?

User Experience UX/Customer Experience CX

Some people argue that UX and CX are different. I don’t think so really. Whichever you call it, CX and UX may be the latest rage, but they are not new. It was called customer-centered business back in the 50s(!) as “invented” by Peter Drucker.  They called it TQM (Total Quality Management) or Six Sigma from the 80s and 90s. Maybe you could call it Steve Jobs from the 00s.

If CX/UX has been in the business lore for over fifty years, why is it renamed, rehashed, recycled and revisited every decade or so? By renaming it does the business community hope it will stick this time? Hah. It’s not the concept that is broken. It is the execution of the theory that is difficult.

Here’s what we know from The Customer Experience Revolution by Jeofrey Bean. Every muscle, brain cell, organ, and liquid part of every person who works for a company must have the same vision and energy. That is: to maximize their customers’ experience with their product or service, yielding one totally delighted customer.  Anything less undermines and weakens the role the company plays in the marketplace, leaving that company at the mercy of their competitors.

So while it sounds easy, the difficulty lies in the fact that everyone in the company from the CEO to the file clerk needs to be on board or CX will not work. In other words, everyone must drink the Kool-Aid.

It’s particularly hard because everyone doesn’t agree, and things change. But you must be strong.  If there are people or departments that do not follow your lead, it’s like lowering the drawbridge over your castle’s moat, allowing easy entry to your company’s unprotected bastion.

Windsor CastleAs CEO (or small business owner), you may be standing alone along the parapet, with your brave knights falling down around your heels, arrows through their hearts, piercing the armor they put on after their shower earlier in the month. Their shields were not strong enough. They did not defend the brand, the vision, the culture, because they did not believe it would work. But you must be tough because if you let the bridge down, even a little, your competition will know it. They will charge in and all is lost.  Don’t let the drawbridge down. Protect your brand with all your heart, and a re-commitment to CX.

UX/CX Part 2

Windsor CastleYour defenders ring the ramparts. You’re ready. Cannons are manned. Piles of extra arrows in the form of solid commitments to UX lay at the feet of your sales team. Customer service team leaders have plenty of ammunition. They are loaded down with careful, happy scripts and working headphones. Their computer monitors hold reactive inventory lists – selected from the best user-experience company roundtables in your industry.  We want this; we need that. Your company listened and acted.

Your competitors surround you astride headstrong horses, their breath visible in the cool morning air. These marauders are ready to tear down your hard-won market share. You have done your homework, though. Your customers are deliriously happy. The walls hold. Good job.

Corporate Kindness

In today’s USA Today, we saw a renewed focus on corporate kindness.

In the old days, they used to call it social responsibility.

In business school, they used to tell us that social responsibility was not in the interest of the shareholders. The shareholders demand a profit, they said.

That was then. This is now. A good heart is good business.  Giving some of the profits to those in need actually gives customers a better feeling about the company. Better feeling = more business. I do not think the profits and corporate kindness are mutually exclusive… to a point. At some nebulous level, though, the line needs to be drawn. Without profits, a business will not survive, cannot pay its employees, cannot re-invest into product development. The trick is finding the right mix, the correct balance. That trick applies to most things.

Victims of Our Own Unconscious Behaviors

The ThinkerI recently stumbled upon the Chris Jordan 2008 TED talk  wherein Chris made artwork out of our collective unconscious behaviors.  With a smoking skeleton and pills formed into a surprising circular array, he exposed the following and other punishing statistics…not to punish us, but to inform us.

  • 400,000 people died from smoking in 2008.
  • 65,000 teenagers would start smoking in one month in 2008
  • 213,000 Emergency Room visits resulted from prescription drug abuse

How are we doing against these data today?  More importantly, if the unconscious behaviors Chris exposed in artful form come from our individual denials, is there something we can do about it?  Not only do we bear the cost to our national psyche, but also to our healthcare costs, and unnecessary loss of life for our young people.

We’re moving in the wrong direction.

  • 443,000 died from smoking in 2011, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  •  114,000 teenagers started smoking in one month in 2011 (CDC)
  •  1.4 million Emergency Room visits resulted from prescription drug use in 2011 (Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

I am reminded of the novel Lord of the Flies.  I think the book, published in 1954, has been required reading in the California high schools for decades,  and tracks closely to Chris Jordan’s reflection of our collectively destructive detritus.  The Lord of the Flies author, William Golding,  states that his novel’s theme is “an attempt to trace defects of society back to the defects of human nature.  The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system, however apparently logical or respectable.”

Chris’s and our question of ourselves is: How conscious are we as individuals? What can we change today about ourselves that will change society, but more importantly, make us better individuals? Change is hard.   Becoming conscious is the first step.

Artificial Body Parts: My RACE TO DIE

 From the front page of the WSJ today, March 23, 2013, I was jolted into a sense of my own immortality. The title:Science Fiction Comes Alive As Researchers Grow Organs in Lab.” While most people would think this an exciting advancement, it scares the holy crap out of me.

It’s not because of the science fiction of it, Frankenstein notwithstanding, nor because I am afraid of having some test-tube heart or ear or liver. No. My fear is living too gosh darn long. My mom, God bless her, is 101, and wishes (because she is still very bright, sharp, and beats me at dominoes) with her nightly “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” prayer, to die. She’s tired of living.

It’s now a race. Can I make it out of this world by age ninety or so, or do I have to stay trapped in a rebuilt million-dollar body until I’m 110 or even more? What is going to kill us? If I have a one million dollar heart, what about my 50¢ brain? Can they grow more brain cells? If so, then who will pay for all of this? We know the birth rate in this country is declining to an alarming and destructive rate, so that our new workforce is dwindling, and thus fewer young people are paying less into social security. Result: we will not be able to sustain ourselves.  Where does this leave the government? Where does this leave medicine? Where does this leave me?

I would like to trust that someone will save the day. Steve Jobs is gone. Until then, I will race to my death to beat the scientists that would like me to have a new heart after I’m 90.  Or perhaps by that time, we’ll have an app for living without a brain.