Great leaders would never sacrifice the people to save the numbers. They would sooner sacrifice the numbers to the save the people.
Reuben Steiger, a principal at international experience design firm Method, shares some insights into what makes a great brand.
In his 1971 book, Future Shock, the futurist Alvin Toffler talked about the upcoming “experiential industry,” in which people would be willing to allocate high percentages of their salaries to live amazing experiences.
[Today] We are happy to visit Disneyland or pay real money for virtual goods because they amuse and delight us. Spending $200 for an Armani shirt makes perfect sense because the luxury experience and self-expression create an intangible value beyond the mere cloth.
The Fox has never purchased a $200 Armani shirt, but I think this is a fairly accurate characterization of our modern age.
The stock market, the ultimate arbiter of American business success, now places more value on a design-driven company [Apple] than tech titans like Microsoft and Google.
From those that do it well (Amazon, Tiffany & Co.) to those that still need fine-tuning (Facebook, Walmart), all brands are challenged to consistently deliver coherent and satisfying product and service experiences to customers.
Coherent and satisfying experiences is worth repeating in case you’re skimming. People don’t buy a $300 phone or $500 iPad so they can have mediocre, convoluted experiences.
The crux of the problem is that building great experiences is everyone’s responsibility and nobody’s job. Since the brand, the products, and the services are intertwined, whose responsibility is it to fix the situation? Which budget will fund it, and how will success be measured?
Success relies on understanding the specific components that create an overall experience and how those components are delivered. Because the design of that experience crosses internal divisions, this demands the breakdown of budgetary and organizational silos.
Internal divisions and budgetary silos certainly provide some value (otherwise almost every company on the planet wouldn’t organize this way, right?) but in this new experiential industry what is the true cost of operating in departmental vacuums?
The industry understands how to quantify sales, awareness, conversation, referral, and click-through rates. Measuring experience is far murkier. Brands have to empathize with users to understand which elements–measurable or not–shape their experiences, and transform how they work together to create those experiences.
How do we quantify empathy? How do we quantify how upset or confused a customer has become? We see it every day. We largely know our own blind spots and shortcomings. But an inability to work cohesively across departmental lines will cripple our ability to deliver truly delightful and memorable experiences.
Fox Tip: Think like a Chief Experience Officer
The culture you describe in the book is very much centered on young, male, tech-savvy, western-socialised software developers. I was envisioning myself (female, a generation older, and while working in the tech world, not a technical person myself) in that specific culture and imagined I’d probably be rather miserable. 🙂
It may seem obvious, but companies that are mostly or even 100% remote-work environments actually promote diversity largely by removing all the basic personal attributes that can be used to (often unknowingly) discriminate.
On the heart side, the lesson is that it’s all about your people. If you’re going to engage the best and the brightest and retain them, they’d better think that you care more about them than you care about yourself. They’re not about making you look good. You’re about making them successful. If you really believe that and act on that, it gains you credibility and trust. You can run an organization based on fear for a short time. But trust is a much more powerful, long-term and sustainable way to drive an organization.
Don Knauss, chief executive of the Clorox Company, shares some gems on his leadership lessons learned.
In many organizations getting promoted into management is the only promotion path. The result is many people ill suited and even uninterested in leading groups take on those roles, with negative consequences across the organization. If you know of managers who clearly don’t like managing, you and they have been victimized by an organization that has misplaced how and why it rewards people.
Removing money as an incentive to become a manager would be an interesting experiment in most organizations. The Fox would love to see how that works.
At age 27, Angela Lee Duckworth left her extremely demanding job in management consulting for an even more demanding job – teaching 7th grade math in the New York City public schools.
In this new endeavor, she discovered an odd disconnect between her brightest students and their performance in the classroom.
IQ was not the only difference between my best and worst students. Some of my strongest performers did not have stratospheric IQ scores. Some of my smartest kids weren’t doing so well.
After witnessing this same phenomenon in class after class, she was gripped by the idea that if IQ wasn’t the singular factor in gauging an individual’s success, there must be something else involved.
After several years of teaching, I concluded that what we need in education is a much better understanding of students and learning from a motivational perspective.
So Duckworth left the classroom to get a masters degree in psychology and began studying people in such broad arenas as West Point Military Academy, corporate sales jobs, and teachers and students in inner-city schools. The goal? To find out what main element or elements were more prevalent in those who were successful.
One characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success, and it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ.
It was Grit.
Though not a scientific term by any stretch, grit was the term Duckworth used to describe the key element that was unique across all the individuals she studied who were able to achieve success.
Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future day in and day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years.
And now she gets peppered with questions about how people can become gritty? How can we instill grit into our children?
She honestly admits that we don’t have those answers yet, but there is some good news.
Talent doesn’t make you gritty. There are many talented individuals who simply don’t follow through on their commitments. In our studies, Grit is usually unrelated or even inversely related to measures of talent.
So let’s quit believing we’re not smart enough or don’t have enough talent to do that thing we really want to do. Be gritty enough to keep going after others have given up.
The Key to Success – Angela Lee Duckworth
Fox Tip: What long-term goals are you pursuing day in and day out?
It was part of a program organized by Chris Pullman called “Thirty Lectures in Thirty Minutes.” Bill was one of the 30 speakers that night, and true to his reputation, gave a talk called “Everything I know about business in one minute.” These are the ten things he said.
Never had the chance to meet him, but Bill Drenttel was the kind of leader that everyone is aspiring to be whether they realize it or not.