Our Click and Mortar Future

VentureBeat provides timely coverage of the latest move by Google to update their eCommerce and home delivery service with this latest piece that will probably catch the attention of competitors Amazon and Walmart, rolling out same-day and next-day delivery service in cities like Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C.

"Google Express has built partnerships over the last several months with national vendors including 1-800-Flowers, Barnes & Noble, Nine West, PetSmart, Vitamin Shoppe, and Sports Authority. Google has also partnered with regional businesses like New York’s Paragon Sports. In total, Express has added 16 new brands to its on-demand delivery service."

For $95 bucks, customers get an annual membership, or opt to pay $4.99 per order.

For anyone who leads a busy lifestyle and understands what the significance of these developments mean, one can't help but wonder what to make of those stores who rely predominantly on antiquated in-store customer experiences, and have yet to begin to beef-up their online presence. When factored with things like traffic congestion, parking, long walks into and around large stores, lack of effective customer service, long checkout routines, and then the drive back home, this is almost certain to disrupt traditional brick and mortar retail as consumers begin to rethink their traditional shopping habits, and assuming that the list of stores that they deliver from will continue to expand given the winning image that Google has with consumers.

The Edge Takes Many Different Forms

Nice talk here with Peter Schwartz, SVP, Strategic Planning at Salesforce interviewing another consulting professional who I follow and admire, John Hagel, co-Chair at Center for the Edge at Deloitte, on one way the economy, organizations, and business may work in a hyper-connected economy. Some useful insights that touch on mindsets, paradox, cloud computing, platforms, practices, and the future of institutions.

"Strategies of position are back. It matters where you're standing in this global economy. If you're standing in parts of the economy that are going to fragment, good luck."

What New York City Doesn't Know...

Another tired article about the continuing war on ideas in Wired here concerning NYC's fight against AirBnb. My take? Regulation of personal residences is what should be illegal--not AirBNB rentals. People have been subletting residences for decades. The only difference here is that there is now a website to help bring buyers and sellers together faster and more efficiently. If anything, this suggests that Americans are ready for a massive rollback of bloated government regulations. What is also interesting is the players involved there:

"Covering four years of data provided to the attorney general after a court battle, the report indicates that more than a third of the listings posted on the online marketplace are run by large-scale operators, not permanent residents, and generate more than a third of the revenue. In New York City, laws are in place to prevent people from renting out their residences for less than 30 days, unless the tenants are also home. Schneiderman is looking to shut down these operations, which are essentially run like hotels."

 

Unified Physics as a Catalyst for Better UX?

I really respect and admire the work of Nassim Haramein and his work for The Resonance Project. So much so that I've considered taking his online course in Unified Physics--if only I had the time. So I'm promoting it here in the hopes that more UX professionals will take an interest in his work, and with a link to a short synopsis that I found on youtube. My larger interest, as you might guess, is in how these findings can lead us from flat design concepts as found throughout the Internet, to something more akin to his findings of a vector equilibrium. 

Delegate Level 1 Pilot Program: Exploring Unified Physics--designed to provide a foundation of understanding of the field and its implications and applications in our lives and the world. Core concepts of the holographic perspective and unified model; current and emerging views in physics; historical roots of modern physics and the research of pioneers such as Einstein, Fuller and Bohm; the nature of the shift in worldview that Unified Physics brings at this time, both in consciousness and technological innovation.

For an official event invite, click here: http://resonance.is/ 

Disruptive Innovators Must Be Stopped!

From a June article that I found over at Slate.com, Will Oremus provides a nice summary of a rather long criticism of Clayton Christensen’s theory of “disruptive innovation” by a writer at the New Yorker. Granted, the magazine is more than 80 years old, and is read by many as an influential publication, there are so many things in this that are worth reviewing (and ignoring).

Among other tidbits:

“Innovation and disruption are ideas that originated in the arena of business but which have since been applied to arenas whose values and goals are remote from the values and goals of business. People aren’t disk drives. Public schools, colleges and universities, churches, museums, and many hospitals, all of which have been subjected to disruptive innovation, have revenues and expenses and infrastructures, but they aren’t industries in the same way that manufacturers of hard-disk drives or truck engines or drygoods are industries.”

“…doctors, teachers, and journalists have obligations to their patients, students, and readers—whereas industries simply “turn things into commodities and sell them for gain.” She uses this distinction to imply that the New York Times is wrong to re-evaluate its editorial approach in response to disruptive innovations like the Internet, blogs, and social media. Either that or the disruptors aren’t playing fair when they target a nonindustry like journalism.”

“The point is that disruptive innovators are not only mythical—they’re also dangerous and must be stopped.”

Being ‘Normal’ as a Leadership Edge?

The shock I felt when someone recently pointed me to an enlightening article at Harvard Business Review depicting findings that help to poke more holes in what many of us have come to expect in today’s “normal” work environment. That when employees viewed more altruistic acts by their bosses and managers, they reported feeling more innovative and engaged.

Surprised? Employees who witnessed leaders who stepped back more to let others contribute and take responsibility led workers to engage in more “team citizenship” behaviors like covering for absent colleagues or going beyond the call of duty.

"…humility is one of four critical leadership factors for creating an environment where employees from different demographic backgrounds feel included. In a survey of more than 1500 workers from Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico, and the U.S., we found that when employees observed altruistic or selfless behavior in their managers — a style characterized by 1) acts of humility, such as learning from criticism and admitting mistakes); 2) empowering followers to learn and develop; 3) acts of courage, such as taking personal risks for the greater good; and 4) holding employees responsible for results — they were more likely to report feeling included in their work teams. This was true for both women and men.”

Read more here.

RelSci Looks Like a Huge Win for New Biz Development Pros

"But when it comes to meeting people, Goldman believes that what we call serendipity is merely the random expression of dormant connections all around us. To make the most of those possibilities, networking must become systematized and ultimately productized. “It’s all about the combinatorial possibilities emerging from these unknown but already existing relationships,” says Josh Wolfe, a managing partner at Lux Capital and personal investor in RelSci who’s also a complexity-science maven. “I guarantee you and I probably have five things in common we’re really passionate about.” (One of them, it turns out, is our mutual friend Parag Khanna.) “If I have a tool that helps me discover those things…that’s immensely valuable.”

More here.

Friendly? Agreeable? Conscientious? Read this or else.

Being that so much of marketing is rooted in human behavior, I found another interesting article in Psychology Today filed under “The Green Mind” that I found both insightful and amusing. In it, a review of this month’s edition of the Journal of Personality, concerning an old idea has been revisited in trying to understand which kinds of people are more or less willing to obey authority figures. Among the insights: Those who are described as “agreeable, conscientious personalities” are more likely to follow orders and deliver electric shocks to those subjects that they believe can harm innocent people, while “more contrarian, less agreeable personalities” are more likely to refuse to hurt others. In short, that those who were normally friendly followed orders because they didn't want to upset others, while those who were described as unfriendly stuck up for themselves.

"The irony is that a personality disposition normally seen as antisocial — disagreeableness — may actually be linked to ‘pro-social’ behavior.” “This connection seems to arise from a willingness to sacrifice one’s popularity a bit to act in a moral and just way toward other people, animals or the environment at large. Popularity, in the end, may be more a sign of social graces and perhaps a desire to fit in than any kind of moral superiority."

This was all fine until he made the assumption that “these will be the people who refuse to buy a car and instead insist on using public transit and car-sharing programs, even as friends complain about the inconvenience. These will be the people telling friends and family to expect fewer, more customized holiday gifts to cut back on the material excesses of the season. They’ll be the people taking more local vacations and encouraging friends to do the same. They’ll be the ones advocating, at the risk of seeming impolite, for the suffering and environmental devastation associated with factory-farmed meat. They’ll rub some people the wrong way and they may make some enemies, but they’ll be at the forefront of the move toward a more just and less degraded world.”

Assuming that we all conform to his way of thinking while being allegedly disagreeable, that leaves us with….?

Fascinating.

A Couch Trip for UX?

I read stuff like Psychology Today from time to time. Some of it from people like Marty Nemko, and other items from an assortment of writers. Some of it is old school and rather cliche’ from time to time. But occasionally I find a few items that I really like, such as this piece by Dr. Susan Weinschenk at the Brain Wise blog, who has been applying psychology to the design of technology for a few decades, and has written a number of interesting books, including one called “Neuro Web Design: What makes them click.”

This latest piece, The Psychologist’s View of UX Design, offers some lengthy insights that are worth sharing for the UX crowd. Among them:

#5. PEOPLE ARE SOCIAL

People look to others for guidance on what they should do, especially if they are uncertain. This is called social validation. This is why, for example, ratings and reviews are so powerful on websites.

If people do something together at the same time (synchronous behavior) it bonds them together—there are actually chemical reactions in the brain. Laughter also bonds people.
If you do a favor for me then I will feel indebted to give you a favor back (reciprocity). Research shows that if you want people to fill out a form, give them something they want and then ask for them to fill out the form, not vice versa.

When you watch someone do something, the same parts in your brain light up as though you were doing it yourself (called mirror neurons). We are programmed with our biology to imitate. If you want people to do something then show someone else doing it.

You can only have strong ties to 150 people. Strong ties are defined as ties that with people you are in close physical proximity to. But weak ties can be in the thousands and are very influential (à la Facebook).

#7. PEOPLE CRAVE INFORMATION

People will often want more information than they can actually process. Having more information makes people feel that they have more choices. Having more choices makes people feel in control. Feeling in control makes people feel they will survive better.
People need feedback. The computer doesn’t need to tell the human that it is loading the file. The human needs to know what is going on.

#9. PEOPLE CREATE MENTAL MODELS

In order to create a positive UX, you can either match the conceptual model of your product or website to the users’ mental model, or you can figure out how to “teach” the users to have a different mental model.

Metaphors help users “get” a conceptual model. For example, “This is just like reading a book.”
The most important reason to do user research is to get information about users’ mental models.

The Power of Product: Atlassian Valued at $3.5 billion Despite Having No Sales Staff

Read ‘em and weep, Mr. Sales Manager. There are some companies out there who are doing something amazing with very little help from sales. Among them, Australian tech giant Atlassian.

“If you look at how the world used to work 10-20 years ago the most important part of selling is the distribution model — it’s how you get products to market. Products themselves are secondary,”

“We’ve almost inverted the model and spent more on building products … we can now afford to build a great product and word of mouth spreads. [It’s about] getting out of the way of the customer.”

More here.

Cultivating Focus, Empathy, and Creativity for Better Product Design

I posted this video a while back on my twitter feed, and thought it would be fitting to place it here as well. This is a great talk by Irene Au that I think is worth a look if you’re interested in the topic of mindfulness and the impact it has on design.

"Design and engineering are both an art and science. Yet, while we teach methods and practices for hard design and coding skills; focus, empathy, and creativity, which are just as important for great product development, remain elusive for many and are often mystified as “creative genius”. How might we become more focused so we can deliver the one or two key features that would be most useful? How might we cultivate access to our empathy and insights to create usable products? How might we become more innovative and bring inspiration, delight, and heart to the people who use the products we design? Irene’s talk explores how through mindfulness, meditation and yoga we can acquire the most critical skills we need to be better designers, engineers, and product managers.”