No pain. No gain. No memory.

“Come On, I Thought I Knew That!” by Benedict Carey (NY Times, 16 April 2011). I’ve been intrigued by plenty of things in my day but this article put me in a semi-permanent ponder. All the way back from the end of April as a matter of fact. What if…just keeps repeating.

I understand that the focus here is on how the brain learns. That is, the research mention is specific to learning and education. However, what if this is also insight in how the human mind learns and retain other things? Certainly there has to be some broader implications and relationships. The brain might be not be a one trick pony but even if has patterns and habits.

Specifically I’m thinking about web sites, web design and usability. The current rule of thumb is to make such interactions super easy and painfully obvious. But maybe too easy is a detriment? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been on a web site and thought, “Oh, I’m sure I’ll remember this.” A couple of hours later, that memory is long gone. Mind you, that hiccup isn’t exclusive to web sites. None the less, I’m just wanting to point out that maybe too “user friendly” is actually a bad thing. Heresy, yeah I know.

Read the article and let me know what you think. Moi? I’m thinking there’s even more truth to “No pain. No gain.”

What you see is what you get (or not)

“Is There an Ecological Unconscious?” by Daniel B. Smith (New York Times Sunday Magazine, 27 January 2010). The majority of this blog is devoted to the more technical if not clinical aspects of life in the business world. But as they say, “All work and no play makes Mark a dull boy.” Speaking from personal experience I have no doubt that there is a positive and necessary connection between my mind, body & soul and my ability to maintain a healthy connection to the world around me.

Yes, Wired’s pro-technology approach – “How Twitter and Facebook Make Us More Productive” by Brendan I. Koerner, 22 February 2010 – makes some sense. That is, humans are wired such that we need to take breaks from the immediate task at hand. However, maybe the true productivity advantages come not from dialing up a browser and Facebooking but from stepping away from the desk and taking a quite moment outside? Maybe there really is an advantage to having a corner office with a view?

Furthermore, if you subscribe to the ecological unconscious ideals then it would seem that they might also explain the increase prevalence of human disconnect (e.g., the need for anti-depressants) in our society. Are we building a world that more and more of us are not fit to live in? Is a (short term looking) productive work environment the same thing as an ongoing healthy human living environment?

It’s an execution problem

“Seeing Customers as Partners in Invention” By Mary Tripas (New York Times, 26 December 2009).

“Being customer-driven doesn’t mean asking customers what they want and then giving it to them,” says Ranjay Gulati, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “It’s about building a deep awareness of how the customer uses your product [or service].”

It’s not just about interaction and listening. It’s deeper than that. It’s about awareness and understanding. Taken a step further, it’s not about wants. It’s about meeting needs. Wants are easy. We’re all quick to recite our wants. Needs however are much more profound.

Later Ranjay is said to say:

“It’s an execution problem.” Companies, he says, “aren’t generally structured to access, absorb or utilize customer insights since they are organized by product, not by customer.”

Interesting enough, does this not sound quite similar to the ideals mentioned on our Success Realized page (as well as elsewhere within the AU framework)?

Making it simple

“Looking at Life as One Big Subscription” by Damon Darlin (New York Times, 10 October 2009). Interesting, a concept that should be considered especially given how comfortable many people are with the idea of pay once for year round service.  There are certainly no shortage of instances where making multiple sales (i.e., three or four times, or more) per year can be simplified into a single “subscription”. For example, a florist might be able to make use of  “subscription” in offering a package for three holidays per year. Those holidays could be set or picked by the guest. Not only does that free up resources from pursuing each sale individually but the following year a simple, “Did your wife like her flowers? Would you like to renew your subscription?” is all that needs to be asked. The sale has been made, now it’s an issue of renewing.

Another option, might be a non-profit. Maybe a donation can be packaged in such a way to be sold as a subscription/membership (i.e., there would be something given in return to the donation). Reciprocity can be a very powerful tool. Again, renew is a much simpler concept than trying to get a repeat purchase.

Think about it, how can subscription help your business? What do you buy that you wish you could subscribe to?

Make it sticky

“Prototype: It’s Brand New, but Make It Sound Familiar” by Mary Tripas (New York Times, 3 October 2009). A classic lesson in, it’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell it. The key is empathy — as the sender you are responsible for packaging your ideas in a form that the receiver can consume, not the other way around.   If you find this interesting/helpful then you might want to check out “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath (