The human brain and our society are programmed to build upon our pre-established building blocks. This is very helpful, because we don’t have time to reinvent the wheel for every action or task we’re required to undertake. But it also means we tend not to think creatively and look at the bigger picture.
We map out where we want to go, plan the execution, and progress according to our plan. But when we encounter unforeseen circumstances, how flexible is our thinking in response to this ‘problem’?
In the Philippines they had built a huge hall to house an international film festival. Two days before the event there was a typhoon and the hall was flooded to a depth of about three feet. The engineers said it would take several days to pump the water out. So they got hundreds of workmen to build a platform over the water. The meeting took place with the water underneath the delegates. This sort of approach may too easily be condemned as ‘papering over the cracks’. In some instances this would indeed be the case and is not to be recommended; find the cause of the cracks or the house may fall down. In other instances, designing a way forward is not only valuable, it is the only way forward.
- Edward de Bono (New Thinking for the New Millennium)
In business and society today, we need to learn how to ‘design a way forward’ – accept the obstacles and faults around us and assess whether we need to ‘fix the faults’, ‘design a way forward’, or perhaps do both in parallel. Only with such progressive, constructive thinking will we maximise possibilities, productivity, and quality of life.
If this is work, bring it on – I want more of this!
This afternoon I had the pleasure of sitting with Gerry Gaffney of Information & Design and exchanging thoughts on usability, marketing, business, and contemporary work/life balance, all in the oh so arduous environment of Café Sienna in Chapel Street.
As Gerry probably gathered from my tone, I’m pretty enthusiastic about what he, and Daniel Szuc of Apogee HK, are doing in the field of usability. I was first introduced to Daniel a couple of years ago and, when I recently proposed involving him in a seminar I want to run entitled “Get Your Message Heard”, he also introduced me to Gerry. Together, I’m looking forward to some pretty engaging sessions with Daniel and Gerry co-presenting.
However, through our conversations, I also learned some other pretty interesting tid-bits (more formally known as “anecdotal evidence”) about marketing and building relationships in the Web 2.0 era. Gerry discussed with me how two key features of his web site appear to be highly significant in bringing people back to him frequently and creating a sense within the prospective client of some ‘rapport’ with him.
1. Podcasts – Gerry introduced his podcasts a little over a year ago, and has found that (even weeks or months after each one is published) people keep coming back to listen to them as an invaluable resource. Better yet, the interest and credibility which is built upon them has resulted often enough in real paid consulting assignments. And that, after all, is the goal! Lesson? People still love hearing human voices.
2. Something for nothing (Usability Resources) – Gerry’s web site is home to a stack of awesome resources of great benefit to any usability project. There’s no charge – you just browse and download to your heart’s content. Which makes
a pretty popular site for people who are thinking about these issues. So, of course, when they decide they need a professional consutant to help them through the process who else would they engage but Gerry? Lesson? Don’t be afraid to give stuff away for free. At the end of the day, you still know far more about your area of expertise than the client, otherwise you’d be foolish to try charging them for your services.
I’m getting pretty excited about our “Get Your Message Heard” seminar. It’s likely to be around about June/July of this year, and we’ll have a bunch of great speakers talking on a range of topics but all around the central theme of how to market yourself in such a way that cuts through all the noise and actually gets people to react in a big way. “Watch this space” for more information as the details are firmed up.