Steve Jobs – Don’t Settle

Today the world lost a truly inspirational leader who has changed the lives of everyone whether directly or indirectly.

My friend Richard Harris had the pleasure of working with him and shared today a great summary of what made the man the man…

I can think of no higher praise than to remember him as a deeply and inspiringly unreasonable man, one who would never take, “…because that’s how things are” as an answer – there was always a better way.

He had the inspiration to think differently, the tenacity to not accept anything less than his vision and the charisma to attract talented people around him to deliver that vision.

On a professional front I think it’s worth taking a moment to consider how much can be achieved when you are truly uncompromising about the importance of excellence in product design and customer experience.  Apple is not without it’s flaws, it does not produce ‘perfect’ experiences or products but when the world wants to benchmark against you… you’re clearly doing something right.

On a personal front I would encourage everyone to take 15 minutes to watch his Stanford Commencement Address and gain some inspiration in your own life to not “Settle” for anything less than your dreams.

We will all continue to draw inspiration from his work for many decades to come and I’m sure that Apple will continue to provide new inspirations even now that their visionary leader has passed.  I’m looking forward to the future that he has contributed to so much to enabling.

Starbucks’ Service Commitment, Starbucks Service Moment

Starbucks’ Service Commitment, Starbucks Service Moment:
An excellent quick overview of the commitment some companies are willing to make to improving their customer service and a great story from the frontline of the wider impact Magic Moments can have.

Whilst it is difficult to measure that impact it is certain the moments like this make customers feel more significant and the on the old hierarchy of needs that’s right up there. If I can have a retail experience that also makes me feel significant I’m going to get quite loyal to that brand. How else would Apple have survived the debacle that was the iPhone 3G launch without loyal customers who were looking for more than just a phone and so were willing to put up with the annoyances of getting the ‘phone’ bit right.

What Magic Moments are you creating for your customers now? What would need to happen for you to be able to take a “moment”, as Starbucks have done, to get with your front-line and get everyone motivated to create excellent experiences for your customers?

When designing for the customer may not be the best thing…

Jason of 37Signals has written a passionate article on Why we disagree with Don Norman: following Don Norman’s critique of 37Signals approach to design.

I’m going to let Jason do most of the talking because he has written this so well… but to set some context… Don Norman was critiquing 37Signals for designing for themselves BEFORE designing for the customer, in fact he seems to imply he thought they weren’t designing for customers at all.

What is excellent about this posting is that Jason is spot in pointing out that the worlds best innovators and creators have all come from a position of thinking about themselves first and Jason articulates very well the speed that this allows 37Signals to design at. He also highlights that they ARE VERY customer focussed in how they then amend, iterate and improve on original thinking…

It always seems a bit strange to hear a customer experience expert say “The customer doesn’t know what they want…” but it is often true especially when you are developing propositions on the boundaries of what exists today in the mass market…

Go 37Signals!!!

Platform for Growth I – Seth Godin on “The forces of mediocrity”

Seth Godin (The forces of mediocrity) has hit on a lesson that I think a lot of people still need to learn. “The forces FOR mediocrity” a mass movement that one must swim against in order to achieve most innovations and differentiations in a marketplace.
In my role as a coach to entrepreneurs and even as a customer experience coach I find a lot of people wanting to find the quick-hit, easy low-hanging fruit, quick-win strategy… basically… hardly any one wants to put in the hard-work. Everyone wants to be “different” or “successful” or “compelling and engaging” but they want to do it in some tried and tested AND easy way…

As Seth says “There’s a myth that all you need to do is outline your vision and prove it’s right – then quite suddenly, people will line up and support you.”

Seth points out that you will invariably encounter large amounts of resistance. Richard Branson in an interview for an upcoming technology conference is quoted as saying that the majority of the ideas for customer experience that he has had have come from his own burning desire to change things, Steve Jobs has always had a passion for making the world a better place through technology and information, he was FIRED from his own company for his vision… it ain’t necessarily easy being that innovative…

but as Seth also says “If it were any other way, everyone would do it and your work would ultimately be devalued”…

However, in the face of all this adversity, what all of the world’s most succesful people do find easy are the decision they have to make when they weigh them up against the values, inspiration and vision that they have. The vision becomes an incredibly clear compass for which direction is the right path… even when the people surrounding you are going in the opposite direction. If you have the tenacity and perserverance to get through the initial cycles of business growth around your new idea then the market you want to play in will be attracted to you, just don’t expect it overnight…

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Put Buyers First? What a Concept – New York Times

Put Buyers First? What a Concept – New York Times:

Customer Experience is fast become a consistent agenda item in boards across the corporate world, it’s making it’s way into financial reports to the stock market, annual reports and this is further supported by newspapers such as the New York Times featuring pieces on customer experience.

This is a great article about just that written from the journalists experience with Amazon over christmas. Some highlights though from further into the article:-

Jeff Bezos, in response to a question about how he liked to spend his time answered by waxing lyrical about customers:-

“They care about having the lowest prices, having vast selection, so they have choice, and getting the products to customers fast,” he said. “And the reason I’m so obsessed with these drivers of the customer experience is that I believe that the success we have had over the past 12 years has been driven exclusively by that customer experience. We are not great advertisers. So we start with customers, figure out what they want, and figure out how to get it to them.”

Critically, whilst looking into the stock performance of Amazon with it’s various rises and falls, our NYT journalists was given all sorts of financial and operational reasons why Amazon may now be back on it’s game from a financial market valuation perspective. The NYT journalist however continues with his own thoughts:-

But I couldn’t help wondering if maybe there wasn’t something else at play here, something Wall Street never seems to take very seriously. Maybe, just maybe, taking care of customers is something worth doing when you are trying to create a lasting company. Maybe, in fact, it’s the best way to build a real business — even if it comes at the expense of short-term results.

I couldn’t agree more….

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MacBook Air:- My other laptop’s a….

Predictably we’re into the endless debate of whether the MacBook Air is a a great laptop or an expensive gadget.

I think that John Gruber made the case very eloquently on his blog describing the appeal of the macbook air as not one that we can judge based on previous laptop decision criteria.
And this is the great thing about the Air, it has redefined, even if subtly, what it means to be a laptop. Actually I’ll correct that… it has reminded us what Laptops were meant to be. In discussing the Air people are expressing their dreams of portable technology that supports them and doesn’t weigh them down while they run for their taxi/bus/train to the next meeting… it’s generating debate about the essence of ‘laptop’. That is what innovation does… it sets a new standard, some will reach up and grab for it and others will decide it’s not for them…

I do wonder what other products are out there just waiting to be either evolved or devolved back to what they were meant to be and so in their devolution revealing the inherent potential in them…

Anyway… So I read the articles… I understood the specs, design, I drooled… and then I tried my darndest to go out and convince myself I could have one… that it would be useful to be light, that it would be fulfilling for it to be cool and beautiful, that it would be powerful enough for all the movies, photography, CS3, wireframing, keynote designing….mmm…

I’ve filled up the hard-drive just thinking about it. And since that clearly does matter to me… the Air will have to remain as a luxury item if I could spare the cash. I’m still encouraged to see there are people for whom

The MacBook Air could easily be the only machine:

It’s certainly not a Macbook Pro replacement technically, it’s certainly not a vanity 3rd computer for many people but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not organised enough to keep it all under 80Gb let alone 65Gb…. I’m glad I’ve come into the debate late… I can agree with both sides and focus on getting a new MBP to replace this PB and it’s incessently noisy fan…

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20 minutes or so on why I am 4Barack (Lessig Blog)

20 minutes or so on why I am 4Barack (Lessig Blog):

Larry Lessig (founder of Creative Commons) has posted an excellent video (20 mins) on the difference between Obama and Clinton and it is a clear and intelligent call for a new era of politics in the USA. It is also an excellent summary of what it takes to be a true inspirational leader, in many ways he is also describing what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

The pace of change in the world has increased now to a point where our world leaders and governments need to be able to lead and inspire change for the better of the planet. Previously many of our leaders got on-board only once there was a clear majority, financial ability, business support and little risk of losing power… which doesn’t sound very much like standing for your principles. It of course remains to be seen what will happen once a candidate like Obama gets into the hot-seat… but I don’t really see Clinton standing for that kind of change…

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The iPhone User Experience: A First Touch

The Tog has made a surprisingly positive review of the iPhone. Surprising only because he seems to have fallen out of love (in the past) with Apple products developed after he left Apple (quelle surprise)… no honestly he has made some very valid comments as a reformed Apple junkie that some of the die hards found difficult to admit…

anyway all of that just goes to show that if he can like it… then some of the hype that has been surrounding this product can’t be all that bad!

As someone who really understands emotional design it will be interesting to follow Tog’s experience with the phone over the next few months and find out what is emotional and what is useful about the product!

The iPhone User Experience: A First Touch:

Asktog -- The Iphone User Experience  A First Touch

UIE – Field Studies: The Best Tool to Discover User Needs

Field Studies: The Best Tool to Discover User Needs

The most valuable asset of a successful design team is the information they have about their users. When teams have the right information, the job of designing a powerful, intuitive, easy-to-use interface becomes tremendously easier. When they don’t, every little design decision becomes a struggle.

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Interview with Steve Krug “Don’t Make me Think” (MC News)

Taken from Management Consulting News this is a good interview with Steve Krug following the launch of his book “Don’t Make Me Think”, which I highly recommend as a good source of standard usable design patterns. The interview is aimed at fairly non-technical audience so don’t expect huge revelations but it’s a good introduction to Steve’s thinking if you haven’t already picked up his book…
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