Weekend reads – week 20

Changing relationships: are you prepared?
In this “dear brands” letter, Jermiah Owyang tells his favorite brands that the relationship he has with them has profoundly changed. And if you want to keep doing business in the future, you better read this closely, because it’s not just mr Owyang who feels this way.
Tags: #business, #innovations, #newBiz

Sleep to change the world
Getting enough sleep is important in keeping on the top of your game. Not sleeping enough, has a similar effect on your performance as drinking a lot of alcohol. So, if you want to change the world, be sure to get enough sleep, says this HBR post. Also interesting, is the identification of influencers in this article. Especially for marketeers that are looking for the right influencers to influence.
Tags: #business, #sleep, #success, #marketing

How fair will you play
Two examples of Fair Play popped up in my social media channels this week. The first one was from women’s football in France, where the ladies of Olympique Lyonnais won a match in a penalty shoot-out. It appeared that their opponents had scored in regular time, but the goal was not acknowledged by the referees. After no other goals were scored, the match eventually went to a penalty shoot-out. The ladies from Lyon feel they did not deserve the win in this way, and offered a replay.
The other example is actually from December, but it popped up in my FB stream. A Spanish runner showed a wonderful example of fair play and honesty by not taking advantage of a mistake from the Kenyan runner in front of him.
Next time you can cheat, think about these examples. Are you really winning when you steal victory?
Tags: #sports, #FairPlay, #honesty, #winning

A great product and great service still come first

A successful business starts with a good and unique product, and lives on because of great service. At least, I think that’s the basis for the old maxim ‘if you have a problem with it, tell us; if you like it, tell others’. When you’re told about problems, you can fix them, and, well, you get the main idea. This is also almost exactly what people have been doing for a very long time. Only, they always told others about it. In the last millennium, that was not a huge issue. The reach that the average consumer had, was not that far stretching. They discussed your brand on birthday parties, during water cooler chats or any other gathering, mostly with a very small audience. But of course, as we all know, that has changed. Big time. Now they talk about you on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, rating sites and their reach, also because of the shareability of these type of conversations, has expanded to nightmare proportions for marketers. That this can go very bad, has been proven many times; ‘United breaks guitars’ is just one, but my favorite, example.

That great managing of social media and the conversations that go on there, is not enough has also been proven. The video about the christmas present campaign of Spanair was shared many, many times. People loved it. Still, the airline went bankrupt. And that is not just limited to social media, by the way. Even a wonderful, widely published, expensive marketing campaign, cannot cover the facts. Just ask Chevron, of which some say it’s a champion in greenwashing. The internet and its many sources of information have made sure that doing business has become a bit more transparent.

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A #SOPA protest song

The day the internet partially blacked out,
the ‘Wikipedia WTF’ search on Twitter,
a source of entertainment and worry.

All in the name of the battle against
piracy. Can’t we just send more ships
to the waters around Somalia?

Or maybe we should send them to
fight those companies that hijack
our access to information rights
because they are unable
to deal with modern day reality.

Sure, piracy is bad for business,
but so is the inability to make money
without suing others.

In The New Capitalist Manifesto, Umair Haque explains how capitalism is evolving

Have you heard of Ray Anderson (who sadly recently passed away) and his company Interface? No? Really not? Well, they make carpet. And do you know what they have in common with Nike and Walmart? They made a complete turn around of their way of operation. In stead of plundering the earth and societies to make a profit, they have decided to make a start with creating thick value. Maybe not fully, yet, but they’re in the progress of creating a new look on business. A new look on the system business is operating in, even. And that system is capitalism.

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Speed Up Your Service, Please

Always a fan of doing things in a new way, I really liked 2009 so far. Thanks to an explosion in web2.0 services, or at least in the number of services I came to know this year, I have been rather active on Twitter, Yammer, Posterous etcetera. It enabled me to find cool and interestng new things to know and do and to do some impressive presentations at work. That thanks to Prezi, Animoto and Qipit. I like them, and like to use them. But their various functionalities and uses – often free to a certain degree – are not the only thing that is impressive. What might be a game changer in a far larger context, is their service.

As an early user (never the first, but not that far behind), sometimes I find things that I think they could improve. Not only do these guys give you an opportunity to send your feedback, they actually respond to it. Super fast. Sometimes even with a suggestion to play their product developers into prioritizing your suggested improvement. Their open, transparent, service minded, and did I already say Super Fast? As a user you are not only happy, but you are actually willing to send them more suggestions, providing them with valuable ideas to perfect their product or service. A win-win situation. Plus, you get to show off your voluntary work in an easy way, because you are enabled to easily share your thoughts on social networks like Twitter. Which is a free commercial for them. Again a win-win situation.

But, there will also be losers from this. Although I am a very patient person, my tolerance for slow service is getting lower and lower. Because these cool companies prove over and over again that slow service is not necessary and disrespectful. And my tolerance levels are sinking to the point that I switch to a different provider earlier. One that can give me the same good feeling as the Animoto’s and Prezi’s of the world. And although a one person sample is not really significant, I bet I am not alone. This could lead to the fact that companies that don’t get their service up to standard, will lose out in the end. Their processes and employees are just not respectful enough of the needs and requirements of the customers. So, a free piece of advise here: slow service companies, please take the example of Posterous, Qipit, Animoto, Prezi, Yammer and many, many others. Put us, your customers first. You might lose out otherwise.

From Paper To Screen

Word Perfect was the tool for creating documents when I started using computers. And it was indeed almost perfect. You could control on the blue and white screen the appearance of your printed document in the smallest detail, by placing ‘on’ and ‘off’ tags for mark-up exactly there where you wanted them, when needed nested to infinity. With the coming to power of Word, all that changed. And still, sometimes Word messes so much with the desired lay-out and mark-up that I silently yearned for old WP5.1 until recently.
But indeed, again things are changing. More and more I find myself not making documents that are supposed to be read from paper, but which are meant to be read from a screen. Reading from a screen once was limited by resolution and portability problems, but these are mostly resolved. And when I was in a train, working on yet another document to be screen-read, I suddenly realised there was another limitation to reading from screens: our own mindset to present, and thus lay-out and mark-up, documents in a way that is best fit for paper. And when you’ve moved from Word Perfect to Word, that is exactly what you are doing. Although by now I am used to Word, it sort of gently pushes you to create a to-be-presented-on-paper document. That is what that piece of software is about. And since more and more I am using Power Point nowadays, I think I crossed another boundary. That of the fit-for-paper mindset.
Making documents that are fit-for-screen has repercussions on the way language is used. Because of the boundaries of your screen, and the readability, you need to be more concise. One good way to be concise is to use lists. And they tend to be grammatically monotonous and compacted. And that is often what happens with of the fit-for-screen documents: concise and compacted language is the norm. This usually leads to fit-for-screen documents that are not at all pleasurable reads. But hey, isn’t that what blogs and books should be for?

De invloed van de CEO

Jeroen van de Veer, CEO van Shell, is door Fem Business uitgeroepen tot machtigste man van Nederland, waarmee volgens Fem Business een nieuwe trend is ingezet in hun lijst van machtigen: niet meer de mensen met multi-commissariaten, maar leiders van grote bedrijven zijn de machtigsten. Bijna gelijktijdig bericht Managers online dat uit verschillende onderzoeken blijkt dat het persoonlijk leven van CEO’s de bedrijfsresultaten beïnvloedt. Een ernstig ziek kind, of een nieuwe woning kan resulteren in het moeten afgeven van een winstwaarschuwing. Het ene bericht lijkt te worden bevestigd door het andere. Bekende CEO’s liggen onder de loep, dus als hun iets overkomt, straalt dat direct af op hun organisatie.

Maar zijn ze dan wel goede leiders? Die vraag lijkt niet te worden gesteld. Gelukkig is er iemand die daar veel onderzoek naar heeft gedaan: wat zijn goede CEO’s en welke bedrijven presteren consequent beter dan hun concurrenten? Jim Collins beschrijft in zijn boeken, het resultaat van zijn onderzoek, dat goed presterende bedrijven worden geleid door unusual suspects. Niet de vossen, oftewel mannen wier namen wij allen kennen, die geleid worden door een streven naar bekendheid en een wier grote ego het eigenbelang boven dat van de organisatie stelt. Nee, het zijn de egels: mensen die visie hebben voor lange termijn, zich niet laten leiden door hypes en werken en denken in het belang van hun organisatie. En daarmee dus niet zozeer op de voorgrond treden en derhalve minder bekend zijn. Zou de aankoop van een nieuw huis ook de winst van de door hun geleide bedrijven negatief beïnvloeden? Waarschijnlijk niet.

(deze post verscheen eerder op RMBlog.nl)