ANTIGENcy

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Inoculating companies against inaction, irrelevance, inflexibility and instability.

Biology teems with examples of adaptive systems

[excerpt from BCG]
Nature’s Systems

Biology teems with examples of adaptive systems. The human immune system, for example, exhibits adaptation that enables it to cope with an unpredictable and virtually infinitely diverse set of pathogens. In spite of its sophistication, it can mobilize itself against threats by using “rules” and properties intrinsic to the system, rather than taking direction from the brain in a top-down manner. Some of those properties include the following:

  • Diversity is enabled by modularity. The recombination of modular molecular structures enables a small number of genes to generate a vast number of different antigen receptors.
  • Tight feedback loops facilitate rapid responses. When activated by a particular pathogen, specialized cells accelerate the production of large numbers of specific antibodies to counter a threat.
  • Learning is built into the system. Far from operating with a rigid design, the immune system “remembers” previous threats and adapts its tool kit to increase its effectiveness over time.
  • Redundancy is key. The antibody response described above is only one of several overlapping subsystems of the immune system that enable it to respond to different kinds of threats over different timeframes.

As we continue to learn more about biological systems, we are likely to uncover many more insights into how to structure, evolve, manage, and sustain advantaged and adaptive business systems.

Filed under: Properties of Antigens, , , , ,

Affinity

In immunology, affinity is the attraction of an antibody to an antigen. In the corporate sense, affinity is the attraction of a solution to a problem. Simple huh? Not really.

Yesterday I was “attacked” by an immunologist in the RTP who thought my metaphor was preposterous and worse, lame. He claimed that it was again, opportunistic marketing looking for a new trend. He went on to politely discard my idea as moronic and told me that I didn’t know enough about science to draw from it. Probably. But fuck him.  By that logic we all must stop saying “Rocket Science” or “Rocket Surgery.”

I heard what he was saying. I even agreed with him on a base level. Beyond that, what an idiot! He claimed that I ought to know what I was talking about before I ventured into the pristine science of immunology.

Here is what I want and what I am doing:

I believe we are all heading into an evolved state of business. A state that is now capable of moving, changing, replicating, infecting, killing other businesses. It has always happened, it is now just happening faster. And in the future it will move yet faster. We will learn to adapt to it. But how will we learn? What is the most effective way to set ourselves up to the task of seeing, accepting and adapting to business change?

I am arguing that by borrowing from biology, we can create new frameworks to see, accept/reject, create, adapt and inoculate in ways that create advantage. I want to help change perspective. To create a new environment to see things through a metaphor that extends one’s perceptions.

I am mapping out what I believe are to be generally accepted hierarchies of problems (antigens) that are or will affect a company’s well being (body). There are a lot of them.  I am creating parallels between management consulting and immunology to help me frame methods for dealing with these problems by using creative/unconventional solutions like design thinking (antibodies).

What is most interesting so far is how well the science of immunology and the art of enterprise transformation correspond to one another. It makes me wonder why I wasn’t thinking about this while working on my last big digital transformation consultation last year.

Filed under: General, , , , , , ,

ANTIGEN: Broken Multichannel Touchpoint Strategy

Just read this from Forrester and it brought me to the inability to meet consumer’s multi-channel needs ANTIGEN.

Seventy percent of US online consumers research products online and purchase them offline. Based on this behavior, Forrester has identified two consumer categories: multichannel buyers and online window shoppers. Multichannel buyers use the Web for both research and purchases, while online window shoppers use the Web exclusively for researching their offline purchases. Multichannel buyers are almost six times more numerous. They are also more affluent and savvier online users than online window shoppers. The demographic and psychographic differences between these two consumer segments, and examples of how top US retailers are evolving their multichannel strategies in response, offer insights into how eBusiness professionals can enable multichannel consumer behavior.”

So, do you have what it will take to close the loop on your consumer’s online-to-offline needs?

Here is a snapshot of many different touch-point channel opportunities. You should be able to quickly determine if you have a closed-loop strategy to meet more of the complex needs of today’s consumers–or not.

In short, are you thinking about all the ways your business can and should meet the expectations of tomorrow’s customers?

  1. Social Networking
  2. Widgets/Tools
  3. Vodcasts
  4. Natural Search Engines (eg. Google)
  5. RSS Feeds
  6. Print Advertising
  7. Portal Widgets/Tools
  8. Desktop Widgets/Tools
  9. Affiliates (non-dealer)
  10. All Brand Web sites
  11. Events
  12. Broadcast
  13. Video interview (eg. YouTube)
  14. Blogs
  15. Catalog
  16. Customer Service
  17. Direct one-to-one Emails
  18. Distributor/Dealer Events
  19. Marketing emails
  20. Forums
  21. Email to a Friend
  22. Dealer Websites
  23. Dealer Stores
  24. Mobile
  25. Podcasts
  26. POP
  27. PR
  28. Product Returns
  29. Product Exchanges
  30. Product or Service Warranties
  31. Online Personal Data
  32. Payment
  33. Balance Checking
  34. Order Tracking
  35. Account Management
  36. Wishlist Management
  37. Opt-in/Opt-out Management
  38. Password Recovery
  39. Gift Card Purchase/Redemption/Balance Checking
  40. Holiday/Gifting Logistics Related Capabilities
  41. Holiday Hold
  42. Delayed Shipping
  43. Ask a Question
  44. Take Customer Satisfaction Survey
  45. General Feedback
  46. Rush Shipping
  47. Gift Services
  48. Purchase an Item
  49. Purchase Item Using Catalog Number
  50. Edit a Wishlist
  51. Create a Wish List
  52. Delete an Account
  53. Edit an Account
  54. Create an Account
  55. Order Re-tracking
  56. Delete a Wishlist
  57. Send a Wishlist
  58. Purchase an Item from a Wishlist
  59. Opt-in for Emails
  60. Recover Password Again
  61. Opt-out for Catalog
  62. Opt-in for Catalog
  63. Product Reviews
  64. Complain about Service

*attribution to Twiss Interactive for this exhaustive list of touch points.

Filed under: Brands, Consumer, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Corporate Antigens :: Application Along Nine Dimensions

ANTIGENcy is an unconventional framework to be applied to the conventions of business management. It allows people to anticipate and isolate weakness in their organizations by viewing them through the lens of immunology and epidemiology.

If immunology is about understanding and manipulating an immune system against unwanted strains, ANTIGENcy is about anticipating and understanding an organization’s weaknesses along several dimensions and doing something about it. Those dimensions, so far, are;
1. Strategic
2. Leadership
3. Culture (human capital)
4. External (marketing, advertising, etc.)
5. Technology
6. Operations (process & methods)
7. Sales (revenue & profit)
8. Environment (physical space & location)
9. Knowledge & learning

The ANTIGENcy strawman concept was created by mashing-up management consulting and vaccine science. This mash-up allows companies to gain prescience along these dimensions by proactively running through scenarios to address found weaknesses in each. Think “spectrum analysis.” These weaknesses can be found by creating antigens for which an organization can consequentially react/adapt to by developing antibodies.

Different than conventional and reactive challenge-solution approaches to management consulting, the ANTIGENcy model is recombinant and evolving. The more the approach is used, the more value it brings to the particpants by virtue of its growing database of management antigens and subsequent antibodies. The universe of antigens and antibodies are meant to grow and benefit their hosts progressively.

The ANTIGENcy model brings a the entire database of antigens to bear providing organizations a potential innoculation against unknown strains. While conventional management consulting is normally the pedestian application of known solution(s) to relatively known problem(s), ANTIGENcy is the broad and deliberate exposure to a spectrum of “challenges” with the goal of strengthening weaknesses that are both known and unknown.

The nascent goal of ANTIGENcy is to be run through open source means by a growing number of practitioners.

Filed under: General, , , , , , , , ,

One Powerful Antigen :: Staff Departures

People leave their employers for many reasons. At any given time, up to 20% of the average company’s staff is preparing to leave. This could mean they are adjusting their resumes, searching online for other jobs, updating Linked In and sifting through Monster or Careerbuilder RSS feeds while you are paying them for their allegiance.

So if you have 1000 employees, 150 of them per year will quit for one reason or another. This is typically an ongoing cycle that most companies willingly accept for lack of understanding.

Now for the harsh reality. Multiply 150 annual staff departures by $13,500 which is the average cost to interview, hire, train and integrate an employee who makes $50,000/year.

That’s $2,0250,000 per year in HR costs because 150 people aren’t engaged, challenges or satisfied as they need to be.

Lack of employee engagement is one of the antigens in our database. This antigen costs the average 1000 person company over $2 million/year.

While we are building the antigen (lack of employee engagement) we are also building the antibody (deeper engaged employee loyalty) to counter effects of this killer.

If I were in charge of human capital or served in any HR function, this would demand some of my focus.

This is an example of what ANTIGENcy is hired to do.

Filed under: General, , , , , , , , ,

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