Inoculating companies against inaction, irrelevance, inflexibility and instability.


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, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Design transfusion

— reposting an article i wrote earlier on a different site–

I am keen on Marty Neumier’s new book the Designful Company because it handsomely mirrors the work I have been doing lately. I felt like the book provided me with a peer sensibility. If you design transformation for a living, you may now have your very own bible. Thanks Marty. I think this book is great and by a significant margin, it is your best.

Here are a two excerpts that really made me think:

1.) “To build an innovative culture, a company must keep itself in a perpetual state of reinvention. Radical ideas must be the norm, not the exception…Companies don’t fail because they choose the wrong course–they fail because they can’t imagine a better one.”

2.) The management model that got us here is underpowered to move us forward. Are we getting better and better at a management model that is getting wronger and wronger?

For me, working in a pure knowledge services industry, things like this have me wondering, is it right to measure what we are measuring? If the industry we are in is going to steadily become saturated (and we would be smart to hedge against rise in competitive sameness) with new stronger entrants, it will be wise for comapnies to seek competitive diferentiation more aggressively. It is no longer enough to be better.

It makes me think of the Daft Punk line, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”

When the economy sucks and you’re responsible for making several ends of the company meet, you have to think differently to stay ahead or stay alive. Sometimes companies need to transfuse to transform. They need to get the old stuff, way of thinking, processes and pragmatism out and let some new in. Why? Because things are changing. The way people interact and the way your company meets the demands of its customers is undergoing transformation. It is wise to pay close attention to this. The old stuff can bog the company down.

For the last month I have been working with a North Carolina health care insurer to help them with social media focusing on how it impacts their business. Much of my involvement in their transformation has been thinking about their organization as a body undergoing a strategic transfusion. They have most everything they need and the most talented people I have met, they just needed a change or a course of fresh, objective, outside thinking to revitalize their culture, operations and team.

Marty has also widely pointed out many diagnostics why companies are feeling the abrupt need to change. I love his list.

Here is what The Designful Company claims is happening:
• Customers are controlling the company
• Jobs are becoming avenues of self-expression
• The barriers to competition are no longer controllable
• Strangers design our products and services
• Fewer features are better
• Advertising is becoming counter-effective
• Demographics are beside the point
• Whatever you sell, you take back
• Best practices are obsolete at birth
• Meaning talks
• Money walks
• Stability is fantasy
• Talent trumps obedience
• Imagination beats knowledge
• Empathy trounces logic

I know change sucks for most but when you are in the business of helping organizations make the most strategic change happen in the most economical way, this is great. I look for more writing and interaction on this topic and I applaud Marty for sticking his neck out and writing this book. I am sure there are many six sigma blackbelts and hard core pragmatists who see this great book as having little value. We’ll see.

Filed under: General, , ,