Today was a very personal day and one that a father will always remember. Fleming had his convocation at Simon Fraser University and received his Bachelor of Arts as an English major. It was a happy moment for him after all that work. It is wonderful to see your son accomplish something he set out to do 4 years ago. It was an incredible learning experience for him, but it is only a start. He now moves on to Seminary in Saskatoon for another 3 years. Nils was happy when the mail arrived as his final payment came from the agency for all the work he did for the Mentos people. He had been waiting for over a month and now the funds will allow him to get his final business in order to move to Denmark in a few weeks. He had good news from his art show with a number of sales over the weekend. He also accomplished what he set out to do. Both of these young men are living what they want to do and the passion they have for art/theology/learning is apparent when you are with them. I have always told them since I can remember that it didn’t matter if they became sanitary engineers (garbage collectors) as long as they had a passion for it. There are just too many people in this world that are afraid to live their passions.
One of the most interesting books I have read in a long time is Daniel Pink’s – A Whole New Mind, moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. In it he states that up to now the left-brainers, the MBA types, were what society had and needed. In the future the right-brainers will be needed. He speaks about this in a very easy to read setting. He then goes on to say that there are six essential aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfillment now depend. They are Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning.
Each of these aptitudes are explored in separate chapters. And each of them resonate strongly with some well thought out and extremely satisfying writing. He explores those areas that have up to now been tidbits of ones thinking. You knew ‘Story’ was important but Pink puts it in the terms you hadn’t completely thought of. ‘Meaning’ was discussed in light of Victor Frankl’s – Man’s Search for Meaning. (Everyone has read this right?) A Whole New Mind is a very positive book and you will come away with huge and various ideas to move your mind around. This book is dangerous. For example when he discussed design, it is stated that whatever the design, it is giving the world something it didn’t know it was missing. Thank you Daniel, that makes perfect sense and gives you something to chew on next time you step up to the plate thinking you might know something about design. He even gets into labyrinths.
Before you begin to have a long discussion with any left-brained type read this book. You’ll find so much more to what makes us human than just counting beans and widgets.
Today I had bad service, real bad service. One tends to overlook if someone has a bad hair day but this was not good. First the call centre had a menu system (push 3 for…push 4 for….)with no human contact and it was very difficult to navigate. When you finally found the cave you needed to be in you end up waiting. But can’t they just put musak on? Do they have to try to sell me everything that the conceivably have to offer? How annoying can that be — “If they wait, we advertise!”– I hung up, couldn’t take it anymore. Finally found another way to talk to them and gave all the information on who I was and what I wanted. Couldn’t help me right now, please phone back in 5 minutes. So I waited and phoned back and what do I get? — Voicemail — Now this is getting irritating. Left the message and after waiting for over an hour phoned back again. Someone answered and said the person I wanted to talk to was on lunch. BANG! That was it. I re-iterated my request and asked if there was a problem. The next voice I hear is the person I originally talked to. Finally. But then she asks me to repeat everything she supposedly took down before. Nothing had been done. Moral of the story – find somewhere else to deal and let your feet speak.
Sometimes you get just one of those days where it seems the day begins and ends in one quick and sweeping motion. Then it begins again and again. Pretty soon it adds up to a week. It was busy for the 7 days and now I realize no blog entries or even time for writing. But summer seems to have arrived here on the West Coast and everything moves outside. So from the patio and thanks to wireless blogging gets to be easy.
My wife listens to CBC religiously every morning and has done so for years. From 6:00 am until we leave for work at 8:00 am every morsel of the Early Edition is taken in. On Tuesday Marjun went to help her class at a camping site. So I thought to break the habit, no CBC while she is gone. Then an e-mail arrives this morning from a colleague saying “it was great to hear you on CBC at 6:25 am this morning!” Aaaarghhhh… Tod Maffin had recorded some of the presentations at last week’s DemoCampVancouver and I guess I was a small bit of the 4 minutes he presented. So the one time I could have really shocked my wife passes. But maybe it’s a good thing. I would probably have been shaving and who knows how much damage a razor can make when one is startled.
The dollar is getting stronger and there is talk about an interest rate increase. Looks like the mortgage rates have already factored that in. Given the high cost of real estate in our area a few hikes are going to have a greater effect than in the past. That along with higher gas prices should start to have some effect. But people usually take some time to realize changes like this. Someone once told me that a long freight train will take a mile to stop. Our economy is very much like that. Whatever changes now takes some time to have any effect. It would seem that this time the effect will be much stronger than the past given the higher real estate debt more people are carrying.
Dates for BarCampSeattle have been set at July 21 and 22nd. This should be a very interesting event and from the list of people coming there is going to be some great stuff coming out of it. BarCamps are intense, sort of like the Olympics of Seminars. If you have never been to one it is well worth it. What did Jimi say “Are you Experienced?”
Here is something new that I have not seen before. Rex & Co. have an agreement where you convert home equity into cash. The “loan of cash” is paid back when you sell your home or in 50 years whichever happens first. You pay no interest or make any payments, you pay at the end of the agreement. You are selling a portion of your equity in the home. That could amount to much more than what you received in cash at the start of the agreement. What would you call that?
William brought up Seth Godin’s “Blow up your homepage” entry. What do people expect when they click a URL? First and foremost it would have to be information. Either that page moves them through an entry point or they can click/search for further information. It would seem to be like an encyclopedia. You look up the entry, get the volume and start scanning the information to see what is relevant, look at the acknowledgements and proceed. Using the Oxford English Dictionary on-line gives you a similar experience without turning pages. You can just search and click. There are two keys here.
- A focus on what you want, exactly. They say that to get the answer you have to form the proper question.
- A good search facility for your site. The best sites have search results highlight the phrase when you move to the different pages.
All of that said Seth has said something that won’t go away easily. What should a homepage look like?
Verity Credit Union has a great blog with a new look. I can see this being a model for other credit unions. They also have a flickr site. Ingenious! Open Source CU has a podcast #8 done by Shari Storm who explains in detail Verity’s blog. This has some very practical advice to give to CUs about blogs. I haven’t heard anything better. But you know what will happen in some circles. It will be viewed as a fantastic idea, then the sudden fear begins to occur and the naysayers will start and the idea about have a CU blog will slowly die. Death by risk aversion.
Today went over to Foto Fun in New Westminster and picked up a Nikon 50 mm / 1.8 lens. This is a beautiful lens. After using so many zoom lens you have to realize there is a bit of a change in the way you are going to take a picture. It reminds me of the old rangefinder setup. Attaching it to the D50 and snapping away brought great results.
Readomatic is a Mac standalone product that reads Google reader. It is an alpha release. And it does work! (stops on May 30th).
The Globe & Mail had some letter to the editor speaking to the issue of the division of state and religion. We have all heard it before, not much new. But this got me to thinking. If citizens of a democracy demand the separation of church and state then it would come naturally that citizens demand the separation of business and state. Neither the church or business are given ballots to elect representatives so why should they have any influence greater than a single citizen?
There is an excellent post at the blog modern marketing today. I agree that the word ‘satisfied’ is not a very good description when you are talking about “experience” being your differentiator.
I thought about some surveys so here is a list of 5 choices on a survey and what a person really means when asked:
How has the service been when dealing with the credit union?
- Great – which usually means – I don’t want to tell you the truth or offend you.
- Normal – which usually means – Why are you asking me this? Do I get to win something if I say it’s better?
- OK – which usually means – I put up with you guys but boy if I found a better place I am out of here.
- Not very good – which usually means – This place sucks! I don’t know why I am still here, probably because my mom opened an account here when I was 3.
- Bad – which usually means – I am a disgruntled ex-employee and want to make you guys pay or I am getting paid for some competitive intelligence from the guy down the street.
The Filene Report Denise mentions is excellent and is a great starting point in measuring the Net Promoter Score which is the benchmark we all should be paying attention to. At the end of the report it talks about the next steps for improving member experience. You can spend a lot of time measuring, you can view and chart the results but what are you going to do to improve? One suggestion is that any effective strategic plan will require “Leadership practices that instill customer focus, passion, and values.” Voila! A key ingredient. Leadership.
So in large part bad service can easily mean bad leadership. Not paying attention to something that is hard to measure in any realm. But instilling customer focus and passion and values? That doesn’t happen overnight. Leadership needs to create the ability of the people working in the organization to what I call “make meaning” in their workplace. The environment must be right. Values statements are a long and arduous process. Values are discussed, debated, argued. Values must in some way be part of the individuals own personal make up. (You’ve arrived when you can say to everyone that when they make any decision that is true to these values they have always made the right decision). And when you do arrive at a common, published values statement made up from all individuals, there is a commonality that as a consequence begins the passion. When someone can make some meaning in their job they are quick to become passionate. Now, how do you measure passion?
I have been using a Mac program for the last while (sorry PC users) that is proving itself more and more interesing and useful. It’s called NoteBook by Circus Ponies.
At first glance it looks like a typical ‘student taking notes in a classroom’ program. Pages turn, the format looks very much like a notebook and it looked ok. But there are some features here that I have not seen gathered in one program anywhere else. And they are simple to implement and easy to follow.
There is a clipping service that you can setup with by using a choice in the menu. From there it resides on your services menu. Pretty normal. But one of the options allows you to clip with an annotation added and a drop down on the choice of where you want the clipping to go. For example, I use NoteBook as my digital inbasket. When an e-mail arrives that adds additional information to a project I can clip the text into this in basket with a notation heading. When I switch to NoteBook I can easily move the clipping to the specific project page but have the added feature of the annotation heading to pinpoint any details quickly. There is also a number of attributes that show me the heading and sender of the email automatically. This keeps that email inbox as empty as it should be.
Another feature that I use is to tag various entries i.e. @Waiting for, @Errand, etc. (Using the GTD context here). Notebook has a feature that automatically creates an index from these Keywords so that I can now work and review the way I want, again using the GTD process. Quick and easy and everything is in one file.
The more I use this program the more I like it and the more there is to learn. Another interesting point, the originator of the program e-mails periodically to see how you are doing. Not bad.
These past few days I have been thinking about how social networking has been discussed and my experience of being with two groups of people.
On Saturday the church I belong to (Lutheran) holds a neighbourhood BBQ. Everyone comes together to put the food out, BBQ the burgers and hotdogs and serve whoever shows up. There were between 150 to 200 people served. (we are really too busy to actually count so we take the number of items BBQed and figure out how many had more than one hamburger). The location is kitty corner from Vancouver City Hall. It’s like a block party for a few hours. The variety of people that show up is unbelievable. The gamut ranges from people driving up in their Mercedes or BMWs to guys living at a shelter looking for work. The food is free but I can’t see that as being the big drawing card. Everyone had time to sit at one of the tables and converse with the people around them. They talked about everything from Elvis Presley to why the Canucks lost. It was people socializing around having something to eat. It was great to be a part of.
The next day another BBQ at home with friends and family. The conversation moved into who was on FaceBook and what they thought of it. Most began to wonder why they were being invited by people they had vague memories or associations with. One person said they hardly new this girl who was at her school but 3 years younger and couldn’t recall even talking to her. They all felt it was sort of neat but were a bit overwhelmed by the number of contacts they all maintained. We also talked about how men and women communicate and the number of words each gender tends to use. I will not comment on that discussion.
The point here is that human interaction is so unique and seems to be such a random type encounter at times. When you think you can understand how and why people react you suddenly realize you are farther from the answer than you thought. Maybe its the variety of individuals, maybe its the environment of the meeting, who knows — maybe it’s the weather. Social networking and the communcations around it are so varied. It seems that the face-to-face communcation brings people together that no other way can. It isn’t a process, it is being able ‘touch’ or connect with that person in some human way. Someone said the eyes are the windows to the soul. You can’t put those things into a box.
Originally uploaded by Photo Love.
This picture sort of typifies a day we sometimes have. The lines of authority and what we must do. The clothes pegs (don’t see them that often) our contact points with whatever we do. And us, the dirty sock, stuck right in the middle. Where’s the bleach? I’m going to use this as my desktop wallpaper.
William asked me to expand in this blog on an entry he made May 2 with Robbie Wright and I commenting.
We should not view the competition as other FI’s but as ourselves lacking the development of a website as a relationship deepening tool.
- Maybe it isn’t only the website but the products that could be an integral part of the website. This is important in the DIY process.
- This is constant (because nothing will stand still on the web) as we leap frog to better technologies. That is the development domain we now live in.
- This pushes us to a re-invention of product and service needs in attempt to marry relationship and technologies. It needs to be a virtual human touch or virtual human experience (VHE).
- Can we create these products and services? YES, but only if we are constantly vigilant to keep tech development along with a VHE. Without this we become a common process, a commodity.
- New products by the nature of being new will create a uniqueness which can be identified as personal (who else is using this?)
Advantage us, the credit unions!
Just by our nature and history we have a sound base on which to build. Our brick and mortar can only serve to enhance, in the member’s mind, our personal and ongoing relationship as it comes to product and service. These are the elements to clone in the VHE. As William pointed out and Robbie commented, e-tail experiences are to be as entertaining and amusing as personal experiences.
Products need to be built from the person out.
- DIY (customization). If a product has 12 variables to choose from, then the number of possible ways the product could be ‘developed’ or seen would be a factor of 12 = 78. With enough variables the end results could be close to unique for every member.
Incorporating the Products/Services into personal networks.
This is really new ground and will take some ingenuity on our part. Services that would be appreciated when viewed by others i.e. text messaging and would happen outside the realm of the branch could be one objective. Something that would touch that member in their own world which could be shared through common experience or through a shared virtual site would link to others to create dialogue and discussion. When we arrive here (The Wisdom of Crowds) the innovation and creation will take shape.
All this time the individual person keeps their products and services shaped their way (DIY).
Is this possible? Yes.
Where has it happened? If you have read this far you have some idea.
Where could this begin in earnest? Like minded CUs sharing these sentiments and discussion in a non-political atmosphere.
Well William I hope I have expanded enough. I think the time is coming when like minds need to discuss this around a personal event, like lunch.
Here is a great blog entry on Twenty Usablity Tips for Your Blog by Tom Johnson. Never too old to learn.
If you own and use a Moleskine this site shows how others are using them. Great inspiration.
Everyone uses Flickr, right?
Wondering what the traffic is like in the Lower Mainland? Webcams all over the place.
When asked for a quote here is what I said for a recent CUCBC publication.
“We can mould a new financial reality for credit union members. We need to be as vigilant with technology implementation as with lending risk. It is imperative that we are aware of the ever unfolding technologies to see how they can be used to better serve our membership. We can continue to exist as small and nimble entitites. Service should be based on trust from knowing our members. You can then manage risks instead of risks managing you. This new financial reality is ever moving and paying attention to the owners who we serve will continue to bode well for all of us.”
There are a tremendous discussions going on now about Web 2.0 and the families of services it has created. Cole Camplese says it best: “I guess that is part of the answer though — people are listening (not thousands) and they are trying to engage. Without us making the time to provide the first conversation starter it wouldn’t be going on. I am becoming more and more amazed at how open and transparent the community I live in is becoming — blogging, sharing photos on Flickr, sharing tags on del.icio.us, and Twittering — all of it is changing the way we interact.”
This engagement, this interaction, is creating and changing the way we do things. But will we take the next step? Will we risk changing some core pillars in our institutions? Those that don’t will be left behind.
There are so many times you expect people to be one way and they are the other. Generosity is always a surprise. And because one is generous one day does that mean you’ll continue in that domain? It seems a lot depends on how you feel. Sure you can quickly weigh the obvious, that you can afford to be generous with your time, donation, or effort. But just because you can do something does that mean you will do something? There has to be more to it than just that. Maybe one is generous because it is a pretty big thing to help people. Maybe it is that sentiment, without guilt, that you are going to make a difference, no matter how small. There is no ideal for generosity. It comes from a purely human aspect of life. That is why I have difficulty when businesses or an entity other than human portrays themselves as caring or generous. An entity just doesn’t have those sentiments and in my wildest imagination never will. Next time you are generous think about it. It is something that only you can do at that moment.
I was at the library and even Luke the Librarian is reading my blog. Wow! He is the one that should be writing blogs. Three very interesting books were brought home.
- The Shia Revival by Vali Masr. How conflicts with Islam will shape the future.
- A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink. Why right-brainers will rule the world. Six essential aptitudes – Design, story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning.
- Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch. Understanding how to end your small business marketing struggle (or how not to listen to the marketing flavour of the week).
Last week the ‘renters’ moved out suddenly. They were there for such a short time we had only met them a few times and talked to them. The owner was over today. I sort of felt sorry for him as he said the place was a mess. Maybe that is why they left suddenly.
I have been listening to ‘Cranely’s Gonna Make It’ by Broken Social Science on their ‘Feel Good Lost’ CD. This is a very interesting sound. Though it doesn’t sound exactly like the Feelies you get the same ‘moving along’ feeling when you hear this melody. A trombone and banjo for some highlights which is different. Someone named them experimental indie pop. A genre near and dear to my heart.