Design Thinking has been gaining steam over the past few years. The popular visualisations of the framework seem obvious and intuitive – which begs the question, what is so different about it?
The answer to that lies in what’s different about in our world today. In the words of Eddie Obeng:
“The real 21st century around us isn’t so obvious to us, so instead we spend our time responding rationally to a world which we understand and recognize, but which no longer exists… Companies make their expensive executives spend ages carefully preparing forecasts and budgets which are obsolete or need changing before they can be published.”
We’ve all seen the three lenses of Design Thinking, you know the one I’m talking about. The Venn diagram of Desirability, Feasibility and Viability, and at the intersection, the holy grail of Innovation/User Experience/Design Thinking/(insert own phrase here).
When I first looked at this, I had two questions:
How is this so different from the way businesses have been functioning thus far?
How have they survived these past several years, if they haven’t been taking into consideration all these factors?
This week’s post for the Ideas of the week featuring ideas that might change our world.
1. You can now have green feet, or shoes rather. Biodegradable
Oat Shoes, a brand new Amsterdam-based initiative that’s combining shoe design and biodegradable materials. Once you’re done wearing the shoes (after a very long time, of course) you can bury them in the garden, in the compost heap or even plant something in them. More
2. Videoinfographic: The world of social media Social Media
This video info-graphic shows all the latest facts & figures about various social media sites. More
3. Let this website pick your poison Design + Web
Drinkify is a web app that purports to find the best drink to go along with the band or musician you’re listening to. Just enter the band name and let the app do the work; some names will yield strange ‘drinks’. More
4. For beer brand, A website made up of chocolate Design + Web
For the launch of Sagres Preta Chocolate –a stout beer with a chocolate flavor by Portugal’s number one beer brand Sagres-digital agency Grand Union created the first website made of chocolate. More
5. Philographics: Explaining philosophy through basic shapes. Philosophy + Design
Designer Genis Carreras explores with remarkable visual eloquence in his Philographics project – a series of posters each capturing a single philosophical ideology through simple geometric shapes.More
6. Recycling a bottle, flashmob style Recycle
This interesting flash mob takes place in a food court emphasizing on recycling waste. More
This week’s post for the Ideas of the week featuring ideas that might change our world.
1. Recycling plastic is now possible Recycle+ Environment+Mike Biddle
Mike Biddle has broken the loop and found a solution to recycle 80-90 % of plastic waste that is lying around and damaging the environment. More
2. Tiles that harvest energy from footsteps Kinetic energy
Laurence Kembell-Cook, the director of Pavegen Systems has created Pavegen tiles – a low carbon solution that aims to bring kinetic energy from footsteps of pedestrians. More
3. Smartmirror using AR to display much more than just reflection AR + Innovation+ Smartmirror
This Smart-Mirror uses Augmented Reality to present users with a wealth of information such as weather and news, social network feeds, streamed internet TV, personal health information and can even act as a personal coach.More
4. Self-steering tractor to make farmers lives a lot easier Tractor+ Farmers+Technology
A team of researchers in Belgium have developed a robotic self-steering tractor that has a steering system which analyzes the terrain conditions and calculates the optimal speed and turning radius in real-time. More
5. How Social Digital your company is? Social Business Index+ SocialDigital
A site called the Social Business Index uses an undisclosed algorithm to provide a real-time assessment and ranking of how social (or connected) a company is. More
6. California’s Government gears up for 21st century Technology+iphone app+Government
San Francisco’s government is using technology to get more accessible to its people. They are saving lives with an iPhone app that gives anyone with CPR certification the option to be notified if someone nearby is having a cardiac issue and need immediate help. More
7. Take This Lollipop… If You Dare Facebook+Dare+Takethislollipop
It’s a site called Take This Lollipop, and in order to best experience it, I can’t tell you what it is. Just that it’s quite exclusive, and you’ll need a Facebook account to use it.
This is the final segment of a 3-post series on Online Reputation Management (ORM). Part 1talked about what reputation is, and more importantly, what it isn’t. Part 2 shows how ORM is more than just damage control. This segment is about involving people to take ORM beyond the traditional custodians of public ignorance (euphemistically called information asymmetry).
“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford
But you CAN do something to build a reputation. And you ought to do a LOT to safeguard the reputation you’ve already built. So let’s play this little game I just made up. Make a list of words that strike you as being synonymous to your reputation. Chances are you’ll end up with something that looks like the bio of St. Peter. (Hint: Character is who you are when nobody’s looking.)
Alan Kelly has this incisive and direct view on the role of PR in reputation management. [Read Ego goes Solo – What Matthew Freud’s manoeuvres say about the future of PR – on The Economist]
Mr. Freud’s not-so-novel insight that the future of PR lies in reputation management is evidence of his grounding in selling but not in science. Reputation cannot be managed much less measured, not credibly. It is a proxy of the PR industry’s constant search for euphemisms of a publicly less palatable purpose – influence for competitive advantage.
Let’s be honest and fully transparent on this: To manage a client’s reputation is like me and my wife managing the love of our marriage – or hiring a consultant to do it for us. Both are abstract. Both mean different things to the involved parties. Both are a shared responsibility, not a problem to out-source. And both are derivative of other good works. That this escapes the attention of PR industry fathers is testimony to our mastery of hyperbole and malpractice of craft.
The custodians of public ignorance viz. erstwhile Media, PR, Politicians and, believe it or not, our hallowed Educational Institutions are becoming redundant. Internet enabled information percolates through the weave of the social fabric empowering all in its wake. Going forward, the value of past ‘information hoarders’ is diminished; information will extend its reach through the simultaneity of devices, platforms and content. Context will rule supreme and will become a currency that the ‘ruling classes’ will find difficult to control.
And the current Social Media revolution is all about context. It is about communities of interest, purpose and practice. These communities combine nicely with with the viral effect of the Internet to propagate information that others can easily build upon. Crowdsourcing is a great example of how we use technology today to collaboratively create and manage information. No command and control here.
Therefore if company ‘A’ is looking to manage its online reputation, it must understand how people think and not just what they can be made to think. This is a big shift from the ‘push’ marketing mindset that has created several brands. It doesn’t matter what company ‘A’ tries to tell the world, what really matters is how the world receives the information. Everybody looks at why you are trying to say something. If you try to defend yourself, people wonder what you are trying to hide. If you don’t, YOU have to keep wondering about what they are thinking.
Consumers want to be heard. Social media will have to break free form the grips of marketing in order to truly socialize the enterprise to listen, engage, learn, and adapt. You can’t create a social business if the business is not designed to be customer-centric from the outside-in and the inside-out.
The end of Social Media 1.0 is the beginning of a new era of business, consumer engagement, and relevance.
ORM is less about tools, techniques and SEO. Welcome to the brave new world of ‘value, engagement and relevance’. And of course reputation. Credible and honest.
Welcome to Part 2 of a 3-post series – Online Reputation Management (ORM) is more than just damage control. Simply entrusting the job to PR professionals especially in the Social Media world is a sure recipe for disaster. (Read on or go toPart 1)
ORM – Think about it. Does ORM mean managing the reputation of your ‘online’ business OR does it mean using online platforms and tools to manage your ‘offline’ reputation OR is it a bit of both … OR is it something else altogether?
Let’s look at recent examples of reputation toll that money couldn’t buy (in no particular order).
2. The 2G spectrum allocation scam: All stripped and nowhere to hide
India’s political invincibles are cooling their heels in Tihar. Corporate fortresses have not been spared either. The much revered Tata brand is a surprise casualty, least for the way Ratan Tata literally ‘asked for it’.
I’m not sure if PR could’ve saved the day for them and others who haven’t yet realised that their currency of ‘information asymmetry’ has been hopelessly devalued.
Remember the story – the one-horse town that had 2 barbers; — one dishevelled and the other not a hair out of place — the dishevelled guy was the better barber. I’m not saying that PR, Advertising, MarComm or other communication professionals don’t know communication. The scary part is that while they seem to know the HOW of communication; they do not want to even acknowledge or take responsibility for the more critical WHAT. I’m worried about their understanding (and acceptance) of the realities of today; it simply isn’t yesterday once more guys!
Online spares none!!
And the speed of technology evolution isn’t helping either. By the time you get to figuring out how to exploit one wave, another surges from right behind it. Conversations are the new content; structuring them into content bins (databases) is a sure way to diminish value. We know that reputation is
“the way others see you and what they think of you“.
Your reputation is about your WHOLE personality, the good with the bad (and the indifferent), not just the good parts. So there’s a chance that if you say what you mean and do what you say, they’ll trust you a whole lot and more.
Now, there’s a bunch of reputation management companies offering services ostensibly using tools that can look for all instances of mentions of you or your company across the Web and strip the negative comments/mentions and whathaveyou. Automated scavenging … hmmm. Funny they have a hard time managing their own reputation though. ;-). See this post about Reputation.com (formerly ReputationDefender). And not far behind is a creed of ‘experts’ hustling you into trying some form of automated social media or other. Automated Social Media?? Gimme a break!
Be careful of all the jargon out there. Take responsibility for your end of the deal. Too many clients “outsource” their own responsibility of defining what they need to the agency. It is key to determine what you or your company stands for, not just what the doctor ordered. Pardon my use of the cliche but don’t, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
Consistency will always get you better “rankings” online and offline:
While the Internet has become the choice for many to evaluate a product or service, getting positive reviews with traditional word of mouth trumps all else. When you’re at a restaurant checking email on your Blackberry and someone is doing the same on their Droid, any comparison with intuitive features shared in-person and then verified online will be a powerful brand and reputation builder.
By the way, the barber analogy fits nicely with the way today’s content ‘virals’ itself through communities. Word of mouth is a great viral that’s unflatteringly labelled gossip by some. Your reputation does not lend itself to virality (if such a word exists) despite what the new media department of your advertising agency tells you. And Word of Mouth (WoM) is replacing the credibility (read reputation) of the very folks who claim they can manage yours!
Either I have a reputation or I don’t. And reputation is not something I can buy off the supermarket. It’s not just my brand, personality or product; my reputation is my identity. It’s really all I have and it took years of sweat to build it.
Reputation has a huge problem. It is invisible; however hard I try looking even in the mirror I just can’t see it. The only way to know it even exists is listening to who’s saying what. Yeah, you experts will give me reasons why my reputation isn’t okay or how some rumour eroded it or how, for a “small” fee you can give me good advice. Dammit, I already told you it’s all I have and I’m not letting someone else use it to experiment with their theories.
We accept as a verity* of capitalism that someone (usually an expert) knows more than someone else (usually a consumer). But information asymmetries everywhere have in fact been gravely wounded by the Internet.
Information is the currency of the Internet. … The Internet has accomplished what even the most fervent consumer advocates usually cannot: it has vastly shrunk the gap between the experts and the public.
The above excerpt from Freakonomics says it all: the message is loud and clear that the experts – PR agencies, Advertising folks, Media Publications, the new breed of Social Media ‘experts’ – and all the erstwhile keepers of information asymmetry have to learn to play the game by the rules of our times. The rules do not allow for you to build your business by taking advantage of my ignorance or by hiding the source of your information. Are you game? No? I thought as much.
Which is why I had a huge problem with this Economic Times story: Social Media Entrepreneurs are transforming companies virtually. Read my lips – “by simply affixing the label ‘online reputation management’ on CRM techniques and tools, you just fell back to your old ways of creating information asymmetry.” Fortunately, this time around your white-labeling tricks couldn’t fool too many.
So here’s the thing. Reputation management is not like any other technique or methodology that you can learn in a B-School. Reputation is the ‘perception’ of a person, company, institution, nation whatever.
Reputation is about the personality of the entity as seen and felt by all those who come in contact with it directly or indirectly. And personality is not only about how you look in the photoshopped version of your picture on the cover of Vogue.
Personality is who you are and nobody but nobody can present you to the world without knowing the real you. Not even the experts.
Question I’m leaving on the table:
1. Who do you think is managing Airtel’s online reputation? They are doing a great job, don’t you think.
a) PR agency
b) Internal MarComm guys
c) Advertising folk
d) All of the above (Social Media ‘Expert’) 😛
*Something, such as a statement, principle, or belief, that is true
Note: This is the first part of a series of 3 – hopefully I have been able to give the reader some sense what reputation is. More importantly, I hope you have your own understanding of what it isn’t. Feedback welcome.