Sep 24, 201301:37 PMPoint of View

An Era of Choice

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Once a new system is established, consider how to express your value through a customer experience. What will your new or evolved offer be like? What needs to be done? When?

A human factors lens is useful for considering what a new experience 
will be like. Considering 5 key human factors – physical, cognitive, social, cultural, and emotional – is helpful for greater coverage.

Mapping a customer life cycle or journey is a way to consider time in your offer. Touch points can be mapped as a linear customer experience by business objectives (i.e., awareness, convince, buy, support) or user objectives (consider the “5E’s” – entice, engage, enter, experience, extend).

Activity systems map activities and dependencies to help plan how it is 
going to happen, and who is going to do it. In a networked knowledge economy, only some of these systems are in the company.

Finally, road maps, starting with envisioning and back casting to the 
present, can help describe when you expect things to occur.

New lenses for an era of choice 

Courtesy Kevin Budelmann


People are the real drivers of change, though company culture is too often overlooked. Cultural orthodoxies (unwritten rules everyone follows) can extinguish even the best strategy. People will support what they help build. Collaboration is critical in an era that’s redefining boundaries, but true collaboration is hard. Collaboration – as opposed to merely cooperation – requires that team members admit shortcomings in order to dovetail with others’ strengths. Often teams can get along, but don’t always work toward a common goal.

Innovating in an era of choice often requires a willingness to be lost in the problem – a solution that has no clear path to success. Team members with different backgrounds need collaboration and communication skills in order to effectively solve new kinds of problems.

Organizations with an eye toward the future will create people systems designed with change, motivation, collaboration, and communication 
in mind.


Recognizing change, seeking new paradigms, and using new lenses require new skills. The emergence of "design thinking" is one of the innovation discipline trajectories in the new era of choice. Design thinking 
is dissecting and describing an ideal design process for the purpose 
of increasing engagement (teams) and making it repeatable (a process). Great designers exhibit these skills intuitively, but that may not be enough. The need now is to innovate reliably and often. As we seek to understand how Google and Disney innovate in the face of change, we build a vocabulary for the nature of innovation.

Solve the right problem

People often see themselves as problem solvers, but consider: What is problem solving? Problem solving is an emerging discipline. Start by thinking about problems as inputs and outputs. What is going in, what is coming out? Creating something new often involves unbundling and recombining.

Problem framing and reframing (defining the problem differently) is a powerful tool for making progress. Consider how abstractly or concretely the problem is defined, causes and effects. You may be a "big idea" person, but try to avoid being an ADD re-framer. Reframing too late can derail the best project.

Think in systems

Look for, find, create, and leverage patterns. Simple systems are better. The right constraints are productive. Have empathy for project sponsors, understand business goals and historical strategy models, and look for parameters.

Making is thinking

Language is abstract, but physical prototypes encourage decision-making. Meaning is co- created. Use prototypes as communication-boundary objects – tools for collaboration and failing fast. Language itself is tricky; words and measurement create orthodoxies of thought. After all, communication is not one way; it is shared. Broadcasting is not communicating. 

Understand people

People are complicated. They ask for something new but often reject it when they see it. What do you take as a given? What is your bias? Then consider what is genuinely different, and models for generating and communicating the something genuinely new.

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