Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Service for elderly people

Last week I did help my mother to buy a new car. In a few months she will become 80 years old, so the roles are reversing. I.e. I am helping my mother as she did help me when I was a young boy.
She really needs that car as she is still doing quite a lot of volunteering work.

She did go by herself to the dealer of her current car (Toyota). Apparently the salesperson had one car, which he wanted to sell to her, and immediately gave her a quote. He totally didn’t ask her what she wanted and –more important- why she wants a new car. So, she came to me with the quote. And I asked her the questions, which a ‘normal’ salesperson was supposed to do. Then I did show her some other brands on the computer and we went off to some dealers.

At the Renault dealer the salesperson was very polite and especially very patient. He took a lot of time to explain to my mother and was totally not pushy. So, we planned to have a test-drive the next morning. On our way out, there was a car which caught my mothers’ eye and she immediately ‘fell in love with that car’ as my mother said. This was an occasion and not a new car. The salesperson was very flexible and planned a test-drive in this car (instead of in the new car) the next morning.

Then we did go to the Peugeot dealer to see another car. In the showroom there was nobody who greeted us although there were plenty of people. I even saw a salesperson sitting behind his desk, but took no action at all. So, we quickly had a look at anew car and left. My mother didn’t like it all as she said that those people were totally not interested in her.

The next day, we had the test-drive and again the salesperson was very patient and made my mother feel very comfortable and not nervous. You would say t’ big deal’, but imagine that you are 80 years old and test-driving a ‘strange’ new car. That did even make me nervous, as I was sitting in the backseat. My mother liked the car very much and she was very excited, so she did buy the car!

These are three examples of salespeople dealing with elderly people. If you are aware of this very large (and growing) target group then you will have to make sure that you can relate to the needs of these elderly people. Otherwise you will miss a large opportunity, as many of these people have enough funds to buy new cars.

Is your service tailored to elderly people?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Multidisciplinary collaboration is crucial

Yesterday I did watch a documentary about urbanization. Besides the fact that by 2050 more than 50% of the world's population will live in cities, the most interesting part was that urbanization was considered from different perspectives.
Technology (Siemens) provided a very interesting view on the infrastructure and control systems, parts of which are currently piloted in Masdar City. Ikea is also very innovative in the sense that they are building houses in Sweden and are setting up complete blocks of houses in London (LandProp).
The mosts interesting perspective was form a physician (Geoffrey West) who looked at cities 'with biology glasses on'. His main finding is:

We all know that we can't predict the future with 100% certainty, however we can be quite accurate if we innovate with a multidisciplinary team. And I mean really multidisciplinary, so not a team consisting of different departments from just one company. What is tremendously beneficial is to have e.g. a historian, a biologist, a painter, and a nurse in your team.

The world is so complex that you really need all these different perspectives to reach a workable solution for all stakeholders.

Are you building multidisciplinary teams?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Research is an integral part of innovation

Although we mostly focus on generating ideas and executing the best ideas, we tend to forget research. We forget it because we are too busy, have no time and/or resources or are too focused on internal processes. We are already pretty satisfied if we manage to have discussions with (potential) customers.

However, there is huge benefit in exploring available data on the internet for your specific area of innovation. It is quite simple to find relevant research from universities, writers, NGO's, Think-Tanks and other institutions. Just use Google search and also use the search function of social media (usually that social media info is realtime available).

As I am reading the book “Poor Economics” by Banerjee and Duflo, I noticed a chapter about entrepreneurship. In there it is clearly stated and researched that “microcredit does not seem to lead to a radical transformation in the clients' lives”. Also they highlight “the disappointing effects of the business training programs that many MFI's (Microfinance institutions) have now started....”.

Without this research you might be thinking that microfinance is a good tool to use in developing countries. Research indicated that you have to be careful about the right use and benefit of this tool. This doesn't mean that you should not use it, but that you can know -upfront- what the impact is or can be.

Are you spending enough time on research?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Positive feedback increases innovation

The culture of an organization is maybe the most important factor for the level of innovation. A traditional, hierarchical culture clearly doesn't stimulate grassroots ideas and the focus is on maintaing the status quo. More open and team based cultures are much more aligned with disruption via new ideas.

It is crucial to continuously stimulate the employees (and customers) to come up with new ideas and suggestions. However, negative feedback will immediately results in less ideas which are being submitted. As a manager (and leader) you have to know the implications of the Losada Line.

Based on Losada's extensive mathematical modeling, 2.9013 is the ratio of positive to negative interactions necessary to make a corporate team successful. This means that it takes about three positive comments, experiences, or expressions to fend off the languishing effects of one negative. Dip below this tipping point, now known as the Losada Line, and the workplace performance quickly suffers. Rise above it – ideally, the research shows, to a ratio of 6 to 1 – and teams produce their very best work.

So, positive feedback is very important in creating and maintaing a culture of innovation.

Are you paying attention to the language of positivity?


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