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All posts in the Systems category

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713: Are You the Content or the Commercial?

We get to choose.

Though, for most businesses, the choice wasn’t clear at the beginning:

“I want people to see me on Instagram, so I must run Instagram Ads.” This is a half-truth. It’s true that some people will see you on Instagram if you run Instagram Ads. But do they want to see you? Do you tune into your favorite TV shows for the commercials, or the content?

“I want to serve people where they are, for my audience that’s Instagram.” When you’re the content, not the commercial, something special happens. If most of your audience is on Instagram, if you’re genuinely being of service, even those who don’t normally use it will visit your profile, just for you.

We go to the content that serves us, whenever we can. We go away from commercials that distract us, whenever we can.

Commercials serve an important introductory role in many campaigns for many important bodies of work. But is the goal to be a perpetual distraction, or a place they go out of their way to visit, just to spend time with you?

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704: Are You Automating The Wrong Things?

Automation is great. Sometimes.

Others, you’ll try to automate something and the reaction will be painful:

  • “That wasn’t for me”: A great marketing message should never hear a response like this. If you run an ad and someone thinks this then your targeting was off, but if you email someone and they think this, then you messed up. Email is a personal space – “spam” can be quantified as “that wasn’t for me”.

  • “That wasn’t you”: There are some things that you bring to the table that people find really special. When you don’t do them, people will take notice. Virgin isn’t Virgin without Richard. What are you trying to let go of that you should instead be leaning more intimately into?

  • “That wasn’t worth it”: The ultimate punishment for the sins above is this statement. Automation should equate to an enhanced experience, not a diluted experience. If people thank you for your automation efforts, you succeeded. If they leave or feel disappointed in you, add back what was lost immediately, before you lose that which makes you, you.

Automation and delegation are important for meaningful work’s pursuit to touch more lives of those it can help transform. But only if it remains meaningful work, and the lives it touches are still experience just (if not more) transformation as a result.

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697: Doing Things My Way

Sometimes, “doing things my way” is a recipe for ignorance, arrogance, and marginalization.

Other times, it’s the best way available:

If you’re experienced in this area and a client wants to go another direction, you need to share your way. They get to choose whether or not to listen. You get to choose what you’ll do in response to that. But it’s your responsibility to share your way, if your way is effective and their idea will lead them astray, it’s your moral duty to share your way as articulately and clearly as you can.

If you’re not experienced in this area, things are different. Your way is not the best way and it’s your job to recognize that. It’s when you do things your way in this scenario that dilutes the permission you seek in the times you genuinely know the way. Doing things your way here makes you “the boy who cried wolf”. If you don’t know what success looks like in this scenario, it’s your moral duty to reveal this truth. Doing so paves the way for when we should do things your way.

We want to do things your way if it leads to success. Do you know when that is? Will you equip us with the ability to hear you when it counts?


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695: Creepy Technology And You

Facebook’s getting some pretty rough press at the moment.

It’s certainly earned it.

How should we respond?

We may not love the platforms, how they’re governed, what they do with peoples data, or the effects they’re having on our society. But we don’t have to love it. When it comes to the marketplace and our important work, our affections should remain with those in our care. If we love lavishing upon and serving our audience, we’ll be where they are to support them on their way, ethically.

That may mean not deleting your Facebook account, but modeling a better way to socialize online, while equipping your audience with everything they need to get their problems solved.

What about the creepy tracking stuff?

We may not love tracking technology’s reputation, how it’s widely used or how it’s even capable of controlling elections. But we don’t have to love it. If our affections remain with those in our care, if we love lavishing upon and serving them, we’ll be where they are to support them on their way, ethically.

That may mean leveraging those technologies yourself, but while modeling a better way to use them. Atom bombs don’t make nuclear power plants that power millions of homes with electricity and warmth a bad idea.

We’ve a responsibility to model how things would like to be. We can do so by taking a stance and moving away from those we wish to serve, or we can do so by “leading up” and showing a better way.

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694: 2,000 Ways To Make Your Product Better

What area of your important work needs to develop?

Speed? Reliability? Understanding? Let’s use understanding as an example in this post, since almost everyone’s product or service suffers here. Consider:

Every touch-point is an opportunity improve understanding. Every interaction and experience with you and your work, from the very first touch before an engagement ever begins, all the way through to how they give referrals as a happy client. What would you come up with were you to draw them all out in a long line and ask yourself, “What one thing can I do to this individual interaction with us that will improve their level of understanding?” If you have 100 touch-points, do you think you would come up with at least one simple ways to improve understanding each? I thought so, too. So far, we have 100 ways to make your product better.

The space between every touch-point is also an opportunity to improve understanding. Your client is engaged with you even while not interacting with you. Perhaps they’re wondering what happens next? Perhaps they’re struggling to complete a task with your product and need guidance or support? All the times you’re not interacting with them are opportunities to create increased understanding, too. For instance, if they could be wondering what you might be up to between interactions, would sending them a ready-made video informing them of what you’re up to help increase their understanding? If you have 100 touch-points, that’s 100 spaces between each touch-point. If you challenged yourself to come up with at least one simple thing to improve understanding for each space, could you? I thought so, too. That’s another 100 ways to make your product better.

Multiply by the number of areas you’d like to improve. So far we’ve only covered understanding. What about speed? Reliability? Price? Fun? There are so many variables to measure against in your value matrix of competitive advantage. If you decided upon 10 areas of importance and completed the above activities for each of them, that gives you 2,000 simple, individual, small improvements you can use to make your product better.

What are you waiting for?

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693: They Won’t Steal Your Secret Recipe

Do you have a secret recipe?

I have some, I’m sure you do too. Here’s the problem with secret recipes:

For as long as they’re a secret, they’re useless.

Want to know what I do with mine?

I put them in blog posts so they’re not secret anymore. So the world can see them. So I’m challenged to give those recipes form, flavor, nuance and hopefully, a modicum of elegance. The trappings of your innermost thoughts excuse flabby, unfinished ideas from working out and being their best. The requirement of pressing “Publish” on yours whips them into shape.

I put them in documentation so something can be done with them. A recipe that isn’t produced the same way every time isn’t a recipe, it’s a ‘happy accident’. It’s a recipe when it’s written down and repeatable with predictable results. The consequent benefit is the ability to then refine your recipes, making them ever more effective.

I put them in books as time allows, so others can build upon the recipes. We all know the person who learns most in a good classroom is the teacher, so the natural next step from documentation (an environment where others can repeat your steps without necessarily understanding them) is to equip them with a full understanding of every nuance of how that recipe came to be. Your recipe can thrive and develop, and those who read it will not forget its source.

So. Do you have a secret recipe? What will you do to stop it from being a secret?