Text 4 Oct 1 note More on extended memory — Forgetting

Last week, I gave another short talk on the implications of human cognition mechanisms and transactive memory in digital Interaction and User Experience design at The Web and Beyond in Amsterdam.  The talk was focused on how technology and platform convergence actually promote “forgetting,” rather than “remembering.”  This is clearly a wholly unforeseen consequence of the present race to put digital connections into every person’s hands, since the revenue models for almost everything on the internet now are marketing-, and advertising driven.

I won’t go into the details of the human cognitive mechanisms behind this, in this blog post.  However, I will conclude that I think that technological development has overly focused on visual information and neglected all of the other senses (now haptics are finally starting to be engaged in a really rudimentary way). 

If the goal of every brand strategist and marketeer is to create differentiation and memorable user interactions, they are going to have to think much-harder about how to engage all of the other powerful contextual- and sensorial cues available at the moment that a person experiences their content.  These are crucial, in order that a person actually encodes a more-memorable memory of the experience. 

Otherwise, people will, at best, maybe remember that they’d bookmarked your video or site, but probably won’t remember where that bookmark is located, in all of their other bookmarks and folders.

More on this topic later. 

Here’s a really good extended memory system, which I read about in the New Yorker today.

-Mark

Text 12 Mar IxDA Munich Presentation on 23 April

On 23 April, I’ll be presenting at IxDA Munich, on the topic “Transactive Memory and Distributed Knowledge— Can Human Memory and Knowledge Become Better-Connected?”

The Presentation will begin at 1900.  IxDA Munich’s host for the evening will be:

Sapient GmbH, Arnulfstraße 60, 80335 München (Please note that Google sometimes still lists their old address in the Kellerstraße)

It would be great to see you there!

Text 2 Feb 2 notes (German-Language Post) Design als zentraler Kern von Luxusbrands

Laut Management Guru, Peter Drucker, sind Innovation und Marketing die zentralen Aufgaben der Unternehmen*.  Ich dagegen behaupte, dass auch Design ein zentrales Element - insbesondere für Luxusfirmen - ist.

Als Grundlagen meiner Argumentation, versuche ich zunächst die Wörter „Luxus“, „Innovation“ und „Design“ in einen Zusammenhang  zu bringen.
„Luxus“  spricht die emotionalen Bedürfnisse an, nicht die praktischen.   Ein Beispiel: Als ich die „lift 2011“ Konferenz in Genf besuchte, hörte ich einen Vortrag von Jean-Claude Bevier, CEO von Hublot. Diesen begann er sinngemäß mit den erstaunlichen Worten:  „…Jeder, der mehr als 50 Euro für eine Armbanduhr ausgibt, ist ein Narr. Auch eine „Swatch“ bietet alles, was eine Uhr können muss, inklusive gutem Styling…“  Dies war natürlich reine Provokation – das günstigste Model von Hublot kostet 100 Mal mehr.  Er wollte damit sagen, dass „seine“ Armbanduhren für ihre Träger weit mehr bedeuten, als stets die exakte Uhrzeit zu kennen.


Genau das gleiche ist es mit Autos, Kleidung, usw.  Niemand braucht einen BMW 7er, Audi A8 oder Mercedes S-Klasse, um ins Büro zu fahren.  Ein Smart wäre sicher praktischer für den Weg durch die Stadt, er flitzt durch den Verkehr, braucht weniger Sprit und man findet viel leichter einen Parkplatz.  Der öffentliche Nahverkehr funktioniert vielleicht noch besser.  Dennoch sind Größe, Kosten und  die „sophisticatet“ Technologie eines Autos für die meisten Menschen noch immer ein wichtiges Statussymbol.  Unlogisch, unpraktisch, aber äußerst emotional.  Das macht Luxus aus.

Wie möchte man nach außen wirken? Wie möchte man sich selbst durch einen bestimmten Gegenstand fühlen? Welche Emotionen stecken dahinter? Es sind Dinge wie Macht, Begehren, der Wunsch nach Qualität in allen Dimensionen, Liebe, Exklusivität, Sicherheit, Komfort, „dazu gehören wollen“, auffallen wollen, usw., die eine Rolle dabei spielen. Es klingt relativ einfach diese Gefühle aufzulisten, aber unterschiedliche Kundengruppen setzen unterschiedliche Prioritäten und haben andersartige Bedürfnisse.  Wie verkörpert ein erfolgreiches Brand Emotionen, die für eine bestimmte Kundengruppe wichtig sind, gezielt in Produkten und Services?

Um diese Rätsel zu lösen, genau dafür braucht man Design.

Wenn ich „Design“ schreibe, meine ich das nicht im Sinn der traditionellen deutschen Sprache.  Das deutsche Wort „Design“ kommt aus der Welt der Kunst und Gestaltung.  Mittlerweile jedoch ist dieser Begriff weiter gefächert. Es gibt beispielsweise: User Interface Designern, Finanzprodukt Design, Design Thinking und eben Business Design. Im internationalen Sinn bedeutet Design „…die Schöpfung von Ideen, Sachen und Prozessen, um definierte Ziele durchzusetzen.“**  

Form, Farbe, Oberflächenstruktur, usw. sind noch immer ein Bestandteil von Design, aber darauf liegt nicht mehr der alleinige Fokus.  Es geht bei Design nicht mehr nur um die Gestaltung von Eigenschaften, es geht immer stärker um die Entwicklung von Strategien. Design stellt mittlerweile Fragen wie:  „Wer sind die Kunden des Unternehmens?“ „Was sind die Bedürfnisse der Kunden und wie können wir Produkt- und Service-Plattformen aufbauen, um die Kunden zu begeistern?“ „Wie sieht eine Plattform für das komplette Angebot aus, die Kommunikation, Produkte und sämtliche Dienstleistungen (z.B. Lieferung oder Kunden-Hotline)  einbindet?“  Designer arbeiten in Teamwork mit Marketing, Finanz, Ingenieuren, usw., um diese Fragen zu verstehen und zu beantworten.  Design ist nicht mehr nur „Dekoration“ für fertig entwickelte Produkte.

Um gute Produkte und Services zu konzipieren und gestalten, muss  man zunächst die Kunden und den Kontext verstehen.  Was eine Kundengruppe als besonders wahrnimmt, kann von einer anderen als geschmacklos oder uninteressant wahrgenommen werden.  Kunden im Luxus-Segment können (grob) in vier Segmente*** unterteilt werden:  „Acquisitive“, „Inquisitive“, „Authoritative“ und „Meditative“.  Das Design für diese unterschiedlichen Segmente muss mit den Umgang der entsprechenden Kunden mit dem Thema Luxus anpaßt werden.

„Acquisitive“ Kunden sind jung, „neureich“ geworden oder/und standesbewußt.  Diese Gruppe möchte zeigen, „I’ve made it.“ Preis, Größe und auffälliges Branding sind Kernattributen für Produkte und Services für diese Gruppe. 

Im Gegensatz dazu sind „Inquisitive“ Kunden auch „neureich“, haben aber die Werte der klassischen Mittelschicht.  Sie fürchten einen geschmackslosen Auftritt, haben aber noch keinen persönlichen Stil aufgebaut.  Diese Gruppe möchte auch beim Thema Luxus geführt werden – sie suchen zum Beispiel Anregungen in hochwertigen Magazinen.  Sie machen mit ihren Käufen keine Experimente, sondern kaufen Dinge, die authentisch, unauffällig und qualitativ hochwertig sind. 

Die „Authoritative“ Gruppe ist im Umgang mit Luxus sehr selbstbewußt.  Was ihr wichtig ist, sind Qualität und eine emotionale Bindung zu dem Produkt.  Die Geschichte, die hinter dem Produkt steht, ist extrem wichtig. Das Produkt oder die Dienstleistung muss authentisch sein, „Labels“ spielen für diese Gruppe keine Rolle, wenn dabei Handarbeit und Qualität fehlen.

Die letze Gruppe ist kompliziert zu beschreiben—für Leute, die in die „Meditative“ Gruppe passen, zählt nur die emotionale Bindung. Labels, Preis, Status Symbole spielen dabei keine Rolle. Was zählt sind das persönliche Empfinden, Qualität und Authentizität. Was andere Leute davon halten, spielt keine Rolle.

Um erfolgreich zu sein, müssen Unternehmen sich entscheiden welches Kundensegment sie erreichen möchten, denn die Anforderungen an das Design sind sehr unterschiedlich.  Nachfolgend ein Beispiel, wie das perfekte Fortbewegungsmittel für das jeweilige Segment aussehen könnte:

Ein gute Lösung für die „Acquisitive“ Gruppe wäre ein Hummer, so gross wie möglich, bestens ausgestattet, während eine Mercedes S-Klasse, ein Audi A8 oder BMW 7er gut zur „Inquisitive“ Gruppe passen würde.  Die „Authorative“ Gruppe würde sich für einen chauffeurten Lancia Thesis oder alten Aston Martin Lagonda entscheiden, die eine emotionale Bindung schaffen und einen besonderen Lebensstil ausdrücken.  Ein komplett anderes Fortbewegungsmittel würde die „Meditative“ Gruppe wählen—ein Biomega Fahrrad von Marc Newson!

Design ist für erfolgreiche Luxusunternehmen eine zentrale Aufgabe. Emotionen und Bedürfnisse der Zielgruppen müssen in passende Produkte und Services „übersetzt“ werden.  Designer schaffen die Verbindung zwischen den Emotionen und Wünschen der Kunden und dem Brand.






* “Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices,“ Peter F. Drucker, 1973, Harper & Row, ch.6

** “Vortrag ‘Understanding Design’,“ Mark Zeh, 2011, The Munich Business School
 
*** Adaptiert von “CEO Talk | Greg Furman, Founder and Chairman, Luxury Marketing Council,” Imran Ahmed, 10 June, 2009, Business of Fashion website, [http://www.businessoffashion.com/2009/06/ceo-talk-greg-furman-founder-and-chairman-luxury-marketing-council.html]

Text 2 Sep The Business side of the Health Business

I’ve been following the travails of Genzyme for quite a while now. This has not just been because of the various ups and downs the company has recently experienced, it is because the quality of life someone very close to me depends on one of their products.

Last year, Genzyme had contamination in the reactors that are used to produce their wonder-drugs, Cerezyme and Fabrazyme, used to treat some delibitating genetic diseases.  These drugs are enzyme replacement therapies and are a great example of how the science of gene manipulation has helped increase people’s quality of life. Genzyme has had quite a few challenges getting that production back online, and still are not near meeting demand for the drugs.  It’s also not clear if, or when, they will return to full production levels

This has meant that patients have been on “allocation,” resulting in sub-optimal dosages, or denial of treatment.  In the meantime, Genzyme’s stock price has plummeted and they are on the verge of being purchased.

The purchase of Genzyme by another party would likely be a blessing for all of the people who need the miracle drugs they produce. Under its present management, Genzyme’s cost of getting the necessary capital to improve their production continues to rise. If Sanofi were to purchase Genzyme, they would likely have better terms for this investment.

In the press, the story is reported like any other business story, but the debilitating effects of this on the patients remain largely unreported.

Up until February of this year, Genzyme’s Cerezyme infusion was the only FDA approved treatment for Gaucher’s disease in the US. In February, 2010, this finally changed, when Shire's VPRIV treatment was approved for sale in the US.

It’s not yet clear, how quickly this new treatment is being adopted, or whether Shire has managed to ramp-up their production and distribution. Recent approval of the treatment in Europe should help them justify investment in robust production.

I find it tragic, when profit motives come ahead of interest in promoting people’s quality of life, particularly in the health branch. The issues with Genzyme’s production should have been resolved quite quickly, since, up until February, they have been the only source of treatment available for many diseases.

I do believe that people must be rewarded for their inventions, R&D work and investment in creating miracle drugs, but it’s disappointing how the business interests of Genzyme’s board and investors seem to have taken priority over the purpose of manufacturing and delivering miracle drugs that positively-benefit people’s lives.

More later, Mark

Link 1 Sep Allianz Arena Post-Occupancy Review»
Photo 26 Aug Strange structure in Munich: I was walking into the Munich City Center the other day, coming from the  Hofgarten, when I came upon this rather-startling structure in the  Marstallplatz.
This is apparently a mini-Pavilion, for some of the more-intimate productions of the Munich Operfestspiele.
The structure is mostly-clad in perf-metal and is “pointedly” at odds with everything around it— it reminds me quite a lot of some of the design in retro sci-fi.
The structure was created by Coop-Himmelb(l)au, the Austrian Architectural firm that also designed the BMW Welt and the Addition to the Kunstakademie, both in Munich.
More Later,
Mark

Strange structure in Munich: I was walking into the Munich City Center the other day, coming from the Hofgarten, when I came upon this rather-startling structure in the Marstallplatz.

This is apparently a mini-Pavilion, for some of the more-intimate productions of the Munich Operfestspiele.

The structure is mostly-clad in perf-metal and is “pointedly” at odds with everything around it— it reminds me quite a lot of some of the design in retro sci-fi.

The structure was created by Coop-Himmelb(l)au, the Austrian Architectural firm that also designed the BMW Welt and the Addition to the Kunstakademie, both in Munich.

More Later,

Mark

Text 13 Aug Alternative Approach to Energy Problem

A new program in New York is a breath of fresh air, in the debate about whether to build more power plants.

According to this article in the New York Times, many users of electricity have entered into contracts allowing power to non-essential things to be cut off by New York’s Independent Power System Operator during peak load hours. This is also nicely handled- customers are notified of this and are paid for their reduced use.

Non-essential services include things like lighting in lobbies, during daylight hours, power for laundry and swimming pools, etc.

I believe that if this approach was more-widely leveraged, with a more-local, or even individual, emphasis, we would quickly find that we don’t really need more power plants.  We just need to be more-efficient in using the power they produce.

As a quick example— While I was turning my computer on this morning, I was presented with a menu of available wireless networks in my building. Unsurprisingly, my neighbor’s came up, even though they aren’t home now— their wireless network is on 24/7, even though they’re rarely home. (Unfortunately, they have a secure network, so others can’t take advantage of their energy expenditure!)

Since I’ve been in their apartment a  few times, I’m pretty sure that their printers, television, stereo, power bricks for their iPhones and so on, are also plugged-in and consuming power.

On the individual level, a wireless modem doesn’t seem very significant— my wireless modem uses something like 6 Watts of power, instantaneously—  but if only 10% of the population of Germany leaves their 6 watt modem plugged in all the time, that’s 49,5 Megawatts of power, which is about 6.2% of the output of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant.

For now, I won’t go into the environmental costs and long-term risks involved in various types of power generation, but this is a really quite a large price to pay for the convenience of having your wireless network ready, whenever you want to use it. This seems like another area where product design has taken the easiest route to solving user needs— people don’t want the hassle of having to go figure out how to turn stuff on, when they want to use it— they just want it to be working. The easiest answer to that design problem has been to just leave the device running all the time.

This is a really big opportunity for socially-and environmentally-conscious product design. Now it’s just a question of consciousness-raising for the social and environmental benefits of addressing this.

More later,

Mark

Text 11 Aug Raising US Taxes?

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the argument in the US, whether or not to retire the Bush Era Tax cuts for the wealthy. I’ve read passionate opinion on both sides of the issue and ended up left with the impression that people are making emotional, or self-serving arguments and that the solution to the US government funding problems is probably more fundamental than people may wish.

Particularly alarming to me, is the fact that I’m reading that the State of Illinois is in a financial situation that makes the crisis in Greece look like a minor management error— and that there are no plans or ideas how to get Illinois out of this mess.  Illinois is not alone in this, either. It seems that it just isn’t going to be possible for the US to cost-cut its way out of this, either, without turning into a second-world country.

So the States made some really poorly-advised and optimistic decisions with their finances, just like a lot of businesses and individuals in the US also did, over the last decades.  One solution might be that they would be bailed out by the US government, which would assume responsibility for their debts.  This would have the function that States could again begin devoting taxpayer payments to the infrastructure and public services which people expect (roads, schools, public sanitation and the myriad other infrastructure things that underpin modern states), rather than going to pay debts.

That would only be a reasonable solution, if the finances of the US Government were sound.  Let’s take a quick look at the US Budget for 2011, to see where the resources for this bailout could come from. 

This is page 153 from the Summary Tables portion of the White House’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2011.  This table also includes 2015. 

Let’s forget for a minute that this is a revenue-flow sheet for the US government and let’s imagine that this is the revenue flow sheet for your business and that you’re trying to figure out how to, at least, get to break-even.

I like charts like this, since it’s usually really easy to see what’s going on, with good graphic representation of information.  Let’s just focus on the  2011 charts.  The left-side chart is what is being spent, the right-side chart represents income. Both pies represent the same amount of money. 

The first thing we can see is that the largest source of income is “Borrowing and Other Net Financing.”  In other words, this is money that will need to be paid back, at some time, somehow.

As your finance guy, my first questions about the income side would be:

- What sources of income growth have you invested the borrowed money in?

- How are those investments performing, versus the interest rate you’re paying?

- What are the large sources of revenue growth that will replace borrowing in the future? (we see that they need to be large, since the borrowing looks to be about the same size as our largest source of income, which is Personal Income Taxes)

My next questions/statements about the outlay side of the chart would be:

- May I see a hierarchy of the Net Present Value of the projects and purchasing plans in all areas, so that we can decide which ones to cut? 

- Some of the expenditure areas are to support the health and welfare of poorer and older people (which is certainly part of the mission of a modern government). It will be difficult to generate an NPV for these programs.  In these cases, how will you modify processes to yield a lower delivered service cost?

- Interest Payments is quite a large expense.  This troubling, since you’re still borrowing large amounts of money. What is your plan to reduce borrowing to the level of cyclical cash flow, and add payments against principle to your outlays?

If this is your business, I (and most other consultants) would tell you that you’re in serious trouble— you need to generate higher inflows and sharply reduce your outflows. It’s likely that you’d be better off to enter bankruptcy protection, or sell of a bunch of assets to pay down your debt.

It’s also pretty easy to see that if you remove a piece from the “Spending” pie, that is the same size as the “Borrowing” slice of the “Income” pie, you’d have some incredibly sharp reductions everywhere, since there are parts of that “Spending” pie that can’t be cut (interest payments, Other Mandatory Programs and Disaster costs).

Since you’re not in a business where lowering prices will have the effect of lowering production costs and increasing revenues through increased sales, it’s pretty easy to conclude that it makes zero sense to lower prices (reduce taxes) for anyone— it makes the most-sense to increase prices (raise taxes). 

Also your business is unique and a monopoly, since there isn’t any legal competition for the set of services you offer— people literally don’t have a choice, whether to pay you, or not. With that in mind, I’d advise you to stop giving discounts on your products and services to the customers who have the greatest ability to pay (the wealthy).

In other words, it doesn’t make any sense to keep giving tax cuts to the people who represent your highest potential source of revenue, particularly since you’re in major financial trouble right now.

In conclusion, the US governments (national, state, local) are in major financial trouble, because they are trying to deliver things that they can’t afford. The US is in dire need of management that asks questions like: 

- “Is there a public policy stance that would allow us to direct more of the defense spending to spending on our own citizens and debt retirement?”

-“Is there another way to deliver benefits to retired people, other than through a funded pension scheme?”

-“Where can we invest, so that the income of our citizens raises (and hence our potential tax revenues)?”

More later,

Mark

Link 3 Aug Promoting Collaboration within Global Companies»

I’m quoted in the middle of this article about the use of the Intranet at Continuum, to promote communication and knowledge sharing.  Thoughtfarmer has created a fantastic intranet tool, that can be customized to fit the culture of your company, in order to promote collaboration and knowledge share.

Remote collaboration, coördination and management of globally-distributed teams is a major theme in my work.

More later,

Mark

Link 3 Aug Adopting Disruptive Innovation»

A short article for the Fraunhofer Institut’s F&E Management blog (F= Forschung = Reseach,  E = Entwicklung = Development), on the use of Backcasting to plan for a more-radical future state.

More later,

Mark

Link 3 Aug Günter Behnisch Remembered»

A short article in Fabric Architecture Magazine about Günter Behnisch, the Architect of Post-War Germany.  I conducted a short interview with Frei Otto for this— I just wish it had been under better circumstances… 

More later,

Mark


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