The power of this moment

The power of this moment is that I am free completely from my past and future.

I am not bound up by my history or by my story. This moment is unique – it will never come again. It’s mine to do with as I please.

In this moment, I can choose to be up or to be down. Even in a moment filled with pain, I can choose not to suffer.

Cut the binds to the past and the fear of the future. Just for this moment. Just for this second.

It’s hard, but totally worthwhile.

Outline for the Using models as a tool in strategy development workshop

Last week, @interpretivst and I presented a draft workshop on using models to aid in strategy development. The impetus for this talk came from a couple of breakthroughs we’d recently experienced in our strategy development process.

This breakthrough fundamentally changed the way we’re collaborating and developing strategies @sequentia.

Our intention is to flush this outline into a full bore presentation/road show. We’ll see how that goes.

  • Why are we here?
    • Over the past few engagements, we’ve been experimenting with working with visual models, and have found them very effective
      • collaborating
      • explaining
      • informing strategy and tactics
    • We *think* this way of working is useful beyond strategy development. 
    • We DO NOT have all the info on this.
    • Purpose of this hour is to share our experiences, and see if there is any value in continuing to explore this as a group
  • What is a mental model?
    • visual or tactile representation of an idea
      • a map
      • a sculpture
      • a flowchart
      • a diagram
  • Why are models useful in strategy development
    • they are sources of both predictive and explanatory power
      • a well constructed model helps us explain and predict behaviours -> becomes the basis for strategy
    • framework for layering data and ideas
      • frees up your brain from having to hold stuff -> lets you move on to other stuff
      • lets you see connections between far flung ideas
    • allows teams to work together on complex concepts
      • breaks big concepts up into smaller chunks that can be layered on top of each other
      • the model offers a common language
      • get multiple perspectives and multiple A HA!s
    • allows you to communicate big ideas relatively simply
      • strategies are only effective if they are believable and understandable
  • Simple example of a model used for strategy
    • Sales funnel
  • Where do the ideas come from? AKA: What are we layering onto this framework?
    • research
      • Surveys
      • Interviews
      • Ethnography
      • Experience
  • Types of model frameworks
    • venn
    • ladder
    • spectrum/continuum
    • pyramid
    • funnel
    • matrix
    • flowchart
    • list
    • mind map
    • affinity diagram
  • Example of CLIENT X model
    • started with research
      • in this case, I had Ujwal walk me through the research. I prepared a bunch of thought starters and open ended questions to ask him about the work, to help uncover meaning. These may or may not be relative in all cases, but this should give you an idea
        • Why should someone follow these accounts? What would have to happen to thrill that follower/fan? 
        • what are the ways you can ignite their passion? 
        • Are the passions shared across brands? Which are common? Which are unique? Which can you build contests or campaigns around?
        • What would cause them to share? 
        • What should the tone be? Why? How personal? Is it first person or the royal we? 
        • Is it better to grow organically or to buy an audience? 
        • How can we integrate the social strategy back into the brand sites to create a virtuous circle? 
        • Are there any direct ROI opportunities? Can they drive towards specific promotions? Is there a twitter or facebook only coupon? 
        • How are we going to measure success? The strategy should steer towards those objectives
        • Are there existing targets for acquisition for the social program? 
        • are there any corporate culture changes that we need to recommend to allow these to succeed? Are they nimble enough to succeed? If not, should we recommend another approach? 
        • What about monitoring?
        • next came discussion
    • as we talked through these questions, relationships between ideas started to form, and we started to jot them down
    • this led to a number of A HA! moments and ultimately to the construct we presented (with great success) to the client
    • Take aways
      • using a framework (a spectrum in this case) allowed us to place a bunch of data onto a structure that we could see and manipulate
      • we were able to collaborate on the development of the model, since we were both looking at the same structure
      • we were able to push way beyond what we could have done if we were only holding the data in our heads
        • test concepts
        • move things around
        • take things out and add them back in
      • the model we ultimately developed allows us to convey HUGE meaning to the client in a way that minimizes individual distortion
  • Ways of working
    • you have to start in research. do a deep dive, for as long as you can/budget allows. make observations, but try to avoid conclusions. make notes. then write. and write and write and write. or go for a walk with a voice recorder. let your mind wander. let the research organize itself. then start asking yourself questions

What I’m trying to say is:

Twitter’s 140 character limit (and the heat of the moment) is biting me in the ass. When I posted this:

This Ford election just proves that the broader the pool, the lower the common denominator. I want my old Toronto borders back.

What I meant was this:

The priorities of a broad geographic area will tend towards those few areas where different groups overlap. These overlaps do not by definition mean that they are good for society. Rather that they are common.

IMO, the pre-amalgamation borders allowed for better allocation of funds to the priorities of the constituencies served.

In retrospect, I should have read that through before hitting post.

The Day that Facebook Took Over the Web

Note: this is cross posted to the Sequentia blog.

Ladies and Gentlemen, yesterday the web changed. At their F8 developer conference in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg and a few colleagues from Facebook got up on stage and announced a number of changes and features that promise to overhaul the very fabric of the world wide web. This is not hyperbole. This is fact.

What’s unclear is whether the changes are good or bad for the health of the web. It’s way to early to guess how this will play out. I can say with certainty though, that Facebook is about to get a whole lot bigger and more important. Just how big is Facebook already? They have nearly half a *billion* active users, and their rate of growth is accelerating.

This post deals with Open Graph, one of a handful of announcements made yesterday. In future posts, we’ll look at Community Pages and their implications. Open Graph is a new set of APIs and plugins that will allow every site on the web to enable Facebook features, such as clicking a “like” button, or seeing your friend’s activities on the site you’re visiting. Here’s a photo from Facebook’s presentation that shows the like button in action:

photo
(source: Facebook)

Now, the geek and marketer in me is screaming “cool!!!” You can be darn sure that I’ll be recommending implementing this asap for virtually all of our clients. This ability to “like” pretty much anything on the web promises to have huge implications for traffic, discoverability, recommendations, and much more.

SOCIAL SHOPPING, SOCIAL GAMING, SOCIAL NEWS, ETC

The ability to see what my friends have been reading, watching, and playing on any given site changes web surfing. Let’s say you visit cnn.com (one of the first partners to roll our Open Graph). Once there, you see that your closest friend has commented on a recent story. Odds are, you’ll click through to see what that story and comment are about. Another example: you click through to the NYTimes to do the Sunday crossword (’cause your smart like that). Once there, you see that your cousin completed the puzzle with 99% accuracy in 25 minutes. After your jealousy subsides, I bet you either abandon the puzzle or double down your efforts to beat your cousin. In both examples, Open Graph changed behaviour. Good or bad? Unknown.

What is known, is that every time someone clicks “like”, or visits a site with Open Graph enabled, Facebook collects a little more data. Facebook is a privately held company; one who’s interests are not necessarily aligned with it’s users. Open Graph is going to tie Facebook users in so tightly to the company that it will be nearly impossible to quit the service. This is a *brilliant* move for Facebook. They will simply own more data about more people than anyone else in the world, and do so in a way that ties users even more deeply into their system.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SITE OWNERS AND MARKETERS?

So what are the implications for Facebook Fan page owners? I see four main issues. First, expect your fan page to become more active. Beside the Open Graph announcement, Facebook changed the language for following a fan page from “fan” to “like”. This may seem small, but I think it will have big implications. The threshold for clicking “like” is much lower than clicking “fan”. I’ll announce to the world that I like Tide far sooner than I’d announce I’m a fan of the brand. It’s a purely semantic change, but I think it’s important.

The second implication for Fan page owners is the increased integration between their Facebook fan page and their own web properties. We know this is going to become tighter, but we don’t know exactly how quite yet. I can see a ton of value-add features built on top of the “like” data. For example, a list of the most “liked” content on site A listed on site A’s Facebook page (and integrated back into site A itself). Facebook fan pages will become ever more important, as Open Graph drives data and new users onto the system.

Third, content – already important – will become supreme. In a world where anything can be “liked” and shared, site owners and marketers need to provide share-worthy content. This is *critical*. The “like” button basically says “hey marketers, if your content doesn’t match your audience’s requirements, induce a smile, or make them feel smart, you’re screwed” (not to put too fine a point on it). Creating share-worthy content is what Sequentia Environics is ultimately all about. For nearly a decade, we’ve been helping our clients build value and community around killer content. Obviously, we’re excited that the rest of the world is coming around to our way of seeing things 😉

Finally, analytics and the interpretation of data as it relates to content and behaviour is another huge change. Open Graph, and the like button are going to open a new window into real-time audience behaviour. Marketers will be able to adjust content and offers on the fly, and see the implications on behaviour almost immediately. Sure, we’ve been able to do this already, but largely in single silos, ie one site at at time. We’ll now be able to do this for each content piece, regardless of it’s location!

For example, you write a blog post and post it on your site. Currently, you can measure traffic to that article and how often that article is shared (assuming you use a service that tracks this). Once that article is off your site though, it becomes very difficult to track both it’s movement and user’s interaction with it. No longer. “Like” changes this. We don’t know what the analytics tools will look like yet, but I think we’re a huge step closer to tracking behaviour and content as it moves across the web.

WHAT NOW?

Facebook hasn’t announced when Open Graph will be available to the general public. Many of the details of the system are still being ironed out, according to Bret Taylor, Facebook’s new Director of Product Management for Platform. My bet is this is three months away from public launch. Once it’s available, expect to see it spread fast.

The reality is that having access to one’s social graph (aka your friends and their friends) on a website changes the experience. Usually, it results in a richer experience (imagine reading the news; now compare that to reading and discussing the news with intelligent friends and colleagues). Open Graph offers very appealing upsides to site owners and to individual users. What remains to be seen is what Big Brother, sorry, Facebook will do with all the data.

Voice Recorder rambling

Trying something new here. I’ve started to use the voice recorder app on my iPhone to, well, record my voice. To my great surprise, some of the stuff I talk about doesn’t suck.

This 6 minute unedited recording contains a couple of interesting thoughts:

  • Controlling our evolution
  • The appearance of free will
  • The genetic imperative, masquerading as intention
  • Striving as an evolutionary advantage
  • And a hopeful ending

There are a couple of long pauses – those are me trying not to crash.

The Macallan

Mmmmm… Scotch…

I grew up in a scotch drinking house. My earliest memories were of the fine, peaty taste of single malt whiskey. Well, no. My early memories of scotch go something like “EWWW! WTF! WHY WOULD YOU DRINK THAT? IT’S LIKE LICKING A FRESHLY PAVED ROAD WITH A DASH OF ASHTRAY”.

Like all good things though, appreciation grows from education and maturity. As I grew into my 20s, I started to join my folks in their evening tipple. Their daily drink was Grant’s or the Famous Grouse. Special occasions though meant one thing: The Macallan. Luckily for me, as I lived on the other side of the country, every time I saw my folks was a special occasion. The Macallan did flow.

Now, as a poor working stiff operating under the heavy hand of Canadian sin tax laws, it’s pretty rare that I’ll drop 8 John A‘s on a bottle of hooch. So when I was invited to attend a tasting of The Macallan at the hoity-toity One bar in Yorkville, I was in without a thought. I was not disappointed.

I’ll admit that I knew a fair bit about scotch, having invested at least 20 years of my life drinking the stuff. I’ve been to a nosing or nine, but have never tasted a vertical from a single distiller, let alone a vertical from my fave. What I learned was that a) I do love scotch and b) I like the more expensive bottles more and c) The Macallan does not make a bad scotch, only great and really fucking great.

Oddly, this was my first experience doing a before/after with adding a few drops of water. The difference those few drops make to the nose are incredible. I also learned about using pebbles to cool the drink instead of ice (so it doesn’t melt and water down the elixir). I swiped a couple of stones from my kids’ collection, and have been happily drinking cool, concentrated whiskey since.

I’d like to extend a warm thanks to the fine folks at Matchstick for inviting me to attend this wonderful event. On their behalf, I’d like to invite you, the reader, to take part in a wee survey. If you’d be so kind as to click here