Tag Archives: Problem Solving

Polymath

polymath

I am a student of everything. I learn from the world around me. I study the math of the universe, the art of life, and the working of nature. I ponder the reasons behind existence. I stare up at the night sky and am amazed at the vastness of what is. I learn from everyone I meet and anyone who will teach me. I invent, I create, and I build. I am not confined by my career or job or degree. I am more than that. I will not be one thing: I will be everything. I am a POLYMATH.

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Impossible is Nothing.

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it.

Impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion.
Impossible is not a declaration, it’s a dare.

Impossible is potential.

Impossible is temporary.

Impossible is nothing.

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Why Can’t a Tech Giant like Google Have Amazing Customer Experience?

Is a company like Google too large to make huge impacts on their customer service? I don’t think so…

Now, to be fair, when I complained that the iPhone App for Google+was no longer working, I did get a comment from +Vic Gundotra, who “plus-mentioned” someone else (I’m assuming the person responsible for the Google+ App for iPhone).

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The iPhone App has yet to be fixed, but I give Google major points that the person in charge of Google+ actually read my post and passed on the information to someone who may actually be able to do something about it…

I sent +Vic Gundotra  a private message about this, thanking him and offering up a suggestion, but I don’t know if he read it or not (he never responded, but he is a busy man), but it’s not private information. It is a deeply held belief of mine, so I don’t mind sharing my advice on this post…

Companies Make Mistakes

Shit happens. From my many years managing in the restaurant industry, I learned that no matter how “tight of a ship” you run, occasionally the ball is going to get dropped. At my restaurant, it might be a spilled drink tray or an undercooked piece of meat. For Google+, it may be the iPhone App breaking or various other bugs that occur from time to time.

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The two are actually a lot more similar than a lot of people realize (running a restaurant or running a billion dollar tech company). Both occur in real-time, right in front of the customer. There is no “down time” during the operating hours of a restaurant, just as there is no “down time” during the running of a social network. They can’t just magically fix all the mistakes while things are shut down and reopen the next day fresh.

They have to stay running on all other fronts, in addition to fixing whatever went wrong. A restaurant has to continue serving all of its other patrons, and a social network has to keep functioning for all of its other users, while the problem gets fixed in the background (at the same time).

Initiating a Moment of Truth

This is what I used to call it when something bad happened at the restaurant. It is not a ‘problem’… it is a ‘challenge’ that gives the business an opportunity to show what they are really made of. As I said, initially, companies make mistakes (even the best companies). How the mistake is handled is what separates the weak companies from the strong companies.

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The “problem” that occurred is an opportunity for the business to:

  1. Apologize for the mistake.
  2. Let the guest/user know that a solution is being worked on.
  3. Fix the problem (get the right food out or work out the kinks in the Google+ iPhone App).
  4. Make it up to customer/user (with restaurants, I would comp a guest’s meal, but with a social network they may need to think outside-the-box on this step).

I was the only one that I know of that complained, but I’m sure the bug in the iPhone App affected all Google+‘s iPhone users. To make up for the iPhone App being unusable for multiple weeks, perhaps on the next App update, they could include an extra feature that is iPhone-exclusive.

So, a way +Google+ could “initiate a moment of truth” would be:

  • issuing an official statement that explains the error
  • that they fixed it.
  • they are including an extra special feature in the next update to make up for it.

Another way Google+ could initiate a moment of truth would be:

  • issuing an official statement.
  • that they fixed it.
  • maybe offer a couple free songs from Google Music (a way to apologize, and secretly convert iTunes users over to using Google Music).

The fact that +Vic Gundotra  took notice of my post at all was huge for such a large company like Google… and I can infer from his plus-mentioning of someone else that it’s being taken seriously. However, Google could take it to the next level of customer experience by doing something like the examples I’ve listed above.

I know that it is such a large-scale user base that the individual can get lost in the shuffle, but I don’t think the solutions I’ve suggested above are unreasonable for Google to do, and it would set them apart from the other technology companies by actually taking the user’s discomfort seriously, showing that they empathize with them, and making an effort to do something to make up for it.

That’s what would push them into an exceptional customer experience level, like what you would expect at one of the Disney Parks. The “word of mouth” alone from doing something so positive would spread like wildfire on the net: “Even Tech Giant Google Cares About Their Users, Whether They Use Their Branded Smartphones or Someone Else’s.”

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You couldn’t beat that. Just a suggestion…

Gifted Individuals Make a Significant Contribution to Innovation in Organizations

With their creative talents, gifted individuals can make a useful contribution to innovations within organizations. Highly gifted individuals possess many more creative possibilities than the average gifted person.

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To make use of their innovative ideas and to implement them, however, an effective interaction between gifted individuals and their work environment is essential.

How do gifted individuals contribute to innovation?

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  • The gifted individual can easily identify the relationships between goals, missions, and assignments.
  • The gifted individual has the ability to focus intensely on the content.
  • Arguments based on content are key.
  • Habits, traditions and social pressure are quickly spotted. If these seem to be in conflict with the content, they are discarded as being irrelevant.
  • Thinking ‘outside of the box’ is second nature to them.
  • Switching between one’s own professional area and other disciplines is no problem at all.
  • The opinion of a formal authority does not weigh any heavier than the opinion of another party.
  • Information from others is checked against one’s own experience or against other information.
  • The gifted individual has a high degree of commitment and passion.
  • Existing protocols, structures and approaches are only followed if they seem to be effective and are well-founded.
  • A customized solution is sought for each individual situation, often when this has not been requested. ‘Standard problems’ are also approached in this way.

Favorable environmental factors required for making use of these contributions are listed below. The favorable characteristics listed correspond strongly with the ‘task culture’ and ‘person culture,’ while the unfavorable characteristics correspond with the ‘role culture’ or ‘power culture’ from “Harrison’s typologies of organizational culture.

Favorable and Unfavorable Organizational Characteristics for the Gifted

Favorable organizational characteristics:

  • Flexibility.
  • Little hierarchy.
  • Few procedures (only if they are useful).
  • The development and needs of employees are of importance.
  • Room for productive conflicts.
  • Power and influence can be acquired through expertise, dedication and success (or, at most, through personality, ability and outstanding performances).

Unfavorable organizational characteristics:

  • Procedures determine the work.
  • Power and influence are predominantly dependent upon your position.
  • The development and needs of the employee are of little importance.
  • Conflicts are often avoided.

How can giftedness be recognized?

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If an employee arrives at your consulting room, how do you recognize the above-mentioned characteristics of giftedness?

  • Wide interest in all kinds of fields (curious and passionate).
  • Sensitive to, such as, noise at work (highly sensitive).
  • Can speak passionately about a subject that interests him or her, starts speaking more quickly, the eyes light up, makes agitated gestures (passionate).
  • Quick analyses of the work situation: ‘that’s how it works’ (highly intelligent).
  • Focussed primarily on the content of the work (highly intelligent).
  • Wants to work in his/her own way (autonomous).
  • Wants to see a lot of variety in the work (creation-directed).
  • Produces unorthodox solutions that are not generally accepted (sparkling original).

Focus points for the problem analysis

  • Gifted individuals suffer relatively often from stress and burnout. Factors that can be of influence here are the nature of the work (sufficient challenge), the degree of autonomy and the defining of borders. Gifted employees are especially passionate and have the tendency to insufficiently specify their own limits.
  • Bullying, or other forms of aggression: because a gifted individual does not fit the requirements of the ‘average’ employee. As a result, fear/anxiety disorders may arise.
  • Depressive feelings often start at an early age. Gifted individuals can therefore more easily feel lonely and isolated.
  • Fear of failure as a result of setting the bar high and the tendency to perfectionism.
  • The gifted individual can come across as having ADHD. The combination of giftedness and ADHD is not uncommon.
  • Gifted individuals have a high sensitivity for odors and sounds.
  • They more quickly experience certain circumstances as being a hindrance.

How to Build Innovative, Next-Generation Products Before Anyone Else Does

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Put yourself entirely into the mind of a consumer (except slightly in the future):

  • How they will think.
  • How they will feel.
  • What your business will look like from their POV.
  • How your product will seem from their POV.
  • What they truly desire.
  • What would make their life easier, simpler, or more enjoyable?

Completely “become the customer” in your mind. Forget about reports, stocks, the shareholders, the technical limitations, and the cost. For a significant amount of time, try and see everything through their eyes, not through the experienced eyes of an experienced businessman.

Try not to recognize the technical limitations taught to you in engineering school. After all, the customer doesn’t care about those things. They do not exist to a customer.

BECOME THE CUSTOMER

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“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

– Steve Jobs

Imagine the product that would make your life easier, better, or more enjoyable in someway. Now take this imaginary device and try your best to explain it to your team. It’s at this point that you may realize certain “impossibilities” of the product you’ve imagined. You may realize at this point that the technology needed to build this product is a decade away, or is still in the experimental phase.

START BUILDING THAT PRODUCT, REGARDLESS

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“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

– Steve Jobs

Then, you simply build the product that you wanted, with all hands-on-deck to push along the development of any aspect of it that is not yet possible. Double the R&D funds to that department, if necessary. They key is to build the product that you imagined, and to do it faster than originally seemed possible.

You imagine first, then you make it possible.

“In the end, for something this complicated, it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

– Steve Jobs

That is how you disruptively innovate an entire culture with a single product. By doing so, you get to the prize (the fully developed product) several years before your nearest competitor. Everything they do will be a rip-off of your invention, or a counter-move to catch up.

Being Divergent in a Team Atmosphere, Without Having to “Walk the Plank”

Backwards Time Machine

Does anyone else have the “curse” of explaining an opposing argument so well, your peers think you’re on the “other side” and start attacking you?


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Being a Visionary is Not as Easy as it Looks

I’m a natural devil’s advocate, and somebody who constantly thinks of every alternative possibility.

Throughout my professional career, there have been a few situations where me trying to bring up opposing arguments, for improvement of the project / idea, resulted in a team turning on me.

The Visionary / ENTP Personality Type

  • ENTPs love to argue and consider it a sport, sometimes hurting those who don’t. They like proving their points and showing others how impressive they are.
  • They are masters at improvising and are usually good at everything they put their minds too.
  • Interested in almost everything, they become pleased with people who are skilled and talented.
  • Once something they are interested in is no…
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    Chris Hoeller – What’s Your Story?

    To be blunt, I’m a creative genius that took a “unique” path in life. I had a kid in high school and so didn’t go to Harvard as I had planned (not that I really hold any traditional education up with high regard, anyways). I got a job at a local restaurant, simply because I needed a source of income.

    I moved up the ladder ridiculously quick. I was recruited to run a start-up restaurant, which I opened with massive success (designing every process, hiring every employee, developing managers, creating the marketing, watching the accounting). I had a falling out with the owner, as he no longer needed someone to design the systems that had already been designed (he replaced me with himself).

    I stumbled for a while as I finished a degree, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I got a job as a marketing manager, but most of my work was truly of a strategic, behind-the-scenes nature. I innovated entire departments using creative solutions. I was able to use my cross-functional, multi-industry experience to see things from a fresh perspective.

    As I looked for work, I became reattached to my roots as a creative problem solver. I was reminded of the work I did as a child and the large-scale of impact I could have.

    I became limitless, again, but I didn’t know exactly where to fully use this potential or how to prove what I was capable of. So, I network with people I see potential in, and I post what I’m thinking about. I await for someone with means to see in me what I see in others: their true potential.

    It’s not ideal, sitting and waiting, and it’s rather frustrating, so I apply for certain jobs. But, from the bottom of my heart, I believe that my greatest potential will be noticed by someone looking at a wider portrait than merely a resume or CV. It’s how I would recruit for someone like me.