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Uncovering the Why Behind the Buy; The Art of Sensemaking

mad scientistNever send a statistician to do an anthropologist’s job.

Big Business is learning that all the big data at their fingertips still can’t uncover the essence of WHY people will buy and buy again. Turns out, you have to talk to and observe people, in order to gain that magic insight.

An article in the fall 2017 edition of Harvard Business Review (HBR.org) by Christian Maadsberg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen, titled An Anthropologist Walks into a Bar…, talks about how organizations like Lego re-discovered their core business by doing something truly radical….really getting to know their customer. They engaged in a discovery process called Sensemaking.

Sensemaking; is the art of merging the hard and soft sciences to dig deeper into what motivates human behavior. It is the study of how people experience life. Smart companies use this information to inform strategy, product development and corporate culture.

The article outlines the 5 Steps to Sensemaking:

  1. Reframe the Problem; Stop labeling it a Problem and start thinking of it as a Phenomenon to be studied. Switch your perspective from Inside Out (how the business perceives the problem) to Outside In (Understanding how your customer ACTUALLY interfaces with your product or service.)
  2. Collect the Data; Ah, but here’s the magic formula – you must approach the data collection process without a pre-conceived hypothesis. Enter the process with zero assumptions about what you might find. The goal here is raw, personal, real-time data.
  3. Look for Patterns; Now Peel the Onion, go beyond the outer layer of observable behavior and start to analyze the data for patterns and themes, to unearth the underlying causes behind customer behavior. The real WHY.
  4. Create Key Insights; Look for gaps between your assumptions and your customer’s actual behavior. Ask questions like “What are we missing? “How can we look at this differently? And What if?”
  5. Build the Business Impact; Now, translate insight into initiative. Create an innovative strategy to bring to market the solutions for your customer’s newly uncovered needs and desires.

I am personally very excited to see a high-touch approach like Sensemaking being used by business as an avenue for understanding human behavior. 

I have always studied and observed human behavior, my own and others. As a comedian and humorist for over 30 years, my self-appointed job-description has always been; “To keep an eye on humanity and report back.”

I think of myself as a social anthropologist with a punchline…using humor to help spotlight the funny in the foibles of human behavior and inspiring positive change.

Comedians ask the same questions as all great innovators: “What if? What’s missing? Why do we do this? Is there a better way?” You could say, that we use humor to achieve sense-making.

And now, a parting piece of wisdom from one of the all-time, great social scientists, Star Treks’ Dr. Spock:

Logic is only the beginning of wisdom.”

For more information on Sensemaking go to HBR.org or pick up a copy of the Harvard Business Review; The Leader’s Guide to Problem-Solving at your newsstand.

Karyn Ruth White is a Success Humorist, Social Anthropologist, Comedian, Author and Keynote Speaker.   Visit her at www.karynruth.com, info@karynruth.com

Customer Service Hang Ups

hanging phoneIf you are tempted to think that how you handle in-coming calls as a business isn’t top priority…think again.

I had an experience recently to prove my point.

I called into a big box company to try and order a waterfall for my backyard.  I don’t want to mention names but I’ll give you a hint…it wasn’t Home Depot.

The department I wanted to reach wasn’t listed in the company’s phone directory, so I hit zero for the Operator. After not one, not two, but count them…five attempts to get through without being cut off, misdirected or simply left holding a ringing phone, I finally found someone to help me.

As I was wading through my five attempts to complete what should have been a very simple and straight-forward request, I made the decision to cross this company off my list of potential vendors to hire for remodeling a rental property I was preparing for market.

WOW! That’s the power that lies in the balance between a well-handled call and a bungled one.  All told, as a rough estimate, I could have easily thrown over $10,000 their way in remodeling business, but I won’t be doing any contract business with them at all. That sale (and future sales) was lost while I was on interminable hold. I figured, “Hey, if trying to buy a waterfall is this hard, what hell would I be in for, if I decided to remodel a bathroom with these people?”

This is EXACTLY what YOUR customers are thinking when they are on eternal hold…they start to question you as a company and then they start to question whether you are worthy of their business, since you seem so willing to waste their valuable time. It’s in this moment that they may decide that it’s time to find another vendor/contractor/supplier/retailer, etc. altogether.

How my call is handled speaks VOLUMES about the quality of the infrastructure within your organization and its overall dedication to providing great customer care from points A to Z.

So the next time the phone rings, answer it as if your paycheck depends on it. It does.

P.S. I decided not to buy the waterfall.

Karyn Ruth White is an Organizational Humorist, Funny Keynote Speaker, Comedian, Author and Speech Coach. When you call her office you will be handled with care, either by Karyn Ruth personally, or by her trusty assistant, Ms. Voicemail. (Quick responses promised.) Visit her at karynruth.com, email her at info@karynruth.com or if you’re feeling brave, give her a call at 303-369-8277.

Why I Won’t Ever Marry Myself

Just MarriedI recently read about a new trend called SOLOGAMY. This is where longtime single people (primarily women) decide at a certain point in life that they are not going to find their soul mate, so they hold a marriage ceremony where they invite guests and recite vows and marry themselves. (I’m not making this up-it’s a real thing!)

The reasoning is that these folks want to make a public declaration that they are “complete and enough,” even if they are not partnered with someone else.

OK- Let’s review…I am the first one to applaud women believing in and cherishing themselves, in fact much of my work centers around helping women grow their self-awareness and confidence, but even for me, this behavior crosses a line into Sunset Boulevard territory… with Gloria Swanson’s final line…“Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up.”

 I get it, we all want the chance for our own “close-up” but  really – Am I the only one seeing the pitfalls of this idea?

21 Reasons Why I Won’t Ever Marry Myself:

  1. What if the chemistry just isn’t there?
  2. How wouId I separate the finances, so I didn’t hold all the control?
  3. Division of labor in a marriage is tantamount to success- where would I even start?
  4. The idea of walking myself down the aisle in public to recite vows to myself, is just plain sad.
  5. I guess the song, “Where two or more are gathered,” is out.
  6. I’m a Gemini- I don’t even think this is a realistic possibility for me.
  7. What if after I say “I DO,” I find out I don’t really like the person I married?
  8. I don’t want to have to worry about myself cheating on myself.
  9. It’d be hard to find wedding cake decorations with just one bride and I’d hate to pay for a groom I don’t need.
  10. I hate giving myself away.
  11. I’m afraid it would look less like a wedding and more like an over-dressed, confused woman talking to herself in front of her friends.
  12. If I were going to have a wedding ceremony and I couldn’t find a groom, I think I would at least marry my cat. (Luckily, he’s a Tuxedo.)
  13. I think the honeymoon might be disappointing.
  14. No matter how much I love myself, I can’t carry myself over the threshold.
  15. I think the proposal might be anti-climactic.
  16. Having to feign surprise as I pick out the engagement ring – “Oh, I think I’ll love it.”
  17. Some right-wing group would probably mount a protest and try to tell me it’s illegal.
  18. Not knowing how to handle the moment when they say, “You may now kiss the bride”- Personally, I don’t think that’s physically possible without a hand mirror.
  19. I think it would be tough to surprise myself every anniversary – and what would I tell people? “Yes, I’ve been together for 15 happy years now, and they said I wouldn’t last.”
  20. And if for some reason it didn’t work out, I don’t even want to think about the ramifications of a messy divorce from myself.
  21. The upside – I’d save on rice.

Karyn Ruth White is a “thought-laugher” in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is also an Author, a Comedian, a Keynote Coach and the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to marry their best selves with their best work. Visit her on-line at karynruth.com or email her at info@karynruth.com.

Procrastination

One of the most frustrating things in life is to start a project with the full intention of finishing it and then something bright and shiny grabs your attention, and before you know it, you’re off doing something else and you never get back to your original projec….

 

Karyn Ruth White is a Success Humorist, Comedian, Author and Keynote Speaker.  The good news is… unlike this blog post…she’s never stopped a Keynote in mid-thought. Visit her at www.karynruth.com, info@karynruth.com

The Heart of the Matter

hearts-583063_1280I am amazed at how many leaders forget the importance of the human equation when leading others.

It is easy in a world of mounting deadlines and shorter attention spans, to become myopic in the way we approach our work. It is easy to see only the goal line and forget about the team.

How far do you think Tom Brady of the New England Patriots would get in this month’s Super Bowl, if he decided to carry the ball himself on every play? Well knowing Tom Brady, probably farther than most.  But for the rest of us mere mortals, we need people around us to help us complete the play and drive the ball into the end zone.

The best leaders I have ever worked with, were the leaders who brought heart to their work and freely shared their hearts with their cherished teams. 

There was my first corporate boss, Bob.  Bob was a big, brusque Texan who put his feet up on the conference table during meetings, smoked a cigar and when he laughed, the entire building shook.  I watched Bob closely, and what I observed was a man who knew the importance of greasing the wheels of productivity with some back-slappin,’ good ole fashioned fun.  Oh, and by the way…everyone loved him, everyone went the extra mile for him and as a company, we rocked our goals and consistently came in ahead of deadline…all the while having a lot of fun doing it.

Then there was Jan, my first mentor in my comedy career. Jan was the manager of the Laff Stop in Newport Beach, CA and decided to take me under her wing and groom me for the stand-up stage.  I will always be grateful to her for encouraging me to pursue my comedy dream. Jan also had a wonderful, wry sense of humor and a very big heart.  Everyone in the club loved her and whatever Jan needed, Jan got. No questions asked. Jan showed me by her leadership example that you can maintain grace under pressure and that nice goes a lot farther than rude. A great lesson Jan taught me about understanding why people heckle in a club (or in life) was this; “Rudeness is a weak person’s attempt at strength.” I have never forgotten that piece of wisdom.

And finally, there was my former boss Gerry.  Gerry was a great guy.  One of the smartest men I have ever met.  Laid back, with an endearing touch of cynicism when it came to navigating the inherent B.S. that comes with the machinations of day to day business…and once again, a great sense of humor.

Gerry had some funny quirks. For instance, every week he would go through my Request for Expenditures Form and cross out every other item, always saying the same thing: “Nice to have, not necessary.”  “Nice to have, not necessary.” “Nice to have, not necessary.” I have NEVER been able to get this sentence out of my mind.  To this day, whenever I am considering a purchase in my own business, I will hear Gerry’s voice in my head…”Nice to have, not necessary.”

So here is the heart of the matter.  I have noticed several truths in my up-close observation of leaders from my past:

#1) Heart and Humor like to travel together.

#2) People work harder for leaders they genuinely like as people.

#3) More wins happen when people can have some fun working together towards the same end.

#4) The more you can connect from a heart space with people, the more meaningful, impactful and significant the work will be.

Here is an overview of 7 Principles of Heart-Centered Leadership from Susan Steinbrecher, the co-author of Heart-Centered Leadership. Find out more and listen to her podcast at www.positivitystrategist.com

7 Principles of Heart-Centered Leadership:

  1. Know Thyself
  2. Know Your Impact
  3. Don’t Judge or Assume-instead come to understand
  4. Let Go
  5. Associates Have a Choice
  6. They Need What You Need
  7. Care for the Heart

Once again…The best leaders I have ever worked with were the leaders who brought heart to their work and freely shared their hearts with their teams.

So get out there and share your big, beautiful heart. Spread some love, light the way for yourself and others… and amid the quotas, the deadlines and the daily pressures of work…I implore you…LAUGH A LOT!!!

Karyn Ruth White is a “thought-laugher” in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is also an Author, a Comedian, a Keynote Coach and the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to live and work from their heart-centered greatness. Visit her on-line at karynruth.com or email her at info@karynruth.com