<![CDATA[PANOPTIKA - Blog]]>Mon, 19 Aug 2019 16:39:39 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Forget storytelling. Try storyshowing.]]>Tue, 13 Aug 2019 18:13:44 GMThttp://panoptika.ca/blog/forget-storytelling-try-storyshowing
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Photo by klimkin via Pixabay
There's a lot of attention being paid to storytelling these days, as a way to gain customers' attention and sell more product. That's not what I'm going to talk about today, though. Today I want to talk about how you can use stories to build empathy and gain a greater understanding of customer problems and motivators. 

In today's business environment, there are two things that are in short supply: money, and time. The consequence of this, is that in the rush to meet deadlines, get answers, make decisions, and ship our products and services, soft skills may go out the window. Regularly surveying customers can get us an abundance of data, and data's what we need to get answers. To make decisions. To validate that the solution we want to give the customer is right, so we can win, or fail, fast. 

What's wrong with this picture? Well, first of all, in the hurry to find out why customers are doing the things they do, or what their problem is, or how we can fix it, I'm seeing all too much blunt-force questioning. Clients ask me to ask their customers or prospects why they buy. Or they want to ask the customer to tell us how they can solve the problem that same customer is having. Trust me, if they knew, they'd be solving it, or at least trying. Or, clients want to ask questions like the example in this post.

Sometimes, when product or marketing teams or UX people want to get really creative, they ask the customer to tell them a story. They've been told not to ask why, and someone has sold them on the idea that storytelling is a great tool to capture customer experience, or the customer journey. If you want to know why asking why doesn't work, even on ourselves, watch this great video about introspection and self-awareness from Tasha Eurich. 

So what can you do? If asking the customer to tell you a story isn't always effective, and you can't ask why, and you can't ask them how you're supposed to solve their problem, what is the solution? Look at the picture above. The one kid didn't say to the other, "tell me a story about that". She asked, "show me."


Instead of seeking storytelling, try using storyshowing. Ask them to show you where they're running into the problem. Sit with them while they demonstrate what's going on. Share screens, or better yet, go to them one-on-one and observe. Listen carefully. Interrupt with questions that involve "what happens when that happens" or "tell me more", but sparingly. Seek clarity, not certainty. Take good notes, make sketches, record if the situation allows. Here's an Innovation Game© called Me and My Shadow that explains a bit about how this works.

We like to add another step. Ask if you can tell them the story of what you saw, in your words. Ask them to be your editor. When they change things, ask them to explain the reason for the change. Then, and only then, let them know that you'd like to share that with your team, so you can come back to them with some fresh ideas. Resist the urge to solve the problem today.

If all of this seems like it is fiddly, and time-consuming, it is. You're not gathering big data; you're gathering rich data. And in our experience, rich data will yield a richer result. 

I'm Megann Willson and I'm one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions - including better ways to ask the questions that will gain them a richer understanding of their customers, users, and stakeholders. If you need help doing that, we do that, too. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedInand for more news you can use to help you or your team to ask more questions in ways that will let them make better decisions, click the handy button, below.
Oh, I definitely have questions about better questions!
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<![CDATA[Drum Roll, Please. Here are the Best New Ways to Get Customers.]]>Fri, 09 Aug 2019 15:21:18 GMThttp://panoptika.ca/blog/drum-roll-please-here-are-the-best-new-ways-to-get-customers
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Image courtesy of Pixabay
Modern marketers need modern methods.

Am I right? You might think this article is going to spend lots of time talking about building pipelines and creating conversion funnels, using social media to generate leads and attract prospects with content, mining data to unearth new insights, and more. Do read on, and see if you're right.

Do you remember last week's post, about how something may resonate with you, and then suddenly you're seeing it everywhere? Sure enough, that happened to me. (I checked my bias, though, and validated - these things do work).

First, I was speaking with consultant and coach Debbie Adams of PeopleCan about how, despite the many tools we have at our disposal, some of the best and easiest sales come because we've already impressed the customer, and we aren't listening carefully enough to realize it's time to stop selling. I also overheard a conversation between two business women and one was asking the other about getting new customers, when privacy regulations seemed to be making it harder and harder to use email. "It's easy, said one. I phone them." Cold-calling is sometimes most effective because it's simple and unexpected. And it makes you take time to think about the person on the other end of the line, before you begin - at least if you do it well. (For more info on how to do that, check out The Phone Lady - she works with entrepreneurs and enterprises to help them get better at using the phone). Lastly, to use Steve Willson's favourite F1 quote: "Get in there, Lewis!" In other words, go to where potential customers are. Have conversations. Engage. Show them you're a real person. You'll be pleasantly surprised on one-on-one outreach will help build momentum in your business. So, in short, three tools that are underused and can freshen up your sales numbers? 

  1. Listen carefully for clues that people you know are already ready to buy.
  2. Pick up the phone and call. 
  3. Go out and meet prospects in person at an event that interests them. 

Oh, and one more tip about the customers you've already found? In this post by Devin Haman, he says that you can come up with more things to sell your existing customers, by proactively fixing problems today's proactive customers may not even have discovered yet. 

I'm Megann Willson and I'm one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions - using better data, a better approach, or better metrics. If you need help deciding which metrics will work best for you and your team, so that you can find, serve, and keep more customers, we can help. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.  For more news you can use to help you or your team to make better decisions, click the handy button, below.

I need more customer insights
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<![CDATA[Down with Puppies!]]>Thu, 01 Aug 2019 17:37:56 GMThttp://panoptika.ca/blog/down-with-puppies
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Photo courtesy of kevsphotos on Pixabay.
Earlier this week, one of our LinkedIn connections posted about a video from SAP about experience management. Agency folks were all over it, how moving and motivating it was, how it should be nominated for a Cannes Lion (puppy?), and so on. This reminded me about how I learned when I first studied copy-writing, that desperate marketers who couldn't find anything distinctive to say about their product just had to use a photo with girls in bikinis, or a puppy. Yes, sorry, that's what we learned, and yes, they called us girls, and, well, none of that really matters so much as the fact that these tired tactics still persist, and I got annoyed. Sigh. Stay with me. There's more to the story. 

On the advice of someone I know, I have been re-reading Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman's Content Rules. So here I am at lunchtime, reading along, and I come to a part where the book talks about Eloqua's "The Conversation" series, and how the video begins after a visitor indicates that she works in marketing. "Obviously I'm not going to be able to use any of the typical marketing tricks on you (sex!), so allow me to just be direct (puppies!)." The version of "The Conversation" that's online now isn't quite the same, but it is still a great example of interactively drawing someone into a conversation about your product with engaging humour, even if you have a serious B2B product. 

That's a useful thing to learn, for sure. But the lesson is not, "use a puppy". 

There's a bigger and more useful lesson here. And here it is: when we see something that excites us, makes us laugh, or riles us up (have you guessed which one applies to me, when I see a puppy ad that isn't actually selling something directly related to puppies?), the emotion sticks with us. And then, we may start seeing that thing that excited, amused, or enraged us, wherever we look. It's a bit like the "frequency illusion" - our heightened awareness of that thing means that the frequency with which we see it seems to go up, even though in reality, this type of confirmation bias may be causing our brains to just confirm what we want to believe - that we are seeing those puppies everywhere. We unconsciously start looking for them, so we can prove to our brain that our theory is right. 

So the next time your team gets a great idea about what your customers want, and you start seeing evidence everywhere, take a step back. Try using one or all of these tools to check your bias:

1. Ask the customers directly how they feel about your platform (or puppies).
2. Look at the data - have they ever shown an interest in puppies before? 
3. Run a test to validate (or invalidate) your hypothesis. 

I'm Megann Willson and I'm one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions - using better data, a better approach, or better metrics. If you need help deciding which metrics will work best for you and your team, so that you can find, serve, and keep more customers, we can help. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.  For more news you can use to help you or your team to make better decisions, click the handy button, below.

It's Working. More About Puppies, Please.
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<![CDATA[Three Must-Have Steps for Your Next Change or Transformation]]>Thu, 25 Jul 2019 20:19:12 GMThttp://panoptika.ca/blog/three-must-have-steps-for-your-next-change-or-transformation
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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Over the 18 years we've been in the management consulting business, we've been part of many change and transformation exercises. We've also been incredibly fortunate to have benefited from that old "your network is your net worth" adage. Once again this week, a friend's post begat another post. Here's what happened:

Our longtime friend, mentor, and collaborator Luke Hohmann (SAFe® Fellow and Principal Consultant) reposted a post from Em Campbell-Pretty, about making sure you have baseline metrics before you start an Agile Transformation. Now we don't know Em personally, but if she's in Luke's trusted circle, she's in ours. While some of our clients are Agile, some are not (although most are reasonably flexible). So this got me thinking about what metrics are needed for any kind of change or transformation. Steve and I have helped many organizations do that - ensuring that their teams were all on the same page, and running toward the same goals, if not always in the same direction. We also try to avoid having them run with scissors. 

The fact of the matter is this: no matter what type of change or transformation you are trying to make, whether it's in your organizational structure, your product process, or your own personal career, there are three key questions you need to ask. If you don't, you might never get to your destination - or worse, you might arrive at "destination unknown". These are the questions: 

  1. Where are you now?
  2. Where do you plan to go?
  3. How will you know you've arrived?

No matter what system you're using, or how you measure, if you can find a way to measure each of these things, before you begin, it's much more likely you'll have a pleasant journey. 


I'm Megann Willson and I'm one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions - using better data, a better approach, or better metrics. If you need help deciding which metrics will work best for you and your team, so that you can find, serve, and keep more customers, we can help. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.  For more news you can use to help you or your team to make better decisions, click the handy button, below.
I'm ready. tell me more.
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<![CDATA[When you can't buy information, triangulate it.]]>Fri, 19 Jul 2019 17:36:48 GMThttp://panoptika.ca/blog/when-you-cant-buy-information-triangulate-it
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Image by 95C from Pixabay.
In highly-competitive industries with lots of players, there is often a surfeit of data. Marketers’ big challenge is to decide which data to use or to purchase, because their budgets are rarely, if ever, unlimited. If you’re in a B2B business, though, publicly available data sets are often less available. Add a science or STEM focus, and data may be nigh-on non-existent. Money can’t buy you out of this problem. What do you do? How can you forecast your market, figure out your next move, or measure your impact?

The answer is to triangulate. In social sciences, triangulation is used to improve the validity of the findings. This can take the form of combining different data, different viewpoints, or different approaches. Similarly, in navigation, if you are trying to find out your position, finding landmarks that you can validate, will help you figure out where you really are.

When you get your team around the table, and they each bring data that doesn’t show the whole picture, but shows part of it, you’re triangulating. Every finding that relates to the problem you’re trying to solve, can help you become more accurate in your estimate of the “true picture”. That’s why design sprints start with getting your experts in the room to define the problem clearly and share what they know. Getting that clear problem definition or challenge to address is key – much like our discussion in last week’s blog post about narrowing your scope if you want to go deep.

I'm Megann Willson and I'm one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions - using better data, a better approach, or a better frame of reference. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.  For more news you can use to help you or your team to make better decisions, click the handy button, below.

I NEED MORE INFO LIKE THIS
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<![CDATA[Narrow your research, if you want to go deep.]]>Thu, 11 Jul 2019 21:23:56 GMThttp://panoptika.ca/blog/narrow-your-research-if-you-want-to-go-deep
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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
"We'd like to investigate this. Oh, and it would also be great to find out more about this. And a few members of the team thought it would be really interesting to explore this." 

When your product is new, or your team is new, or you're just getting started with your business, you want to know everything. Any market information could be useful. All customer insights might be relevant. As a consequence, we often meet new clients, new teams, or founders, who want to look at a really big basket of questions. Sounds fair, doesn't it? They have a lot to learn. So what's the issue? 

The issue is that the other shoe usually drops, right about then. The client says, "And we really want you to do a deep dive on this." 


The fact of the matter is, giant companies who can afford massive amounts of data, may be able to afford to be wasteful with their investigations. They may be able to "go deep" on a lot of different topics, all at once. If you look carefully, though, you'll usually find that there are many teams, each going deep on a topic or two. If your company is small, you risk learning a little about a lot, and a lot...about nothing. 

How can you mitigate this risk? These four steps that can help:
  1. Make some calculated assumptions.
  2. Establish hypotheses to validate or invalidate with the respondents.
  3. Look at some secondary data and see if you can't do some narrowing down or elimination on your own. 
  4. Choose the slice that, if the answers turn out to not be as you had hoped, would have the worst outcome. If there are rate-limiting or business-limiting questions, get them out of the way as soon as possible, so you can turn your attention elsewhere. 
So the next time you want to "go deep" in your customer understanding, narrow things down first. If you forget everything else, try this rule of thumb when you decide whether you want to look at something deeply, or in its entirety: Microscopes are tiny. Telescopes are big. 

I'm Megann Willson and I'm one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions - using better data, a better approach, or a better frame of reference. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.  For more news you can use to help you or your team to make better decisions, click the handy button, below.

Help me make better decisions now.
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<![CDATA[Imagine Your Customers Forgot Everything They Knew About You...]]>Fri, 05 Jul 2019 13:00:00 GMThttp://panoptika.ca/blog/imagine-your-customers-forgot-everything-they-knew-about-you
...even the best parts!

Last night I saw the movie "Yesterday" with Himesh Patel, Lily James (oh, and a couple of other small names like Ed Sheeran and James Corden). If you like rom-coms, it's a must-see. Do bring some tissues. It got me thinking, though, about how often clients make assumptions about what their customers know about them. If you have a B2B relationship, you may have a long sales cycle. What do you do in between? How will they remember? Could someone slip in and broadcast your entire catalogue of hits without anyone realizing it was actually created by you? (I'm giving away a lot of the plot here, but trust me, there's more to the story).

If you have a product with a long cycle, you need to think carefully about how to keep those big-ticket customers engaged. One way, of course, is to send them emails or connect using social media or other types of communication. It's also worth engaging anyone they interact with in between purchases, like customer success, service and support, shipping, or even (yes, I'm going to say it) the billing department. As an aside, we once worked with a partner of ours on a win-loss project, and the billing department was responsible for a number of lost accounts, because they were more concerned about maintaining their process, than developing one that was easy for customers. 

There's a lot of push marketing in all of those activities, of course. Plenty of KPIs and other dashboard inputs. But what if you really engaged them in a conversation that wasn't focused on selling? What if you let them talk about their objectives, what they want and need, their struggles, what's important to them? Two ways to do this are to
  1. create a customer community, or
  2. build a customer advisory board.

What's the difference? 

A Customer Community is a place where your customers can come together and engage in conversations with each other. And it had better be interesting, because no one, especially not your customer, wants another long, boring meeting, virtual or otherwise. Really, do you even want to invest in something where your customer puts the phone or laptop on mute and pays more attention to their cheese sandwich? The best communities let them contribute something, learn something, see that you trust them to talk to each other and engage with one another without you trying to drive the conversation.

In a Customer Advisory Board, they know that the goal is for them to help you sell more product and do a better job of delivery. It's more focused, and may even involve their strategic advice about how and where to recruit more customers just like they are. They might provide insights into buying cycles, responses to changing industry regulations, and more. They may even introduce you to someone else who should become a member. 

Every business wants to find more customers, and to use research to understand customers - but keep customers? It's surprising how little time and effort they invest beyond good old push marketing tactics. That might just be the thing that can sets you apart.


I'm Megann Willson and I'm one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions - using better data, a better approach, or a better frame of reference. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.  For more news you can use to help you or your team to make better decisions, click the handy button, below.
yes, sign me up for news i can use!
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<![CDATA[Forecasting without Data? Here's How.]]>Fri, 28 Jun 2019 22:07:14 GMThttp://panoptika.ca/blog/forecasting-without-data-heres-how
It’s Thursday afternoon, just before a long weekend, and Head Office calls...

“Hey Fred, it’s Wilma. I know Monday’s a holiday in Canada, so I thought I’d catch you early.  Barney’s got a presentation to the investors on Monday in Bedrock and needs to know how big the Canadian market is for our new Bronto-vax®. Can we get that by the end-of-day Friday?”

No problem, right?  If your product is a breakfast cereal you can just go to the Nielsen data, or if it’s a retail pharmaceutical IQVIA will sell you as much information as you need. But what if no data sources exist for your particular product?

We get asked to work on these problems quite regularly and the answer is always “Let’s think about it systematically”.

Is there a surrogate marker, for example if there’s no data on popsicle sticks, but good data on popsicle sales, you can assume that, in general, sticks and finished products are reasonably well correlated. If it’s a specialized pharmaceutical product you can find data on the incidence and prevalence of the disease, population size, percent of patients treated, length of treatment for clinical trials…you get the idea.

If you have more time you can talk to a portion your target audience and use their estimates to project for the entire market…wisdom of the crowd.

So, this is a long-winded way of saying that, with a little thought and imagination, you can build a reasonably robust model along with the data sources and references to give it some credibility. Then you can continue to revisit and evaluate the model as you go forward.

When we work on this with you then you get the added credibility of a second set of eyes and the validation that “our consultant looked at the market and built this model”. We’ve done it for others, we can do it for you.

I'm Steve Willson and I'm one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions - using better data, a better approach, or a better frame of reference. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.  For more news you can use to help you or your team to make better decisions, click the handy button, below.

HELP ME MAKE BETTER DECISIONS!
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<![CDATA[What are we deciding, exactly?]]>Fri, 21 Jun 2019 18:19:12 GMThttp://panoptika.ca/blog/what-are-we-deciding-exactly
One of the challenges when there has been pent-up demand for action, is that if a team comes forward to figure out the way forward, each member has his or own stake in the decisions as well. Everyone brings emotions, needs, agendas, perspectives, and old wounds to the table. That's why it is so important to ask this question at the outset, and to not move forward until there is agreement:

"What are we deciding?"

Then, if the process gets sidetracked by the many agendas at the table, or an individual needs to be heard, or something else takes the conversation in an unintended direction (as it invariably will), any member can get things back on track by asking, "What are we deciding, again? Let's park everything else that doesn't relate to this direct decision, and get back to those items once we have decided." This is a way to refocus the conversation on the decision, separate from people's individual needs, yet without suggesting that any of the "sidetracks" are invalid or not worth discussing. 

I'm Megann Willson and I'm one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions - using better data, a better approach, or a better frame of reference. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.  For more news you can use to help you or your team to make better decisions, click the handy button, below.
I want to make better decisions!
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<![CDATA[It's not about me, it's about us. Using empathy to create abundance.]]>Fri, 14 Jun 2019 14:24:51 GMThttp://panoptika.ca/blog/use-empathy-to-create-abundance
According to psychology there are three types of Empathy; Cognitive, Emotional and Compassionate. My brother, the PhD Psychologist, could explain this better than I can, but here goes…

Cognitive is about perspective, knowing what another person is feeling or thinking.  It lacks the emotional component of the other two types and so is easier for us rational humans to understand and use.
Emotional empathy goes a layer deeper and is that sense you have about feeling someone’s pain or suffering. It’s the feeling you get when you see the advertising for starving children or displaced persons, then you go on with your normal activities.

The final layer is Compassionate empathy, where we not only feel the pain, but are compelled to act upon it. Mother Teresa is a model we could use to demonstrate the extreme of compassionate empathy.
Look around you these days and what you see is a whole lot of self-interest, a zero-sum attitude, in order for me to win you must lose. Empathy is the tool you can use to escape this destructive cycle and create a space for abundance.

So, in business, which of these empathy models do we want to employ? To steal a phrase from “A League of Their Own” and mangle it: “There’s no crying in business”.

When preparing for a meeting or negotiation, employing Cognitive Empathy will allow you to explore the thoughts, constraints and motivations of the other person. Ask yourself and your team questions such as:
What constitutes success from the customer’s perspective? Who do they need to influence to get a decision made? How can you empower them in a way that creates value for them with little or no cost to you?

This is a different way of thinking, so you may need some help along the way.  At Panoptika we have the experience and the frameworks to help you and your team develop these skills and create more wins.
We feel for you!

I'm Steve Willson and I'm one of the partners in PANOPTIKA. We help clients to see everything and make better decisions.
​You can also connect with us on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn and on Fridays we share news you can use with our community.
sign me up for news!
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