What Business are We In?

I was driving to work today and passed an oil change station. I don’t worry about oil changes any longer since I am driving an electric vehicle, but it reminded me of an energy audit I did for Quaker State oil decades ago. It was such a pleasant visit, helping them find energy efficiency opportunities and ways to improve plant throughput. But, as I sat at lunch with the plant manager the rest of the story emerged.

Lunch started with the usual pleasantries which included my admiration for his products. While he appreciated my accolades about how good they were he reminded me that people no longer changed their own oil … they had their oil changed by others. And, the brand choice of the oil itself disappeared. So, it mattered more who changed the oil … which then determined the oil used.

Before you get too cocky in your response, think about the changes we are experiencing now with Siri, Cortana, the Amazon Echo, etc. We ask Siri where the nearest this or that is … and perhaps we see all our choices … perhaps not. Google the questions you hope your customers ask about you and your service offerings and see what else shows up … perhaps listed ahead of your offering. Perhaps your offering doesn’t even show.

Digital engagement requires you are noticed and then positively viewed. Perhaps you are invisible are not differentiable.

Go ahead, Google what you think customers are asking about yourself.

Reinventing the Wheel

Thank goodness I am not traveling like I used to.  But if I were still a road warrior, this latest luggage invention would have gotten my attention.  And, for those of you who are still on the road, take a look at this.

There are several things to notice about this.  First, watch how you get drawn into the story.  Remember that this is a Kickstarter campaign ad … they are trying to raise money by pre-selling this luggage concept.  The features of the bag along with the benefits become an integral part of the story.  And, one of the most distinguishing features is the wheel design.  I have to admit, when I saw the picture I was curious how anything so absurd could be an improvement.

Well, once again, you get drawn in and witness how this wheel design overcomes one of the most common problems we have all had with “wheelie” luggage … crossing uneven/changing floor surfaces.  We see it, remember our difficulties, and almost immediately “get it” … case closed …

Then, the deal is cinched when he uses the phone app to locate his missing bag.

Perhaps the only mistake in the ad design are his closing words of attack … not needed … less is more … let it go.

Lots to think about. I almost wish I was back on the road just to have one of these.

Someone Moved the River

This one never hit my viewing screen until my pastor mentioned it to me this last weekend.  He knows I blog about disruption and how change can catch us by surprise.  He studied this story because it has a lot to do with how congregations of believers can leave a religious organization with a “bridge to nowhere” as the analogy goes.

Here is one of many posts about the now famous “hurricane proof” bridge given to Honduras by the Japanese. 

People who see disruption on the horizon are often criticized by those who would side on the position that there is not yet enough information to do something.  In a sense, you can’t “monetize” the solution until you clearly have the problem.  That is a lot like justifying buying fire insurance after you have had a fire and can clearly show the benefits of insurance.

My wife calls me Dr. Doom because I tend to be one of the people who can see multiple calamities working together.  That didn’t just happen by chance.  I worked on nuclear power submarine power plants for six years under Admiral Rickover and after I finished my masters in operations research and statistics went to my boss with proof that Rickover’s insistence on avoiding multiple calamities was statistically improbable to say the least.  My boss then put me on the mailing list to see the operational problems operating submarines had at sea.  After about a month of reading those, I pleaded to stop sending them to me.  It was clear that Murphy’s law was true.

We are prone to become cocky about our engineering prowess.  Perhaps we should instead always be asking “what if” about things that seem unlikely but if they did happen might put us on the rocks.  Walking humbly … nah … not popular at all.



How much are Americans Willing to pay?

A recent article on customer attitudes toward climate change and what energy companies should do about it is really telling.  To no one’s surprise, customers may want something to happen, but are less than willing to pay to make it happen:

 “To combat climate change, 57 percent of Americans are willing to pay a $1 monthly fee; 23 percent are willing to pay a monthly fee of $40.  Party identification and acceptance of climate change are the main determining factors of whether or not people are willing to pay, with Democrats being consistently more inclined to pay a fee.”

You can read all the details here.

But, the obvious missing data is whether even $40 per person will make much of a dent in the climate change forecast.  I was watching the news this morning where an astrophysicist was talking about how some things might change over the next 100,000 years.  No offense, but I simply do not care nor should anyone else for that matter …

I have enough to worry about that is in the here and now.

Sometimes you just get lucky.

I was shocked to see that the latest trend in hair color for this year is … wait for it… perhaps you guessed it … it is GRAY!  Yippee … I am finally on the trendy side of things.

As you must know, I have always been a bit out of phase with where the trends were.  I was a geek decades before that was trendy.  I stopped wearing a tie or even a tie tac (remember those) way before that was trendy.

So, gray hair is now in.  Read about it for yourself.