Category Archives: Strategy

Six Myths about Data-Driven Design | UX Magazine

Very much appreciate the effort from this article.  The myths (especially 2-6), resonate very strongly with me, and something that I’ve seen over and over in management consulting, client side management, and ad agencies alike.  It’s really time that we move beyond silos of comprehension, and towards a more holistic view of how data can support design and planning.

Six Myths about Data-Driven Design | UX Magazine.

2014-01: There are bold moves, and there are strategic moves

I had a very interesting conversation with a colleague of mine about how we would think about the various directions that a particular project could go. The conversation stemmed from a rather brutal conversation with a senior leader of our organization.  We discussed with him and other leaders a project that we had been working on for a few months, and suddenly, the whole project was being put into question, and our department’s strategy put into question.
The senior leader in question was keen on making big strategic moves based on our experience from the past 3-4 years.  After this particular meeting, my colleague and I, spent quite a it of time talking through context and intentions, and really what this particular leader meant.
It came down to, we found, a bit of a misunderstanding on the difference between bold moves and strategic moves. The two are not mutually exclusive, but as we talked through we discovered that often people erroneously use them interchangeably.
  • A bold move does not need to be strategic, but it can be. A bold move is flashy, visible move.
  • A strategic move does not need to be bold, but it can be. A strategic move is a move supporting an existing or new strategy.  When a move supports a new strategy, it can come across as a bold move.
So we have 4 categories, and this could be confusing…  So let’s talk through real or theoretical examples (I would welcome any real examples that you may have):
  • Bold and strategic: Ron Johnson’s move to change the ailing JC Penney but radically changing the internal layout and coupon-ing that the brand was known for was a bold and strategic move.  Unfortunately that was not a successful move, but it was both a bold move (change format for new customers) supporting a new strategy (revive brand and access a new – younger – market).
  • Bold and not strategic: I can’t think of any example here, but if you were to use a POI (Portfolio of Initiatives), this would be a move that would be unfamiliar (to the company) or uncertain (to the industry), with very short term (burst, flashy), with and very large market cap at stake.
  • Not bold but strategic: Promoting people from within an organization suffering from staff attrition, low morale due to market instability, or active M&A activity or rumors.  Also acquiring small startups to create a portfolio of IP that may not be easily noticeable (i.e. head of the market understanding).  These also could be the moves that allow to continue to build up on a strategy.
  • Not bold and not strategic: Probably too many fit here.  These are the day to day to activities, that at an organization may do.  Revisiting vendor contracts, hiring junior colleagues, etc…
As I write this, I can’t stop to think of the ties back to the POI (which I reference above).  If you are not familiar with the POI, you can read more about it on the website (  Maybe there’s more there…  What do you think?

2013-08: Demographics of 1

A very quick post to get some thoughts down on paper.

I used to work in consumer marketing in banking.  One of the regular habits was trying to understand our customer base and our prospects.  For that, we relied heavily in segmentation.  Segmentation, is nothing more than trying to take a group of people (say all your customers) and try to group them or organize them into sub groups that allow you to understand how they behave or what their preferences may be.  In banking, we often use life stage market segmentation, as you can rationalize people’s financial decisions and the opportunities to market to them through the stages of life that they go through.
For example, one could argue that many people go to college, and to go to college they will need to borrow money.  This is a great time to talk to them about student loans.  Therefore you could train your marketing segmentation to find all people in the age of 16-21 and who either are in college towns today, or live in areas that have college degrees (as there’s an assumed correlation between presence of degrees and likelihood to attend.
One can keep on coming with similar examples of why it makes sense to segment the population into logical sub-groupings, and trust me, the nefarious applications of this are not lost on me (google red-lining).
But this is a very antiquated model.  It’s a model that’s based on a) a lack of availability (either due to internal technical means, or simply lack of capture) of data on customers, b) antiquated concepts of human behavior, c) focused on likely models (i.e. normal distribution of data, “we have a high degree of confidence that this large group behaves the same”), and d) not appreciative of the ways in mobile and digital technology have vastly changed how we behave.
So the next wave is the marketing to the individual… Marketing to 1, segmenting to 1 or demographics of 1.  What does this mean?  Basically that we need to develop mechanisms for marketing to the individual at the right point in time or place.  Therefore making your (the marketer’s) connection to the individual extremely relevant and pertinent to the moment and/or the place that you are in.  For example, a bank should start to think about prompting me with options for banking when it studies my behavior and sees when I (not the people in my age, income, geographic segment) use their services, and predict what I will I as an individual will need. It’s that magical moment of relevance that is so well captured in movies when the relationship between two protagonists is epitomized by one knowing the right details about the other, without that other having described them.
We are starting to see this develop with push towards geofencing, mobile advertisement, etc…  But how do organizations get themselves ready to develop marketing strategy based on this new data landscape, and more importantly how do they shift from their current antiquated models and data systems to these newer systems.