Apr 28, 2012

Perfect customer experience, answer questions before those are asked

I was reading Trendwatching latest issue on (R)etail (R)evolution and they mentioned Threadless in their article. I went to their website, because of interest on cool concepts and T-shirts.

Living in Finland has one disadvantage, often the new cool stores don't deliver to here. Often you need to go through the whole website to find out if they deliver here and what it costs.

I was so pleased, when after skimming 10 seconds of skimming thought the website, I noticed that they answered to my question before I even asked it.

As a customer experience fanboy and product manager, I just love what they do. This is the perfect way to serve a customer. Surprise customers with answers they haven't yet even asked. Thanks to Threadless.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Apr 21, 2012

Book review: Leading the Revolution by Gary Hamel

Leading the Revolution was a book I found from my friends bookshelf, when we were visiting them. He hadn't read the book and I hadn't heard anything about it beforehand, so I got the luxury to read it without many expectations towards it. Gary Hamel as a person was familiar to me, but this book wasn't.

Book is about innovation. How radical and continuous innovation is only way companies can stay on the top and profitable. Also it tells how people outside the top management can be the ones who drive the innovation in companies.

The book could be divided in two parts. The first one tells interesting ideas about innovation and how innovation works in companies nowadays. The second part tells with examples about innovation. This is quite normal division in books, but in this one, time of writing makes the division special case. Book was published in August 2000, almost at the highest peak of dot-com bubble. Business world and companies were living a special age.

1999-2000 were years that innovation was highly appreciated. Wildest ideas were appraised and stock values were growing at enormous speeds. This can be seen from the book. Book uses lot of examples from companies like Enron, Charles Schwab and Yahoo. Also Silicon Valley area overall is highly appraised in the book. Of course this questions credibility of the book and it's ideas. Lot of success stories from this book have turned out to be disappointments at the end.

I don't want to judge one of world leading business thinkers from selecting examples that didn't succeed at the end. I actually think, that these examples and failures proves the point of the book. Only the ones who can really keep on reinventing their business concepts can live at the top for longer time. No one saw at that time that Google, Facebook and Apple would be dominating the technology and innovation world as much as they do nowadays. The same way, no one saw what was going to happen to some of these companies used as example in this book.

Even though at this time it might look highly unlikely, it is actually probable that in 10 years, Google, Facebook and Apple have lost their spots at top. Same have happened to almost all big, mighty companies. They fly high, lose the sight and then they will crash hard.

It was refreshing to read innovation theories from 10 years back. Most of it is totally valid even today. This book unfortunately lost part of it's value with dot-com bubble and Enron scandal. This shouldn't change the fact, that book is full of good thinking of how companies should support innovation and reinvent their business models often enough. I liked the book and with these known shortcomings, it's still a good book to read.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Apr 13, 2012

Good multitasking skills means good single tasking

Once in a while someone states that it's essential nowadays have good multitasking skills. Then at the same time someone else states, that you need to learn to focus on one thing to really get things done. This seems like conflict, but I think neither is really wrong or right.

Fact is that in work and personal life is more and more full of interruptions and new tasks to be done. People try to achieve more and more without making anything properly. The key for good task handling is a skill to be able to jump in to things fast and then focus on those.

Method to handle many things at the same time is to give full focus to one thing at the time, and not letting the others to disrupt your focus. Most important thing is the capability to switch tasks. It requires skill to let one thing go and jump into another. For many this is the hard part, they can't really let the other thing ago and for that reason are not able to concentrate on the new thing either.

There is couple of tricks I use for task switching. The number one thing is, there's always time for documenting the status. It doesn't take long to write down the thoughts, ideas and place you where, when you jump in to another task. When you learn it, it takes only 5-15 seconds. With doing this, your awareness can be totally focused on the new thing. Without short documentation, you need to try to keep your previous status on mind, and you can't focus on the new thing.

Second thing is closely related to the previous. In order to be able to document your situation fast, there needs to be ways to document it available. Either it's the textpad in computer, note taker in mobile or post-it with pen, these needs to be available and you need to have a practice of documenting the status with that tool. It's easy to learn, but you can't afford 30 seconds of waiting, where to document.

There are many good methodologies on concentrating on essential. I really recommend trying out habit 3 from 7 habits of highly effective people, personal backlog, personal kanban board, pomodoro or any other time and task management system. Even though these are excellent ways to learn to use your time more efficiently, these still don't change the fact that sometimes you need to change tasks rapidly. Either it is the phone, email, text or something that comes to your mind suddenly, you still need to be ready to act on it. For that, it's best to learn to change tasks fast on the fly.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Apr 9, 2012

Learning from others

There's something to learn from everyone. Everyone have some skill or practice that they are good at and also some habit or practice that they could do much better. There's learnings in good and bad.

Learning is often in the beginning mimicking others. We first do as others do in same situations. Then some get to the next level on understanding why things are done as they are. For most of the things learning is always mimicking the behavior of others.

It's important not to be stuck with learning only from those who you admire. There's something in every person that should be learned. It's important to keep your senses open. Otherwise you lose many potential learnings.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Apr 7, 2012

Mixed reality glasses

I've been intrigued by these augmented/mixed reality glasses since I first saw those. At the same time, those feel such unusable due to interfering with your vision, but still looking such a convenient on having your hands free. I can only imagine what rules and laws will be invented to regulate the usage of those. There's still something so cool about those. Here's the latest Google project "Project Glass", which seems to have an actual prototype already existing.

There's nothing really new in this Google concept though. Here's few years old concept video about the same subject from Nokia. I just hope that Google is more serious and longer in the way to actually implement this than Nokia was. i haven't head anything about this project since this video.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen