The way people approach decisions is fascinating. Not all decisions are created equal of course; there are those that require immediate action or opportunity will be lost, while others are best decided after careful consideration and research. The weight of each type of decision varies, as do the repercussions for acting quickly or being too slow.
In business, the majority of people tend to flip-flop the decision process. Sometimes easy questions or calls to action come about, and usually they can be handled simply by giving it a little thought and making a decision. However, most people tend to slow these down by moving the decision to be made to a larger group…emails are drafted, many people are CCd and doubt is dispersed in many forms, including questions like “what do you think we should do?” and the single-word pass-off, “thoughts?” Unfortunately, making mountains out of mole holes is commonplace in today’s business world.
You Just Can’t See It. Or you don’t want to see it.
Over the roughly two decades that I’ve been involved with business, either as an entrepreneur, an executive director or a social media strategist, I’ve heard the same frustration voiced over and over again, in almost every market I’ve worked in. After hours, weeks or sometimes months of seemingly endless meetings, late-night war room strategy sessions and presentation after presentation of focus group reports, eventually the people in charge of making the decisions for the direction of an organization bury their face in their hands and declare in frustration and defeat, “if only we knew what everybody wanted from us, we could just give it to them“.
This has applied to product development, marketing campaigns, service implementation…anything and everything a company (for profit or not) could possibly put together to offer a group of people. “If only we could find out what our customers want…”
Studies are ordered. Thousands of dollars…or millions…are spent on consultants and burned up in labor hours. When the senior management team meets to discuss, debate and dissect the data, 20% of the organization’s labor dollars are being paid out for each hour they cannot figure out what their audience wants. At some point or another, late into the night, one of the people around the tables feels the frustration of a seemingly insurmountable task. They want to be home with their family, they want to get back to the work they were hired to do instead of trying to figure out puzzles…they want to solve the mystery of how to move forward. But how? And then the idea is presented:
“We should try social media. I know we already have a Facebook and Twitter page, but instead of just posting something once a week, why don’t we ask the people that follow us what they want, and then listen to them? Also, why don’t we pay for a monitoring service so we know what people are saying about us and even our competitors? People are already telling us what they want, we just need to listen, reply and implement”
The silence only last for a moment, before a chorus of “we will lose control of the message” and “we can’t create a forum for negative comments” starts. The boss makes an expression that is a combination of fear and patronization and simply says, “that’s too risky, we’re not doing it” before starting a discussion about when the best time to meet again will be to tackle this impossible chore.
Sometimes what you need is right in front of you, you just can’t see it…or worse yet, you don’t want to see it.
I’m not at the F8 conference today, but I have been reading the news and keeping up with the announcements. So far, the most exciting stories I have read have to do with Facebook Insights, the dashboard for page admins. If you run a fan page (now called a “like” page, I suppose) for a brand, agency or just for yourself, this is important information.
To date, the Insights have been underwhelming. They have covered only the most basic information, and as somebody who works with big brands to engage and guide the community, I’ve got to say they have been less than helpful. It seems that all of that changes today, however. Facebook has announced “Facebook for Web Sites” and have already published full documentation about it. The insight to user behavior should be interesting, as Facebook says:
“Once your app is up-and-running, you can get detailed analytics about the demographics of your users and how users are sharing from your application with Insights.
This morning I watched the new spot from Nike that features Tiger Woods, just in time for his return to golf at The Masters. When I first viewed it, the page had already been viewed 600k+ times on YouTube. As of this writing, it’s over 1.1MM; it’s obviously getting a lot of attention. I’ve been thinking about this video all day, going back and forth about how I feel about it. The video is embedded below, and it’s worth watching. Let me summarize what you see:
It’s a :30 spot in black and white, with Tiger Woods standing still. He says nothing. He blinks. The voice over is of his father, Earl Woods, who passed away in 2006. He is talking to his son, and says, “Tiger…I am more prone to be inquisitive; to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was, I want to find out what your feelings are, and…did you learn anything?” It flashes to a black background and the simple, iconic Nike swoosh.