Archives for August 2009

The Three Marriages

3marriagesReimagining Work, Self and Relationship by David Whyte

David Whyte’s earlier book, The Heart Aroused, is a favourite of mine so I looked forward to reading this one, published in January 2009.

In it he gives us a new take on work-life balance, writing about the way  most  approaches to this elusive quality lead us to two undo-able and often opposing agendas (of course it’s not meant to happen that way, but I agree, it’s pretty much what happens). Instead he looks at our longing to meet both personal and work demands and says it’s really more like a three-strand rope to weave than something to balance.

Work, relationship and self are intertwined and need to be understood that way rather than as separate areas competing for our attention and time.

He’s a good story teller and illustrates this perspective by exploring the lives of some great writers (Dante, Jane Austen, Robert Louis Stevenson) and the way their commitment to work, self and relationship informed their lives and work. It’s a poet’s call to go after the deeper satisfaction you seek in your life together with meaningful direction on accomplishing this; the writing is lovely and persuasive.

Summer in the City

aimeeToday I had an early morning leadership training session for a client, so woke at 5:00 AM, about two hours before I am usually ready to give up sleeping. It was still dark, and hard to get moving until the light began to show. Aimee the West Highland Terrier and I emerged for her morning walk about 6:00.

The day was still cool, fresh and still. While Aimee sniffed the air I watched the early shift at VGH park their cars and head toward the hospital. Some strode purposefully along while others strolled and stopped to smile at Aimee. A woman came by with golf clubs slung over her shoulder and waited on the corner for her golfing buddy to come by and pick her up. A woman in black running shorts and a red tank jogged by, her hair pulled back from her face in a pony tail that bounced with each step; she gave us a quick smile then focused on the distance.

There was a kind of camaraderie on the street; it was a lovely morning and we were all up to enjoy it before most of the city.  There was more activity at this early hour than when I usually took Aimee for her walk a bit later.  On fine summer days in the city, the early morning is the time to enjoy before the sizzle of the day’s events and temperature take over.

Metaphor Sparks Innovation

rowingSteve McCallion’s Fast Company article, Building Consumer Experience Value Using the Power of Metaphors, provides another avenue to explore when trying to think outside your current box.

He says that thinking about innovation has shifted from products to consumer experience and provides examples of businesses that have used a focus on experience to build market share.

“A lot of companies struggle with the idea that this orchestration can create significant value. They are often looking for a silver bullet–a single product concept that they can patent and protect. But with experience innovation, the organizational device that holds a collection of products and services together is critical to value creation–the silver bullet is often a metaphor.”

McCallion cites Whole Foods metaphor of an outdoor market bazaar, and Apple’s learning centre metaphor.

So here’s the question to consider as you continue to work with your mission, vision and values statements:

What metaphor will add value to your customer experience?

Three Reasons Why Beauty Means Business

shell1. Beauty lifts the spirit.
Whether you bring your service or product directly to the consumer or deal business to business, what helps you create a business environment that gives your customer an experience that lifts the spirit has never been more important. The more the world focuses on cutting costs, cutting back, and celebrating doom and gloom, the greater the need for beauty and for an emotional connection.

2. Beauty makes the ordinary an experience.
Beauty can turn a chore into an experience that we want to have again. Beauty, whether created through design or through nature, draws people to it. When something you have to do, becomes something you enjoy, you’re likely to come back. When we see something we find beautiful, our heart opens and there’s a pause, even if only for a moment.

3.  Beauty is memorable.
Aside from our desire to purchase beautiful things, we remember beauty, and it becomes a point of difference. Whether it’s the difference between Apple’s standout design and a slew of ordinary PC laptops, or the community garden spots at the centre of traffic roundabouts, and a concrete circle without plants, beauty refreshes us, and the memory lingers.