As an HVAC, Plumbing and or Electrical contractor, do you employ human beings? Are your customers human beings? In your world of work, isn’t it really humans being with humans?
Why then do we continue to make it so mechanical, so corporate, so impersonal?
IDEO is a global design company: “We create positive impact through design.”
Design companies like IDEO create, make useful stuff and make stuff better.
While every company in one way or the other solves problems, design companies are paid to solve specific problems. So we shouldn’t be surprised to learn of the science, sophistication and thought that goes into problem solving.
The intellectual firepower of a design firm like IDEO is equivalent to the business and player talent it requires for an NFL team to win seven or eight Super Bowls in a row. In order to design and problem solve effectively IDEO, in spite of its world class arsenal, breaks down a problem to its bare essence. On its way to a clear understanding of the problem, they seek a clear understanding of WHO is involved, they seek to understand those humans being humans.
Let’s explore a company trying to make stuff better. Its goal? To make their workspace more creative.
Company leaders observe what is working for the Google’s and Facebook’s. Children-like adult playgrounds with world acclaimed chefs making lunch. Or they see how coworking spaces have been the latest rage. “We’ll take the best of both and create a world class creative environment,” they postulate as they pat themselves on the back.
Did they seek a clear understanding of WHO is involved? No.
On the other hand, IDEO goes directly to the people who will be working in the workspace and creates a framework.
Although I invoke brevity and creative license to bend this example to our need, it nonetheless demonstrates one of the most important characteristics that IDEO and other top design firms employ: Empathy.
To design and solve problems companies must engage with and understand the end user’s wants, needs and feelings.
IDEO’s entire approach on design is Human-Centered:
“When you understand the people you’re trying to reach—and then design from their perspective—not only will you arrive at unexpected answers, but you’ll come up with ideas that they’ll embrace.”
Do you operate a Human-Centered company?
Every facet of your company is open game for the human-centered approach. We’ll examine one facet that pertains to you and your coworkers (and inevitably your customers) and then one that pertains to your customers.
Your company’s About page
Here’s an example - “All of our technicians are licensed, trained professionals dedicated to efficient, quality service at a competitive price. We respect your time and home, which is why we make it our top priority to arrive on time with all of the necessary equipment to get the job done right – the first time. We help you find ways to reduce your energy bills through a thorough cost-benefits analysis. We have so much faith in our technicians, methods, and products that we back all of our work with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.”
Does this feel humanistic to you? It sounds more like an advertisement than an About page, right? How could you make it more human?
Make your About page about you and your people.
Who leads the company? Why is she in business? What is she about? What are her passions and interests? What does she look like? Who visits people’s homes to fix, maintain and replace equipment? What are their passions and interests? What do they look like? Same goes for the sales, office and warehouse folks. Who is your company about?
Your customer personas
A persona is a composite sketch of a target market based on validated commonalities - not assumptions - that inform a marketing strategy to drive profitable business*.
Sharp companies validate the commonalities assigned to a persona. Some even name the persona to make it more personable and real. Is there a way to make your persona more human?
Base personas on a real person who personifies your collection of commonalities. While you may create a fictitious name, the persona is based upon a real human being. And to add firepower to your sketch of this real live person, all of your marketing people should visit with her in her home and be on a first name basis as well. You too.
From a marketing perspective, the first step for your company to be more humanistic is to have your marketing people (and you) get out into the field - to be present with your customers and coworkers. Then with each customer touchpoint you create and or modify, make sure it’s humans being with humans. You are communicating with a real live person, not a faceless consumer.
An added bonus from this marketing field effort is that not only will you communicate better, you’ll see ways in which to improve and optimize your operations.
Make one humanistic change and feel the positive feedback and you’ll catch the fever to make more.
Humans being humans being with humans is humanistic. Got that Bob?...Susie?
*My definition is adopted from Ardath Albee’s work.