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Volume #72 - February 2012

2012 has started off like a sprint, with eight projects and three brand-new clients. The planning we have done with our clients around simplifying their clients’ experience, developing a strong, connected story, and working on transformational strategy is all producing results in 2012. These are fantastic projects, but they sure make airports and hotels my temporary hang outs! From Las Vegas to Miami, from Mexico to Minneapolis, I have been zooming since the year began!

I just finished a major update on the Transformation Strategy platform by incorporating a strong, impactful to-do list.  I have also created new filters for developing simple team operating systems for our Curious Clarity of Teams program. 
I love the challenge of a new project, especially in an industry that is unfamiliar to me.  It pushes me to expand my understanding and find the connection points between my ideas and the new client’s goals.  I had three of these new partners/clients in January, including new businesses in education, a new type of technology, and an international medical company.
In the 4th quarter of 2011, clients introduced ideas to their teams around our platforms of Repeatable Successful Acts, The Curious Clarity of Teams, Dazzling Blue, and Transformation-introducing strategies.  2012 now puts us in the application phase of these platforms as we apply the strategies to their internal systems and processes.  Believe it or not, the engagement in the idea is often more difficult than the work around applications.  Once there is momentum, teams add energy to the “doing” part.
February will have fantastic projects around Dazzling Blue, Elegant Simplicity, and Transformation.  On February 21, I get to present a custom program for the Susan G. Komen For The Cure folks, all around a movie theme (right in my wheel house and a ton of fun) called WHY WE LOVE THE MOVIES.  It will be hosted in Dallas by my friends at the Studio Movie Grill.  If you are in the area, I would love to have you come!  By the way, the 2011 Top 10 and Bottom 5 Movie List is hitting over 600 sent.  If you want one, send me a note and I will get it to you.

I am nearing completion of the latest Creative Ventures program, THE HALF LIFE OF IDEAS, and it should debut in the second quarter.

Thanks to all of you for taking time to read my stuff and participate in my programs.


America is ripe for a service revolution.

-Harvey Mackay

I have the fantastic privilege of getting to help design and then work on strategic platforms that center on “the client experience.” You have heard me preach time and time again that a large portion of your strategic effort should be regularly centered on those things within your control, those elements that can move your needle, creating separation and differentiation in an increasingly commoditized world.  At the forefront of this way of thinking is the client experience.

Over a dozen of my clients are in the heart of new thinking around the power of dynamic client experiences.  From meetings to follow-up, from product designs to consistent touch points, we are seeing new and creative ways to sustain business by improving the client experience.

With a number of my clients we are focused on FRICTION.  Almost every kind of human interaction creates the real and perceived possibility of friction, and the more frictionless an experience you can create for your clients, the better your chance of turning a single transaction into a relationship.  You are looking to create “ease of doing business.”

Here is a filter to use:  EASY– SIMPLE – HUMAN BASED

  • Easy = reduce the effort needed.

  • Simple = reduce the levels of complexity.

  • Human Based = make it a straightforward experience based on the user, not the deliverer.  It means it appeals to our senses.

You are looking to create a frictionless experience.

Amazon hit the jackpot with their “one-click order:”  Identify what you want, and a simple interactive algorithm will find all your retained information related to the order, and boom, you are done with the buying experience.  Frictionless.  Easy.  Only one thing to do.  Simple.  Only one click.  Human based, done and forget about it until the UPS guy arrives!

On the flip side, Best Buy’s insistence on selling their various warranty packages on every electronic purchase creates friction.  Even when you say “no” they begin their secondary pitch entitled, “How can you be so dumb to say no?”  This “planned friction point” is repeatedly the number one complaint about their client experience.  You might want to give a little attention to your number one friction point.

The idea is to PAY ATTENTION to these customer conflict areas.  It doesn’t sound so tough, does it?

Then why does friction abound, especially in retail?  There are horrific telephone trees, terrible signage (one of my huge pet peeves), product instructions written so even Stephen Hawking would struggle, financial reporting instruments that are so incomprehensible you’d think it’s a joke, and payment and delivery systems that scream friction... and aggravation.

Dell Computers’ slip in sales is not related to the quality of their machines, but to their customer service, a clear squeal of friction.  On the other hand, Helzberg Diamonds created a return policy so easy, simple, and human-based that they are now being studied by the retail giants.  Friction removed.

Imagine a home buyer shopping three banks for a mortgage and having the following experience.  Bank #1:  “We are available for your call only between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.”  Bank #2:  “Here is our 25 page form, fill it out and let us know, and then we can talk.”  Bank #3:  “When would it be convenient for us to visit?  I know you work and would be happy to arrange an evening call to help with your schedule.”  Ahh, that’s a bank that pays attention to friction points.

Hotels know that guests hate, I mean 
hate, to wait in line to check in.  Check out the check-in desk at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.  A direct hit on a key friction point.

Here is how the concept flows.  Focus on those things you can control, one being the client experience.  Next, create a filter around your focus.  Try starting with FRICTION POINTS.  Next apply the “ESH formula:” EASY, SIMPLE, HUMAN-BASED.

Energy is a precious item, and its application should be driven by a form of the Law of Conservation of Energy.  In simple terms, the energy into a system should equal the energy out.  If you put your energy into the client experience and attack your known friction points, your return will be success.  Hey, that ain’t bad!


COMMON GROUND:  An ever-changing business environment can make for some strange bedfellows.  Nissan chief Carlos Ghosen had the pleasure of announcing a three-way partnership between Daimler-Benz, Renault, and Nissan that resulted in an agreement to produce Mercedes-Benz engines at the Nissan Plant in Tennessee.  A German, French, and Japanese union with a Tennessee address.  Ghosen said, “You are going to see more collaboration in different geographical zones around capabilities, platforms, and opportunities.”  Welcome to the global business neighborhood!


UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES:  In the recent past, Florida allowed the import of Burmese Pythons as exotic pets (what ever happened to a goldfish?).   Turns out, Burmese Pythons are kind of hard to keep track of and they love the Florida everglades.  With few natural predators, their population has exploded (how do escaped Burmese Pythons find love?) and their appetite for native little critters is huge (AND a 200 pound snake is hard to handle!).  Their impact on the ecosystem of the everglades has been devastating, as regular sightings of raccoons, rabbits, and other mammals are down more than 90%.  Since ecosystems are connected, that means a boom in the population of plant life and insects usually consumed by the mammals.


CHINA IN A BUSINESS MOOD:  Xi Jinxing is probably going to be China’s next president and may hold that position in less than a year.  Xi Jinxing used to run Zhejiang Province, which is China’s hotbed of entrepreneurial and pro-business activity.  His capitalistic spirit should accompany him to the presidency and could help continue to shape China’s emerging economy with a greater leaning towards a more open trade policy with the rest of the world.  Funny what a little profit will do to your thinking, regardless of the language you think in.

Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at steve@creativeventures.com or give him a call at 972-490-7717.
See more at creativeventures.com and stephenharvill.com

Steve Harvill • Office: (972) 490-7717 • Cell: (972) 345-9480 • Fax: (972) 386-9569
15615 Regal Hill Circle • Dallas, TX 75248