Monday, March 25, 2013

A Success in HD, but at What Cost?

This might seem like an unusual choice for a business oriented blog. The point I want to make is that the issues impacting growth are similar to ALL markets. In this case, the impact of introducing a new product— high definition reproduction of opera performed at the New York Met and shown globally in movie theaters—on the legacy businesses. The underlying dynamics and discussions on the stress in this situation are universal.

Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, now says that it was not the most fortunate choice of words when he recently attributed a decline in attendance at the house to the “cannibalization” of the audience by the company’s high-definition broadcasts....
...In many ways the project, which started in 2006, has been an indisputable success. The Feb. 16 broadcast of the Met’s wildly colorful new production of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” updated to Las Vegas in the early 1960s, grossed $2.6 million in North American movie theaters alone, with an estimated audience of 113,000 in more than 800 outlets, according to the Met. An additional 125,000 saw the broadcast on 900 screens in 30 countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, Russia and Latin America...
....if opera fans in the greater New York area get used to the convenience and affordability of seeing performances in their local movie houses, will they eventually stop coming to the Met? And will live video performances, with close-up camerawork, vivid sound systems and intermission interviews, become more appealing to some than seeing an opera from a top balcony seat in a big house? ...
...Looked at in context, he said, “we have quadrupled our paying audience.” The decline of ticket-buyers at the house is just a couple of percentage points, he explained. The total “paying audience” is slightly over three million, which includes up to 800,000 attendees at the Met each season.
Who is going to the HD broadcasts, especially in the New York area? The Met has done some surveying, Mr. Gelb said. The results suggest that most attendees are already interested in opera. Whether the HD venture will convert new audiences into operagoers is another question....
...the HD broadcasts are like an alternative opera experience, with sophisticated camerawork, high-quality sound systems and the ambiance that comes from being part of an audience in a movie theater. The broadcasts are invaluable, of course, and the sophistication of the directing is beyond what would seem possible to accomplish live...
...Those young people who see their first operas in HD broadcasts might easily conclude that they get what opera is all about. It might be a hard sell to convince these newcomers that no matter what they thought about seeing “Parsifal” in a movie theater, opera is not opera unless you hear those amazing voices live in a house with splendid natural acoustics, like the Met.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Know the Difference Between Your Data and Your Metrics
by Jeff Bladt and Bob Filbin  |

The following excerpts should encourage you to read this article. Deciding on the metrics you measure vs. the data you collect is critical. Be sure the metric you chose REALLY drives the results you want.

We were concerned with the wrong metric. A metric contains a single type of data…..A successful organization can only measure so many things well and what it measures ties to its definition of success….there is a difference between numbers and numbers that matter. This is what separates data from metrics.
You can't pick your data, but you must pick your metrics… 
…Keep in mind that all metrics are proxies for what ultimately matters…Metrics are what you measure. And what you measure is what you manage to…organizations become their metrics….In the business world, we talk about the difference between vanity metrics and meaningful metrics. Vanity metrics are like dandelions - they might look pretty, but to most of us, they're weeds, using up resources, and doing nothing for your property value…. 
Metrics are only valuable if you can manage to them 
Good metrics have three key attributes: their data are consistent, cheap, and quick to collect. A simple rule of thumb: if you can't measure results within a week for free (and if you can't replicate the process), then you're prioritizing the wrong ones. There are exceptions, but they are rare….Organizations can't control their data, but they do control what they care about.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How to Find and Amplify Creativity
by Bruce Nussbaum

This article presents fascinating  and profound concepts:

In 2010, IBM ran a survey of 1,500 CEOs and found that the most valuable management skill was no longer "operations" or "marketing" but "creativity." Since then BCG, Accenture and other consultancies have confirmed the global skill shift. Yet, only 9% of all public and private corporations in the US do any product or service innovation, according to the NSF's Business R&D and Innovation Surveys of 2010 and 2011. CEOs say that creativity is a crucial leadership skill, but few apparently have it. 
And no wonder. Managers are trained in the values of efficiency and the skills of quantitative analytic s  That's what most Americans believe in and what most business schools teach. So we now face a difficult transition. After decades of managing to squeeze out profits, how can executives quickly shift to amplifying the creative capacities .of their people. 
Some of the concepts discussed are:
map your circles of creativity. Businesses are pyramids built to promote efficiency. But creativity is generated within circles — playgrounds — where a small number of highly talented people, usually in twos, threes or small teams, work. 
But generating new ideas, even if they're original, is not enough. Creativity needs to scale in order to generate economic value. So you also need to identify your creativity brokers — people with good judgment and access to resources. 
 move toward multi-generational leadership teams. In a period of cascading change, we are all immigrants to new technologies and new shifts in culture. As hard as we try to immerse ourselves, we simply cannot know as much as someone who embodies these changes 
change your consumer frame…. User engagement (UE) is the new creative competence for the future. Think about aura — the things that beckon you and keep you interested — and design it into your products and services as Apple and Nike have done. 
Most corporations with decades of building a culture of efficiency can't organically transform themselves into a den of creativity. They shouldn't try. The odds of success are pretty low. IBM did it. P&G is still trying. GE may make it. But most others won't. Established companies can, however, be a platform for creativity. They can learn to go outside their own walls to identify creativity they can leverage, buy and then scale.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stop Listening to Your Customers
by Steve Martin  |   1:00 PM January 30, 2013

We have heard this before but it is a very difficult thing to incorporate into the culture of your business—don’t listen to your customer, study them!!

Every business is interested in what influences and persuades their customers and consumers, and one of the more common strategies to eliciting this information is to simply ask them. There are various ways that this can be done: You can ask customers directly during a face to face meeting, or you could get them to complete a survey or an online questionnaire. … 
…. But regardless of how you go about asking the question, you need to recognize that there is a fundamental problem with asking people what will persuade them to change: Most of the time they won't know the answer.
It's not that they won't give an answer. They'll often provide plenty. It's just that the answers they provide will have a high likelihood of being wrong…
…. Behavioral scientists Wes Schultz and Robert Cialdini provide compelling evidence of why asking people to predict what will influence their future decisions and behaviors is so often ineffective. In one set of studies, they asked several hundred homeowners in California to predict which of four messages would be most successful at persuading them to take steps to conserve energy and reduce their overall consumption. The four messages were 1) conserving energy helps the environment; 2) conserving energy protects future societies; 3) conserving energy saves you money; 4) many of your neighbors are already conserving energy. 
Those shown the message about what their neighbors were doing rated it as the least likely to influence their behaviors. Yet when meter readings were taken, the researchers discovered that this was the most effective message when it came to changing behavior even though this same message was rejected by most as having any sway… 
,,,, So when it comes to getting to the heart of what actually drives decisions and behaviors, a message emerges that at first glance appears counter-intuitive: Stop listening to your customers…. 
… The implication seems clear. Ask fewer questions about what people will do and instead set up small field tests and controlled studies that observe what they actually do. In most instances, they will be lot cheaper than traditional market research approaches, and yet the insights they reveal could provide a real competitive advantage to your business