Creative mix
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Is Digital Engagement living up to it’s hype?


Digital engagement is a huge trend right now and for companies that get it right there are massive rewards & gains to be made. A lot of companies have successfully implemented new systems and tools to create a more engaged and productive workforce as well as driving innovation.  The case studies are impressive and centred around positive outcomes that make it sound easy to achieve, and they are…sort of.

A far greater amount of companies have tried to put in a tool and failed to get the results.

Measuring success first

A figure I read put the failure rate at 80% for solutions that didn’t deliver the promised results. A bit of red flag when most companies in that survey did not even have a clear understanding of what their measurement criteria should have been. They were reading what others had a achieved and thinking a straight implementation would yield the same.

The result was disillusionment and a waste of budget as well as resources. Users abandonment of the new system and going back to the old ways of working with little or no progress created a reluctance to try again.  Reasons for the failure were multiple and interdependent; problems poorly understood (not investigated), too quick to roll out a solution, not enough insight, lack of preparation, lack of research, not understanding the roles and issues of the people who will be using the tools and no clear KPIs. The criteria must be set out at the very beginning before a proposed solution is even introduced.

Engagement rules

The clue is in the name. Engagement. These have to be engaging. What is engaging is some what subjective. You cannot lift and shift what worked in one organization into another. Because the problem may be similar wrong assumptions about company culture and readiness may render it useless. How you engage and motivate staff is more important than the tools. But there are ideas and learnings that can be explored.

If you don’t know what is causing the problem you cannot create a solution

The first step is to understand the underlying problems within the organization. Sometimes an outside perspective is good. Employees may be more ‘open to tell the truth’ about what is wrong if they know what they say cannot be held against them. The structure of the company and the way people work and interact as well as culture, attitudes and mindsets all need to be considered first and foremost.

Company culture matters

Every organisation has it’s own culture and issues to resolve.  Only once the problem is understood can you start to envision the solution. The solution needs to have a set of criteria in place that it will deliver on. Having a kick off workshop with the stakeholders to drive out and prioritize the criteria will get everyone working together and understanding the trade offs.  A mix of insight and  analytics for setting the creative against a number of themes such as: adoption, time management, response speed, innovation, cost reduction and out put for a breakdown of predictable and achievable metrics.

You cannot fool people for very long.

Humans cannot be fooled for very long with a few sparkly gimmicks. People may think it looks cool at first and even in initial testing proclaim, “this is great I will use this all the time”.  But then something happens. The novelty wears off and the decline of usage starts. I’ve head it said (as an argument against the research), “oh but the client likes it”. Sure the client likes it now but will they still like it in a year when the results start coming in. Better to have those difficult conversations now and get the model right.

Competition is not team work

Studies show that pitting people against each other with leader boards and levels will not work over time. After the initial thrill of competition it becomes negative and off putting. Those people without as much time to devote to it drop off and find them penalized. Some personality types who don’t like competition and/or losing will think it is better to stay out of it. Newer users see that they will never catch up and quickly disengage. Teams become more secretive instead of more collaborative if they see others profiting from their ideas but nothing coming back. Incentives cannot be competitive over longer periods of time. Occasional contests can be good but they need to be quick and fair. An element of digital engagement could be to remove red tape and level the playing field.

The right solution for the right situation

The right solution is end result. Selecting the right model of digital engagement for the organization and situation is key. It is not a solution looking for a problem.Take the time to the work first to understand the problem and explore different options. Start small and choose a problem to focus on and create a tailored solution that fits. Understand the users and their needs. A number of solutions can be added and delivered over time and integrated together to create smoother working practices and bring different parts of the organization together. The success measures at the beginning would identify which ones to focus on first and create a type of road map but this doesn’t mean that this won’t change and other ones make take priority.

Digital engagement projects need to be handled by a User Experience professional who understands how to create, test and measure effective web / mobile solutions. A good place for further information on the types of digital engagement projects available and case studies is Digital Engagement Org.


Molecular Thoughts
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How Social Media is Rewiring the Human Brain

Molecular Thoughts

Molecular Thoughts


The way we consume information effects our brains. This is not science fiction but the result of several studies of the effect of social media on the brain. There is a deep concern that the these changes may cause problems with concentration and that the younger generation will be “less likely to undertake deep, critical analysis of issues and challenging information.”

There is worry that this could also lead to problems with obesity, a need for instant gratification, lack of conversational skills, inability to analyse and problems with a sense of self. One of the effects of social media is the need to build a profile and create an online persona status that can seem narcissistic.

It is not just teens and twenty somethings that are risk but they are at risk the most.  This is because according to research their brains are still developing and will not be fully cognitive until 25+. Predictions on ways that technology is affecting teens is still ongoing.

Taken from the mind development stages by Dr Gregory Mitchell:

For most people Fluid Intelligence ceases to develop after the age of about twenty and starts to fall after the age of 25, unless an appropriate intervention is made to continue the mind’s active development. On the other hand, many dimensions of Crystallized Intelligence typically continue to develop throughout the life span, particularly in the individual’s chosen domain of work experience. But this can limit the individual to a perspective within narrow boundaries; creativity and wisdom demand a much wider perspective, in which a range of domains are interlinked.

A recent study from Elon University and Pew Internet, gathered research from over 1,000 stakeholders and 2,000 participants stated that “Teen brains are being rewired to adapt to the new information-processing skills they will need to survive in this environment.”

Susan Price, CEO and chief Web strategist at Firecat Studio and an organizer of TEDx in San Antonio, Texas, paints a more optimistic scenario:

“Those who bemoan the perceived decline in deep thinking or engagement, face-to-face social skills and dependency on technology fail to appreciate the need to evolve our processes and behaviors to suit the new reality and opportunities. Young people and those who embrace the new connectedness are developing and evolving new standards and skills at a rate unprecedented in our history.”

The good news is that in some ways this may be of benefit. As people will no longer be reliant on memorising and accumulating fact based knowledge the changes in cognitive processing may enable people to process information faster with greater cognitive abilities.

For anyone over 25 who is consuming social media and living and breathing digital there are changes happening as well. People who are adopters and learners will gain as well. The study points that some people will coast and be left behind as laggards. There are predictions also around for the development of new value structures away from “nostalgic items” towards a shift for new, novel and an experience led culture.

“People of all ages are adjusting to a world where ‘facts’ are immediately discoverable, and judgment between competing facts becomes a primary skill.”

Read the results of the study here.

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The Social Media Governance Forum


This February I will be speaking at The Social Media Governance Forum, which I am really looking forward to.

The Social Media Governance Forum, in association with Capgemini and Sidley Austin is delighted to bring together six speakers to share their stories about social media governance.

  • Nina Barakzai (EMEA Privacy Counsel, Dell)
  • Lee Bryant (MD Europe, Dachis Group)
  • William Long (Counsel, Sidley Austin)
  • Windahl Finnigan (Head of User Experience & Creative, Capgemini)
  • Ben Page (CEO, Ipsos Mori)
  • Richard Sedley (Commercial Director, Foviance)

The six speakers bring very different perspectives on the notion of social media governance reflecting, perhaps, the many varied challenges and opportunities that are being faced daily. The way business is conducted, customers communicating with each other or knowledge shared is changing.

As The Cluetrain Manifesto said in 1999:

‘A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter – and getting smarter faster than most companies’

Different currencies are emerging in response to this ‘global conversation’, requiring people and organisations to draw on or learn new or different literacies. Sharing stories is one way to help all of us learn these literacies.

The event takes place

17th February, 9.30 – 11.30

Venue: Capgemini, 40 Holborn Viaduct , London EC1N 2PB, 8th Floor

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Crossing the Social Media Rubicon into The New Digital Mindset

The kids are growing with social media as a fact of everyday life.

There is a big discussion about where UX is going and about the impact Social Networking is having. When it comes to Social Media we have crossed the Rubicon (metaphorical point of no return). There is no going back. There is nowhere to hide. Social Media and the explosion in tools in the last of 6 months have changed the industry. Some people also argue it is changing our brains as well as our entire ways of working.

Thomas Power has a 16 minute video, called “Do you have a digital Mindset“. He talks about the new mindset and proposes we think hard about 3 words; open, random and supportive.

Old Mindset: Closed, Selective & Controlling
New Digital Mindset: Open, Random, Supportive

What is happening is the amount of information and the addiction to information as well as new skills such as filtering or curating.

We are curators now

This has part of the story of what we has UX people have to get to grips with and understand at a detail level. Understanding how people consume information as well as the underlying systems and being about to create memorable and meaningful experiences. Social media is not a role. It is becoming a part of all of our lives. To ignore this and not be a part of it is foolish. The only way to understand the phenomena of social media and include it in our solutions is to become a part of it.

The new digital mindset is changing companies to become more open as well. Nowhere is this more evident than digital. Employers and clients want hard evidence that they are buying value. Value is what UX Consultants bring to a project. Anyone who tells you that it is about producing deliverables (wireframes, site maps) is wrong. It is the thinking – understanding users through research, analysis, measuring and creating meaningful experiences.

People work with people. Companies are collections of people. The last year has seen a dramatic change in the social business. Clients are wanting to know “who” they are getting. In UX it is about having the right expertise with the hard evidence to back it up. Reputations are built on what you have done, not what you say you are going to do. This is why portfolios, qualifications and CVs miss the point. They can only show the past. Social media is making it more about the thinking and the level of communication required.

Social Media is about:

  1. Visibility
  2. Connections
  3. Collaboration
  4. Feedback

I had a conversation about how I noticed clients and potential clients were looking at our Linkedin CVs and I found it funny when I was told “that clients should not be Googling people and should just read the bio as supplied”. Oh those naughty clients how dare they use Google. 😉 Of course who can blame them when they get bland descriptions written in the third person.

There is an upside to all of this. There is no longer a market for blaggarts and bullies.

Even on a Sunday the question came up, Do you know “so and so”. This was in relation to some one I once worked with applying for a job with a friend of mine.

I am digitally distinct! Visit