Taking part in a panel discussion at the Insight Show was a great opportunity to talk about current trends in our industry, and discuss what the future holds.
Taking part in a panel discussion at the Insight Show was a great opportunity to talk about current trends in our industry, and discuss what the future holds.
When I arrived in Hong Kong last September to lead the Kadence office I had a pretty good sense of the city I was about to call home.
At the beginning of February we moved into new offices in Wan Chai, two blocks from Wan Chai station.
In today’s world, we are bombarded with inspiration for the next great ‘getaway’. Our Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of friends and family posting images (#nofilter!) of exotic trips, we see constant adverts on TV and Youtube from holiday companies trying to get our $$$ and showbiz news is full of the latest must visit location of the rich and famous.
One of the great pleasures in our lives is the ‘Inspiration’ stage of holidays. Kadence have conducted a number of research studies into travel and tourism over the last 12 months and regardless of the age, demographic or country of origin – the part that brings the greatest pleasure is often searching for inspiration. The actual planning part comes next – working out which cities, which itineraries and which sites we want to tick off our bucket list. This can be time consuming, and sucks some of the pleasure out of the process, but is still full of the potential and also a good chance for brands to influence spend.
However, we then move into the ‘booking stage’. A phase that causes great frustrations – pretty much whenever we have researched it. People struggle to organize themselves. They have to set aside time to actually book. The realization of exactly how much it will cost sets is. Balancing the special deals, public holidays. Airport locations and transfers. But above all, the actual process of the websites, apps and travel agents causes genuine frustration.
Across Asia, the same global brands of booking sites appear as the most used. Agoda, Expedia, Trivago, Booking.com, Hotels.com are all used frequently. Tripadvisor is also consulted regularly as a way to book the best deals. Despite Air BnB and Homeaway becoming more popular – there is still a tendency for people to book through their ‘trusted’ site. Regardless of the accommodation chosen, people feel that this provides an element of trust.
The notable exception is Japan. Where Japan-specific travel agencies take precedence. Rakuten, JTB, HIS are all geared up to the Japanese (often domestically focused) traveler.
Indeed some people book direct with hotels rather than using an aggregated site believing that they get better loyalty bonus and cost savings.
Regardless of the method used – the frustrations are the same. Conflicting information, slow process, inability to tie all the trip details under one site. The implications for businesses is that a poor booking experience actually turns people to change their plans. You can spend millions of dollars on promoting your resort, town or country, but if people get frustrated with the booking – they will stop and rethink their plans. Integration, time saving and the use of ‘value add ons’ will help make the process smoother.
As more and more people take their inspirations from their mobile orientated social media – the booking process needs to mimic this journey.
As the year is coming to a close, and as I take stock of projects I’ve worked on and proposals that we should have won, this is a question that I’m increasingly thinking about, and am seeking a perspective on.
This is certainly not a new subject, and as an industry, we have peers who have already proven themselves to be ‘innovative’, at least according to the survey results of this particular report from Green Book (GRIT 2017).
I’m not here to dispute the findings or question the rankings, but as an experienced qualitative researcher, it is second nature to me to want to understand the meaning of such labels as ‘innovative’ and to contextualize it within the specific region that I work in
The greater importance cannot be stressed enough: as an organization, Kadence seeks to raise the status of market research within the region, by delivering insights that inspire and impact businesses. With that as the key focus,
In the spirit of ‘knowing what you know, and not knowing what you don’t’, it is thus time to fully explore the question, so we can consider how it then fits into the overall narrative of ‘insights that inspire and impact’, rather than for its own sake
To be precise, these are the questions that I’m seeking to answer, in order to truly make sense of the subject:
This will be the first of a series of articles on the topic, as I explore its multifaceted nature. I’m hoping that through interacting with my colleagues, peers and clients, I’ll be that much closer to an answer.
Stay tuned for the next article, as I share my immediate findings on the explorations.
The 2017 / 2018 Premier League is well under way and is providing much competition amongst some keen football fans across the Kadence offices. We have a Kadence league and whilst not everyone is as competitive as me, keeping an eye out each week on how my fantasy football team is performing is a guilty pleasure of mine (at the time of writing I am sitting second in our work league – annoyingly the person who is leading sits just opposite me!).
Whilst trying to decide who to make Captain this week, I realized that there are many similarities between getting a strong fantasy football team and developing an HR / recruitment plan. As such I thought I would share some of my fantasy football tips – and how they relate to building our own teams in Singapore!
Despite a slightly flippant link to FF, getting the right team in place is vital for any company. However, being aware that your teams will need to change over time is key. Planning for what happens next and what ‘games’ we will be playing in the future is a hugely important task, that is always relevant. All I need to do know is hope I captain the right player this weekend so I can claim top spot of our fantasy league!
There’s a great book by Columbia Business School associate professor, William Duggan, called Strategic Intuition. The book posits that intuition is ‘the selective recombination of previous elements into a new whole.’
One of Duggan’s examples of intuitive thinkers is one of Napoleon’s early campaigns. When ordered to re-take the port of Toulon from the British invaders via frontal assault ‘with the sword and bayonet’, Napoleon suggests an alternative strategy; to take the smaller fort of L’Agiuilelette, which overlooks the port of Toulon. Against the received wisdom of his peers and commanders, Napoleon goes ahead with his plan, takes the fort, and in doing so terrifies the British into leaving Toulon and sets his path for Emperor of Europe.
What’s interesting here – and why Duggan raises this example from history – is how Napoleon came to his plan, by bringing together abstract parts of his memory and experience: his reading of the contour maps on the area of Toulon; his knowledge of how best to deploy light cannon and his understanding of past British defeats. The contour maps showed him that the fort of L’Aiguilette occupied high ground over Toulon; from his light cannon experience he knew he could take the cannon up to the fort and deploy them overlooking Toulon and the British fleet; and his understanding of past British defeats at Yorktown and the Siege of Boston taught him that the British would never again risk being cut off from their navy.
None of those thoughts – contour maps; light cannon; British defeats – were taught to Napoleon together. Instead, as Duggan argues, it is the ‘selective recombination of previous elements into a whole.’
Have you ever had an idea flash into your mind? A random thought disconnected from what you’re trying to concentrate on – that’s strategic intuition. And its proof that our brains are non-linear. Try as we might, we struggle to focus on a single thought for a long period of time. Rather our brains are adept at working in our subconscious and delivering fresh ideas and insights at a moment’s notice.
You can’t help but think of multiple things at once, or just as likely thinking multiple things about one idea at once. In contrast, however, Word, PowerPoint and Excel, by their very nature, are linear. Word splits information over different pages, PowerPoint chunks information in slides and Excel breaks then across tabs. And all are subject to the limitations of screen size. This linear function is in direct odds to the brain’s non-linear thinking, forcing you to work to their restrictions.
By chunking information into different pages, slides or tabs it also forces the brain to change its functioning. When all the information is displayed at once, the brain can focus on analysis and connecting information. We can tap into the very strength of our brain – making random, subconscious associations. However, when chunked over different pages, slides and tabs the brain must first remember all the information it has been exposed to before it can then begin to analyse and connect it. This exerts increased cognitive load on the brain and causes a significant break down in your brain’s ability to create those connections.
So, what if we moved away from linear formats and embraced our brain’s capacity for non-linear thinking, for sparks of insight. This is where the power of Post-It notes – or record cards, or just scraps of paper – come in.
When first planning or thinking of an idea or concept, a good idea is to plot your thoughts on Post-It notes. Each one holding one thought. And filling your table, or wall, or desk with them. The beauty of this is that it embraces our non-linear brain. A random thought or idea can be jotted down and placed to the side, not distracting your attention by needling your mind but also addressed and captured quickly during it’s fleeting appearance. Overall, Post-It planning seems to help in three main ways:
Post-It notes and record cards allow for the creation of non-linear narratives. With the use of Post-It notes, or record cards and a box of pins, you can map out an entire concept visually, highlighting interconnecting thoughts and relationships - celebrating the very non-linear thinking our brains champion and computers cannot copy. As an individual activity working with Post-Its allows us to re-arrange ideas as we go. Once we have captured all our thinking on multiple Post-Its we can then begin to rearrange them over and over again, in different orders and ways until we are happy with our outcome.
A free-form structure
By filling a wall with Post-It notes we are avoiding a linear path through the information, rather we are creating a free-form structure. Every time you look at the wall, or return to the room, you can look at the Post-It notes in a different order. And perhaps draw out new meaning or sense from it. It also means you’re not enforcing a structure on others, they too can create their own path through the information – a very effective element when developing ideas and concepts with others.
When working together, cards and post-it notes invite displayed thinking. By committing our thoughts to paper and then arranging them on a wall we can easily invite others to see our thinking; but just as easily others can begin to add to, edit or rationalize our thoughts, so that together we can create a shared cognition about an idea and together create a common understanding. This shared activity fosters creativity, especially as any person can re-arrange cards.
So, before you next fire up your laptop ask yourself, would I be more creative if I used Post-Its and embraced my brain’s non-linear thinking?
The top reported reasons for boredom are:
Though we don’t have the magic formula to completely eliminate workplace boredom, at Kadence we have implemented a program with the aim to curb monotony as much as possible. We call them Project Points.
Project Points is a list of extracurricular tasks and projects that individuals can get involved in if they have time or would like to get exposure to another area of the business. So, what’s so great about Project Points?
1. They are aimed at helping us to achieve our business goals. Project Points are tasks that are specifically aimed at helping Kadence to achieve financial or strategic goals. They include tasks like: creating thought leadership pieces to use for sales & marketing collateral, updating supplier database information, or creating essential templates that can be used to make everyone’s job faster. While some are certainly more glamorous than others, all are worth spending time on, and so the business benefits no matter what people choose.
2. They touch on every aspect of the business. Every division from Sales to Marketing to Operations to HR are covered in Project Points. This means that individuals have the opportunity to try out areas of the business that they had never experienced before, without requiring a formal role change or redesign.
3. They are rewarding. Each completed task earns the entire team points, which in turn qualifies everyone to receive a reward. This year, we set an ambitious goal, which when reached earned the entire office an additional day off. Needless to say, many Project Points had to be completed to achieve that!
Not every Project Point will be challenging, interesting or life-changing, but hopefully they give everyone opportunities for personal development and variety, and greater exposure to the needs of the business. And one thing is for sure: with Project Points available, no one can say that there isn’t enough work to do. :)
You are reading this on a laptop, a smartphone and if you are super fancy maybe even via VR goggles (although I doubt it as I can’t imagine many people actually do that!). You have a digital tv subscription, your door lock could be digital, you use cashless payments and maybe are even tempted with the new cellular Apple Watch. In business, we use video conferences and share screens and send emails.
We live in a digital world.
And yet, for some things the analogue – or at least non-digital – is still best; it is well known that face to face meetings are the best way to collaborate with each other. Yet sometimes it can be difficult to marry the two – digital and analogue together. But after a recent trip to London for a workshop – I came away with a renewed appreciation of how analogue techniques can be blended in a digital world.
To set the scene, the workshop had the purpose to review a number of investment opportunities, (around 80) each had a number of cost options and a detailed list of activities that each investment required. As a group we had to identify which ones would be prioritized, which ones needed more work and which ones should be postponed for the future. This type of collaboration has no ‘right answers’ only points of view.
Whilst the investments details were on PowerPoint if we had been flicking between multiple presentations we would never have been able to keep track. The simple solution? Print a 1-line summary of each option, and it’s cost onto a small playing card size printout. Cut this out and use these to help organize a priority list.
Additional notes were made by hand on whiteboards, allowing us to wipe out and include additional requests.
Most importantly of all, the people who were tasked with making the decisions were all in the room. Every stakeholder could pick up, move and re-order the print outs as a group – ensuring that everyone had the buy in and the visibility of the decisions.
This seemed a good combination of digital and analogue. The paper and boards to organize our thoughts and rationale, the digital to provide more detail on the specifics when necessary.
Another good marriage of analogue and digital I have come across is a fantastic new gadget, the Moleskin livescribe notepad and pen, I got as a present. This allows me to still create hand written notes and scribbles which is my default, but the pen simultaneously records them, allowing me to view them on your smartphone or edit on your computer. Genius. It’s a digital upgrade to my analogue preference.
What both of these experiences have taught me is we shouldn’t accept inferior substitutes for the simple brilliance of face to face meetings, pen, paper and printouts. But exciting new technology – like my Moleskin pen – and embracing dual working – means we’re increasingly able to bring the benefits of our analogue world into the digital.
Who grows up thinking “When I get older I’m going to be a market researcher”? Not me – I was going to be a baker!
As cultural shifts develop and come into fruition, it is important for companies to be aware of how their offering may link to these shifts. Looking at the trend towards activewear helps us to understand how brands can position themselves to make the most of such opportunities.
There’s a scene in one of the first episodes of The West Wing when the President, late to a cabinet meeting, has the stenographer re-read the Vice President’s opening comments.
So healthy eating and having a healthy lifestyle doesn’t appear to be a fad or a trend, it’s the way things are nowadays. We have already seen intersections between health and exercise but this also begs the question – where will this go? What’s next for healthy lifestyles?
What is on your to do list today? What do you need to achieve? Are you confident of getting it all done?
A popular statistic that was circulated a few years ago is that ‘65% of children entering primary school now – will be in jobs that did not exist 10 or even 5 years ago’.
What do you think of when I say the word ‘chair’?
Chances are that you think of the basic construct of a chair – legs, a seated platform, and a back. But beyond that what you imagine and what I imagine could be completely different. You may be thinking of a padded chair, more like a sofa, whereas I could be thinking of a rocking chair. Or you could be thinking of an office chair and me a garden chair.
So, Brexit. We voted; our Prime Minister chivalrously bequeathed his successor a legacy as daunting as any in generations; we’ve seen an opposition party in ineffectual disarray; we’ve witnessed constitutional and legal challenges; we’ve even made some limited progress to understanding what Brexit might actually entail!
Over the past 5 years zero-hours contracts have become a major talking point in the UK, with a raft of negative coverage in the media as the number of people employed on them balloons; just last week it was reported that the number of zero contracts in the UK had reached a new record high of 910,000 workers.
We all lead busy lives. It goes hand in hand that the more responsibility you have in the workplace, the more items seem to find their way onto your plate. There are countless articles, studies and journals out there that highlight the most effective ways to stay productive when times get busy.
Edward de Bono said it best in his now world famous book, the six thinking hats, ‘the main difficulty in thinking is confusion. We try to do too much at once.’ Humans can’t multitask. That’s not a new insight, all the way back to Adam Smith’s Division of Labor, and before, people have decried our inability to do lots of things at the same time.