Maybe Telco’s need to go back to basics

Utility services, the dull boring stuff that we all take for granted, are incredibly valuable.  We take them for granted.

Initially I was going to title this post “turn it off” , this was based on a converstation with a client who wanted to continue to use the utility service (in this case data networks), just at half the price.

In my meeting with the client, I fronted him. I said to him

“sure, we can give you something for 50% of the price but before you jump think it through. What is the cost of moving to a consumer grade resolution on your business (we’ll get around to you sometime in the future). Or, how much would it cost you if you lost connectivity to your DataCentre?”

Then I drew out a basic network that included all the types of sites that he had, and lead him through the impact of his goal.  Maybe i’ll win that argument, maybe i won’t. I suspect after the Christchurch earthquake, and the amazing effort my employer (and other network providers) have made to restore services, this guy might well appreciate the utility.

Same is true of consumers, watching the events unfold and seeing the way that the utility telco services have enabled people to text and call and tweet in this time of crisis puts the value beyond all doubt. As a friend said on my facebook page

“what we do means people can text and watch the Internet to find out their family is ok. I am stoked for Facebook and SMS right now”

I’m proud to be able to do that.  Being able to hang your hat on that when asked what you do is meaningful.Profoundly human.

Perhaps the marketing teams in network providers need to get over themselves, leave that confusing value added services stuff alone. Go back to basics, “we provide the infrastructure so you can connect with your people”

Thinking like a 3 year old…

I am continually struck by the way my 3 year old views the world.  There is a pureness of insight that we adults have lost.

Example – this morning we were discussing how big she is growing, I was praising her for eating well and sleeping (my world view, what I  valued) her responses..

“If I stand on my tippy toes i’ll be bigger…. or I could stand on a stool …. or wear mummy’s high heel shoes”

Profoundly simply solutions to her desire to be bigger….

Then when I got into the office, what was the first thing I noticed?  A woman in very high heels, but was still only 5 ft tall…. someone else trying to be bigger (something far from unique) .. as I said before, insightful.

Like every other 3 year old, she challenges our world view with that deeply confronting question “why”.
It can be frustrating, but mainly because it challenges me to communicate ideas to her in ways that relevent… that is have reason… genuine reason.  This process of asking why has been adopted by business , but I think we under use in in innovation terms. If you can use the 5 Why’s analysis method to articulate your proposition in words that have meaning to a 3 year old, you probably have a winner… I’ve tried this with some of the stuff we have going on at work, an experience I would recommend.

Finally, thinking like a 3 year old in the actual development of products can have huge benefits. I’m not alone in noticing this,  the best performing teams in the marshmallow challenge … are kids her age. Why? (pun intended), because

that none of the kids spend any time jockeying for power. Kids aren’t trained to be CEOs of Spaghetti, Inc. In their world of play, they build successive prototypes, failing fast, laughing and learning along the way.

In other words they checked their egos, worked together, tried things out really quickly and kept on iterating…

We adults have a lot to learn .