You Can Speak Your Mind, Just Not On My Time
We had dinner last month with my folks. Mom, who is in her mid-70s was complaining (comically) about people who don’t use email.

“I don’t see why these people can’t just sit down and send an email. Who has the time to write letters these days?”

Could you find a better proof of digital communication’s ubiquity? It really is everywhere.
Twitter posted a 2700{961332649af9f4315d1271e36e078bebd018f16318ebe5436490e232562f94e8} increase in users during a recent 12-month span. Many of them signed up, looked around and didn’t come back – but the truth is, many stayed around and are quite comfortable with Twitter as a communication tool. Mom doesn’t tweet (yet) but she seems to prefer digital dialog to the phone and hand-written letters.
So? Tell us something we don’t already know.
OK – as an ideator, strategist and futurist my strength comes from the process of examining the origin of ideas, how they’re connected to other ideas and how they might play out as tomorrow comes rambling down the street.
First, the obvious reasons for the digital dialog explosion:

It’s a fad. It’s convenient, easy, cheap (free), portable.

Digging deeper:

It connects old friends, provides a casual element to business relationships and a platform for opinion sharing.


Using an intentional approach to Social Media is proving beneficial to many businesses, including mine.

But there’s something more. A common denominator most users would never think of nor ever admit to:

Digital dialog gives individuals the power to participate in conversations on their own time and at their own pace.

With a phone call or meeting, my time is not my own. With FaceBook and Twitter. I chose to whom I’ll listen and who gets ignored. I’m not bound by anyone’s time line – I respond when (and if) I want to. Unlike email, FaceBook and Twitter place  restrictions on the length of the message. These platforms give me the means to fit a conversation into my lifestyle,  rather than adjusting my time to fit the conversation.
The significance of this is clear when you consider it as another example of the iTunes/TiVo Culture I wrote about in my white paper – Five Factors Affecting the Future.

While brand managers once looked for ways to get people to change their lifestyle to use a product, consumers are now not satisfied unless they can alter the product to fit their lifestyle.

I recently read of a publishing house that is giving readers an opportunity to influence the ending of an unfinished novel. My daughter tells me there is an attachment you can buy for your iPod that slips into a running shoe and alters the tempo of the music to match your pace. Internet shopping has changed the business model of retail stores by allowing shoppers to browse the shelves on their own time. You can order M&M candies with your own special message on each little piece.

Consumers have come to expect this level of individuality and are extending their demands for it well beyond typical retail situations.
Talk about this at your next staff meeting:

  1. In what ways do we require customers to change their lifestyle to use our product?
  2. Do we have an attitude of listening to our customers in such a way as to hear how they would like to use us?
  3. How many user-designed options are available on our top-5 best-selling products?

Until next time