Scaling Your UX Strategy |


In business today, “user experience” (or UX) has come to represent all of the qualities of a product or service that make it relevant or meaningful to an end-user — everything from its look and feel design to how it responds when users interact with it, to the way it fits into people’s daily lives. You even people talking about UX as the way in which a consumer connects to a business — all the touch-points from marketing to product development to distribution channels.

It’s the “new black,” to borrow from a fashion phrase — as well as a reference to its influence on profitability.

The value of UX as a corporate asset is no longer in question. Just look at the
$1 billion price tag paid by Facebook for Instagram, whose primary asset is not technology, but the best photo sharing UX in the business (and some of the best UX talent as well). Look at the recent Apple vs. Samsung judgment: 93% of the damages were related to design patents that define the iOS user experience. The growing appreciation of the value of UX is not restricted to consumer-facing tech companies, like Google with their new focus on unified design or Microsoft Windows 8 with its sleek new “Metro” design language. At frog, we hear the same things from executives in financial services, healthcare, and infrastructure. Companies like GE and Bloomberg are recruiting leading designers to build UX capabilities at a corporate level. We even hear it from our clients in the international market, such as regional telecommunications companies, who see a “unified user experience strategy” like Apple’s as a sign of status.

The recognition of UX’s importance seems to be slowly sinking into corporate culture the way “brand” did a decade ago. >>> Seguir leyendo “Scaling Your UX Strategy |”

Are You Creating Disgruntled Employees?

You can’t make every worker happy, surely, and should a business even try? Evidence from our recent research suggests, actually, that the answer is yes. Or rather, our evidence shows that managers are giving up far too soon on their disgruntled employees, making them less productive than they could be, exposing their companies to unnecessary risks from thefts and leaks in the process, and inflating turnover costs.

What causes employees to become disgruntled and what can be done to prevent it? To find out we zeroed in on the most unhappy people in our data. These were 6% in our database of 160,576 employees who displayed the lowest levels of job satisfaction and commitment on their 360 evaluations of their bosses. We were looking for those among them whose managers also oversaw the most satisfied employees. In this way we identified that group of leaders who were managing both the very unhappy and the very happy at the same time. Seguir leyendo “Are You Creating Disgruntled Employees?”

Top 50 Ranking of China’s Business Leaders Exposes Common Myths

by Xiaowei Rose Luo, Morten T. Hansen, Herminia Ibarra, and Urs Peyer  |

“A general who fears to unsheathe his sword is not a good general,” says Mr. Li Jiaxiang, Chairman of Air China from 2004 to 2008 and the #1 performing corporate leader in China according to our new ranking (just published in the Harvard Business Review China and the centerpiece for the magazine’s launch events in Beijing and Shanghai). Under his leadership, the company’s total shareholder return outperformed its industry peers by 1,022%, corresponding to a compound annual return above the industry average of 129%, with a corresponding market capitalization increase of CNY 237 bn (USD 36.7 bn). A former general in the China Air Force, Mr. Li put into practice leadership skills he honed in his military career.

Though ours is not the first ranking of Chinese business leaders, it is the first ever such ranking to rely on objective long-term stock market performance. Seguir leyendo “Top 50 Ranking of China’s Business Leaders Exposes Common Myths”

Five Ways to Ruin Your Innovation Process

Rita McGrath

Columbia Business School professor Rita McGrath studies innovation, corporate venturing, and entrepreneurship. Her latest book is Discovery-Driven Growth (2009).

Most companies sabotage their own innovation processes without meaning to. I’ve noticed five tell-tale signs of this syndrome, which I recently described during a talk to the Columbia Media Forum.

1. Innovation is episodic. We’ve all seen this movie: A few people in the organization have a burning desire to foster more innovation, or a different kind of innovation, so they invent a new process. If they are more junior, they might create a small team that, working around the typical organizational barriers, explores new opportunities. If they are more senior, the impulse may become formalized in a skunkworks, or even a New Ventures Division. For a while, things move along: people make interesting discoveries, and find new places where the company’s capabilities might be relevant.

All too often, however, the initiative ends badly. Sometimes it’s because the senior sponsor moves on. Sometimes it’s because the ideas didn’t work out: innovation, after all, is an uncertain process. Sometimes the company faces a cash or a profit squeeze, and the folks with budget scalpels go looking for something to cut. (It’s easy to ax innovation. Potential future customers can’t scream about not getting a product they don’t know they would love.) So, the innovation efforts get shut down.

More tragically, the group has actually come up with something powerful and novel, but — whoa — someone senior realizes that this could have a disruptive or cannibalizing effect on existing cash cows. The innovators get squashed and the idea is shelved.

What to do? First, remember that innovation, like any other important organizational process, can be managed. Don’t reinvent the wheel — there are good resources that can help you build a repeatable process. Second, recognize that on-again, off-again innovation is worse than nothing. It sends the signal that these are not the projects that people should bet their careers on. So, make it continuous and systematic. Set aside a regular budget. Build it into good people’s career paths.

2. Resources are held hostage by incumbent businesses. If you want to understand the most significant lever for generating change in a large, complex organization, you need to understand the resource allocation process. Resources flow where there is power; they signal what is important. Unfortunately, the resource allocation process in most complex organizations is not innovation-friendly. Rather, it’s a throwback to an era when the importance of a business was directly correlated to the people and assets it had under management. Makes perfect sense in a world of steady-state production. It can be lethal to organizations trying to be more innovative.

Most people who manage powerful businesses believe that it’s not in their personal best interest to contemplate shrinking that business or redeploying its assets and capabilities. So resources shore up the position of businesses that are starting to fade, eking out a little more time for the managers in charge. This creates two problems: first, valuable assets are being tied up in a business that doesn’t represent the future. Second, the resources that might be used to fund growth are held hostage.

The only time I’ve seen a company neutralize this problem is when very senior managers are charged with extracting resources from established businesses and re-purposing them to fund growth. This is not easy stuff. IBM had to re-invent its entire innovation process, creating an “Emerging Business Opportunity” model where a senior-level executive watched liked a hawk to be sure that the people and assets allocated to innovation didn’t get sucked back into the existing business. Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon was criticized by many — even his own people — for re-purposing the cash coming out of land-lines and phone books to support moves into wireless and entertainment businesses. The core lesson is that, if you allow the existing businesses to determine where people and funds are allocated, you won’t get innovation. Seguir leyendo “Five Ways to Ruin Your Innovation Process”

Changing the Conversation in Your Company

Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind



Boris Groysberg ( is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Michael Slind ( is a writer, editor, and communication consultant. They are co-authors of the book Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations (HBR Press, 2012).

In our experience, it’s rare for a diverse group of headstrong Executive Education participants from around the globe to agree on anything. Yet earlier this month, when we surveyed a group of leaders who attended the Driving Performance Through Talent Management program at Harvard Business School, 92% agreed that the practice of internal communication “has undergone a lot of change” at their companies “in recent years.”

While the sample size in this case isn’t large — about three-dozen leaders took part in the survey — these participants make up a highly representative group. They hail from every part of the globe, and from organizations small and large (with head counts that range from about 200 to more than 100,000). They occupy senior positions in fields that include sales and talent management, and they work in industries that range from manufacturing to health care to financial services.

That survey result reinforces a finding that we’ve observed elsewhere in our research: in company after company, the patterns and processes by which people communicate with each other are unmistakably in flux. The old “corporate communication” is giving way to a model that we call “organizational conversation.” That shift is, for many people, a disorienting process. But it also offers a great leadership opportunity.

Our research has shown that more and more leaders — from organizations that range from computer-networking giant Cisco Systems to Hindustan Petroleum, a large India-based oil supplier — are using the power of organizational conversation to drive their company forward. For these leaders, internal communication isn’t just an HR function. It’s an engine of value that boosts employee engagement and improves strategic alignment.

Broadly speaking, there are four steps that you can take to make your approach to leadership more conversational. (In future posts, we will address each of these points at greater length.)

1. Close the gap between you and your employees. In our survey, we also asked respondents to name the biggest employee communication challenge at their company. In response, one participant cited the need to “move away from top-down communication.” Another highlighted a “disparity between the senior management team and middle management due to low transparency.” Trusted and effective leaders overcome such challenges by speaking with employees in ways that are direct, personal, open, and authentic.

2. Promote two-way dialogue within your company… Seguir leyendo “Changing the Conversation in Your Company”

Why We Can’t See What’s Right in Front of Us

Tony McCaffrey


Tony McCaffrey developed the Obscure Features Hypothesis for innovation as his dissertation in cognitive psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is currently funded by the National Science Foundation’s Center for e-Design to implement his innovation-enhancing techniques in software. Beta testing will begin in summer 2012.

The most famous cognitive obstacle to innovation is functional fixedness — an idea first articulated in the 1930s by Karl Duncker — in which people tend to fixate on the common use of an object. For example, the people on the Titanic overlooked the possibility that the iceberg could have been their lifeboat. Newspapers from the time estimated the size of the iceberg to be between 50-100 feet high and 200-400 feet long. Titanic was navigable for awhile and could have pulled aside the iceberg. Many people could have climbed aboard it to find flat places to stay out of the water for the four hours before help arrived. Fixated on the fact that icebergs sink ships, people overlooked the size and shape of the iceberg (plus the fact that it would not sink).

More mundane examples: in a pinch, people have trouble seeing that a plastic lawn chair could be used as a paddle (turn it over, grab two legs, and start rowing) or that a candle wick could be used to tie things together (scrape the wax away to free the string).

The problem is we tend to just see an object’s use, not the object itself. When we see a common object, the motor cortex of our brain activates in anticipation of using the object in the common way. Part of the meaning of an object is getting ready to use it. If a type of feature is not important for its common use, then we are not cognizant of it. The result: our brain’s incredible inertia to move toward the common. Efficient for everyday life, this automatic neural response is the enemy of innovation. Seguir leyendo “Why We Can’t See What’s Right in Front of Us”

It’s Time to Rethink Continuous Improvement

Ron Ashkenas

Six Sigma
KaizenLean, and other variations on continuous improvement can be hazardous to your organization’s health. While it may be heresy to say this, recent evidence from Japan and elsewhere suggests that it’s time to question these methods.

Admittedly, continuous improvement once powered Japan’s economy. Japanese manufacturers in the 1950s had a reputation for poor quality, but through a culture of analytical and systematic change Japan was able to go from worst to first. Starting in the 1970s, the country’s ability to create low-cost, quality products helped them dominate key industries, such as automobiles, telecommunications, and consumer electronics. To compete with this miraculous turnaround, Western companies, starting with Motorola, began to adopt Japanese methods. Now, almost every large Western company, and many smaller ones, advocate for continuous improvement.

But what’s happened in Japan? In the past year Japan’s major electronics firms have lost an aggregated $21 billion and have been routinely displaced by competitors from China, South Korea, and elsewhere. As Fujio Ando, senior managing director at Chibagin Asset Management suggests, “Japan’s consumer electronics industry is facing defeat. “Similarly, Japan’s automobile industry has been plagued by a series of embarrassing quality problems and recalls, and has lost market share to companies from South Korea and even (gasp!) the United States. Seguir leyendo “It’s Time to Rethink Continuous Improvement”

Win the Pitch: Tips from Mastercard’s “Priceless” Pitchman

As a growth officer in my early career with the mad men and women of McCann Ericksson, my mom could never quite grasp what I did for a living. But, when we pitched, won and delivered the phenomenon now globally known as Priceless for MasterCard, she could finally brag to her friends at my Aunt Rose‘s kitchen table. From the moment the very first television commercial appeared (You remember it, right? “Two tickets: $28. Two hot dogs, two popcorns, two sodas: $18. One autographed baseball: $45. Real conversation with 11-year-old son: Priceless.”), Mom told practically anyone who would listen that I wrote and executed the entire campaign single-handedly. My role, in fact (promise not to tell her) was that of the Pitchman.

In one of the industry’s most hotly-contested advertising accounts, dozens of agencies’ pitches were winnowed down to two contenders. In a surprising twist, MasterCard declared that the agency with the highest score in consumer testing would win. The heart-wrenching result: Our Pricelesscampaign did not test well. In an act of courage, and confidence, the MasterCard team awarded us the business anyway. When I asked Larry Flanagan, who went on to become MasterCard’s celebrated CMO, about their decision to award us the business for the Priceless campaign, he said, “We bonded because McCann Eriksson understood the deep desire of the MasterCard customer, but they understood MasterCard’s deep desire, too.”

We all make pitches every day — for that highly-prized account; to a client who’s reluctant to accept your scary proposal; for a skeptical CFO to loosen the purse strings; or for a wary new team to believe in you. Here’s what I’ve learned about winning pitches like these… Seguir leyendo “Win the Pitch: Tips from Mastercard’s “Priceless” Pitchman”

Innovating in the Scary Zone

Harry West


Harry West is the CEO of Continuum, a global design and innovation firm.

Sometimes when I am reviewing the work of our innovation groups I see how hard they tried to be innovative, and, as a result, completely missed the point. If innovation is the creation and delivery of new value, they have focused too hard on the “new” part and not enough on the “value” part.


The best way to innovate is not to try to be innovative — forget the goatee and the trendy eyewear — but to be a humble servant: listening hard, thinking hard, anticipating and rolling up your sleeves to lend a hand. Great innovators focus on solving important problems and finding simple ways to make people’s lives better. Sometimes this compels them to do something radical, but often it calls for smaller changes that most of the world may not immediately recognize as innovation. These changes can be the most difficult to achieve, but they are the ones that actually have the biggest impact on people’s lives and, therefore, on growing a business. I call this “Innovating in the Scary Zone.”

Consider this simple diagram showing the innovation spectrum:

Thumbnail image for ScaryZone-web.jpg
At one extreme we have Incremental Change. For example, changing color or style without significantly affecting the experience of a product or a service. At the other extreme is Cold Fusion: that far-out vision of the future that is the staple of glossy magazines — flying cars, and so on. It is not that cars cannot fly (Terrafugia is working on that) but they are unlikely to address the real needs of significant numbers of people in an affordable way in the foreseeable future. Real innovation falls in the scary zone: that frightening area that both pushes the boundaries of what is possible and can actually be made real in a relevant time frame. It is scary because it is real. Seguir leyendo “Innovating in the Scary Zone”

Disrupt Your Startup

See on Scoop.ithuman being in – perfección

Just before he stepped down as CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs tried to buy Dropbox for Apple. But he and Dropbox founder, Drew Houston, had a dispute about what Dropbox was.

Just before he stepped down as CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs tried to buy Dropbox for Apple. But he and Dropbox founder, Drew Houston, had a dispute about what Dropbox was. Jobs had claimed it was “a feature, not a product.” I agreed, much to the consternation of some.

This week saw the “feature” story gain weight with Google’s launch of its own competing product, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s significant upgrade of its own competing product, SkyDrive. Each of these offers a folder just like Dropbox. And each of these is designed to enhance the provider’s other services: In Google’s case, Google Docs; and in Microsoft’s, Office. According to this analysis from The Verge, they match Dropbox feature for feature with very few exceptions. From the consumer’s perspective, it’s hard to see a difference.

Now what is true is that Dropbox has been the innovative start-up in this area. It was very easy to use and so was able to get a leg up against a set of rivals including There has even been some recent entry from Logmein (the providers of remote desktop services) who launched Cubby. And there is also SugarSync (which I use and will discuss later).

But what if we asked the classic It’s a Wonderful Life question: “If Dropbox were to disappear tomorrow what would happen?” For most consumers, the answer is probably nothing. They could take their Dropbox folder and put it in SkyDrive or GoogleDrive and not skip a beat. Look how close they are in this picture from my computer. I’d have to coordinate a few shared folders with others, but that would be it.

You might argue that without Dropbox, the space would lack competition, but Google and Microsoft will still provide us with the benefits of competition, making their services more robust. Seguir leyendo “Disrupt Your Startup”

Stress Is Not Your Enemy

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How often do you intentionally push yourself to discomfort?

I know that sounds a little nutty, but here’s why I ask: Subjecting yourself to stress is the only way to systematically get stronger — physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And you’ll get weaker if you don’t.

We live by the myth that stress is the enemy in our lives. The real enemy is our failure to balance stress with intermittent rest. Push the body too hard for too long — chronic stress — and the result will indeed be burnout and breakdown. But subject the body to insufficient stress, and it will weaken and atrophy.

Few of us push ourselves nearly hard enough to realize our potential, nor do we rest, sleep, and renew nearly as deeply or for as long as we should.

This is easiest to see at the physical level. In the absence of regular cardiovascular exercise — a form of stress — the heart’s ability to efficiently pump blood drops an average of 1 percent a year between the ages of 30 and 70, and faster after that. Likewise, in the absence of strength training — literally pushing weight against resistance — we lose an average of 1 percent of lean muscle mass every year after age 30.

But those effects can be dramatically reversed, even very late in life. In one of a series of studies, a group of nursing home residents with an average age of 87 were put on a strength training program 3 times a week for 45 minutes a session. They were given plenty of time to rest between sets and to recover between sessions. On average, they more than doubled their strength in just ten weeks. Seguir leyendo “Stress Is Not Your Enemy”

Put Your New Business Model to the Test

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When a consumer product company wants to know how a new product or new marketing campaign will perform, it doesn’t rely solely on traditional market research surveys. It goes to test markets. It’s the right way to discover how the innovation will go over in real market conditions, without the risk of a national or global rollout. It also provides the test bed for optimizing the marketing mix to support the full-scale launch.

Actual market experience, veteran marketers will tell you, never quite matches the results of quantitative and qualitative market research reports and what consumers say they will do behind the two-way glass of a focus group facility.

So here’s my question: Why don’t more firms employ the same approach to explore and test new business models?

Anyone can map out new business model ideas on paper. It’s easy to do pro-forma analyses of how a new business model might work. And it’s not much more work to write up a fancy report embellishing on the potential of a hypothetical new business model. But until a business model idea sees the light of day in the real world, it is impossible to know if it will really work.

Just talk to any successful serial entrepreneur about their experiences in starting new businesses. They almost never get the model right on the first try. It takes several iterations to find a business model that works on the ground and has the potential to scale. Most will tell you it’s a waste of time writing a detailed business plan outlining all the components and how they’ll interact. The better approach is to sketch out a business model concept on the back of a napkin, build a prototype, and then move as quickly as possible into the market to see whether it holds water.

The idea is to move as quickly as possible from concept to prototype to test, and then iterate until you land on a business model configuration that works and is ready to scale. Along the way there will be many failures. The trick of course is to fail fast and to capture learning that can be applied in the next round.

Corporate business model innovators can learn a lot by observing successful serial entrepreneurs. Seguir leyendo “Put Your New Business Model to the Test”

When Your Influence Is Ineffective | HBR Blog Network

Chris Musselwhite and Tammie Plouffe

In today’s highly matrixed workplace, your ability to influence others can be the key to your professional success. In a previous blog post, we asked questions and provided links to influencing style assessment tools — all in the effort to demonstrate why learning about influencing styles, including identifying our own primary style, is critical to personal effectiveness. The bottom line: Since we naturally default to the one (sometimes two) styles that work best at influencing us, our influencing ability and our effectiveness to influence others will remain limited until we develop influencing style agility, achieving the ability to use any style comfortably.

Once we have identified our style and learned about the others, the next step is learning how to recognize when a style is being used ineffectively. As some readers of our previous blog wisely commented, everyone has used all of the influencing styles at one time or another. This underscores the fact that no style is inherently bad. In fact, any influencing style can be used effectively as long as the influencer fully considers the situation — the people involved, what’s at stake for everyone, and the organizational culture in which everyone is operating.

But influence becomes ineffective when individuals become so focused on the desired outcome that they fail to fully consider the situation. While the influencer may still gain the short-term desired outcome, he or she can do long-term damage to personal effectiveness and the organization, as it creates an atmosphere of distrust where people stop listening, and the potential for innovation or progress is diminished. Seguir leyendo “When Your Influence Is Ineffective | HBR Blog Network”

Case Study: When Key Employees Clash

HBR Blog Network

H. Irving Grousbeck


H. Irving Grousbeck is a consulting professor of management at Stanford Graduate School of
Business and a director of its Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Editor’s Note: This fictionalized case study will appear in a forthcoming issue of Harvard Business Review, along with commentary from experts and readers. If you’d like your comment to be considered for publication, please be sure to include your full name, company or university affiliation, and email address.

The caller ID on Matthew Spark’s phone read “Kid Spectrum, Inc.” It was someone from the Orlando office, probably administrative director Ellen Larson. She had been in daily contact with Matthew since he purchased the company, a provider of in-home autism services for children, eight months ago. He appreciated Ellen’s eagerness to help him build the business, even if she was sometimes abrupt. Kid Spectrum’s previous owner, Arthur Hamel, had told Matthew that Ellen, with nearly two decades of experience in health services, would be one of his biggest assets.

“Matthew, it’s Ellen. I don’t want to bother you again, but we have a situation down here.”
Matthew sat back in his chair and readied himself. The “situation” could be anything from the copier running out of ink to the building catching on fire.

“I’m calling about Ronnie,” she said… Seguir leyendo “Case Study: When Key Employees Clash”