Managing personalisation is more important than managing change

Death, taxes, and now, change, are the eternal verities. As I said in another post:

The pace of change has accelerated to the point that everyone’s challenge, from Pre-Boomers and Baby Boomers through Generation Y to Generation Z, is how to cope with significant change over the next ten years. If we are, as some predict, moving to an innovation economy, then it is the ability to adapt that is most important. Those betting their organisation on a generational change will be sadly disappointed as no generation has a monopoly on coping with change.

While the youngest generation (whichever that is at a particular point in time) might have the advantage of coming unencumbered to the new ways of working, every generation has a unfortunate habit of treating what they learnt in their formative years (~24) as dogma once they hit their late 20s. Social research has shown that most people’s interest in novel ideas or experiences peaks around the mid to late 20s. (Tell me your favourite band and cuisine, and I’ll tell you what decade you grew up in.) Or, put another way, 24–28 might have the advantage in a rapidly changing world, but once you grow out the top of that age bracket you’ll find yourself at the disadvantage.

However, as with all gross generalisations, and the exceptions are more interesting than the rule; in this case the commonalities between groups are usually stronger than the differences between them. Research like Forrest’s Groundswell show that its more productive to think in terms of personality types.

I prefer to focus on getting stuff done, and ensuring that each and every stakeholder has the tools and support they need to get their job done. This is not a static thing either, something we do once for each stakeholder, as someone’s needs and preferences can change month-by-month, week-by-week, day-by-day or even minute-by-minute.

And this is probably the most important mega-trend we’re seeing emerge at the moment: the drive to continually personalise communication/products/services/tools for each and every individual, rather than trying to divide people into coarse-grained, and increasingly unproductive, demographic groups with predefined needs. If you’re managing change, then you’re still thinking in terms of a static work/home environment that needs to be transformed (however regularly). If you’re managing personalisation, then you’re focused on creating a continually optimised environment for all your stakeholders, ensuring that they have the information and tools they need at that moment. Change isn’t an enemy that should be managed—its a tool to help you achieve, and sustain, peak performance.

Posted via web from PEG @ Posterous

Posted under: Enterprise 2.0

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7 comments

  • Lee Provoost on 2010-02-06 at 1:24 pm said:

    I am thinking about this personalisation thing already for a while, but then more in the form of a “digital context” that follows you and adapts to your situation.

    On the one hand, several tools offer the possibility to be fully personalised by the end user to his/her needs. In reality we see that most users don't bother to change the standard experience and tailor it to their wishes. Also this is not very dynamic, you can't change your dashboard for every different task you are doing. So ideally you would like to have a situation where the application adjusts itself to the task you are doing and carries your digital context (all the knowledge you've build up, emails, notes, bookmarks).

    Should publish a blog post somewhere next week with Rick Mans on this.

    On a side note, looking at your age bracket, it means that I am peaking now and soon everything is going down from now on…

  • Peter Evans-Greenwood on 2010-02-06 at 11:53 pm said:

    I came to the same conclusion a little while ago when looking at a lot of the “mash-up” portals. They don't actually mash data together, nor are they really personalised, which puts them in a no man's land between two actually useful solutions. They're more like user configured personalisation than anything else.

    For personalisation to work it needs to have a large dynamic element to it, with some sort of bank-end that shuffles preferences, as well as allowing you to manually express some preferences (“my mate told me that this is interesting”). We're actually working on some multi-channel/mobile stuff in this space, so I hope to find the time to collect my thoughts and blog. Bing me to you would like me to add my thoughts to the post you and @rickmans are working on.

    Oh — and I'm pretty sure that not everyone peaks at 28. I'm still trying to work out what I want to be when I grow up!

  • Nigel Walsh on 2010-02-09 at 7:52 am said:

    isn't this just the same view from a different angle – but focussed on understanding the exact context.. You would managed change to meet your current need, or personalise for exactly the same reason. The two in my mind draw different connotations. Change as you saw is something you have analysed as is and to be state and then create a plan/programme to get from one to the other – but usually by the time you arrive the goal post has moved anyway, so you are constantly changing. Personalisation on the other hand implies that its more dynamic. However, this also as Lee points out requires input to define the context…

    I am seeing a lot of personalisation with Location Based Services that are making relevant offers based on Context. No point sending me alerts for Edinburgh if I am in London. Foursquare do this well. When I Check in to a location – it will tell me not only who is nearby but also any specials. They need to improve on my profile – or I need to tell them to ensure the experience is more personalised, but again I change my mind, so how will they know this…

    This from someone who’s first CD was Wet Wet Wet – told you I am confused and reserve the right to change my mind!

  • Peter Evans-Greenwood on 2010-02-10 at 12:53 am said:

    I'm of a similar mindset, and actually see personalisation as a “value of information” challenge. We already have a lot of contextual information that we're not using effectively: how can we make better use of it? Unfortunately a lot of personalisation efforts are algorithm driven, trying to develop the perfect personalisation backend (might I kindly direct you to the price of regret). I read vendor brochures about building a perfect model of the customer and sigh.

    Wet Wet Wet? We all have our own skeletons in the closet. (I'm more Killing Joke, The Cure 🙂 )

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