The Fun Theory: How to Change Behavior

November 30, 2009

How do you change people’s behavior? Corporate America usually relies on some form of compensation system which basically uses a reward/punishment method that tries to coerce people into doing what the company wants. You have to fill out forms, get approvals, and meet goals otherwise there’s no pay raise or bonus. In other cases you try to get website visitors to navigate a certain path by placing links in strategically important places or enticing them with an offer. Books and theories exist on how to get people to perform their best or to change the way they behave (“Bringing Out The Best In People” comes to mind) but rarely we see those in action.

Volkswagen launched what became quickly a viral campaign with emails being forwarded, youtube videos with over 1 million hits and comments from all corners of the web. They call it The Fun Theory ( and the goal is simple: using fun to change people’s behavior for the better. The videos on their website (embedded below) are some great examples of what they mean.

How are you changing your customers and your prospects behavior? Can you make something fun that will entertain and educate them? And how about your staff or your company’s employees? Some food for thought.



The Six Minutes Challenge

November 16, 2009

Presentations can be boring. Yes, I believe you are nodding as you read this. You have sat through your fair share of hour-long PowerPoint displays that were accompanied with a not so good speaker. What if you could change all that and have the message, whatever is was, delivered to you in six minutes and forty seconds?

Welcome to the world of Pecha Kucha.

I recently attended the Business of Software conference where I participated in a Pecha Kucha competition. The rules are you have to present 20 slides with 20 seconds for each (total of 6:40). Sounds easy and I thought so too when I signed up for it, but is far from a walk in the park.

To present well in this kind of format you have to rehearse very well. More than your typical “and in this slide I will talk about X”, because since the slides are automatically timed, your delivery has to be on time all the time. What if we could change the way our companies treat presentations and just give everyone six minutes to tell their stories? We would certainly have shorter meetings and maybe better content.

So next time you prepare a presentation, think about how you’d do it if you had only 6 minutes. What is essential? What is just fluff? How can you present in a way that will engage the audience? Less is sometimes better.

Are you ready to present? 3…2…1… Go!

Suit over Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Big Marketing Ploy

November 6, 2009

In an earlier post I wrote about ZL Technologies lawsuit over Gartner Group’s Magic Quadrant, over what it considered “multitude of illegalities”.

And not surprisingly, the judge dismissed it.

Gartner’s comment about the decision focused on them being an independent research organization and denies they use “pay for play” in the publication of their reports.

So this should be the end, right? ZL lost and will go back to its corner. Well… not so fast! The way I see it, ZL had a minor victory here. Let me explain. Had the judge sided with them, the win would surely have been better but I have to think that they knew they didn’t stand a chance. So why go through the trouble? Because ZL can use Gartner’s arguments against itself and now have it documented by a judge to prove it. As they had stated on their website they were hoping to use the proceedings to get :

  • Fair Disclosure on Conflicts of Interest
  • Fair Disclosure on Evaluation Scores
  • Better Oversight

They won’t get better oversight (and that was a real stretch) but they did get from the arguments (which are now documented) that the Magic Quadrant is nothing but Gartner’s opinion about the market and not “hard facts” as some might believe. In recent emails they have started using this as proof that “(…) the market should take note that the defense on which Gartner prevailed was its argument that its reports contain ‘pure opinions,’ namely, opinions which are not based on objective facts”.

So how’s that for a comeback? I see as a great opportunity to market themselves and when talking to CIOs and decision makers that bring up Gartner’s MQ, they can simply point them to the result of the lawsuit and say “listen, as much as you like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, it is pure fabrication based only on their opinion. No hard facts. They said it themselves! So forget about it and let me show you the demo….”.

But how will ZL be viewed in the market? Can their tactic backfire? It seems that some people have already tweeted to this effect. Now is time for them to be very, very careful with the community they target.

Keep tuned because ZL can still come back to fight the court’s decision.

Social Media’s Next Victim?

November 6, 2009

Who doesn’t like to see a big giant fall down on its face, especially if it’s in public? We all like stories of companies that mess up and in the process of trying to clean up their act end up messing up even more. And now with social media, there’s no telling who will be the next United to see its market cap hurt because of a blog post or youtube video.

A recent article (When digital marketing strategies go wrong) from Revolution Magazine, a UK publication, reviews some of the most interesting social media mishaps. While I still believe that social media is not for everyone, those who decide to go this route should at least learn from others mistakes.

What stories or lessons learned do you have to share?

The Enemy of Productivity

November 4, 2009

Did you get anything done today? OK, maybe is still too early in the morning, but how about yesterday? If you are anything like the typical worker, you can probably list a few things you’ve accomplished such as:

  • read emails
  • responded to emails
  • sent emails
  • deleted emails

See a trend here? If sometimes it feels like email is running your day, then you are not alone. The BBC reported that one third of office workers suffer from email stress, which I find interesting because email doesn’t really cause stress. It is how you deal with it that is the root cause.

On a previous post, I discussed some productivity boosters for those trying to manage the daily flood of emails, and this amusing chart (below) from HR Management reminded me of the constant struggle we all have when it comes to increasing our productivity while keeping our stress level low.

Email Stress and Productivity

Stress vs. Productivity from

If your office is anything like mine, your colleagues send you Youtube videos, web links, and other stuff that although very entertaining doesn’t help you get your projects done on time. Have you ever tried simply not checking email? The chart above shows in a funny way that you sometimes feel more productive when you are checking email, and that you may turn to it if you get bored, and from personal experience I have felt the same way.

Think back to your daily activities. When are you usually checking email? Is it the first thing you do in the morning? Right after lunch before you decide to finally tackle that week-old project? Are you using email to get your adrenaline up like a junkie?

Just close, shut down, disconnect and ignore your email for about 1 hour. If you are feeling extremely brave, then try going for 2 straight hours. That’s right, and no peaking! Ignore the email and focus on work. I bet you can get some stuff done today.

Some of my favorite tips on email productivity are:

What is your stress level today? Close the email and ask yourself again in 1 hour.

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