Archive for July, 2012

My notes for Passion Capital The World’s Most Valuable Asset by Paul Alofs

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Here are my notes from Passion Capital by Paul Alofs.

A nice inspiration read. Andrew Daniel had sent out an article based on the book and it was interesting enough that I bought the book. Passion Capital is an easy read and full of stories (both personal and from history) that Alofs uses as examples of his seven principles which he says are the basis for passion capital. They are: Creed, Culture, Courage, Brand, Resources, Strategy, and Persistence. His formula for passion capital is Passion Capital = Energy + Intensity + Sustainability.

Book notes by page number

Passion with a plan.

“Whole Foods has a deeper purpose.” Mackey has said. “Most of the companies I admire in the world have a deeper purpose.”
And what is that purpose? “Business serves society,” he said in a profile in the New Yorker. “It produces goods and services that makes people’s lives better. Doctors heal the sick. Teachers educate people. Architects design buildings. Whole Foods puts food on people’s tables and we improve people’s health. We provide jobs. We provide capital through profits that spur improvements in the world. And we’re good citizens in the communities; we take our citizenship very seriously at Whole Foods.” (Five per cent of profits are donated to charity.)

He talked about the future. He looked like the future.

The key is to understand your failures. “I basically have survived by recognizing my mistakes,” Soros has said.

Some of them have been very successful. But the larger companies are losing market share to smaller, more innovative companies that are making more interesting beer.

At any given moment, certain resources have inherently more worth than others. The formula is rarely static. You need people or ideas or money or time. But what you need most changes month to month.

At the time (late 19th century with Fredrick Winslow Taylor), the world was in the throes of the machine age, and the goals was to have people, as far as possible, mimic machines.

Strategy in business depends on three issues: know yourself, know the enemy, know the market.

Most strategies overestimate what can be accomplished in a year and underestimate what can be accomplished in five years.

The public sector is short on innovation but has responsibilities to society. The private sector possesses innovative ideas, but few of them are directed toward the larger benefit of society.

But a larger problem was that Ballard cared less about victory, which he couldn’t dictate, than exercising power, which he could. Ultimately, his passion wasn’t for winning but for power.

Where is the zeitgeist going? You need to hire for what is coming next, not what happened last.

What did I create? What do I value?

… playwright Arthur Miller said, all we can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.




“From Stuff to Story”

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Great dinner at Jaipur (847 West Randolph) and conversation tonight with the Chicago Overlap crew for the occasion of Shel Kimen visiting Chicago. Shel Kimen made an interesting turn of phrase early in the night. She talked about “from stuff to story” when she was talking about her work in Detroit.

That phrase “from stuff to story” captured my imagination. I couldn’t stop thinking about it all dinner long.I kept repeating it over and over. When I got home I Googled it. Guess what – not a single reference. “No results found for “from stuff to story”.” My ears tingle when I¬† find something I can’t find a Google result for a phrase.

Why haven’t people written that phrase? Why haven’t they thunk that thought?

People think the story comes first and then stuff comes from that. That first someone has to talk about something before it can come into the world.

I heard Shel’s phrase as a affirmation of “stuff first.” Naming and stories and labels comes afterwards.

It brought to mind the difference between labels and labeling, between names and naming. (From “Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences by Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star)

Going “From Stuff to Story” makes it harder for stories to make and keep categories invisible and gives us a fresh way to examine and see our built information environment. Stories are the scaffolding of information infrastructures that surround our stuff. So I think I will give it a try to work “from stuff to story” for awhile and see what happens. ūüėČ


Shel Kimen

Awake the Company

My notes for Grouped: How small groups of friends are the key to influence on the social web by Paul Adams

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Here are my notes from Grouped by Paul Adams

A quick read. A good introduction and overview to social science thinking and theory. For those of you with backgrounds in the social sciences this book will be good for you to read for ways to simply and clearly speak about the concepts with colleagues or clients without using jargon. For those of you from other backgrounds this is a good introductory book.

The most valuable concept is on page 89 where Adams writes about “Showing others’ behavior” as a way to influence people.¬† This “showing the activity of other people” is¬† known as social proof. On the social web that we are building there are escalating opportunities to collect and show activity streams. He gives many examples about how the web is “moving away from its current structure of documents and pages linked together, and toward a new structure that is built around people.”

For a business anthropologist, it is heartening to hear Adams call for rebuilding their businesses around people and social behavior.

Book notes by page number

What we’ve been already learned from the ability to observe and quantify human relationships has moved us away from the myth of the “influential” and toward understanding how groups of friends talk about businesses, brands, and products.

When we speak of five intermediaries, we are talking about an enormous psychological distance between the starting and target points. We should think of the five points as being not five persons apart, but five circles of acquaintances apart — five structures apart. This helps to see it in its proper perspective. — Stanley Milgram.

It’s easier to attribute success to an inspirational person, rather than try to understand the complex network in which they are situated.

Showing others’ behavior is a powerful way to influence people. Behavioral change precedes attitudinal change. Facebook’s Open Graph shows the activity of other people, and gives people tools to undertake the same activity.

We need instead to market toward emotion.

3 ways of encouraging people to change their behavior: 1) Change people’s environment: this is the most powerful way to effect change. Environment stimulates specific behaviors so it’s much easier to try something new in a new environment. 2) Increase the benefit relative to the cost of a new behavior. 3) Ensure that people observe others doing the desired behavior and then see others being rewarded for it. We learn new behaviors by observing the people around us.

It’s much easier to invoke behavioral change first, and attitudinal change later. You can motivate behavioral change by changing people’s environments, breaking down requests into much smaller requests, and ensuring people see others doing the desired behavior.

Permission marketing happens when people give marketers permission to send them messages.

Starting with small requests for behavioral change often eventually leads to attitudinal change.

Gamification with fruitbuddi

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Last week I had the pleasure of skyping with¬†Taylor Reynolds and¬†Brandon Rivera-Melo of fruitbuddi about gamification. fruitbuddi is a product to “enable children to make healthy decisions in the grocery store.”

To direct the conversation we used the conceptual framework for gamification. It  helped  structure a critique of the fruitbuddi and exposed some gamification experience opportunities. The most interesting ones came out of considering the different levels of players and the social learning aspects of how different aged children and families might use the fruitbuddi and learn how to use it better as individual players moved from novice, to problem solvers, to masters.

We talked also about the behavioral onramps that exist in the kitchen or dinning areas that might reference and prime the anticipated use or recollections of using the fruitbuddi in the store. Taylor and Brandon asked about internal/external motivation. That isn’t in the framework. I purposely left it out. In the framework there are “positive emotion” loops that come from players trying to move to the next player level through the challenges. The loops are explicit, but the resulting positive emotion concepts are not. That is a weakness of the current framework that I need to fix and clarify. The discussion about how to embed more positive emotions into any (even minor) action/activity the players take did yield some more possible enhancements.

Overall the conceptual framework was useful for looking at a experience and having a structured dialog about how it could be gamified.



Thank you to Sami Nerenberg, Director of Operations at Design for American for putting fruitbuddi in touch with me.

The 1:9:90 rule of Social Media Theory. Does it apply to gamification?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Social Media meets Gamification

Last night at dinner with Michael Leis I shared the latest Conceptual Framework for Gamification before posting it online.¬† Michael has extensive experience in social media. One of the things he said that really struck me was “I think the novices are much more numerous.” I asked why, and he brought up the similarities between this framework and the 1:9:90 rule.

The 1:9:90 rule would apply in such that

Masters : Originators                                                1%

Problem Solvers : Editors (Commentators)    9%

Novices : Lurkers                                                       90%

The gamification allure for companies tends to center on the masters just like with social media the companies are focused on the User Generated Content that comes from the Originators, yet the pay dirt of social media comes from the lurkers, the readers, the masses. Likewise the paydirt we should look for in gamification is with the novices.


Michael Leis

The 1:9:90 Rule

Conceptual Framework for Gamification


Conceptual Framework for a Gamification Experience

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Last Tuesday July 17th I spoke at Savannah College of Art and Design. It was a lively talk with faculty and students from Industrial Design/Design Management, Service Design, and Interactive Design and Game Development. Bob Fee, Christine Miller, and Sara Jo Johnson were the main organizers. We talked about play engines, bodystorming, and playwork.

I put forth a conceptual framework for a gamification experience.

The key constructs of the framework are:

  • The different players: The novices, problem-solvers, and masters. Notice the social network represented by color transverses the different player roles and show that friendships and relationships as means of learning and knowledge sharing.
  • The challenges (and the try/learn trajectories): the arrows that allow people to travel from a lower role to higher role. They also show how a player can try and not succeed and return to their previous role.
  • The axis of realworld and gameworld: This is why the arrows are mirrored on each side. On the gameworld side the try/learn trajectory is low cost of failure since it is accomplished in a simulation or role play. On the real world side there is a higher cost to failure.
  • The epic story: the larger narrative weaves the entire experience together for all the players of all levels and engaged in all types of activities.


The Design Management Department at SCAD where Chris Miller, Robert (Bob) Fee, and Sara Jo Johnson teach.