Immersion has recently taken center stage in our Managing with Aloha vocabulary and Language of Intention by way of our value alignment conversations here on Talking Story, which in turn led to my newest ebook: Value your Month to Value your Life.
So as you can imagine, the concept of Consumer Immersion leapt off the pages of a book I’ve recently read by Ron Rentel (with Joe Zellnik) called Karma Queens, Geek Gods & Innerpreneurs. The book’s subtitle is “Meet the 9 Consumer Types Shaping Today’s Marketplace” and if that intrigues you, I’ll be posting a full book review before the week is over.
Here’s what we’ve said about Value Immersion here on the blog:
The most effective ‘Value Your Month to Value Your Life’ programs I’ve seen in workplaces, succeed because they go for value immersion. For example, if Kuleana is the value for the month, they look at everything happening during that month through the lens of Kuleana-colored glasses, with the intention of tweaking processes for more value alignment. People put their hand up to work on what comes up. Bosses give the green light to stretch inter-departmentally, encouraging those conversations, and knowing a welcome mat will be in place because the value has been adopted everywhere, even if temporarily.
“Everything happening” means you’re nalu-ing it: You’re going with the flow as events and activities naturally happen because of past habit or current developments, and what you’re “tweaking” is largely your responses to all those things inclusively. As you do so, you tackle everything that Kuleana affects (returning to our example) as the value of responsibility and accountability. For instance Kuleana is a tremendous help as criteria, filter, and priority-sorter when selected during times of company change, because responsibility is very much like motivation: it’s personal and self-driven.
Compare this with the Consumer Eyes process of Consumer Immersion:
“Consumer Immersion involves tours of category-related hot spots, expert interviews, hands-on experiential visits, and a multitude of real-world consumer interactions. During our Immersions we break bread with consumers in cutting-edge restaurants, sip cocktails with them in their favorite bars, and query them on the street, at the gym, and in the supermarket. Together with our clients [Consumer Eyes is a brand and innovation consultancy] we see how life looks from the consumer’s perspective and let that learning inform all the brainstorming and insight building that follows.”
“Our view of Consumer Immersion is that the best place to investigate consumers’ lives is to speak to consumers where they live, to follow them as they go through daily chores and errands, and to interact with them in a variety of real-world settings. Informally stopping a consumer in the supermarket as she ponders your category on the shelf is amazingly enlightening. Hanging out with 21-year-olds in their favorite club will enable you to examine both their emotional lives and drinking habits at once. Drinking rituals are highly communal, and watching patrons order drinks in a bar can shed a lot of light on how drink choices change over the course of the evening.”
Let’s take the liberty of changing one of those sentences a bit, shifting it to workplace context:
Our view of Value Immersion is that the best place to investigate workplace culture is to speak to business partners (i.e. our preferred name for ‘employees’) where they work, to follow them as they go through daily job tasks and business initiatives, and to interact with them in a variety of their sense of place real-work settings.
Essentially, Rentel is talking about catching people in their natural element, and with their guard down:
“In these situations [of Consumer Immersion], there’s no lapse between what consumers say they do and what really goes on. No matter what a consumer might say about her condiment usage, there’s no substitute for opening up her fridge and seeing a crusty bottle of hot sauce on the back of the shelf and a well-used bottle of mayonnaise up front.”
“So that’s what we do — together with our clients we interview, observe, and join consumers in their activities everywhere from a kitchen table in Boston to behind the counter of a juice bar in Malibu.”
Return to thinking about how you use Value Immersion in your workplace:
Metaphorically speaking, where in your operation are the ‘kitchen tables’ and ‘juice bars’ where more Aloha-based values can deliciously, and nutritiously be served?
The art of managing well is a situational art in so many ways. We seek to catch people doing something right so we can applaud it, appreciate it, and yes, clone and strengthen it. We want to reward the behavior we that we want to have more of, and with value-mapping we are becoming more specific: We are appreciating and celebrating value-aligned behavior.
But so much rides on seizing those opportunities where we “catch people doing something right,” doesn’t it.
Wishing and hoping is not a reliable strategy, for all it delivers is happenstance.
So think of your value immersion design — that simple, yet strategic decision to have a Value of the Month in your workplace as the way you start — as deliberately creating the hot spot you will benefit from.
Create your fertile ground of ‘kitchen tables’ and ‘juice bars’ by choosing your values. You have to take that first step.
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The easiest way? Grab the ebook.
Just 18 pages as a printable PDF you can openly share with your team.
Read it together, so everyone is literally on the same page.