Monday, February 08, 2010

Fuzzy problems

While rereading a 10 years old book by Tom Kelley, describing the success ingredients of his design firm IDEO (one of the most innovative firms over the last 30), I encountered the description of one of the most common problems that he and his team are facing within the design practice: Fuzziness. Kelley described it as encountering a fuzzy instead of a clearly defined problem which seems to be the cause of many failed design solutions, or in our world marketing programs. Quite often challenges that we are trying to solve were never clearly defined, they remained fuzzy despite (or because of) the team’s anxious eagerness to work on a solution. It becomes very obvious while watching the numerous commercials during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

This famous and unique media property (the most expensive not just in the US but in the world) is the same visual location in time (CBS between 6.30 and 9pm EST) but the problems that these different brands are trying (or sometimes pretending) to solve is very different from each other. My guess is that most marketers could not describe succinctly of what their presence in the Super Bowl is trying to attack or solve as a problem. It seems that this is driven by a few factors:

  • Pressure of mainstream spending behavior - Everyone else likes to be on the Super Bowl, so let’s do it, too. They all can’t be wrong.
  • Immediate solution focus - Let’s start working on the solution now, we are already behind schedule
  • The misunderstood power of reach – the brand can reach as many people as nowhere else without realizing (or admitting) that most of the brands advertised are at best only for 10% of the US population.

Too often we love to work as fast as possible on a solution without spending the time, energy, and intelligence to understand the problem. The enemy in our marketing discipline is more often the eagerness to create something interesting without the focus and filter of understanding and defining the problem.

Fuzzy problems are expensive. Most problems can be scored on a scale between 0 and 1. At 0 one does not even realize that there is a problem, at 1 the problem is clearly defined and understood. Everything in-between is a higher and lower degree of fuzziness. The Marketer’s obligation is to get as closely possible to 1 and not stop already when they have barely moved above 0. It might be a good exercise for any marketer to judge in any given project where one is on this 0 to 1 problem fuzziness scale. My bet is that we would be surprised of how low we would score very often our clear understanding of the problem, all translating into a high degree of fuzziness. And fuzziness is expensive.

5 Comments:

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4:04 PM  
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5:24 AM  
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I have the pleasure to brief on our Data Visualization software "Trend Compass".

TC is a new concept in viewing statistics and trends in an animated way by displaying 5 axis (X, Y, Time, Bubble size & Bubble color) instead of just the traditional X and Y axis. It could be used in analysis, research, presentation etc. In the banking sector, we have Deutsche Bank New York as our client.


This a link on weather data :

http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/aims/

This is a bank link to compare Deposits, Withdrawals and numbers of Customers for different branches over time ( all in 1 Chart) :

http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/bank-trx/

Misc Examples :

http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/airline/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/stockmarket1/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/tax/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/football/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/swinefludaily/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/flu/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/babyboomers/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/bank-trx/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/advertising/

This is a project we did with Princeton University on US unemployment :
http://www.epicsyst.com/main3.swf

A 3 minutes video presentation of above by Professor Alan Krueger Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and currently Chief Economist at the US Treasury using Trend Compass :
http://epicsyst.com/trendcompass/princeton.aspx?home=1

Latest financial links on the Central Bank of Egypt:

http://www.epicsyst.com/trendcompass/samples/Aggregate-balance-sheet/
http://www.epicsyst.com/trendcompass/samples/balance-sheet
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http://www.epicsyst.com/trendcompass/samples/egyptian-banks/
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I hope you could evaluate it and give me your comments. So many ideas are there.

You can download a trial version. It has a feature to export EXE,PPS,HTML and AVI files. The most impressive is the AVI since you can record Audio/Video for the charts you create.

http://epicsyst.com/trendcompass/FreeVersion/TrendCompassv1.2_DotNet.zip

12:38 PM  
Anonymous seslisohbet said...

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6:57 AM  
Blogger Epic Systems said...

I have the pleasure to brief you on our Data Visualization software "Trend Compass".

TC is a new concept in viewing statistics and trends in an animated way by displaying in one chart 5 axis (X, Y, Time, Bubble size & Bubble color) instead of just the traditional X and Y axis. It could be used in analysis, research, presentation etc. In different business sectors, to name a few we have Deutsche Bank, NBC Universal, RIM, Vanguard Institutional Investor, Ipsos, Princeton University as our clients.

NBC presentation on TED using Trend Compass exported Videos. Now on CNN Money / Fortune (Dec 21st,2010):
http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/12/21/from-laughing-to-judging-in-fifty-years-the-evolution-of-televised-emotion/

The following link is for our new Geographical Trend Compass:
http://epicsyst.com/test/map/

Link on Ads Monitoring on TV Satellite Channels during April 2008. Pick Duration (Ads daily duration) vs Repeat (Ads repetition per day).
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/tv-monitor/

Link on UK Master Card vs Visa performance :
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/mastercard_vs_visa/

Links on Funds:
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/best_exchange_traded_funds/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/us_insurance_funds/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/aaim_fund_performance/

Link on other KPIs :
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/hospital_performance/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/international_insurance/

Link on Chile's Earthquake (Feb 27th 2010):
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/EarthQuakeinChile/

This a link on weather data :
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/aims/

This is a bank link to compare Deposits, Withdrawals and numbers of Customers for different branches over time ( all in 1 Chart) :
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/bank-trx/

Misc Examples :
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/airline/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/airline2/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/stockmarket1/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/tax/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/football/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/swinefludaily/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/flu/
http://www.epicsyst.com/test/v2/babyboomers/

This is a project we did with Princeton University on US unemployment :
http://www.epicsyst.com/main3.swf

A 3 minutes video presentation of above by Professor Alan Krueger Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and currently Chief Economist at the US Treasury using Trend Compass :
http://epicsyst.com/trendcompass/princeton.aspx?home=1

I hope you could evaluate it and give me your comments. So many ideas are there.

You can download a trial version. It has a feature to export EXE,PPS,HTML and AVI files. The most impressive is the AVI since you can record Audio/Video for the charts you create.

http://epicsyst.com/trendcompass/FreeVersion/TrendCompassv1.2_DotNet.zip

All the best.

9:15 AM  

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