February 21, 2010

Zealot Advice

Posted in Life, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:56 pm by lindaslongview

I connected more than usual to Seth’s post from yesterday, Moving the line (the power of a zealot).  He taps into the conundrum of the community that I exist within, where there is angry division over standards of behavior.  Seth correctly observes, “It’s not the principle, in fact, it’s just the degree of compromise we’re comfortable with and content to argue over.” He’s absolutely right!

One of the real challenges is that communities have changed over time and do not respond to the same stimulus and admonitions they used to.  We now live in the world of the long tail (many niches), having shifted more and more toward autonomy.  As such, individuals expect more fidelity and tolerance for their personal needs/desires than ever before.  This requires that communities be more articulate and transparent about what they represent.

I addressed the shift from community to autonomy in my post One Book, Two Months, discussing Putnam’s seminal book, Bowling Alone, and noted that our ability to choose our affiliations is very positive and welcome — we are no longer forced/trapped by ‘tradition’ and/or whatever you were raised.  This has meant that community organizations must create compelling reasons for affiliation. And with greater choices, people change affiliations based on whether their needs (autonomy) are being met.

It is no longer sufficient to be an organization that met the needs of past customers to be successful in the future. Every organization must become customer-centric to the currently affiliated (and those they desire to attract). Customer-centric means that when people talk about their experiences they RAVE about how well they were treated, how much they liked the staff and community, and how easy it was to accomplish the ‘why’ of their affiliation.

Organizations must therefore solicit feedback, measure performance, and adapt accordingly (compromise, coexist, and tolerate diversity for mutual benefit). Per Putnam, this must be part of building mechanisms with the tools of our technological age. To survive, organizations need to rise above where they have been, creating accessible guidance and embracing scalable personalization.

Lastly, the shift toward autonomy has intensified long view imperatives for zealots (and the leadership managing the zealots) within diverse communities:

  • Zealots need to understand that they are successful when they “move the goalposts” (and not expect to hold out for their ideal if they are a minority).
  • Zealots must legitimate the needs of the non-zealots enabling a customer-centric environment (tolerate diversity) to create (more and more) reciprocity, trust, and mutual aid (if they desire to participate within a given community).

Without acknowledging and adjusting to the realities of the shift toward autonomy, some communities are likely to sustain more and more disaffiliation leading to extinction.

Is your community harnessing the tools of the technological age to create coexistence, accessible guidance, and scalable personalization?

July 27, 2009

Shoe Fit?

Posted in Life, Technology tagged , , , , , at 11:23 pm by lindaslongview

ClimbingShoesToday I bought a new pair of climbing shoes.  These shoes represent a milestone in my (indoor) climbing that marks that I’ve made it past “beginner” and I need a bit more performance from my shoe.

Selecting climbing shoes is no different that selecting tools for technology applications.  My long view advice on ensuring functional performance of equipment is as follows:

  1. Understand the function – borrow, rent or purchase an inexpensive model to learn. Identify the characteristics that are important.  Sometimes, expert advice can define the key characteristics, but it is always important to come up the learning curve enough to understand what you value.
  2. Measure/Differentiate performance – there is no substitute for testing the product and measuring difference. Whether you are purchasing large liquid handling equipment or shoes, try different models/brands in the intended application!

As an aside, when I started rock climbing in the mid-70’s there was no such thing as rock climbing shoes, we wore hiking boots!  Even though specialist shoes did not exist, gear was still key. The early-70’s introduction of a simple belay plate provided the necessary mechanical advantage for a 13-year-old girl weighing less than 100 lbs. to belay a full-grown adult male.  It was this device that allowed me to participate with my Dad and his friends before I left for college.

Today, rock climbing has come a long way with the advent of indoor gyms and the plethora of specialist equipment.  It can be daunting to select the most basic item: shoes!

Climbing shoes are notorious for being uncomfortable, yet I know that comfort is important to me. (I am just not tough enough or good enough to need the pain.) Since my current shoes are comfortable, what I really needed were shoes that have less slip (the better to smear with), more touch (improved grip on small holds), and a friction surface all the way across the footbed and heel (the better to stem with in tight spots).

I bought my first pair (Scarpa Marathon) online for $25: #1 purchase inexpensively to learn. This time I needed to assess slip and touch on a climbing wall: #2 measure performance.  I tried on just about every pair that my climbing gym offered – three different brands, two different models, and a few sizes.  Each time, I headed to the bouldering room to test their slip and touch.  I admit that I did not buy the most aggressive technical shoe, rather I bought one that is still considered a beginner shoe (Scarpa Veloce) but proved to be more sticky (less slip), more tactile, and yet comfortable enough to wear for a few hours in the gym.  Or perhaps I just liked them because they were Kermit-the-Frog green…

Maybe someday I will need a quiver of climbing shoes, but not yet!

When you purchase a new performance item, do you learn first and then test performance?