Cultural Symbols: 121 Years After Wounded Knee

121 years ago yesterday the massacre at Wounded Knee took place.  December 29, 1890.  By the time it was over, at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux had been killed and 51 wounded, though some estimates placed the number of dead at 300. And this anniversary got me thinking, for a […]

Client Buy-In: Selling Results Before Methods

As I’ve written about before, “ethnography” is a loaded word for many people, including clients. It is presented as everything from in-home interviews to mall intercepts to participant observation.  And while I am an unquestionable advocate for defining in terms of participant observation and the kind of deep-dive research that involves far more than just […]

Krampus is Coming!

KRAMPUS IS COMING!  Well, Krampus came and went, thankfully overlooking my home this year and saving my children for another Christmas in 364 days. When I told a friend and colleague about Krampus not long ago, I received an earful about the damaging, scaring nature of such a legend. I learned that Krampus was, so […]

Shopping the Day After Christmas: Doing More Than Deals

It is the day after Christmas and my initial plans involved spending the day in beat up pants and slippers, indulging in a cigar and diving into my new Steven Pinker book.  Not a bad day.  But the operative word in all of this is “involved” – the past tense.  It turns out that while […]

4 Noble Truths of Research

With the overwhelming number of methodological devices used to uncover insights, it’s easy to become lost in thinking about how and when to use them.  Not to mention why. This is even more true for our clients, who have neither the time nor the inclination to dig into the subtleties of how we do what […]

The Death of Innovation and the Renaissance Mind

There seems to be a degree of consensus that once a company hits a certain size, when it becomes a “big” business, it stops innovating or thinking in new ways.  Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, such as Apple or Patagonia, but they are just that, exceptions.  Assuming for a moment that there […]

Just Give Them the Facts and You Won’t Sell a Thing

Marketers and product developers spend a great deal of time talking about why the thing they’re selling matters, why it’s better than the next guy’s thing.  They quote facts and features and minutia to make their point because, as all good business people know, people respond to fact.  Here’s how things would work in a […]

Mobile Design and What the Numbers DON’T Tell Us

I, like so much of the Western Hemisphere, spent part of my weekend shopping for dolls, pajamas and the latest electronic gadget.  And like so many others, I turned to my mobile phone for support on more than one occasion.  I am far from unique in this regard.  What caught my eye was the number […]

Write What You Mean: Words Matter

Several days ago, while listening to a discussion on the radio about the future of education system, I caught a tidbit that made me shudder.  Oddly, it had nothing to do with how programs are designed, the abysmal math scores in the US, or budget cuts.  No, it was the repeated use of the word […]