Businesses Don’t Really Care About You
Ranjay Gulati: I think \r\nwhat’s important to realize is that in the last few years, people are \r\nrealizing that we are perhaps operating in a different business \r\nenvironment than ever before. What some people have called the "new \r\nnormal." And the essential idea here is that we are operating in a world\r\n that is much more interconnected; we have global competition; we have \r\ncustomers who are more informed and have more choices. So, you combine \r\nthose ideas, you have customers with more information and more choices \r\nand you have lowering of entry barriers, you have competitors who get \r\ninto the marketplaces very quickly and can imitate very quickly. So we \r\nhave fast followers coming into the marketplace, puts tremendous \r\npressure on price and margin for businesses.
"How do I compete \r\nin a marketplace that is much more competitive than before?" And you \r\ncombine that with one more wrinkle, which is, you see a maturing \r\ntechnology space where products and services start to mature, and you \r\nare in what we call incremental hell. How do I create differentiation in\r\n that space? How do I compete in that space? And you combine yet another\r\n factor into that, that’s my demand side of the equation. On the supply \r\nside, I am now interconnecting much more complicated pieces coming \r\ntogether. And so I have to rely more and more on a network of suppliers.\r\n I have to look for innovation, not just within my organization, but \r\nalso outside my organization.
So I have demand-side complexity, \r\nand I have supply side complexity. And I have to figure out as a \r\nbusiness, how am I going to compete effectively where I have to produce \r\nand sell something that the customer wants and I can do that in a \r\ncost-effective and competitive viable manner.
Question:\r\n You challenge the notion that companies are customer-centric. Why?
Ranjay\r\n Gulati: Customer-centricity is kind of a platitude. You ask any \r\nbusiness, are you customer-centric? And most likely the leadership in \r\nthe company will say, of course we are. It’s a platitude. It’s like, are\r\n you a good person? Who’s going to say, I’m not a good person? So I \r\ndon’t know if there’s a self-presentation issue of trying to say, "Yes, I\r\n am customer-centric," or if there is a self-delusion issue that I \r\nbelieve I am customer-centric. So an idea as obvious as businesses are \r\ncustomer-centric doesn’t always actually really happen. There’s a \r\nconfusion around what exactly does it mean to be customer-centric. As \r\nlong as customers are buying what I have to sell, what does it mean? Am I\r\n customer-centric or not? And so in the course of my own research, what I\r\n have found is that companies have a much harder time being \r\ncustomer-centric then they are willing to... I would say in some cases \r\nadmit, but in many cases they are willing to admit. And the barriers to \r\nbeing customer-centric have to do with both awareness of what does it \r\nmean to be customer-centric and also action. So it’s really awareness \r\nand being able to act on it.
So, let me unpack this a little \r\nbit. Awareness is the first one. And awareness is not just looking at \r\nyour customers through traditional market research, focus groups, you \r\nknow, market research and things like that which typically tend to look \r\nat the customer through the lens of your product. Do you like my \r\nproduct? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? \r\nInstead, you have to look beyond to understand what is really happening \r\nin the life of my customer. That’s awareness. You look at bag salad. No \r\nlettuce company would have thought with bag salad if all they were \r\nasking was, do you like my lettuce? What do you like about my lettuce? \r\nHow can I make it better for you? Bag salad came by asking a more \r\nprofound and deeper set of questions.
And to really get there \r\nwith those questions, you have to have a sense of curiosity and \r\nhumility, not always in good supply in many organizations. That’s the \r\nawareness side.
But then there’s the action side of this whole \r\nstory. I feel a much bigger barrier is in action. And action means \r\ngetting your organization aligned and reinforcing customer focus, if you\r\n will. Organizations are set up to solve 20th century problems. In the \r\n20th century the biggest barriers organizations faced were production, \r\nand distribution. So companies had to be organized, managed, measured \r\naround production and distribution, which is by product or by \r\ngeography.
But today, what we are seeing is the biggest obstacle\r\n is in the demand side is uniqueness in the eyes of the customer which \r\nrequires you to have a much deeper engagement, understanding of what is \r\nreally happening in my customer’s life around my product and service. \r\nWhatever that might be. And I think that line of sight doesn’t happen \r\nbecause of the silos that exist in organizations that don’t always \r\ncommunicate, collaborate with each other to go to market in a corrective\r\n fashion.
Take an example, for instance. Look at Best Buy. \r\nRight? Largest consumer retail in this country. You know, discovers that\r\n 55% of their customers are women. This is a store designed by guys for \r\nguys. And women universally hate the shopping experience at Best Buy. \r\nSo, now I got to figure out what women want. Women tend to buy things in\r\n clusters. Not individually like men do. So, the guy who is in charge of\r\n buying and placing televisions, doesn’t necessarily have to, or wants \r\nto talk to the guy or person who is stocking DVD players. Even though \r\nthey should be, or how do I get the digital camera person to talk to the\r\n printer person to talk to the accessories person to talk to the \r\nsoftware person so we can assemble all of those pieces and say, we have a\r\n coordinated plan for this group of customers.
So, it’s the \r\nawareness issue and there’s an action issue and I think both of those \r\ntrip organizations up.
Companies have a much harder time being "customer-centric" than they are willing to admit.
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As patients approached death, many had dreams and visions of deceased loved ones.
One of the most devastating elements of the coronavirus pandemic has been the inability to personally care for loved ones who have fallen ill.
Research reveals a new evolutionary feature that separates humans from other primates.
- Researchers find a new feature of human evolution.
- Humans have evolved to use less water per day than other primates.
- The nose is one of the factors that allows humans to be water efficient.
A model of water turnover for humans and chimpanzees who have similar fat free mass and body water pools.
Credit: Current Biology
A man's skeleton, found facedown with his hands bound, was unearthed near an ancient ceremonial circle during a high speed rail excavation project.
- A skeleton representing a man who was tossed face down into a ditch nearly 2,500 years ago with his hands bound in front of his hips was dug up during an excavation outside of London.
- The discovery was made during a high speed rail project that has been a bonanza for archaeology, as the area is home to more than 60 ancient sites along the planned route.
- An ornate grave of a high status individual from the Roman period and an ancient ceremonial circle were also discovered during the excavations.
Foul play?<p>A skeleton representing a man who was tossed face down into a ditch nearly 2,500 years ago with his hands bound in front of his hips was dug up during a high speed rail excavation.</p><p>The positioning of the remains have led archaeologists to suspect that the man may have been a victim of an ancient murder or execution. Though any bindings have since decomposed, his hands were positioned together and pinned under his pelvis. There was also no sign of a grave or coffin. </p><p>"He seems to have had his hands tied, and he was face-down in the bottom of the ditch," <a href="https://www.livescience.com/iron-age-murder-victim-england.html" target="_blank">said archaeologist Rachel Wood</a>, who led the excavation. "There are not many ways that you end up that way."</p><p>Currently, archaeologists are examining the skeleton to uncover more information about the circumstances of the man's death. Fragments of pottery found in the ditch may offer some clues as to exactly when the man died. </p><p>"If he was struck across the head with a heavy object, you could find a mark of that on the back of the skull," Wood said to <a href="https://www.livescience.com/iron-age-murder-victim-england.html" target="_blank">Live Science</a>. "If he was stabbed, you could find blade marks on the ribs. So we're hoping to find something like that, to tell us how he died."</p>
Other discoveries at Wellwick Farm<p>The grim discovery was made at Wellwick Farm near Wendover. That is about 15 miles north-west of the outskirts of London, where <a href="https://www.hs2.org.uk/building-hs2/hs2-green-corridor/" target="_blank">a tunnel</a> is going to be built as part of a HS2 high-speed rail project due to open between London and several northern cities sometime after 2028. The infrastructure project has been something of a bonanza for archaeology as the area is home to more than 60 ancient sites along the planned route that are now being excavated before construction begins. </p><p>The farm sits less than a mile away from the ancient highway <a href="http://web.stanford.edu/group/texttechnologies/cgi-bin/stanfordnottingham/places/?icknield" target="_blank">Icknield Way</a> that runs along the tops of the Chiltern Hills. The route (now mostly trails) has been used since prehistoric times. Evidence at Wellwick Farm indicates that from the Neolithic to the Medieval eras, humans have occupied the region for more than 4,000 years, making it a rich area for archaeological finds. </p><p>Wood and her colleagues found some evidence of an ancient village occupied from the late Bronze Age (more than 3,000 years ago) until the Roman Empire's invasion of southern England about 2,000 years ago. At the site were the remains of animal pens, pits for disposing food, and a roundhouse — a standard British dwelling during the Bronze Age constructed with a circular plan made of stone or wood topped with a conical thatched roof.</p>
Ceremonial burial site<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzMTk0Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDgwNTIyMX0.I49n1-j8WVhKjIZS_wVWZissnk3W1583yYXB7qaGtN8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C82%2C0%2C83&height=700" id="44da7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="46cfc8ca1c64fc404b32014542221275" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="top down view of coffin" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
A high status burial in a lead-lined coffin dating back to Roman times.
Photo Credit: HS2<p>While these ancient people moved away from Wellwick Farm before the Romans invaded, a large portion of the area was still used for ritual burials for high-status members of society, Wood told Live Science. The ceremonial burial site included a circular ditch (about 60 feet across) at the center, and was a bit of a distance away from the ditch where the (suspected) murder victim was uncovered. Additionally, archaeologists found an ornately detailed grave near the sacred burial site that dates back to the Roman period, hundreds of years later when the original Bronze Age burial site would have been overgrown.</p><p>The newer grave from the Roman period encapsulated an adult skeleton contained in a lead-lined coffin. It's likely that the outer coffin had been made of wood that rotted away. Since it was clearly an ornate burial, the occupant of the grave was probably a person of high status who could afford such a lavish burial. However, according to Wood, no treasures or tokens had been discovered. </p>
Sacred timber circle<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzMTk0Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MDAwOTQ4Mn0.eVJAUcD0uBUkVMFuMOPSgH8EssGkfLf_MjwUv0zGCI8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C149%2C0%2C149&height=700" id="9de6a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ee66520d470b26f5c055eaef0b95ec06" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="An aerial view of the sacred circular monument." data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
An aerial view of the sacred circular monument.
Photo Credit: HS2<p>One of the most compelling archaeological discoveries at Wellwick Farm are the indications of a huge ceremonial circle once circumscribed by timber posts lying south of the Bronze Age burial site. Though the wooden posts have rotted away, signs of the post holes remain. It's thought to date from the Neolithic period to 5,000 years ago, according to Wood.</p><p>This circle would have had a diameter stretching 210 feet across and consisted of two rings of hundreds of posts. There would have been an entry gap to the south-west. Five posts in the very center of the circle aligned with that same gap, which, according to Wood, appeared to have been in the direction of the rising sun on the day of the midwinter solstice. </p><p>Similar Neolithic timber circles have been discovered around Great Britain, such as one near <a href="https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/stonehenge-sarsens" target="_blank">Stonehenge</a> that is considered to date back to around the same time. </p>
Being skeptical isn't just about being contrarian. It's about asking the right questions of ourselves and others to gain understanding.
- It's not always easy to tell the difference between objective truth and what we believe to be true. Separating facts from opinions, according to skeptic Michael Shermer, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, and others, requires research, self-reflection, and time.
- Recognizing your own biases and those of others, avoiding echo chambers, actively seeking out opposing voices, and asking smart, testable questions are a few of the ways that skepticism can be a useful tool for learning and growth.
- As Derren Brown points out, being "skeptical of skepticism" can also lead to interesting revelations and teach us new things about ourselves and our psychology.