It's not enough for people to like what you're offering- they've got to love it if you want sustained business. Saatchi & Saatchi's Kevin Roberts predicted this need to shift from brands to lovemarks in the 2005 book Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands. Similarly, the products and services that most resonate with people are those that are "Like Life". Like Life is a term I've made up to describe organizations, products and services that avoid jargon, are easy to access and synchronize well with things that already exist in our lives. Steps, cords and instructions are minimized and simplified. Like Life is something that companies such as Apple, Amazon, WeWork and Fandango do quite well.
It is in our highly regulated industries- healthcare, finance and education- where there are big opportunities to make products, services and processes more Like Life. Certainly, Like Life examples are increasing in these fields, thanks to the integration of design thinking processes and the hiring of new types of professionals such as designers, anthropologists and psychologists. This is signaled in the hit Showtime drama Billions where the Axe Capital hedge fund has psychologist "Wendy Rhoades" firmly ensconced in the C-Suite leadership.
Here are 4 Like Life characteristics:
Avoids Jargon- When was the last time your team had a meeting with an external customer or guest and had to stop every 5 minutes to translate a myriad of acronyms that you use to explain a process or name a job function? The book Sticky Wisdom by the consultancy WhatIf?! has a wonderful chapter on the perils of jargon in companies. Jargon signals a lack of transparency- and not only to outsiders, but often time to employees too! If you can't explain it to a 5 year-old or to your grandmom, then figure out how to do so- quickly.
Spontaneous- I recently was in a meeting at a company where it took two layers of permission in order to move chairs out of a crowded room. When an organization is burdened with a "permission slip culture"- then employees are inhibited from fully contributing and feeling completely trusted and valued. In a micro-managed environment, ultimately the wheels of production slow down. The Ritz Carlton structures for spontaneity quite well. It entrusts its employees with up to $2000 to do whatever it takes to surprise and delight guests. And you know what? The money is not abused by employees! People respond to trust by being trustworthy.
Networked and Interconnected- IOT (the internet of things) is getting us closer to the capacity to connect our personal life to our work life and make it seamless. As long as we the people are open to being accessed in multiple ways (via our bank accounts, our homes, our heart rates, etc) then this Like Life characteristic will soon be ubiquitous.
Jerry Rig It- Also known as mending or hacking- humans are really good at this. And even when we are not given explicit permission to jerry-rig at work, we do it any way- whether it is figuring out new ways to get online or to solve a customer service problem. In India this improvisational way of working is known as jugaad innovation. What if we structured incentives to make jerry-rigging more visible and acknowledged?
Test out these Like Life characteristics in your own business. Your employees and your customers will thank you- and love you.