3 Ways to Predict What Consumers Want Before They Know It

Fast Company/Co.DESIGN • February 21, 2012

Anticipation. Customer-centric design has been a marketing mantra for the past few years, so this excerpt from Scott Anthony's The Little Black Book of Innovation covers familiar ground. However, he presents some interesting illustrations of how companies have used customer research to spark new insights. Who knew that P&G changed its Tide packaging because it finally figured out that the cardboard box was a fingernail hazard?

I like the packaging example. Now if only somebody had done something similar with those consistently difficult gable-top waxed milk cartons ( history) that need to come with a box cutter if you're ever going to open them in a way that allows you to pour properly. And a special place in hell for the TetraBrik. Better this. For more things of this sort check out the brilliant online exhibit " Hidden Heroes—The Genius of Everyday Things". ( Michalko)

Faced with Distraction, We Need Willpower

HBR Blog Network • February 22, 2012

Start small and focus. The age of computing opened broad new avenues for procrastination—and even the most dedicated employees can be easily lured by the siren call of the Web. Business writer John Coleman offers five small steps you can take to improve your willpower and boost your productivity. Step no. 1—sit up straight. Read on for steps 2-5.

I'm all for sitting up straight. Ask my colleagues ;) For more on the siren call of distraction and its impact on e-reading here's an interesting article from the NY Times. ( Michalko)

Life's Messy. Train Your Brain to Adapt.

Big Think • February 19, 2012

Chaos theory. Some people are just better organized and more focused than others, and it has a lot to do with their ability to self-regulate. Read on to find out how to prevent daily stress from derailing your efforts to focus. "If you learn how your brain works and work with it, you can start to exercise more cognitive control over your own functioning."

An imbalance between emotional intelligence and executive organization is an elegant way to characterize clutter but it's still clutter. ( Michalko)

Thinking Creatively: Just Add Milk

Miller-McCune • February 23, 2012

The difference engine. Making small changes in your daily habits can help trigger creative breakthroughs, according to a new report out of the Netherlands. Read on to learn how simply reordering the steps you follow in accomplishing routine tasks can open your mind to new possibilities.

From bread butter-side down to an explanation of creativity following periods of immigration is just too big a leap for me. Oh please. ( Michalko)

Who Can Profit from Selling 1-Cent Books on Amazon? Robots.

Good Business • February 22, 2012

Bots gone wild. Ever wonder about those 1-cent and 2-cent books available on Amazon? Check out this software engineer's tale of being undersold by marketers hawking "used" versions of his print-on-demand book and his provocative speculations on why these robo-marketers persist in losing money.

This is just amusing and a bit mystifying. Worth looking at this interesting related analysis of the book The Making of a Fly that eventually got priced at more than $23 million on Amazon. And here's the story of $800 Macaroni and Cheese. ( Michalko)

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