When you can listen to any music, how do you choose?

I’m listening to Spotify today (Head and the Heart, if you’re wondering), and I realized that the explosion of music choices (in a day, I might listen to Pandora, Turntable, Grooveshark, KEXP Radio here in Seattle, or any one of a number of sources of music) hasn’t made it much easier to pick what I’d like to listen to at the time I’d like to listen to it.

True – the recommendations of friends and the ability to pick almost any song or album at any moment has given us an almost infinite ability to listen. And it has also given us an almost infinite menu of choices. I’m late to the party on this one, and I’m really enjoying the combination of Spotify when combined with Last.fm to curate music I might like based on my choices. It leads me to believe that the next step in app development and service development overall is the shift from mass customization to real personalization based on behavior.

Why should we care? Because too much choice can be paralyzing and prevent you from acting. Barry Schwartz is a psychologist who studies the effect of choice – here’s his TED talk on the effects of too much choice on our overall happiness.

Can Customer Service be Customized?

Joseph Pine, in this 2004 Ted Talk on what customers want, discusses the progression of economic value from commodity > service > customized service.  He talks about how man-made services are both “authentic” (real, experienced experiences) and “manufactured” (created with the purpose of evoking a thought or meaning or value.”

Is “authenticity” something that can be manufactured, especially in the areas of service that people see, feel, hear and touch?  Pine says yes.  He says that the whole point of the Experience Economy is to render authenticity, “to get the customer to perceive your offerings as authentic.”

Do you think that Pine is being bombastic just to make a point, or do you think that he’s actually right — that some of the experiences that we feel are most “true” are in fact manufactured by companies to make us feel that way?  It’s a great debate and a great video — take a look.

For creative tasks, use different incentives

In a great speech from TED global 2009, Daniel Pink discusses the issue of motivation and incentives.

See the speech here:

Pink describes the “candle problem” as a classic model of when incentives work and when they actually hinder innovation. This is a situation where the subject is asked to solve a situation and the solution is not immediately evident.

When the candle problem is explained simply, incentives to the subjects drastically improve the results. And when the problem is more complex, Pink explains, incentives actually hurt innovation and produce negative results. Continue reading “For creative tasks, use different incentives”

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