#17 Be curious, not judgemental
One about Tulu, Tokyo Toilets and Better processes
I just started reading “Pour Your Heart Into It” by Howard Schultz. This snippet talks about one tiny step that helped Starbucks connect deeply with its customers.
Starbucks opened its doors with little fanfare in April 1971. The store was designed to look classically nautical, as though it had been there for decades. The fixtures were all built by hand. One long wall was covered with wooden shelving, while the other was devoted to whole-bean coffee, with up to thirty different varieties available. Starbucks did not then brew and sell coffee by the cup, but they did sometimes offer tasting samples, which were always served in porcelain cups, because the coffee tasted better that way. The cups also forced customers to stay a little longer to hear about the coffee.
I’m excited to learn more about the magic that goes into making the perfect blend of great product & service culture at Starbucks. Will share my learning from this in the coming weeks.
For now, let’s sip in today’s interesting reads.
Ethics in designing habit-forming products
Most of us would have seen the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” last year. It trended in the shadows of never-ending news around misinformation, trolling & data privacy debates. It spoke of how social media platforms are creating new types of addiction. These platforms are deliberately designed, tested, and optimized to be addictive. Watch the documentary, if you've not watched it yet. You will get many Déjà vu moments.
This article suggests how ‘habit-forming products’ can stay ‘true’ to their stated motive. It warns the product owners of traps of addictive solutions that may not really suit the real user needs.
In a simple world built on ethical grounds “Do unto others as you would have them do unto.” does a lot of good for such a cause. But, that may not be enough anymore.
The author suggests the following two checks in the design & execution approach:
If your customers want to incorporate other products, brands, or mediums into their lifestyle, does your current product 1) penalize them or 2) optimize for them?
Start by asking yourself the following questions: First, “Would I use the product myself?” and second, “Will the product help users materially improve their lives?”
It’s a great read on habit-building, creating a good customer experience or in general “doing the right thing.” Highly recommended for all creators out there.
Forget emoji, the real Unicode drama is over an endangered Indian script
I can read/write/speak only 2 languages - Hindi & English. Back home, my family uses Nimadi in regular conversations. It’s a local dialect of Hindi. Folks use the Devanagari script to write in Nimadi. So, it has found its way to the digital world. I, somehow, did not learn this all this while. It appears regularly in our family Whatsapp groups. So, I keep learning a word or two every other day because it is able to exist in this digital world. This post about the efforts to take an endangered script to the digital world is an eye-opener. A dialect might survive in small geography with its folklores & local culture. But it's the written stories that make it expand to generations. Old scripts face huge survival challenges as digital media become our primary source of information. ROW covered the story of 10 year-long efforts to create Unicode standards for Tulu. Respect to folks who make it their life’s mission to preserve history and carry it to the future.
Build better processes by questioning everything
I’ve been guilty of creating many erroneous and superfluous processes all my career. At one time, a colleague called out that I built an ‘elephant’ of a tool when a tiny system should have been enough. I still do them many times, unknowing of course. When I look back, I find that the most common reason for such a mistake was ‘assuming’ I knew exactly what was required. And that blinded me from doing any iterations & continuous learning. This article covers a few of the mistakes that I have made and shares some good perspectives on how to avoid them. It has a great reference to Ted Lasso, as well. I could not have asked for more.
The Tokyo Toilet
Toilets are a symbol of Japan's world-renowned hospitality culture. 17 public toilets in Shibuya are undergoing redesign right now. This is an ambitious project bringing together 16 creators from around the world. Each of these projects is a lesson in design as well as user experience thinking. It will be lovely to see if learnings from these 'prototypes' can be scaled to millions of other sites.
Photo credit: https://tokyotoilet.jp/en/
Some random goodness from the internet:
Game: Check this game ‘Marvel character or Font?’ if you’re a marvel fan or a font nerd. Really enjoyable if you’re both. I wonder, who comes up with such ideas - for character names like this, or font names like this and of course the biggest of them - games like this!
Instagram: There is creativity in all of us. Some of us put it to use more than others. Helga.stentzel creates beautiful art from everyday objects. It takes some curiosity to see so much hidden in plain sight. Moonchaii has done some stunning work on similar lines.
Brands: It’s difficult to market some products. But some brands just don’t want to believe in that myth. They take the challenge head-on and create magical interactions everywhere. Do you wonder what’s the product I’m talking about? Check out their Website, Twitter and Instagram. To share a small brief, here’s a snapshot from their ‘about us’.
“We’re toilet crusaders! We’re a team of toilet crusaders, fighting for clean bums and reduced global wastefulness... We come to work every day, where talking “crap” actually counts, because we’re ultimately turning people into born-again bidet lovers.”
Before we sign off, Here’s a snapshot of a tweet worth saving.
That's all for this week, folks!
Last week’s post had a 43% open rate. 109 subscribers will get ‘Stay Curious’ in their email this week.
I write this newsletter to share what I learnt from others. If you learnt something from this today, can you forward it to a couple of your friends to continue this chain?
PS: Today's post is grade 6 as per https://hemingwayapp.com/