Working together is very important. Even a genius like Turing needs others’ help to crack the Enigma code. But what is the key factor in team success? Many people believe it is the skills and abilities of team members. Well, the truth may surprise you.

At the beginning of the book The Culture Code, the author introduces a funny competition held among groups of kindergartners, business school students, and lawyers in which the participants need to create the tallest possible structure with uncooked spaghetti, tape, strings, and a marshmallow. Unexpectedly, the game ends with the triumph of kindergartners. How can it happen? When looking back, we discover that business school students usually analyze the problem first, discuss the right strategy, and quietly form a hierarchy. At the same time, kindergartners just start experimenting together and keep trying.

From the different approaches, we can see a good group culture, which can boost the overall performance values, more internal interaction and communication than the skills of group members.

There are three skills to create this kind of group culture.

1. Create a safe working environment

People can perform at their best in a familiar environment, and that’s why creating a safe working environment is so crucial. The sense of safety usually comes from internal familiarities and connections. If you want to make others feel relaxed and safe, it’s essential to let them know you are paying attention to what they have to say. Sometimes, proper feedback is needed too, which can both increase interactivity and let people feel they are needed.

2. Show your vulnerabilities to build trust

Although it might sound strange, showing your vulnerabilities actually helps to improve the group performance. We always look at the ways people around us behave and pick up some patterns. Admitting your shortcomings to others indicates they can do the same too. And this will enhance the mutual trust within the group.

Meanwhile, sharing vulnerabilities also conveys the expectation of cooperation. When group members know you rely on their help, they can feel comfortable to rely on you in return. Then everyone is going to know he or she does not have to handle everything on their own.

3. Establish a common purpose and emphasize

The pursuit of a common goal is critical to group performance. The common goal refers to beliefs and values behind people’s actions. Gabriele Oettingen, a psychology professor at New York University, has proved in several studies that, communications over the common purpose can help to unite members and achieve goals.

Repetition is necessary for emphasizing the common purpose within the group. You can put it over again and again in regular meetings or make it into short tag lines. Repeat ten times or a hundred times if necessary.

Challenges to cross the chasm

  1. Lack of customers
  2. Existing customer’s payment cannot cover the next period
  3. Unaligned demands from different visionaries
  4. Competitions from alternatives
  5. Unsatisfaction from investors

Analogy to Invasion of Normandy

Analogy: it’s aggression, as the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day, Our long-term goal is to take over the mainstream market that is currently dominated by an entrenched competitor.

Solution: focus on a niche market that is

  1. Readily achievable
  2. Leverage-able for long-term success

If we do not take the niche, we do not worry about our next targets.

Why niche-and-next strategy?

The niche-and-next strategy is counterintuitive and thus hard to stick to. If we do not adhere to it, it is like lighting a fire without kindling.

Reference-able customers are satisfied ones

It is fatal to be a sales-driven company; our company should be a market-driven one. Unfortunately, following this strategy takes discipline because leaders can hardly resist the temptation to make short-term money.

The sole goal of the company at this stage should be creating a pragmatist customer base that is reference-able for the mainstream markets.

To achieve the goal, we must ensure the first set of customers completely satisfy their buying objectives with the whole product — a generic product that is needed for the customer to have a compelling reason to buy. The key indicator of this effort is the word-of-mouth reputation among buyers.

Be a niche market leader to sell to pragmatists

Another reason to be niche focused is that we need to achieve market leadership because pragmatists customers want to buy from market leaders. However, you are small and are still crossing the chasm, so the only available strategy is to take a “big fish, small pond” approach.

A common mistake many website builders make is creating a website like a product brochure. Website builders spare no efforts to provide the most detailed information for visitors. However, this kind of site cannot keep users.

That is because most people don’t want to spend much time learning how things work. Instead, they prefer to try and figure things out on their own simply by clicking around.

From the users’ perspective, a good website allows them to find what they need by playing around. Based on the book Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited, we have summarized four guidelines for creating a website of good usability.

Start with clear navigation

When a user lands on a website for the first time, he can hardly estimate the website’s scale. He will probably choose to opt-out for not knowing how the website is organized. That’s why a navigation bar is so necessary. On each page, the navigation should enable users to locate where they are, how they can get back to the homepage, where they can search for keywords and other extra information about how to use the website. Most of all, navigation must be simple and straightforward; otherwise, users may get confused and just click away.

Make an impressive home page

The home page is likely to be the most frequently visited page of a website, and its importance is self-evident. Users’ first impression of a website is determined by their first impression of the home page. An impressive home page is a must.

Besides, we also need to make sure that we have delivered the most important message to visitors, which is the goal of our website. The book suggests an effective way to communicate with readers on the home page would be placing a tagline describing our mission next to the website logo.

Use visual hierarchies to present information

When we visit a website, we don’t read the text line by line. Instead, we often scan the text to retrieve the information we need. If you want to convey a specific message to visitors, you should learn to make use of visual hierarchies. The rule is simple. Key messages should be highlighted. So users can understand where to focus on and click. Hiding important information will only annoy visitors.

Improve mobile loading speed

A few years ago, being responsive was only a plus, but nowadays, it has become a must.

  1. Due to the rapid development of mobile devices, users expect more from mobile websites and tend to spend much more time on mobile surfing.
  2. Users easily get impatient if the loading speed is slow.
  3. We need to enrich the content and interactivity on mobile pages. (tailoring contents for mobile devices.)

Problems with Comic Sans:

  1. Unbalanced visual weight in both the letter-level and paragraph-level.
  2. Bad kerning (spacing between characters).
  3. It gains undeserved popularity nowadays with an aged design for on-screen display in 1994, during which Windows 95 does not have anti-aliasing.
  4. Average people mistakenly think they can design well with the ease of modern technologies, while professional designers fight back intensively. And Comic Sans is one of the fiercest points of conflicts.

Advertisements are everywhere nowadays in the society of consumption. Although the ways of advertising have changed quite a lot over the past century, the incentives stay the same behind the scene: drawing attention and trying to sell.

Selling Attention

Dating back to the early eighteenth century, most of the ads were just informational instead of being persuasive. This situation did not change until Benjamin Day launched his own newspaper in 1833. In order to obtain a large audience, he set the price at a penny while rivals sold at six cents per copy. The loss was inevitable. However, he began to invite businesses to publish ads in his newspaper with an exposure fee. As a result, the newspaper became phenomenal. Because of Benjamin Day, the world started to realize the value of selling the attention of the audience.

Methodical Advertising

Advertising became more methodical at the beginning of the 20th century, and it was considered as a science. People start to use advertisements specifically for grabing attention. Demand engineering was one of these scientific approaches. It advertised a problem that was never recognized, or sometimes totally fabricated at first, and then claimed the solution of using a certain product. Advertisers of the 1920s also realized that a good reputation could be engineered as well by creating and publicizing a brand.

Forms of Advertising

The main focus of advertising was in public space before the 1920s. Things changed afterward. Radio advertising became very popular, and advertisers were willing to sponsor the radio content, and hear their names being mentioned during the broadcast, which could draw immediate attention from a large audience. However, the role that radio played in advertising was soon replaced by television, which turned out to be a much more effective way of attracting attention till now.

The emergence of the Internet brought another round of ad revolution, during which emails showed up as a new form of advertising. A survey in 1973 found emails comprised 75 percent of all network traffic. Email is very effective because it rewards people. Receiving an email makes people feel good. Search engines such as Google also become significant sources to harvest lots of attention from users. In order to monetize the attention, the Googlers employed an advertising tool called Adwords to display relevant ads to users based on what they are searching for, along with the results.

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