Personal Terms of Usage for Raymond Pirouz

By reading this (or not) you acknowledge that the above referenced individual (Raymond Pirouz), herein referred to as RP is forever (and retroactively) exempt from any of your terms of use whether RP did or did not agree to any terms you may or may not have presented to him in any form, at any time.

The above is in response to the following article:

Update: General Mills Pulls New Legal Policy After Consumer Uproar

London 2012 #Olympics #FAIL at Social Media
London 2012’s ambition is to create a Games for everyone, where everyone is invited to take part, join in and enjoy the most exciting event in the world.

- London 2012 > About Us > Our Brand

The above brand positioning quote reads like the perfect mandate for a social media Olympics where anyone, anywhere in the world with access to an internet-enabled device could freely take part, join in and enjoy the most exciting event in the world – meaning they would be able to view any event live as it happened online, on television if they prefered and/or as a series of pre-recorded on-demand online archives provided by all broadcast partners. As part of the social media experience, anyone could learn about every nuance of any event (from detailed statistics updated in real-time to deep-dive background stories on the struggles, achievements and dreams of each athlete, regardless of popularity) thanks to professionally produced content provided by the various official networks (or submitted and moderated by the fans, families and coaches themselves) and engage in the curation and sharing of the content within their social networks – benefiting sponsors and advertisers whose messaging would undoubtedly appear alongside, before or after the various forms of content spread using the most advanced form of media in the history of mankind: social media.

Trumpeted as the first social media Olympics, the official (and cluttered) London 2012 web presence has failed to take a leadership role in the use of social media to influence and drive conversation, viewership, engagement and brand awareness for event sponsors. Despite cries of support to the contrary, the Olympics Committee has led its partners (and ultimately, its brand) into a wave of social media criticism. Fundamental to this failure is the Olympic Committee’s inability to see the power, potential and role of social media as a robust complement to traditional media. Instead, the Olympics Committee and its partners suffer social media criticism due to an archaic mindset stuck in the industrial age media model of placing trolls (official broadcasters) under few bridges (streams of coverage). 

While it is true that NBC, BBC, CBC and the other official broadcasters of the London 2012 Olympics are as culpable as the Olympics Committee for their lack of vision and courage to innovate in the social media space, the Olympics Committee is ultimately responsible for establishing the terms under which broadcasters may obtain and execute their official licenses to broadcast the games. The ultimate leadership role lies with the Olympics Committee, and their failure resides in their lack of understanding with respect to the role of social media. Unfortunately, social media is often misunderstood as the underlying technology or channels through which people communicate. 

Most discussions of social media make mention of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or the like. The constantly changing technologies that enable social media do not define social media, and herein lies the challenge for anyone or any organization wishing to engage social media in a meaningful way. It is critical to understand what social media means fundamentally so as not to get stuck into thinking about it in terms of technologies or channels. 

Fundamentally speaking, social media is a new form of media that expands upon the traditional media landscape as we know it. Understanding this new development as an evolution of the media landscape is critical to understanding how to realize its true potential – beyond technologies or channels (which come and go regardless of the fundamental nature of social media). The practice of broadcasting using traditional media channels and methodologies works (and will continue to work) for traditional media, but social media demands new approaches and methodologies that respect the role of social media in the overall media mix. Social media represents a rich array of organically distributed communications – from text to spoken word and video – shared and discussed among people who are interconnected through a social fabric. Acknowledging the unique broadcast model of social media and creating systems, methodologies and content that caters to the needs of its audience is of critical importance.

Whereas traditional media is the establishment’s media, social media is literally the people’s media. Put in traditional media terms, social media is about eyeballs that do much more than just blink. This is why attempts at imposing traditional media models onto the social media landscape result in user dissatisfaction. To ignore or brush off such expressions of dissatisfaction is to remain blind and ignorant to the true nature of social media and – more importantly – to its sustainable long-term profit potential (if carried out correctly) along with the unprecedented insight into consumer behavior that it affords.

The alternative to the outdated trolls under few bridges model of broadcasting given the rise of social media is a guides over many bridges model. Rather than limiting broadcast rights to a few networks, the Olympics Committee needs to offer a tiered, freemium pricing model inspired by the internet (for example: free / pro / broadcast network) wherein the official Olympics website itself would stream live, sponsor-supported content freely accessible to anyone while a professional publisher (say, a restaurant chain) could license their own stream to broadcast to their customers and traditional media broadcasters could package the programming in new and innovative ways. Under this model, NBC can, for instance, license a broadcast network stream, apply its branding to the stream and offer its own commentary and package it in ways that would add even more value to the viewing experience which could be broadcast online and on television sets. Under this model, viewers choose which guides to follow and share (rather than which troll to submit to) as part of their social media Olympics experience. Multiple streams of the same content with unique commentary (and innovative approaches to storytelling given the competitive media environment) means many more hours of additional content to view, share and comment on while being exposed to sponsor marketing messages, some of which may fall outside the traditional interruptive advertising media broadcast model.

Social media is not a fad. Social media is not an activity relegated to the basements of the grumbling unemployed. Social media is not a nuisance to be ignored or downplayed. Social media is not free or unprofitable. Social media is not about following old models and hoping they are happily received in a new paradigm. According to comScore, 1.9 billion display ad impressions were delivered on Sports sites in the UK during June 2012, an increase of 69% over the past year. These numbers represent a drop in the bucket given that most eyeballs are glued to television sets serving untrackable (on a per-viewer basis), uninteractive and uninnovative marketing messages to captive audiences, a majority of whom grew up captive to these traditional media practices.

Vision and leadership at the Olympics Committee (as well as the major networks) are needed to recognize the true potential of social media: a completely new form of broadcast media that – when combined with traditional media in a meaningful way – can revolutionize media broadcasting, consumption and sponsorship far beyond the 2012 London Olympics.

Update: Since the writing of this article, “The Canadian Broadcasting Corp., the sole winner of the [Canadian] broadcast rights for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, revealed on Tuesday that it intends to strike deals with a long list of private partners to deliver those Games on cable, broadcast, online and mobile channels." Despite the fact that this small step does not originate from the Olympics Committee itself, it nevertheless represents a positive shift in the right direction.

"Brand Experience" vs. "Customer Experience"

I recently posted a response to a Forrester Research Community discussion topic on the difference between “Brand Experience” vs. “Customer Experience” which I thought I’d share here:

One way to distinguish between the two is to consider the orientations:


Firms engage in efforts that result in experiences. Whether or not the efforts are thought through or haphazard, the experiences are nevertheless delivered to customers.

Firms have a great deal of control in shaping the experiences they expose their customers to — whether or not they choose to (or have the capability to effectively) exercise that control.

Firms leave an impression on those who come in contact with their efforts — the more contact over time, the deeper (and quite possibly the more meaningful) those impressions.


Customers (who may also be ‘users’) can experience a wide variety of scenarios when coming into contact with firms (from searching for a firm based on a pressing need to being cold-called by a representative to unboxing a product for the very first time & many more). Each instance of contact can be (and frankly should be) considered an experience.

Collectively, customer experiences shape a customer’s perception with regard to a firm, in turn defining the brand and its characteristics in their mind’s eye (when juxtaposed/weighted against the firm’s brand positioning).


Firms can try to influence each of the experiences their customers might be exposed to throughout their interactions with them. If the firm’s ‘sense of brand self’ is strong, it can attempt to shape each and every potential Customer Experience (touch point/pain point/joy point) with its brand personality such that the firm provides customers with Brand Experiences that are unique to the brand. As such a Brand Experience is a collection of orchestrated (and/or scripted) customer interaction scenarios that are delivered to customers by firms.

Customers have customer experiences. Collectively, those experiences define brands.

Brand Experience is orchestrated by firms (firm down) This impacts customers

Customer Experience is performed by customers (customer up) This impacts firms

Welcome to the Information [Overload] Age

In the Industrial Age, knowledge was power.

  • The Industrial Age was a resource/raw materials-based economy.
  • Access to knowledge was limited to those with significant means.
  • Those who combined rare knowledge with raw materials and the means to shape them using advanced machinery were the alchemists of the day.

In the Information [Overload] Age, attention is power.

  • The Information [Overload] Age is a knowledge/network-based economy.
  • Knowledge is a click away. Information overload is a few clicks away.
  • In the sea of ubiquitous knowledge, those who can command attention by delivering unique, memorable and valuable experiences around that knowledge will be the alchemists of the day.
Design Defined

Last year I shared a paper I had originally published in 2002 attempting to define design in response to the discipline’s increasing popularity as a cultural as well as commercial force. It was clear to me in 2002 that design would eventually evolve beyond a discipline and be recognized as the fundamental means by which human intention is brought to reality, serving as the driver of innovation.

Since then, a number of books have been published on the thinking behind design without actually defining the thinking or the act of design in a coherent manner.

To date, no clear definition of design exists beyond the textbook definition posed by Merriam-Webster, and don’t even get me started on Design Thinking. This lack of clarity is understandable given that for the past century design has been the domain of creatives who by their very nature despise linguistic clarity when they can just as easily show us what design is without having to tell us. This, I understand, having graduated from design school without ever being provided with a coherent definition of design. Unfortunately, not all design efforts manifest visually if you consider the design of a health care policy, for instance.

Realizing that the notion of design would ultimately go mainstream, in 2002 (six years after graduating from design school) I set it upon myself to become a student of design for the sake of explaining the process behind it to those outside of the discipline who [like it or not, know it or not] design daily without any formal training — or worse yet, are charged with managing designers or design teams without any knowledge or appreciation of design.

I last defined design as a creative problem solving process. Since then, I have continued to think on the matter. I return to my original definition confident that it was a good start of an unfinished sentence. Today I complete that sentence, offering my definition of design as follows:

Design is a creative problem solving process that brings attention, care and sophistication to the realization of ideas.

Below is an explanation of the nine key words in the above definition:

  1. Creative: We all have unique life experiences. Each of us is capable of drawing upon our unique world view – which translates into our uniquely creative point of view. Creativity is at the heart of this life experience. It is a divine tool that can change the world and is available to us all.
  2. Problem: Problems, obstacles and challenges confront us all, and we have the opportunity to draw upon our uniqueness and creativity to overcome them all – turning adversity into opportunity. For every problem, obstacle and challenge, there are as many possible solutions as there are unique points of view.
  3. Solving: We apply our creativity – in the form of conceptual ideas – to resolve the problems, obstacles and challenges at hand.
  4. Process: Upon testing our concepts, we either decide that they successfully solve our problems, obstacles and challenges – thereby concluding the process; or decide that they do not – thereby repeating the process until we arrive at a solution. This process is known as iteration — design is an iterative process.
  5. Attention: To solve a problem, we must first truly understand it, and this requires our commitment to get at the root of the problem by giving it our undivided attention. Haphazard solutions are the result of lackluster attention and a lack of dedication to understanding the true nature of the problem at hand.
  6. Care: We commit great care to the pursuits we are most passionate about. Care shows through in our attention to the little details others might take for granted. Care on behalf of a designer translates directly into the experience afforded by the design.
  7. Sophistication: Leaving a positive imprint on the memory of those exposed to a design demands a level of sophistication far beyond the mundane. There are a number of ways to convey sophistication — from the delivery of refined simplicity to the flair of cutting edge. Sophistication is what allows us to set our work apart from others while tugging at the heartstrings of our audience.
  8. Realization: Our creative and strategic vision leads us ultimately to a point at which our goal is realized as a result of the design process. This almost magical act of making is the alchemy afforded by the design process.
  9. Ideas: If design is the driver of innovation, ideas are the fuel of design. Every step of the design process requires ideas — sometimes fresh and other times tried and true. While execution is certainly an aspect of design, ideas are what make design an art — a manifestation of human intention.

I will continue to monitor my craft and — who knows — I might revisit this definition in another decade. Such is the iterative nature of design and I am its humble servant.

Further Reading:

On Design Thinking

Redefining Design.
From occupation to driver of innovation.

The Purpose of Design

Good Design Does Not Oversimplify

Sometimes simplicity and utility are diametrically opposed. The pursuit of aesthetics above all can lead to oversimplification through the sacrifice of utility in favor of simplistic purity. While the results may be celebrated by aesthetically minded critics, they do not represent the highest potential of design.

The challenge in producing good design is in discovering the harmonious balance between utility, simplicity, usability and beauty. Too much of one thing can sacrifice the other, ultimately sending the wrong message about what design is, what good design is and why its purpose is far more than decorative.

via gracemcdunnough:

Better User Experience With Storytelling In this article we’ll explore how user experience professionals and designers are using storytelling to create compelling experiences that build human connections.

via gracemcdunnough:

Better User Experience With Storytelling In this article we’ll explore how user experience professionals and designers are using storytelling to create compelling experiences that build human connections.

The Future of Self-Service Banking

For Spanish bank BBVA, IDEO examined the interaction experience of ATM’s, which has lagged dramatically behind the actual technology powering these machines. From simple yet impactful tweaks like 90-degree booth rotation for better privacy to cutting-edge customization software, the prototype — which took two years of development — offers a seamless, highly visual bridge between physical and virtual.

Great example of the design innovation process informed by ethnography.


From Engineering Orientation to Design Orientation
Obi-Wan and Boeing

In his BlogWell Seattle case study presentation, “Obi-Wan and Boeing,” Communications Director, Todd Blecher, spoke about the evolution of Boeing’s online communication approach [the reasoning behind the new].

Todd explained that by focusing on storytelling, sharing, and video, they have been able to change the tone of their online content from technical and boring to personal and interesting.

Good Design

Good design results from a sensitive attention to — and expression of — subtleties.