TLF Gems Newsletter March 2022

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

Perfunctory, wham-bam, transactional exchanges will always be highly amenable to measurement. Almost by definition, long-term relational exchanges are not.

Rory Sutherland

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If I have a catchphrase, apart from "perception is reality", it's probably to talk about the importance of design. Irritatingly, Tom Peters said that first too! There's no aspect of business, from strategy, to product, to sustainability, to culture, to products, to service and the customer experience that doesn't benefit from a design thinking approach.

The one thing that design thinking can sometimes lack is the ability to understand the dynamic systems within which the elements which are being designed operate, which is why I'm such a fan of the Design Council's "Systemic Design" concept. Unifying design thinking and systems thinking is what the future of CX, and pretty much everything else, looks like from my point of view.

Thanks for reading,


Here are 7 things we think are worth your time this month

Sustainable By Design

This is a really helpful McKinsey piece on the importance of thinking about sustainability at the design stage, and the new skills and ways of working that will necessarily entail. "Up to four-fifths of a product’s lifetime emissions are determined by decisions made at the design stage."

Read: Sustainable By Design

Why Customers Prefer Simple Experiences

Simple experiences are usually best for customers, but they're far from easy to create. This article from Choice Hacking looks at the brands who show an understanding of "simplicity theory" in the design of their experiences. "Calling something simple is like calling it beautiful — the specifics can be hard to nail down, and what’s simple to one person might be complicated to another."

Read: Why Customers Prefer Simple Experiences

Psychological Safety

I'm a big believer in the importance of psychological safety, which is much more helpful than "empowerment" in my view. This blog (the first in a series) is a good introduction, with a focus on tech teams. "When employees feel psychologically safe, they’re willing to take more risks, share ideas, and speak their truth. There is an unspoken agreement that employees will not feel punished or embarrassed when speaking up, whether it’s exposing one’s ignorance by asking questions or offering a new solution or idea to a problem."

Read: Psychological Safety

Systemic Design

This Medium article does a great job of articulating the Design Council's systemic design approach, situating their famous double diamond into a wider context. "Good systemic designers know you have to work on twin tracks. Not to rip up the current entirely but to work with that and create something new that can replace the existing. Iteratively improve at the same time as radically reimagine."

Read: Systemic Design

Tech Questions for 2022

A good quick(ish) read from Benedict Evans giving his views on some key technology questions for 2022, from crypto to autonomous vehicles. "Sometimes the centre of gravity in tech is very clear - everything is about PCs, or the web, or smartphones. But at other times, there are lots of things going on and none of them are The Thing, and all of them are full of questions."

Read: Tech Questions for 2022

Monster AI

Interesting read on the trend towards bigger and bigger AI models. It wouldn't be fair to say machine learning advances are now all about brute force, but it's certainly a factor. What does that mean for the industry, for interpretability, and for the climate? "...few of these new models move the research forward beyond repeating the demonstration that scaling up gets good results."

Read: Monster AI

Top Reads: The Grid

It's surprisingly hard to find a good book on business strategy, and one of the reasons is that few really step back to take a holistic view of the whole business. As Matt Watkinson argues, the links between different aspects of your strategy can be as important as the elements themselves. The Grid isn't perfect, but it does provide a useful model for thinking about your business in a connected way.

Top Reads: The Grid