TLF Gems Newsletter March 2023

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

We are kept from our goals, not by obstacles, but by a clearer path to a lesser goal.

Robert Brault

Almost any organisation wanting to improve the customer experience will, at some point, come across the importance of culture change. But what is culture? Why would we want to change it? How do we go about changing it?

All of those questions have answers that are too complex for the introduction to a newsletter, but three very good starting points are: improve communication, make people feel safe, and focus on the behaviours that really make a difference to whatever it is you're trying to achieve.

Thanks for reading,


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

Watching Paint Dry

Excellent longish read about improvements in paint technology, the huge role of the chemical industry in the development of modern manufacturing, and why the changing focus of R&D means that improvements no longer show in productivity statistics. "For much of the 20th century most research and development was aimed at making things faster. But in the past few decades much of that R&D has been devoted to making things cleaner."

Read: Watching Paint Dry

The Critical Behaviours

The link between culture and behaviour is complex, but I'm convinced that focusing on "keystone behaviours" is a crucial part of any change initiative. Why? Because it focuses everyone on a few tangible, easy to remember, habits that contribute directly to what you're trying to achieve, such as improving the customer experience. "...a keystone actionable, highly visible, measurable, and able to deliver short-term results. Most important, adopting the behavior has a meaningful impact on the ultimate goal."

Read: The Critical Behaviours

Five Little Things

Never thought I'd be sharing productivity tips from Joe Satriani, but I think this is a really useful rule of thumb. When the number of things to do seems overwhelming, and you don't know where to start, pick 5 things and see how much difference they make. Wherever you're starting from, there's always something you can do to improve the customer experience, in however small a way. "'Often you'll find those little fixes totally change your perception of the whole.'"

Read: Five Little Things

Making Good Decisions

How do you make decisions? Do you try to analyse all the options rationally, or do you trust your instincts? This article looks at which approach is most effective, and argues that good decisions are a mixture of the two. "Across three experiments we find that attribute-based decision processes are not more successful than simpler heuristics or decisions using associative knowledge. The most successful everyday decisions arise when attribute-based and associative knowledge is combined."

Read: Making Good Decisions

The Doorman Fallacy

I really like Rory Sutherland's phrase the "doorman fallacy" to describe a tendency to reduce job roles to their most mechanistic parts, so that it seems straightforward to automate them. Only in retrospect does it become obvious how many other roles were being done, but never visible on a process map. This fallacy is incredibly widespread in digital transformation projects. "...what you discover is that after you've banked those false economy savings, six months later your rack rate is 50 per cent down and vagrants sleep in your entrance."

Read: The Doorman Fallacy

How To Engage Sceptics

If you've ever tried to make things better, you'll know the sinking feeling you get when you run into a sceptic who refuses to see the value in what you're proposing. This article [you'll need to create a free login to read the whole thing] discusses the power of perspective taking to help get the sceptics on board and improve communication. "Perspective taking, then, offers skeptics — along with everyone else — a way to engage, enabling a climate where candid, accurate, useful information can be shared in a goal-oriented way, ultimately fostering effective problem-solving."

Read: How To Engage Sceptics

Top Reads: Don't Make Me Think!

This book is more than a classic, it's the classic on web usability. I doubt there's a single UX researcher who hasn't read it. It takes what can be an immensely complex field and breaks it down into very simple principles which, even if the examples can sometimes feel a bit dated, are pretty timeless in themselves. It's also a book that has much to teach anyone designing customer journeys offline as well as online. Krug's guiding principles of ease, satisficing, and simplicity are just as useful for brick and mortar journeys. "...what really counts is not the number of clicks it takes to take me to get to what I want...but rather how hard each click is—the amount of thought required, and the amount of uncertainty about whether I'm making the right choice."

Top Reads: Don't Make Me Think!

If you'd ever like to have a look at our list of past Top Reads, they're all catalogued on our here - enough reading to keep anyone going for a while!