All I Need to Know about Business I Learned from a Duck

Archive for April, 2014

How To Make The Invisible, Visible (In Nature And In Business)

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

In his IMAX film “Hidden Miracles of the Natural World” Louie Schwartzberg reminds us that we are surrounded by things we can’t see.  His life’s work is to explore the natural world using technology that makes the invisible, visible hoping that his discoveries will open minds, expand horizons and transform perceptions.

As I was watching Louie’s TED presentation (please click on the video, below), I was reminded that business leaders might want to follow in his footsteps by asking the question, “What elements of my business are invisible to me and my management team?”  Additionally, management might also heed something that Mark Twain is credited with authoring, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Schwartzberg uses high speed and time lapse photography, electron microscopes and other high tech tools to reveal aspects of nature that are not visible to the naked eye.  Knowing that 95% of thinking happens in our unconscious (which obviously is an invisible process), in business our best tool for exposing how consumers make buying decisions is utilizing surveys, questionnaires and focus groups to determine why customers do or don’t buy certain products and services.  Yet despite the huge resources spent on these research methods, nearly 80% of new offerings fail (at this point you might want to reread the Mark Twain quote, above)!

Recent advances in the sciences of mind indicate that decisions are influenced by both emotion and reason, and most thought is metaphoric in nature.  Traditional research methods do not account for these and other complexities of the mind.  To my knowledge the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) is “the only technique designed to learn how knowledge hidden in the unconscious mind combines with conscious knowledge to produce behavior”.

Are your customer’s most deeply-felt beliefs and emotions toward your product or organization visible to you?  Are you sure?  For more information about ZMET please go to the following website: