MUSINGS on Pi…and what’s in a name
March 14, 2015

Dear Readers;

Happy Pi Day!

It’s 3/14/15 and the world is a buzz! Today is the only day this century that matches pi, the mathematical ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi can be rounded off to 3.1415, but in actually goes on infinitely, like imagination, it has no endpoint. Pi has been one of the central problem solving tools for centuries.

Now I have always had a particular fondness for the circle, more so than straight lines or angles. Circles are prominent in my home décor. And for years we’ve built my vegetable garden as raised beds within a large circle. Circles are power symbols for me.

In 1995, when I decided to re-form my work life and start a new consulting firm I knew I wanted just the right name and symbol to convey my offering. Self-reflection and brainstorming with my husband and close friends led to the name Practical Imagination…. a company devoted to engaging imaginative, creative thinking yet also focused toward practicality and problem solving so that “ideas” could become “reality” and brought to market. But then we playfully thought, wow, if we add an “e” we would have PIE. We landed on “Enterprises” to encompass a wide range of services and activities that we would serve up to clients to help them grow. Eureka! When I first said these three words, “Practical Imagination Enterprises” I knew it was exactly what I wanted to convey.

Practical Imagination Enterprises® has served us well all these years as we offer product innovation, marketing and research consulting services drawing upon three streams of expertise: diverse client teams, consumer/customer teams and outside Idea Sparks or Thought Leaders. We mix it all together in an approach that is multi-layered and playful.

Of course it’s no accident that our initials are PIE! But rather than “pie in the sky,” our logo is a global balloon, whose string is gently looped around the company name to signify that it is grounded.

Now for that other meaning… I think tonight is a good time for a tangy, sweet slice of apple pie a la mode.

 

Cheers!

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises

laurie@practical-imagination.com

908237-2246

Musings On Things Upended
November 4, 2012

Dear Readers;

There’s a giant evergreen lying on its side in the little koi pond right outside my living room window. It came crashing down Monday night in an 82 mile an hour gust of wind from megastorm Sandy. At first, we thought a limb crashed into the pond; with morning’s light we realized it was the entire tree, exposed roots and all, that fell. It’s disturbing, the vista is dramatically changed, and yet it’s also lush and exotic—as the dangling limbs make the pond look a bit like Rousseau’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Fortunately the tree didn’t hit the house, nor kill any of the fish—although we sadly discovered a “smushed” giant frog. As I clear debris from the back yard today I can see the enormity of the upended root bed and the crater left behind. 

In a way, this tree is a vivid metaphor for other things that seem upended these days. 

Within the market research profession, many are calling into question the question “Why?” Does pursuing this question bring the results of accuracy and relevance on which we have depended in order to ferret out insights into decision-making? Behavioral Economists like Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow suggest that consumers don’t really know why they make decisions—though they can rationalize and give a plausible story to support their actions. According to Kahneman there are two modes of cognition taking place—which he names System 1—which reacts quickly and automatically to facts, faces and simple problems and System 2 which thinks more slowly and deliberately. His work and others have enormous impact for how we design our research; and may be a contributing factor to the heightened interest in ethnographic or observational research to witness behavior and derive insights.

On a marketing front, some of my clients are now embracing the work of marketing scientist Dr. Byron Sharp and the researchers of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, who present data and thought provoking arguments in How Brands Grow. The key message of that book: widely held marketing practices are entirely wrong! For example: they say, we’ve all been taught that brands vary tremendously in loyalty. Not so fast, according to Dr. Sharp–“loyalty metrics for competing brands are quite similar.” 

These provocative thought leaders remind me that I need more time and reflection to identify implications for my business practice. 

And, as my back up generator hums along nicely in the background, I am also reminded that at this moment in time, nothing can be taken for granted.

While I feel most fortunate that my home and family are unscathed, it feels like a confluence of forces are catapulting changes and upheavals personally and professionally.

By nature of something being upended, you can’t return to the way it was before, you have to integrate the changes. So how do you use “upendedness?” I believe we can do this in two ways—one is to find alternatives for those necessary functions that were disturbed, and the other is to innovate uses of resources, priorities, etc.

The positive can happen if we continue to come together as professionals, colleagues, friends, neighbors and human beings to share our questions, assumptions, resources and to support each other’s endeavors. 

I see signs of that “lushness” in my environment.

 Laurie Tema-Lyn, laurie@practical-imagination.com

Practical Imagination Enterprises, http://www.practical-imagination.com

Musings: Another Market for Stir It Up! Recipes for Robust Insights & Red Hot Ideas
October 11, 2012

I returned from the QRCA national conference in Montreal this week fired up, feeling the joy from the learning and camaraderie. There were many great presentations from which to choose, and the informal meetings and conversations provided me with nuggets and new ideas I want to explore.

I was personally thrilled to hear such wonderful feedback from colleagues who have been using my book, Stir It Up! Recipes for Robust Insights & Red Hot Ideas (Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.) and getting great results to the exercises.

But an unexpected new market was suggested. John, a retired 8th grade teacher from NY, told me he had been devouring the book during the conference and thought many of its suggestions would be outstanding to bring to the classroom. His perspective was that many of the exercises as well as the principles would resonate with important programs about creating conversations, encouraging diversity and anti-bullying.

What an exciting suggestion! The education market is not something I have particularly focused on in the past—and while my sister and niece are teachers, the feedback I’ve heard from them is that the management requirements of the current NJ core curriculum make it hard to find time for creative exploration.

So I’m putting this out to the universe. Here’s a sample exercise from the book—Who’s Your Muse? I’m giving a shout out to you teachers—to check out the book and do let me know if you think these ideas and suggestions could be useful integrating with classroom activities!

My best,

Laurie Tema-Lyn
Practical Imagination Enterprises
908 237 2246
laurie@practical-imagination.com
Stir It Up! cover

Whos your Muse

 

Musings on The Right Ambiance… For Love and Meetings, Part 2
March 2, 2012

A few weeks ago I posted 5 Top Tips for designing creative meeting spaces, here are 5 more. And, if you want to learn how I’ve put this into practice in qualitative research, please follow the link at the end to my new article, in QRCA VIEWS.

6 Touchy “toys” bring color, delight, help relieve stress and can inspire

Some people just think better when they are doodling or fiddling with things. When I’m conducting an Innovation Session, I bring along a toy chest of items: pipe cleaners, Play Doh, Nerf like materials, squishy balls, funny glasses, and kaleidoscopes. These are items that I may use in specific creative exercises or just invite people to play with as they choose. I’ll sometimes use them in a research setting and have had great results with populations that are generally not thought of as being particularly creative or communicative. The toys help people relax, and when they are relaxed they let down their guard and are more forthright and candid respondents.

7. Aroma can enhance productivity! Just the way a real estate agent will suggest that a home seller bake bread or cookies to make a home more attractive, you can consciously use aroma for certain effect in a meeting. An orange pricked with cloves might add just a little boost to flagging energy, a diffuser with soothing essential oils like lavender can relax. A vase full of flavors can also bring color and pleasant aroma.

8. Of course you need good food for thought! It’s rather amazing how much food and liquid refreshment can be consumed by an ideating team. Variety is ideal. I make every effort to have “good brain food” that isn’t heavily laden with sugar and fat.

9. Get off campus! Physically moving away from company premises can do so much to improve results and help participants view challenges and opportunities differently. If you have to work at your offices, set clear ground-rules to ensure that typical distractions do not invade your meeting. Collect phones and pagers (or at least have them set to vibrate). In exchange for this distraction-free zone, give participants breaks throughout the day to deal with those emergency office issues.

10. Great space doesn’t have to be expensive. One reason why team meetings are run at home base is to save money. If you can get away, consider alternative venues to high priced conference centers. One type I particularly like working in is a Bed & Breakfast. The article linked below highlights focus groups conducted in such an environment. Other “non traditional” venues include a children’s or science museum, gallery, botanical gardens, ski lodge, golf club house. If a participant is a member you can usually save a lot of money. Recently a few companies have started offering loft spaces and private homes for meetings. They can include catering and audiovisual equipment. I worked recently in a NY loft space and while it wasn’t inexpensive, it more than paid for the quality of the team’s output.

Want more?         

http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=101595&p=30

 Laurie Tema-Lyn, Practical Imagination Enterprises, 908-237-2246, laurie@practical-imagination.com

 

Musings: Baring It All
October 6, 2011

I went on a “gallery crawl” in Old City Philadelphia recently and encountered a provocative sculpture in the Wexler Gallery by Dirk Straschke entitled Standing Woman with PVC Burqua. It’s a finely crafted piece that offers a realistic presence of a proudly standing nude woman, covered in a burqua. But instead of it covering her up, the burqua is clear. Her nude body is revealed, but her eyes partly obscured.

The sculpture is a rich creative paradox. And while I don’t know the artist’s intentions I found the sculpture to be a fascinating representation of an important aspect of my work as a market researcher. Our role is to help reveal some “inner truths” or insights with which our clients can craft meaningful communications or products.

This was exemplified in a recent health care study in which my colleagues and I engaged with women in their homes, in small, intimate focus group settings and on-line about a sensitive health care issue and their strategies for dealing with it. The topic for most women is embarrassing, and for some so stigmatized that they wouldn’t even talk about it with their closest girl friends. Yet these women, in the midst of strangers, opened up to us about their daily struggles with clarity and even humor. Each encounter that my colleagues and I experienced was memorable and powerful. It was cathartic for some women who had never openly shared their “secret,” and a learning experience for both interviewer and research participant. We created an opportunity for them to “bare it all” with our gentle probing, non-judgmental witnessing and attentive listening. The client “won” as well for they are now armed with new insights to guide ways in which they can be more helpful to other women with this condition.

Creating a forum for people to reveal inner thoughts, feelings and aspirations often leads them to be more empowered. I feel privileged as a market researcher.

Your opinions?

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises

908-237-2246

laurie@practical-imagination.com

Musings on a “Soft Launch” for Stir It Up!
July 17, 2011

Last Sunday was a glorious day here and I held an open house, book signing to celebrate the recent publication of my new book, Stir It Up! Recipes for Robust Insights & Red Hot Ideas (Paramount Market Publishing.) It’s a “cookbook” of sorts, filled with exercises for market researchers, meeting facilitators, consultants and anyone looking for ways to stir up energy, insights and creative ideas.

The book “poured out of me” at astonishing speed; it was an absolute delight to write.  I’m thrilled to be able to share what I’ve learned, developed and used in a long and varied career.  And it was so gratifying to bring different parts of my life together to help me celebrate the book.

The gathering included family, friends and neighbors as well as people from my professional world– the QRCA, my singing chums from VOICES Chorale, my exercise mates from Healthquest.

As I wondered in and out of the ribbons of conversation, I realized how this disparate group of folks were connecting in such wonderful ways; sharing their stories, knowledge and perspectives.  And it seems a few new friends were made in the gathering.

Stir It Up!  Recipes for Robust Insights & Red Hot Ideas is available at http://www.paramountbooks.com/stir-it

And on amazon.com

Laurie Tema-Lyn

laurie@practical-imagination.com

http://www.practical-imagination.com