Does Your Strategy Smell? Check the Invisible Design

With 2021 around the corner and a vaccine on the way, this is the time to be thinking strategically about your next move. If you’re not, you are already behind.

Assuming you’ve worked out the direction, there are other aspects you might want to consider. When I work with organizations to develop strategy or lay out an important change for employees, I always ask, “When you’ve accomplished your goal, what does the new world look, feel, sound, taste, and feel like?”

OSYNLIG is Swedish for ‘invisible’. IKEA considers smell part of “Invisible Design”. You can’t see it, but it can have a huge impact on what you think and feel. Just think of how you react to stepping into a store that smells like cinnamon. What does fresh paint remind you of? Scents stir memories that connect with emotions.

I work with several clients in Long Term Care and the five senses are an important part of our strategy discussions. It’s critical that their homes do not smell like hospitals. Seniors do not want to live in a place that reminds them of illness and neither do their families.

In his book Practically Radical, William Taylor explains how a bank staged a massive turnaround by developing tactics for their strategy that encompassed all 5 senses:

“If you took a person, blindfolded them, sent them to a bank, and took the blindfold off, 99 % of them would say, ‘I’m in some bank somewhere.’ We want our customers…to say, ‘I’m in an Umpqua bank.’ We don’t want the experience of banking here to feel like banking anywhere else.”

To distinguish themselves, their branches added:

  • music from local artists
  • the smell of coffee
  • a silver plate of chocolate for customers.

Customers and employees respond to their environment. When casting your vision for 2021, take each part of invisible design into your future.

Thoughtfully yours,