4 takeaways from Martin Lindstrom’s Live Talk

Yesterday, BRAND MINDS hosted Live Talk with world-famous brand expert Martin Lindstrom to mark the launch of his latest book on organizational culture, The Ministry of Common Sense. This was the first time Martin has spoken about his new book to the public in Romania and we are stoked he chose the BRAND MINDS community.

Of the many valuable insights and recommendations that Martin shared yesterday, I chose four that I believe are more relevant to the current situation.

4 main takeaways shared by Martin Lindstrom during the live talk

1. See the world from your customer’s point of view.

The first rule of writing anything, from mini-copy to long-form content is to ask someone else for feedback.

The person creating the respective piece of content, the author, cannot give feedback. It takes a new pair of eyes to spot tiny mistakes or any other errors that the author just cannot see.

It’s the same with your product. You may believe that your product caters to the needs of your customers perfectly. Or that the buying journey your organization provides is a pleasant experience.

Unless you put yourself in your customer’s shoes, you don’t know that for sure. And once you see the world from your customer’s point of view, you might be in for a big surprise.

You might discover a number of frictions in your purchasing process that you were unaware of.

Here is an excellent example that attracted a lot of attention last year: how many clicks does it take to create a bank account?


The author of this report opened a bank account at twelve different banks.

Time is a scarce resource. It’s the only resource we cannot make more of. Your customers feel the same too.

Looking at this report, which bank is seeing the world through its customer’s eyes in your opinion? Which bank provides the customer with the highest rate of friction regarding a basic operation like opening a bank account?

I’m certain that First Direct didn’t set out to establish such a time-consuming experience for their customers (120 clicks!). The experience they offer is correct and necessary from their point of view, not their customer’s.

Remember: you are not your customer.

As Martin pointed out yesterday, companies are seeing the world from inside out instead of outside in. We need to see things as they are and do things as they should be. Let’s treat our customers as they should be treated. That means showing empathy. When we show empathy, the happiness levels of our customers increase by 10%.

Empathy is what every person in business will be talking about in the comping years.

Martin Lindstrom

2. Your customer decides what is common sense.

When companies are just starting out, they are based on common sense and empathy.

As companies grow bigger, they shift from common sense to nonsense. A new layer of bureaucracy is added to the mix.

The number of rules increases and operations that were once easy to get done are now getting harder and harder to do. The organization is getting itself ever deeper into a paralyzing situation.

That’s why Jeff Bezos has been ending every one of his letters to shareholders with this phrase: It remains Day 1. Because a Day 1 type of company is nimble and agile while a Day 2 company is a giant that is slow at making decisions.

The organizational culture at Amazon is focused on delighting the customers. You cannot delight your customers if you don’t know what they want or expect from you.

How do you decide what is common sense for your organization?

It’s not up to you to decide.

Your customer will tell you what is common sense. What your organization needs to do is stay close to its customers and allow them to tell you what is common sense.

3. Measure productivity by how happy your customers are.

Since the pandemic changed our routines, more and more people are working from home.

Some organizations have reported an increase in productivity levels with voices saying the 9 to 5 workplace is dead.

Other reports draw attention to the mental health situation of the employees working from home who are experiencing fatigue, exhaustion or burnout.

In today’s world, how do you measure productivity?

Martin suggests a different approach to measuring productivity. Instead of how many Zoom calls we have participated in, let’s measure how happy our customers are.

Let’s measure the levels of employee satisfaction. Or how easy/difficult it is for colleagues to work with us.

We need to get back to making really valuable contributions like strategic thinking and creativity. We need to figure out how to measure creativity through a screen.

Ultimately, what organizations need to do is change their culture. You will never have a better time to redesign your company than now.

If you go through a crisis like this and you haven’t fundamentally changed your business, you didn’t get the message. This is the moment to change your business.

Martin Lindstrom

4. Find frictions in your organization and address them in 90 days.

What is friction in business? Friction is anything that prevents or dissuades customers from buying your products or services.

Take the number of clicks to open a bank account example above. Do customers have the time or patience to open a bank account after clicking 100 times? I know I would give up a few clicks into the whole process.

Now think of your organization. Is there a process that could be completed in fewer steps? Would customers benefit from a shorter purchasing process? Would the company website provide customers with a more pleasant experience if the UX was cleaner and simpler?

The more complex the organization, the more opportunities for frictions to appear.

Martin recommends we make a list of every friction point in our organization and address them one by one in 90 days. We need to remove one nonsense at a time.

If you didn’t join the Live Talk yesterday, you can watch the replay.

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