Online Extra: Buzzwords 2005: A Glossary

Here are some terms you need to know, to navigate the next meeting or sharpen a pitch

Curate: As in the museum world, to create an exhibition of products and services that woo a distinct community of users. Think Ikea, Starbucks, iPod, TiVo.

Heuristics: This is from the quote "businesspeople will have to become more masters of heuristics than managers of algorithms," coined by Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Translation: Managers must be flexible problem-solvers and innovators, not process-oriented numbers crunchers.

Thoughtless acts: Things people do unconsciously that adapt everyday things to different purposes, such as putting Post-its around your PC screen. Observing such thoughtless acts gives designers ideas and suggests new opportunities to meet consumers' unmet needs.

Storytelling: The art of creating a compelling narrative for your product and brand that connects emotionally with your customers. Think Pixar.

Customer journey: The way customers interract with your product long before and long after they buy it. Their journey involves ads and branding, multiple platforms such as Web sites and stores, actual buying, unwrapping, setting up and using, gossip about the product within social networks, service, and finally repurchase and upgrading. To get a better customer experience, plot out a map of the entire customer journey.

Social network mapping: Delineation of the web of ties within collaborative and social networks. The quantity and quality of these interactions are then mapped. Shaping these relationships within networks can make everything from dating to teamwork more effective.

Ethnography: Observing the consumer in the wild, hunting and gathering. Cultural anthropology has shifted from the headhunters of Borneo to the teen buyers of suburbia, involving a key corporate competence.

Informed intuition: The hunch is back. Six Sigma and financial analysis knocked out experience and intuition as accepted managerial tools. Now, thanks to the increasing emphasis on design and nonlinear thinking, they're back as critical ingredients in innovation and creativity. Blink, and act on it.

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