It is easy to see technology as an end to itself. I remember 10 years ago when people got really excited about RFID chips and began to talk about their potential as if it was a fact.... "chips with everything" but reality began to kick in and most of the hype has gone away.The technology key performance indicator has become " "Innovation' isn't what innovators do....it's what customers and clients adopt." as Michael Schrage put it. Susan Abbott has posted here and here about client experiences at her Curves fitness centre; this resonated with me as my wife's favourite centre recently closed and the one she now uses (not for much longer!) which among other indulgent practices has doughnut treats on special occasions (a birthday, for instance) which does not seem to fit with a fitness and weight reduction ethic!
I have written on the Design Pyramid (after Maslow) and the Kano model and it occurs to me that Curves could have discovered the points Susan Abbott makes by observing a single centre equipped with RFID. They could change the offer a little and then elicit feedback from their existing clientele; they could have a non-members evening to see what non-clients think too. This means that thay could have plotted the experiences on the face of the pyramid and thought of the technology, communication and packaging of the offer on the other faces in terms of these existing and potential clients. My feeling is that Curves would have picked up on existing clients' concerns and gone for a system solution rather than an object (RFID fob) solution.. maybe issuing a key to everyone but only doing printouts for the ones that subscribe to the full service. Also the group inolvement in heart rating could still be orchestrated by a human.. so was this a bottom-line cost cutting measure or a topline growth inducing innovation that just might have a topline negative effect? The blue line on the graph above looks like the RFID hype plot over time!
picture source here
The technology hype graph reminds me of the client experience at Curves... which is the point of the post!
Picture uploaded on katielips. Used with thanks under CC.
Added 17/10/2007: Cheri Jimerson, Curves owner posted a response to Susan Abbott's post here. The problem with designing for experience is that it is very difficult to replicate the intent everywhere in the network without a large investment in training and mentoring. My wife's (UK experiences) (not in Curves... but there is one nearby!) have brought that home to me. It reminds me of that saying: