As one of South Africa’s most famous sons, Elon Musk has an instinct for pushing boundaries, to say the least. Having founded and sold Paypal, he’s currently CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, both remarkable companies in their own right.

When I think about Musk, I’m reminded of a quote by former Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating:

People often talk about leadership, but there are only ever two ingredients: imagination and courage. Imagination to see something better, to paint something bigger, and to see an opportunity for what it is. And the courage to push changes through.

By that definition, I rate Musk among the outstanding leaders of our time. So, when he puts an actual “Insane Button” in his latest Tesla all-electric car, you’re sure to be in for a surprise. With the push of one crazy little button, the Tesla P85D shoots from 0 – 60 mph in just over three seconds. It does this by applying the full horsepower of the electric car’s two motors all at once. People are inadequately prepared for what happens next.

Now, before you accuse me of an excessive man-crush, here’s the idea I want to drive home in your thinking today:

A simple click of a button can turn someone’s experience of your company from ordinary to awesome. Especially when they’re not expecting anything different. All it takes is imagination, and the courage to break with ‘the way we’ve always done it.’

Let me be more specific. The advent of digital makes possible what was impossible until very recently. Ways of marketing, selling, delivering service, collaborating as staff, and even ways of putting core business models together are often lagging in terms of their potential for digital enhancement. There’s a blank space on the dashboard where the Insane Button should be. And your customers, potential customers, employees and partners feel the absence of an Insane Button when they see your competitors vehicles accelerating past them, complete with exhilarated-looking occupants.

Creating Insane Buttons pretty much sums up what we do at Dreamsmiths every day. Companies are being driven by customer expectations and competitor pressures to come to terms with the fact that every business is now a digital business. And, after executive teams work through the anger, denial and bargaining at the loss of their historic status quo, they often find exhilarating new digital ways of creating value.

So, how exactly can I bolt an Insane Button to my business, you ask?

In a nutshell, get the right people in the room, and map out your customer’s current experience journey. Then stand back and ask the question, “Where do we put the Insane Button?” Follow the same process for your prospect, employee, and partners’ experience journeys. Usually, just taking the time to map out a customer or other stakeholder’s journey is enough to cast light on a number of areas that need improvement, and reveal some gems to add to the experience, before your even consider digital. Don’t skip this and jump to digital possibilities too quickly!

Once this is done, it’s time to ask: “In what ways, big or small, humble or game changing, can technology make this experience journey better?”

It’s useful to have a digital-savvy outsider (who isn’t tied to a particular technology vendor) in the room during this part of the exercise. I’m not saying that as a marketing pitch, but because often the technical people in your company are invested in the technology status quo. Because they carry authority in technology conversations, they can shut down valuable avenues of possibility. An experienced digital outsider also carried awareness of how other industries are digitally transforming, and may help in spotting cross-industry opportunities.

Practically speaking, I suggest keeping these sessions simple, interactive and fun. The important thing is to make the exercise visual for participants, so stick large sheets of paper on a wall, and have plenty of sticky notes and markers on hand. Map out space to address these questions:

Start with…

  • What are the various stages of their journey?
  • What are all current touchpoints in each stage?
  • What are they doing, seeing, thinking and feeling at each stage?
  • How, practically, do customers engage with each touchpoint?

Then stand back and ask… In what ways could digital technology enhance, or transform, their total experience?