Flow Reloaded

I use the concept of Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (love that name) to attempt to describe how you should position your product and your customers.


In the picture, you can see the different positions one could be in.  A1 is when you are doing something easy and you have enough skill to do it.  Like riding a bicycle for Ethan (9 years old).  It’s fun and enjoyable and he knows how to do it.  A3 is when your skill doesn’t match up well with the difficulty of the task.  Like riding a bicycle for Matthew (4 years old), who doesn’t have enough skill yet.  A4 is when you are riding a bicycle over flaming sharks with lasers on their heads in a head-to-head competition.

Many products aspire for A1.  A1 is fine to get started, but it’s not inspiring.  A4, with lasers and sharks, now THAT is inspiring.  You have to get your customers into the flow channel as quickly as possible to they are not frustrated or bored.  However, you can’t leave them there.  You have to talk about A4 and how they can get there.  You have to help them get there.

It’s inspiring to people when you get up to the top right.  They put that kind of thing on television.  Think about how you get your customers up and running.  Are you looking to get them to the lowest common denominator or are you giving them a real path to inspiration.  I promise, that if you can do it, you will reap financial rewards with higher sales and lower turnover.

One reply on “Flow Reloaded”

Flow certainly applies to a physical skill, like bicycling or snowboarding, but I’ve read (and seen) that for the vast majority of software, people are comfortable staying at a “barely competent” level — like people that use Word, for example.

It seems like there would need to be either an intrinsic love of that activity to desire better skill, or a pretty relevant prize, right?

Whatya think?