QZine June ‘19: Thinks, Reads and Sees

Think About This: Encountering Segment or Target Illumination IRL – we do it ALL the time – a demonstration of how and why it works

We think about bringing targets or segments to life in order to humanize them for colleagues; it often feels like an isolated process, limited to our professional worlds. But if you take a step back, you realize that segment illumination is all around us — we can even take cues from how it happens in popular culture to enhance what happens inside our corporate halls.

Illuminate Through Contrast

What does Meghan Markle have to do with all of this? Think about the royals as a cohort or segment. Markle is often called ‘the first’ in one way or another or someone who breaks with tradition. While it highlights Markle, it also defines the royal cohort by contrast. She’s the first bi-racial princess, so all the other princesses are white, etc. It’s an interesting way of presenting information and might make for an interesting way of introducing a particular segment – here’s all the things they are NOT.

And . . . here are some more examples of fun or thought provoking segment illumination IRL

The Fifth Risk book coverRead This: Longform: Michael Lewis Shows Us the Value of Segment Illumination

Think about the federal workforce – probably not hard to do these days. Like me, you may think about those who work for the government in large, monolithic terms or as your mail person or the TSA screeners at your local airport. Sadly I did too until I read The Fifth Risk. It stands to reason that the 800,000+ strong people who work for the federal government aren’t all the same, but when do we ever think about it? Lewis shines a light on a particular ‘segment’ of the workforce and does a fabulous job of humanizing them in a short quick read.

In doing so, he shows us all why segment illumination matters; it’s impossible to come away from the book without a new understanding of who these particular employees are, what they value and what makes them tick. While a book length manuscript isn’t a great way of introducing segments to your stakeholders, his vivid depictions remind us why they matter. It’s a quick read and a fascinating one.

Susan OrleanRead This: Shortform: Anything by Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean often writes shorter than Michael Lewis, but no less vividly. She tackles subjects you probably don’t think about all that often – remember The Orchid Thief – but find fascinating when she addresses them in her vivid, idiosyncratic style. A little longer than short form, and a little shorter than longform, but a great ride no matter the length. The first paragraph of her 1992 article “The American Man at Age 10” ‘stands as a hallmark of segment illumination’.

If Colin Duffy and I were to get married, we would have matching superhero notebooks. We would wear shorts, big sneakers, and long, baggy T-shirts depicting famous athletes every single day, even in the winter. We would sleep in our clothes. We would both be good at Nintendo Street Fighter II, but Colin would be better than me. We would have some homework, but it would not be too hard and we would always have just finished it. We would eat pizza and candy for all of our meals. We wouldn’t have sex, but we would have crushes on each other and, magically, babies would appear in our home. We would win the lottery and then buy land in Wyoming, where we would have one of every kind of cute animal. All the while, Colin would be working in law enforcement – probably the FBI. Our favorite movie star, Morgan Freeman, would visit us occasionally. We would listen to the same Eurythmics song (“Here Comes the Rain Again”) over and over again and watch two hours of television every Friday night. We would both be good at football, have best friends, and know how to drive; we would cure AIDS and the garbage problem and everything that hurts animals.  We would hang out a lot with Colin’s dad. For fun, we would load a slingshot with dog food and shoot it at my butt. We would have a very good life.”

The article is free on Amazon – get it.