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How can semiotics gain more traction in solving business problems?

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Semiotics is about scanning the intrinsic systems of culture and understanding that invisible net running through our society, business ecosystems and political landscapes like a thin red line. Semioticians are those, who can see the line and trace it back to the original cause through reading and understanding signals and symptoms of cultural change. It’s the cultural systems thinking for business. We’re the hackers of cultural systems allowing others to see where the real value is. This way, we can become the hackers of value creation & growth for businesses. Currently, I am developing to a new concept of ‘Meaning Architecture’ – the cultural systems thinking for businesses, which looks at brands and organisations as living organisms and holistic systems of interlocked meanings.Meaning Architecture is to Semiotics what Choice Architecture is to Behavioural Science – it takes the theory and contextualises it to solve the most apparent and pressing business problems. Just that where CA looks at the inherent decision-making fallacies and cognitive biases, MA looks at the structure of meaning around a particular business problem to understand and solve it in context. There are many interesting overlaps and potential synergies that can be found in business, whether it’s optimizing communication streams and messaging for the clients, transforming customer journeys and organisational cultures, aligning meaning and sense in signage & coding or their cultural adaptations or adding the extra cultural lens/layer to complex behavioural challenges and client briefs.

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How can semiotics gain more traction in solving business problems?

  1. 1. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? PhDr. Mar)na Olbertova Meaning.Global
  2. 2. What are the emerging technologies in Market Research? Ray Poynter, The Future Place Festival of #NewMR 2018 NewMR 2018 Sponsors Pla,num Gold Silver Communica,on Your name here? S,ll ,me to be a 2018 NewMR Sponsor
  3. 3. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 Why talk about Semio)cs? Because it studies “meaning” – how it’s created, consumed and reproduced in our culture and society. Organisa,ons and brands today are not fit for purpose anymore. But their biggest blind spot (and biggest liability) is also the biggest untapped business value to date: Meaning. Meaning is the inner compass every brand and organisa,on needs in order to navigate their vision and strategy. I oVen say it’s the most valuable asset that any business can ever strive to create, as when brands don’t make sense, they can’t hold value. Yet, it remains to be the most understated value in business to date. I wanted to change that. That's why I founded Meaning.Global.
  4. 4. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 Not just for brands and marke)ng: •  Applied or also called Commercial Semio,cs isn’t just for brands and marke,ng, it’s also a powerful resource for businesses and organisa,onal change. •  Semio,cs just found its home with brands as visual language and iconicity and tonality as some of the primary vehicles how organisa,ons assess brand value and equity. •  But Semio,cs is so much more powerful! It’s basically the inner structure of our world as everything in our lives is signified, everything communicates and everything conveys meaning. •  Semio,cs and meaning are AT THE CORE of any purposeful communica,on, transforma,on, value crea,on or organisa,onal, social and poli,cal change.
  5. 5. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 Matrix is real. •  This is only counterintui,ve (or suspicious) to us because we usually don‘t perceive the world this way. But if you were to turn the world as we know and experience it inside out, you‘d see that everything is structured around our ability to produce, assess and consume meaning. •  Everything tangible we see around us today had an abstract symbolic image created first before it was manifested in its physical form (food, products, services, buildings, cars, fashion, books etc.) Things start as abstract thoughts and then gain meaning through their physical execu,on. •  Semio,cians are the Culture Hackers: They are the real Neo’s of the world fixing errors in the (business) system and tracking them back to their original source code – Culture. •  Hacking cultural systems allows organisa,ons to see where the real value is. This way, semio,cians can become the hackers of value crea,on & growth for business. Therefore, we need start seeing Meaning as the self-organising principle for a cultural change.
  6. 6. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 How to reboot orgs in the Matrix? To help brands and organisa,ons: •  reinstall meaningfulness •  fuel new cultural relevance •  make them resonate more across regions, markets and geographies •  fix cultural errors •  create beber communica,on •  engage with people beber •  create a meaningful organisa,onal change …we need to start looking at organisa,ons as complex living ecosystems of meaning. This means we need to create and embed meaning on a systemic/architectural level.
  7. 7. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 ‘Meaning Architecture’: What is it? •  Redefining Semio&cs as the ‘Cultural Systems Thinking’ for Business Organisa,ons, where meaning and sense are becoming the most valuable currencies of the 21st century. •  Powered by Semio,cs as a backbone for the systemic view of meaning paberns, it is a methodological approach I am developing which looks at brands and organisa,ons holis,cally as living dynamic ecosystems of interlocked meanings in order to fix complex problems on a systemic level. •  Its primary aim is to map out individual layers of the system, fix points of fric,on and ins,ll sense to inform more relevant future strategies. By placing meaning at the heart of brands and organisa,ons, we can increase efficiency, effec,veness, promote brand health, cultural and symbolic relevance, make brands mirror society beber and increase social responsibility.
  8. 8. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 •  Meaning Architecture is to Semio,cs what Choice Architecture is to Behavioural Science – it takes the theory and contextualises it to solve the most apparent and pressing business problems. Where Choice Architecture looks at the inherent decision-making fallacies and cogni,ve biases, Meaning Architecture looks at the structure of meaning around a par,cular business problem to understand and solve it in context. •  Meaning Architecture u,lizes semio,cs and cultural intelligence not only to drive insight locally as most uses of commercial semio,cs do but also systemically to address the meaning systems and paberns of a problem or a par,cular business challenge, similarly to what the Choice Architecture does for the prac,ce of Behavioural Science and its applicability in the real world. •  This is why they both can be incredibly complementary when used together as human behaviour is a complex semio,c system in its own right. Different Business Architectures: Meaning vs Choice
  9. 9. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 ‘Meaning Architecture’: What it does? 1.  Addresses the gap in Business Architecture as it looks at the points of fric,on and inefficiencies within the organisa,onal system 2.  Uses Semio,cs as means to reframe the enterprise architecture from the inside out and applies structure to encapsulate the dynamic intangible en,ty that is meaning in an organisa,on 3.  Navigates sense and meaning throughout the business ecosystem to understand how the parts relate to the whole, where the points of fric,on are and how to redefine meaning for beber results.
  10. 10. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 ‘Meaning Architecture’: What it does? 4.  Maps the individual layers of the brand/organisa,onal system to detect gaps, points of fric,on, loss of sense and inefficiencies to reinstall meaning, create consistency, limit inefficiencies and promote new value crea,on, brand growth and future-proof business. 5.  Helps fuel the invisible nodes of data and informa,on by looking at insight, innova,on, behavioural interven,ons, product design in a broader context of social significa,on (how we consume, assess and create meaning in the world) 6.  Thanks to its systemic/holis,c approach, using MA can help brand owners and stake holders redefine meaning of important business concepts to fuel a new- found relevance for future value crea,on & growth (diversity, inclusion etc.)
  11. 11. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 Key Q: Are organisa)ons machines, or living self-evolving organisms? vs My premise is that organisa&ons are more of the la;er and less of the former. We have become accustomed to see and manage organisa&ons as machines. This has led to ex&nc&on of meaning, fragmenta&on of sense, crea&on of silos and compartmen- talised value crea&on. This is not how Humans operate – organisa&ons need to become more of living holis&cally managed organisms to reflect how people make meaning, create new value and collaborate. Organisa&ons need to address their fundamental role in learning how to capture, organise and ar&culate meaning on a systemic level.
  12. 12. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 H&M racist product photo (2018) Dove, Unilever: Body diverse packaging campaign (2017) Pepsi Kendall Jenner ad (2017) Brands are increasingly breaking the rules of Culture: Cultural relevance is systemic Many of the recent cultural lapses are hard to solve as they occur on the systemic level. Seeing brands & orgs as living ecosystems of meaning can help trace problems back to their origin and solve them on a complex level. There is a fundamental lack of the systemic ability to craJ and sustain relevance throughout the organisa&onal and brand systems (omnichannel, fragmenta&on, touchpoints, departments, silos, markets, regions — too much noise)
  13. 13. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 The Meaning Architecture pilot •  Piloted in spring 2017 on a behavioural interven,on project in collabora,on with Ogilvy Change for London Gatwick. •  To apply the meaning architecture approach with regards to the behavioural science angle of this project, I created the Matrix of Human Behaviour to illustrate the individual layers of human experience at the airport at different touchpoints throughout the customer journey. •  These are the levels of meaning and significa,on we explored to inform the behavioural interven,on design for an increased opera,onal efficiency solu,on at the airport –
  14. 14. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 The Matrix of Human Behaviour: Meaning is organised in pa=erns through- out the space (both physical & cultural/ mental/emo,onal) and ,me to create value.
  15. 15. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 Behaviour is a complex semio)c system:
  16. 16. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 Mapping the Matrix variables: Airport security
  17. 17. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 What other complex business problems can we solve using Semio)c principles and the Meaning Architecture approach? 1. Tracking, measuring and assessing the ‘Meaning Footprint’ of Brands and Organisa,ons (the sum of meanings they create through their opera,ons and how they affect the world – increase in cultural awareness of organisa,ons, symbolic relevance and social responsibility) 2. Redefining the Narra,ve as means for Organisa,onal Change & Change Management: Narra,ve reframing and North Star defini,on, finding new meaning and changing/owning the conversa,on (shiV in organisa,onal dynamics from the reac,ve towards a proac,ve role) 3. Opera,onal costs and efficiency: Driving increased efficiency by fixing points of fric,on within the system (could be used when looking at diverse data sets and dis,lling sense, consumer behaviour, customer journeys, streamlining, lean op,misa,on, behavioural interven,ons) Scenarios for business applica)on:
  18. 18. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 There are many more interes)ng overlaps and synergies we that can find in the business ecosystem and look at more in-depth such as: 4. Marke,ng effec,veness and experience op,misa,on: Op,mizing communica,on streams or messaging for the clients, mapping meaning in communica,on journeys and transforming them, aligning meaning and sense in signage/coding/comms in various cultural adapta,ons 5. Cultural relevance and scalability of sense: Mapping meaning and scaling sense across mul,na,onal crea,ve campaigns in different touch-points, markets, cultures & geographies, aligning brands and organisa,ons with the codes of culture 6. Brand management and leadership: Empowering regional leadership teams with the knowledge of culture and using semio,cs as an insight & structural tool to gain cultural richness and drive brand value and equity from bobom-up (vs. top-down hierarchy that flabens cultural brand sense) Scenarios for business applica)on:
  19. 19. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 There are many more interes)ng overlaps and synergies we that can find in the business ecosystem and look at more in-depth such as: 7. Amalgama,on of sense (the ‘glue’ method): Synthesizes insight from various domains, a mul,disciplinary aggregator, adding the extra cultural lens/layer to complex business challenges and client briefs (such as behavioural interven,ons, organisa,onal change etc.) 8. Redefining Meaning of important cultural/societal concepts driving value crea,on and growth within the organisa,on and brand execu,on: What does Diversity & Inclusion, Humanity, Unity, Equality etc. mean today? What does it mean for YOUR organisa,on? What it means in context of the world/market/category/landscape you operate in? How to best embody, organise and portray these symbolic concepts to drive a meaningful cultural change? Scenarios for business applica)on:
  20. 20. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 Thank You! Contact us for more: hello@meaning.global www.meaning.global
  21. 21. How can semio,cs gain more trac,on in solving business problems? Mar,na Olbertova, Meaning.Global Festival of #NewMR 2018 Q & A Mar,na Olbertova Meaning.Global Ray Poynter The Future Place
  22. 22. What are the emerging technologies in Market Research? Ray Poynter, The Future Place Festival of #NewMR 2018 NewMR 2018 Sponsors Pla,num Gold Silver Communica,on Your name here? S,ll ,me to be a 2018 NewMR Sponsor

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