Creating Value Doesn’t Start With What People Want, It Starts With Their Memories

Here’s an interesting insight from psychology: we see value in things we imagine we want. Our imaginations are sourced from our memories. For professionals, the better we understand the sourcing of the memories that drive what people imagine what they want, the better we can provide valuable products and services. Instead of starting with imagined value, we can instead start with memory. 
Scott Novis explained to Cal Fussman that we have three distinct types of memories:
  1. Implicit memories (ex. motor skills, muscle memory, etc.)
  2. Semantic memories (ex. Facts, figures, data points, etc.)
  3. Episodic memories (ex. Events, feelings, moments, etc.)
Implicit and semantic memories are fairly objective. We either know how to do something or we don’t. We know a specific date when an assignment was due or we don’t. Episodic memories are subjective. While experiences may be shared, takeaways and influences can be very different. A child’s experience of their 5th birthday party vs. the mother’s who is doing all the work produces two very different experiences. 
Episodic memories have perspective. Whenever we project or look into the future, we tap into our episodic memory to provide a basis.  The assessment itself may be unique, but we are all going back to our own memories to form our expectations. 
Novis, former Disney VP and founder of GameTruck, says all of the predictive power we possess finds its roots in our episodic memories. If we have the right story, we can accomplish anything. If we have the wrong story, we might never get off the ground. 
We see instances of this all of the time with clients.  We may see a suggestion as sensible, logical, and easily within reach, and yet sometimes people get hung up on crazy-feeling minutia. While we may initially think it’s their implicit reactions or that they’re debating semantics, the reality is that something in their episodic memory is driving the response. The better we are at unearthing the source of that memory, the better we will be able to help shape their experience with us. This is a really big deal.
There’s an expression that “the best way to predict the future is to make it.” If we see the future as a function of our episodic memories we can better draw the connections between what we can predict and what we can make. Helping others to first imagine and later realize what they want to achieve is the path to value creation. 

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