Once again I was asked “What does NextStage do?”
This is an agonizing question for me. People expect a short, quick, succinct answer. I give them what I believe is a short, quick, succinct answer, “NextStage does research” and the conversation spirals downward from there. This happens a lot, the spiralling. I described it in The NextStageologist on Mars and Second Life? I don’t find you interesting in Real Life
This time, though, I got a completely different response, “Very interesting Joseph, let me chew on this for a while and get back to you.” along with a description of the individual’s position in their company.
The funny thing is that my response was my usual response. NextStage does research, tool development, trainings, presentations, consultations. The overriding theme is “How do people interact with information?”
This means what we do today can be very different from what we did last week and will probably be different from what we’re doing next week. Do we work on websites? Yes, and not exclusively. Do we work with print? Yes, and not exclusively. Do you work with video? Yes, …
But if you ask “Do you work on how people interact with information? So you help companies figure out how to modify what they do in print from what they do on the web and TV?” Yes, very good. That’s it pretty much.
A client once told me we do market research. Not sure I agree, but there you have it.
What amuses me is that this blog is pretty much a synopsis of what we do. Branding studies, how to use online video to capture market share and drive business, when to use sound files and why, how and why do audiences segment the way they do, …, and it all comes down to “How do people interact with information?”
So bear with me for a paragraph or two…
NextStage researches “how people interact with information”, something that grew out of my 1991 thesis, “How We Learn to Learn”, basically a blend of anthro, linguistics, semiotics and half a dozen other major fields and about 120 disciplines. The reason the research set is so rich is because, when I couldn’t find an answer to a problem in one field, I started modifying the problem model until it had similar macroproperties to solved problems in at least one other field and usually several. The next step was to determine how the macroproperties translated between disciplines, apply the learning of the solved metaphor to the unsolved metaphor, experiment with the translated paradigm to determine what properties were extant between metaphors then solve accordingly.
Because of this, Evolution Technology borrows from fields as diverse as quantum-magneto-hydro-dynamics and immunoassay development.
Okay. So how do companies use our research, tools, and consulting to help them?
Well…this is where it gets pretty interesting.
Higher Ed uses our tools and consulting to help them capture more of a decreasing market; first time college students. We’re helping them on several fronts; marketing, social networking, social media, creating rich personae of their target audience, …
All of which, to me, is “how people interact with information”.
Event organizers use our tools and consulting to help them expand into other product offerings via understanding how to translate their existing successful brand into recognizable brands in other markets.
Again, “how people interact with information”.
An F500 used us to help them understand why their employees weren’t accessing their employee site, and what to do so that employees would access the employee site.
Media buyers, media planners and some SEO firms use our tools to determine where to place ads online and in print so that the ads will have the greatest impact.
Companies use us to help them develop successful WOM and viral campaigns, …
Most engagements begin with conversations (a discovery process). Is the potential client having a recognizable problem? Can they explain the challenge? How is this a challenge? To what? In what way? What would be the best possible outcome? What would be the best possible solution? What would be an acceptable solution? What would be a horrible solution? … I’ve been told that I can be both intimidating and frustrating, but companies still come to us (we don’t advertise and have been reactive for a while now).
NextStage is blessed with being in a position to focus its attention on whatever catches my interest. I’m blessed with being interested in things that most people won’t care about for several years yet. Another thing that grew out of my thesis is NextStage’s proprietary Evolution Technology. Most of our tools are based on various models inherent in the technology.
I hope this helps. I much better talking on the phone. I’m much better answering questions, otherwise I tend to ramble (you couldn’t tell, I’m sure).
Also, my apologies if this seems glib. That is not my intent. I simply don’t know how to answer the “What does NextStage do?” question quickly and succinctly.
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Tagged Attention, From Jul '07, History, Rich Personae