Episode 10

Projecting injustice

We go deeper with customers to hold ourselves accountable for change.


What’s happening with Customers, Now?

Projecting injustice

With Customer, Now, we try to shed light on the human truths emerging from the constraints of COVID-19. As we focus on “now”, we can’t ignore the moment of intersection between racial injustice and COVID-19 and the forces of change they represent. Our hope is to use the platform of Customer, Now to make the effort to understand. To inspire business and people to act from a place of greater empathy…

Earlier this week, we asked people from the US, UK, Germany, China, Japan and India to “post a secret” as a kind of online confessional to reflect on their own realizations about race. It’s clear from people’s responses that racial injustice is not a condition exclusive to the United States. The murder of George Floyd has intensified the symptoms in the US, yet the condition is one of the human race.

What is most striking from all the contributions is just how different people’s experiences, thoughts and beliefs are about race. There is no singular experience or conviction to racial injustice. People – in their multifaceted and messy lives – are responding based on what they’ve learned over time from those who came before them. What they’ve seen, what they’ve felt. What they believe to be true. Not judged as right or wrong, but true to them.

When we analyzed people’s responses, the word “I” registered 550 times – out-word-counting the second-most commonly used word, “people” – at a ratio of 5-to-1. When combined, this phrasing indicates projection: “I think Black people…”; “I think white people…”; “I think all people…”, etc. [see word cloud] Me projecting onto others. Projecting my assumptions, opinions and beliefs onto other people.

In those projections, we make racial injustice the problem of other people. Afterall, I believe I’m a good person (at least not as bad as everyone else), so the problem must reside with “you”. E.g., “you should…”; “they should…”, etc. The more progressive responses suggested what “we” should do. E.g., “we need to…”; “we must…”; “we can’t…”. Very few of the responses reflected on the problem being mine to do something about, i.e., what “I” need to do to change. Even as people were asked to reflect on THEIR realizations, people projected what others should be doing.

You/we/I. “I” is the only place of change. “You” and “they” places blame on others. People can hide behind statements of “we” without taking accountability. When people realize what “I” do makes a difference, change happens.

With COVID-19, we are seeing an interesting human truth emerge: Of how fast change can occur when my self-interest – my survival – is at stake [see Episode 3: “Survival of the simplest”]. When I realize my actions, contribute to the safety of myself and others…change happens. Curves flatten. Recovery starts. When I wear a mask. When I keep social distance. When I keep you safe and you keep me safe. We realize our interdependence; our common human condition, at an individual level of responsibility, on a global scale.

Now is a moment of issues coming together that affect our very humanity and force change. Imagine if we approached racial injustice with the same urgency of a global pandemic. If we saw our own self-interest at stake, at an individual level of responsibility, on a global scale. To understand all we can. To listen to others who know more about the subject than we do. To hold ourselves accountable for creating change. To create a positive difference for ourselves and for others.

For COVID-19 the condition threatens human survival. So it is with racial injustice.

Customer Now 2020

Nothing is changing faster than ourselves.What’s happening with customers right now and what should business do next?

Suddenly, these two questions became a lot more complicated; the answers require us to get beyond the numbers, headlines and hyperbole in search of simple, scalable human truths.

That’s why we’ve launched Customer, Now., a project to document, explore and understand lock-down, and what follows it, from the customers’ perspective.

Through our global communities, we are tapping into the human truths behind customers’ experiences in real-time; exploring their inner worlds more deeply, and creating fresh, generative insights and implications to share with our community.

There’s one guiding insight that’s immediately become clear: in this fast-changing situation, nothing is changing faster than ourselves. This is what we’re exploring through Customer, Now.

It’s not uniform change, nor is it constant. It’s an evolution of our inner lives, our relationships, family, friends, home, health, work and, inevitably, our customer behaviour. And it’s more rapid than we’ve ever seen before.

Through Customer, Now. we’ll deliver to our community an insight, and its implications, every week. With this work, we have one simple aim: to drive a brighter, more progressive, customer-inspired version of tomorrow.

Explore the episodes:

01: Community as essential as food
02: The opposite is also true
03: Survival of the Simplest
04: We before me
05: Humanity in the balance
06: Guilt in Everything
07: The widening empathy gap
08: Habits of control
09: Energy beyond the moment
10: Projecting injustice
11: Believing our excuses
12: Being authentically inclusive
13: Embracing our Truths
14: Living in the grey
15: The “Sustainability” disconnect
16: Reinforcing Myself
17: 2020 “In” Review