20 Cognitive Biases that Screwed Up Creative Memories

20 cognitive biasesCreative Memories (yes, I know there is a company that currently uses that name, but that is not the company I am talking about) suffered a painful collapse as it was unable to adapt to changes in the marketplace, including the switch to digital photography. The death spiral was dramatic. In a few short years, Creative Memories went from a vibrant, healthy company to an empty shell incapable of sustaining its own existence. With this background, here are the some cognitive biases that destroyed Creative Memories.

  • Bandwagon effect – If we all believe that digital photography is unimportant then that must make it so.
  • Blind-spot bias – No one at Creative Memories recognized that their cognitive biases might affect their decisions.
  • Confirmation bias – Creative Memories paid more attention to information that confirmed its preconceived notion that digital photography was unimportant than to information that cast doubt on that fact.
  • Conservatism bias – Creative Memories maintained the illusion that the traditional scrapbook was key to the future long after the market had decided otherwise.
  • Information bias – The more we study digital technology, the less need there is to take action.
  • Ostrich effect – “Don’t send me any more information on digital!” If you don’t want to hear information relevant to your business, you are likely to make poor decisions.
  • Overconfidence – Creative Memories executives knew more than anyone else.  Overconfidence results in a failure to consider the fact that you might be wrong.
  • Stereotyping – The Creative Memories sales force will not be able to adapt to digital technology.
  • Zero-risk bias – It’s risky to change a business model, particularly if that model has always been highly profitable.

The bias combined to create the “perfect storm” that destroyed Creative Memories. It was not that the storm was unpredictable, it was that Creative Memories chose not to predict it.

Note added April 22, 2016: We all saw certain aspects of Creative Memories demise. My view is that digital was a significant factor in the failure because it reduced the overall demand for traditional scrapbooking products. Creative Memories had built an organization with infrastructure that the market was no longer capable of supporting. I certainly agree that other factors affected Creative Memories, as well. The new Creative Memories should do well because it is sized for the much smaller market for traditional scrapbooking supplies that remains.


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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9 Responses to 20 Cognitive Biases that Screwed Up Creative Memories

  1. Lois DuBose says:

    The old CM is in the past….it’s history. Let it go and move on! There’s no need to keep digging up old dirt.

  2. Lucy Eisele says:

    I agree, CM is over and done, and is a sad, sad thing to happen. However, Mark, you’re right on. I recall vividly one of our off-site manager’s strategic meetings at the Radisson. Each manager was required to share updates, new findings, predictions, etc. Chris Mayhew shared a riveting presentation on digital scrapbooking. He warned if we didn’t get a leg up, we’d be left in the dust. And then…

  3. And those of us in the field started new ventures and ways of meeting those needs that hatched amazing businesses and organizations such as P2p(now part of Forever) and APPO! Necessity is the mother of invention.

  4. Deb Gaither says:

    From the moment CM introduced digital, I never looked back. I am now working with Forever for my digital storage and storybook printing and like them a lot (still trying to fall in love); however the quality of the printed books is sometimes disappointing. I have worked with the company to replace a book and was very happy with the replacement. The next order was a disappointment for a different reason and to make matters worse a gift. I gave the gift as is but not really proud of the product especially the time that was spent making it and the money spent on the purchase. So after putting this in writing, I am going to share this information with Forever. I hope this company welcomes feedback better than Creative Memories did in their day.

  5. Pingback: Why I write about Creative Memories | All About Images Blog

  6. Geli Bloomquist says:

    I loved Creative Memories and had ben part of it for many years, I was very exited when digital came along even thou I don’t know much about Computers. I loved the software. I went to another company after CM closed it’s Doors but came back to Forever since they still have and support the software. I have been very happy with them. the old CM may be gone but all the great times and memories will live on for ever as does the sadness of loosing it.

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