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Posts tagged ‘design thinking’

an encore performance

December 11, 2012

fransiweinstein

Last time I posted, I mentioned there were a couple more stories from my other blog, 365, that I’d re-post.  Here’s one of them.  With one more to follow soon.  Again if you follow both my blogs, thank you for doing so; and I apologize for the repetition.  Hopefully you feel these few posts are worth reading more than once.

Last time I talked about a lot of ways non-creative people are still creative.  See, it’s not an oxymoron.  But I did confine the conversation to those of us who work in ad agencies, an industry perceived as being ‘creative’ anyway.  And because I think it’s important for you to know I’m a firm believer in the fact that creativity can, and should , and does, exist outside of ‘creative’ businesses, I’m approaching the idea from a different perspective this time.

At its very simplest, it’s called out of the box thinking.  Being willing to turn a problem, or a tough challenge, on its ear, looking at it from a different angle, through a different lens.

Being willing, regardless of what you do for a living, to sweep aside the status quo and embrace new ideas.  Different ideas.  Unconventional ideas for your industry.  Client-centric ideas.  Revolutionary ideas.  Never-before-considered or tried ideas.  Regardless of whether you work in the private or public sectors.  Regardless of whether you are a health care worker, an educator, a politician, a CEO, a sales person, a scientist, a researcher, a lawyer, or an accountant; or even a tinker, tailor, soldier or spy.

What I’m talking about is ‘design thinking’.  Born out of industrial design, design thinking is a very disciplined, systematic, strategic process (yet intensely creative) that is used to solve what most of us would consider unsolvable challenges, like finding an innovative way to deliver clean drinking water in the developing world.  I find it absolutely fascinating.  I’m obsessed with it, in fact.  And I am a rabid fan of a global consultancy based in California, IDEO, who are pioneers in the field, and worked on the drinking water project.  I am also a huge fan of their President and CEO, Tim Brown, who has written a book, that I have read at least two dozen times.  Buy it, you won’t be sorry.

He spoke in Toronto earlier this year, and I went.  Surprise, surprise.  He presented a lot of impressive and varied case studies, but my favourite was a project they did for the Singapore government.  I have actually written it up, here on Fransi Weinstein Et Al.

I follow a lot of very good WordPress blogs.  One of them is called Book Peeps.  And the other day its author posted an interesting and provocative piece on education.  Specifically, what’s wrong with our educational ‘system’, who’s really to blame, what role both parents and teachers can play and what can be done about it.  Her post was inspired by an article (there’s a link to it in the post) she read, about the differences in how eastern and western cultures tackle teaching.

As I read her post, all I could think was:  “Now there’s an ‘opportunity’ that’s just crying out for a team from IDEO.”  And that’s what inspired this post, of men.

Any other issues you can think of that could benefit from some innovative thinking, IDEO style?  In my not so humble opinion, the U.S. ‘fiscal cliff’ issue is a perfect candidate.  If I was President Obama I’d be thinking seriously about bringing them to the table.  I’m certainly in no position to speak for the management of IDEO but I’ll bet they might even consider doing it pro bono.  I sure would.  Talk about a juicy assignment.  And talk about the fame (and fortune) that would follow, if you could wrestle that problem to the ground successfully!

But in all seriousness, that issue is going to take creative thinking to solve.  And from what I’ve seen, at a great distance I admit, I’m not so sure the people involved have what it takes.

For that mater, the Middle East crisis desperately needs some innovative thinking, as well.  But not all the ‘problems’ need to be as grand as these few examples I’ve cited.  Even in our local communities there are many opportunities to look at things differently.  To improve the way they’re done.  Make them more efficient.  Make them easier to use or access.  Make them more end-user friendly.  Make them more relevant.  Make them more cost effective.

The solutions are within all of us.  We just need to climb out of the rut we’re in.  We just need to open our eyes and ears and minds to the possibilities.  We just need to learn how to collaborate, because non of us has the answer on our own.  We just need to embrace change.  And most of all, we just need to want to have the time of our lives, because there’s nothing more stimulating, or fun, energizing and exciting, than solving problems, brilliantly!

President Obama’s campaign theme was ‘Forward’.  I’d like to add something to that:  ‘Forward.  Redefined!’

I’ve had enough of the status quo to last me a lifetime

November 30, 2011

fransiweinstein

Despite all the problems in the world — the sorry state of the environment and the economy, the absolute insanity of the standoff between the republicans and the democrats, the unrest everywhere, the disasters — I believe we are living in remarkable times.  We have access to more information, more quickly than at any other time in history.  Technology makes everything possible.  Some of the greatest minds the world has ever known — or may ever know — are right here, right now.

And yet, we’re stuck.  We just can’t seem to move forward.  For some inexplicable reason we can’t seem to think of what could be; and instead, we refuse to change — insisting on living in the past — insisting on doing things the way we always have — despite the fact that they no longer work — and never will again.

It is so frustrating I could scream.  And it makes me think of that late 70’s movie, “Network”, starring Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway and an all-star cast.  In fact, the film is a story of a fictional television network with failing ratings.  When the anchor, Peter Finch, is told he’s just got two more weeks on air, he has an on-air meltdown.  He then essentially starts ‘a movement’ when he rants “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

That is exactly how I feel, so stay tuned.  You may just see me on the 6 o’clock news one of these evenings.

It drives me crazy that I go to  conference after conference where corporate executives are ringing their hands.  “Why” you ask?  Because angry customers are venting on social media and they (the execs) think that if they have a Facebook page and get people to ‘like’ them all their problems will miraculously disappear.

Their problems will disappear when they change the way they do business.  When they create products and services that their customers want and need.

Same goes for politicians; and health care providers; and educators, by the way.

Who knows?  Maybe you’re all getting tired of hearing me whine about the same thing all the time.  But we could accomplish so much, we would do so much good — if only we were prepared to re-think the way we think.  Still not getting it?

Do yourselves a favour.  Buy “Change by Design”, a book written by Tim Brown, who is the CEO and President of IDEO — one of the top ten most innovative companies in the world.   What they do is called ‘design thinking’ — a systematic yet creative approach they use whether they are creating an object or finding an innovative way to deliver clean drinking water in the developing world.

I’ve re-read the book at least a half dozen times now; and each time I do I am more inspired.  The challenges we face can be overcome.  There’s a better, cheaper, cleaner, faster, more efficient, more human-centred way to do almost anything.  All we need is the desire, and the willingness to change.

does anyone care about what I want?

November 20, 2011

fransiweinstein

Don’t worry.  I’m not expecting you to answer.  It’s a rhetorical question — and I’m only putting it out there because ‘customer experience’ is being bandied about quite a bit these days (including by yours truly); and, when I think about my own customer experiences I automatically think about whether or not they deliver what I’m looking for.

And I’m not just referring to the quality of customer service that comes with those relationships — which is where you might think I’m headed.  What I’m talking about is a much bigger, more challenging issue — and I alluded to it in my last post.  What I’m talking about are sellers and providers of anything and everything, who base their offerings on customers’ needs and preferences — not simply their own — individuals who also think, not only of benefitting themselves and the companies and organizations they work for, but society in general.

That’s what I want.

It’s a tall order, I know, but I truly believe it is the only way we’ll succeed — or even survive — going forward.  Regardless of whether you’re employed in the public or private sector.

So now let’s get more specific about some of the things I think about when I should probably be working on my latest project, my filing (which I loathe doing and is, therefore, piling up on every available surface), or even worse — laundry:

Neither the manager or staff at the grocery store where I do a lot of my shopping have ever asked me what I want (even when I’m wandering up and down the aisles looking confused because I don’t know where they’ve moved the crackers) — so I’m going to take this opportunity to tell them.

I would love to know how much food they throw away every week.  I ask because the food banks — and thank God for them — can’t accommodate perishable items.  So wouldn’t it be great if a large, warehouse type space was made available — it was outfitted with some refrigerated units (also donated) — and instead of throwing perfectly good food away, it was given to those people who currently depend on the food banks, and are currently able to eat only the staples that come in cans, tins and cartons.  It wouldn’t replace the food banks — it would just enhance what they could offer.

What are you willing to bet that if I went to the head office of any grocery store operating in this country with this idea I’d get at least 5 reasons why it can’t be done.  And I’ll bet you that if they assembled a diverse group of people who could have a role in this initiative — and if they were prepared to dig deep and think differently — we could find a way to execute at least something close to this idea.

This is something I want.  It would make me feel better about the food I am buying.  It would make me feel better about the grocery store where I shop.  It would make me feel better knowing all this food wasn’t going to waste.  And it would make me feel a lot better about what the less fortunate members of our society are eating, and what a positive effect it could have on other aspects of their lives.

Let’s move on.  Now I’d like to tell my bank what I’d like.  Relax — you don’t have to send the kids out of the room.  There’ll be no swearing.  It’s a simple, little request actually:

Have you ever wondered why, as long as you don’t exceed your credit limit, you are free to charge whatever you’d like to your credit card?  Well … I’d prefer to do that with my debit card.  If I have enough money in my account to pay for a $5,000 holiday with my debit card — cash, in other words — my cash — why can’t I?   Wouldn’t you think that whatever means banks use to ‘approve’ your credit card purchases while you’re standing at a cash register, should be transferable to debit card purchases.  So why isn’t it?  Is it merely that they’ve never thought about it themselves.  Is it because they’ve never asked their customers what they want?

Could it be that they (bank honchos) prefer it when — human nature being what it is — even though you told yourself you’d pay your credit card off as soon as you get the bill, you don’t — and they get to charge you interest?  But isn’t that short term thinking?  If you weren’t drowning in credit card debt, you’d potentially have more money — to invest (with them).  For a mortgage (with them).  For a bigger mortgage (with them).  You’d be more credit-worthy (which you’d think they’d like).  They wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not you might, one day, lose your job and be unable to pay off your credit card debt — leaving them holding the bag.

There’s a lot more on my mind, but I think I’ve done enough talking for a while.  What are some of the things you want?

 

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