Six learnings for successful experience design
We have just completed a very successful experience design assignment with AA Insurance (AAI). Success in this instance is measured by both hard and soft business outcomes. In terms of hard numbers, the measures are customer response and sales. The soft outcomes are staff engagement throughout the organisation, transformed workspaces, transformed customer experiences and engaged business partners.
AAI is a business spreading its wings that has a story to be told and that needed some changes to set it for the future. As part of the AA family, the general insurance business is steadily making its mark in its market. The business leaders realised that their success will be rooted in both being part of the AA family and also being an insurance company in its own right. Both of these would provide for the needs of the two shareholders (AAI is a strategic joint venture between the AA and Suncorp).
So, what are the learnings that are above the specific project that anyone doing a similar project can look to?More
Historically, creative organisations have largely been terrified by the thought of having clients too close on a project. Having them working with you on a project, contributing their thoughts and ideas at will, opens the door for them undermining the creative process at best and at worst it could mean having to capitulate and execute their naff ideas.
But, the times they may be a changing. More and more agencies and clients are collaborating – but is it true collaboration? To us, true collaboration means bringing together a mix of people and organisations, and pitting their strategic and creative skills against a common goal; it means everyone contributing equally and transparently. In short it is joint ownership of both the process and the outcome. Is that what collaboration looked like across your recent experiences?
Unless agencies and client organisations both develop the right skills, processes and attitudes to support true collaboration they are likely to find collaborative projects remain fraught and at times fruitless, and particularly for agencies this may well leave them stuck, and falling behind in a time where collaboration and co-creation is king - or where they cannot deliver on the breadth of thinking and expertise so often now required in a large campaign or programme of work.More
There are plenty of supposedly “successful” business’s that go bust. In Auckland the Ponsonby Road restaurant with the million-dollar fit-out that gets featured in all the social pages, is the place to be and is packed to the gunnels for three months — and then the doors close. How about the leading fashion publication that is the indicator of style and can do no wrong, but who pulls the pin because they couldn’t pay the printer. And then there’s the fast food chain run by the really “zany” ex ad guys. It’s the talk of the town but goes tits up when they get bored and it all gets a bit hard.
Just because the cash registers are ringing, doesn’t mean there’s money in the bank. So what’s the difference between a great idea and a successful business with staying power? If finding theMaking answer was easy everyone would be doing it, but that doesn’t mean you stop asking the question. It’s also about defining what to invest in — no matter what the short term cost may be.More
Over the years, as DNA has grown I have from time to time been taken to task by some of our designers. The standard accusation was "why are there now so many non-designers in the team? It’s wrong!" Sure, we are a design-based organisation, but it was suggested that potentially our creativity was being subsumed or at least stifled by all this project management, budget setting and strategy.
Of course we cannot ignore the commercial drivers, the complexity, scale and multichannel integration of many of our projects, which have all grown over the years. This requires a greater diversity of inputs and skills, it requires a focus on project management and more rigor in reporting as we are now ever more accountable and focused on delivering a return on our clients’ investment.
But, what some of our designers had missed was the real trend at play, that designers are everywhere, and they are now coming in all shapes and forms, and that they have all manner of roles and titles in our company - and in our clients organisations.
We have a term at DNA, "We are all designers" which leads to a cultural pillar we have - that we need everyone at DNA to be a problem solver, and that we need to apply creativity to every situation we are confronted with – and this is not just in response to the briefs we receive. The fact is that now we have more designers than ever at DNA, only now they are strategists, researchers, IA's, interaction experts, retail delivery specialists, developers, and project managers. Every step of a project or challenge needs a design response and will benefit from 'design thinking', even if it is a project plan that is being designed.
Design thinking is the ability to combine empathy (for the context of a problem), creativity (in the generation of insights and solutions), and rationality (to analyse and fit solutions to the context). It is evident in every successful interaction we have with clients - and in every successful interaction they have with their customers - and it has made us better when we design.
For the record - this post was first published by Idealog - to see more of Grens ranting check out Idealog's design ruminations.More
De Bono meet theatre tools. Maslow meet The Business Model Canvas.
Old models are old for a reason. They have stood the test of time. They made sense at the time and they continue to make sense. Much of this is due to their simplicity. Six hats, each representing a human mode of thinking. Five hierarchies, each representing a human need. Such simplicity means they still have life and value in them, you just have to look to apply them in new ways. More recently I threw De Bono's hats into the theatre ring.
I was introduced to the power of theatre by Adam St John Lawrence (@adamstjohn) of WorkPlayExperience in his workshop at the Service Design Global Conference 2011. The mantra, Doing Not Talking, means you have to get up and try stuff out. Learning comes from the doing and the experiencing. It's a process you have to lean into. The leaning does get easier.
Facilitating a spatial co-create session, I invited stakeholders, staff and customers to lean into the theatre process with me. First off, we broke open the usually hidden dusty dark corners of the Black Hat (the Devil's advocate who judges why something won't work). Creating a new technique now named 'Chuck A Chicken', everyone got to throw a squeaky rubber chicken at the wall while asserting their issues of the project. Rubber chickens are a ubiquitous theatre tool. Check out #rubberchicken on Twitter.
An essential theatre technique in service design is playing out a likely service scenario and progressively iterating it. In the space to be designed, staff played out customers, stakeholders played out staff and the rest of the group played the crowd. Playing out different roles enables participants to put on the Red Hat (emotion) and truely feel what its like to be that person in that situation. Empathy is a powerful emotion.
Being in the crowd enables participants to absorb the macro view of the service scenario. Putting on the Green Hat (creativity), they can yell "cut" at any point, interjecting with an idea to improve the experience. In the spirit of Doing Not Talking, you show your idea by moving the props, adding props, introducing a new role, taking over an existing role. Moving people about means everyone gets to wear different hats.
De Bono's hats are a way of organising thinking. Theatre is a way of experiencing our thinking. A perfect meeting I will be repeating.
As for Maslow and The Business Model Canvas, that's another post.
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