During our work with the Master’s thesis we came to realize that we had found the best job ever. We wanted to keep developing companies through the use of design methods. We wanted to keep helping companies to become more innovative, and more human centered, and we wanted to make sure companies offer their clients the best service experience possible.
And that’s what we decided to do. Our firm Prototyp Business Design will offer services in Business Design. We design innovative business models, innovation processes and service offers. We also offer training and support in innovation and creativity. All of this we do with a firm focus on the user, who can be an employee just as well as a client or any other fellow human being.
We hope you will keep following our work and thoughts on Business Design and Innovation through the blog that will soon be up on the new web-site and through Twitter. We’ve appreciated all your input very much, and would love to keep receiving it!
See you at the new web-site, www.prototyp-businessdesign.com
With this post we want to thank all followers of the blog for support and interesting input during this semester! We are now taking a couple of weeks of well needed vacation, and will be back in a while with new exciting ventures!
We now officially both hold a Master degree of Business and Design, and will take our vacation to get some perspective on what we have been doing and what we want to do. In the meantime we would be very happy receive your input on what we should do this autumn! Do you know about an interesting project that would benefit from our input? Do you want to work with us? Do you have an idea that you want someone to follow up? Post your input here on the blog, or e-mail it to us. All suggestions welcome!
Thanks, and have a wonderful summer!
The time has come to try to sum up the work of the last four months. It is a bit of a challenge to manage that in one blog post, but we will give it a try. So what epiphanies, insights and lessons have we had during the project?
- Allow the Parallel Search for Task and Solution: The parallel search for task and solution is one of the main lessons that businesses can learn from design. Designers constantly question their task, rather than only the way to solve it, and by doing this reach the most interesting results. In many companies today the task is set in stone at the beginning of an activity, and is never questioned. This means that the outcome will always be what was expected from the beginning. (and by definition not very innovative) If instead companies were to allow and encourage questioning of the task throughout the activity, this would create the possibility for the person or group working with the task to realise in the middle of the activity that they have found a better task, and actually change it, so that the outcome of the activity is something that was not expected, since the knowledge needed to identify the possibility was created during the activity.
- Keep the Groups Diverse: Diverse groups are more creative! Hardly surprising, but still few companies take this knowledge seriously. Groups should be diverse in terms of what area of the company they work in, what part of the world they are from, their gender and age, their skills and their interest. Yes, it is more time consuming and sometimes more difficult to work in diverse groups, but in the end it will be worth it because the outcome will be so much better!
- Give It Time (and don’t be so scared of “wasting” it): In many companies every hour of the employees’ work time must be accounted to a specific task or project that is set in advance by management. Because of this there is no time to work with tasks of the employees’ own interest, or with tasks that do not have a defined outcome. This makes it very difficult to find time to question your task, or follow your own ideas. For this reason time has to be set off specifically in order to let employees work with innovation. Google and Atlassian have made the trend famous, but many more companies would be benefited by joining the movement. And as I wrote in an earlier post; fear of “wasting” time on activities without a predefined outcome is a very important reason for why companies do not innovate, so let go of that fear!
The points above are some of the most important conclusions of this project. We have tried to make these more useful by creating a series of workshops based on them, since one of the main problems we have found with existing work in the area is that is is too abstract.
Read more about the report, and see the full text version here.
Posted in ...DRIVEN INNOVATION
Tagged creativity, design, diversity, innovation, innovation process, master thesis, parallel search, question task, re-box, re-boxing, report, summary, time
During our time working with innovation we have encountered an awful lot of talk about “outside the box thinking”. The use of this phrase generates some problems. The most obvious problem is that it has been so frequently used that people tend to accept it without questioning what it means. “The box” is clearly a metaphor, but for what? If thinking outside the box is the key to new ideas and innovations, it is crucial to define what “the box” is. We interpret the term “the box” as the different constraints and limitations someone puts upon him- or herself when addressing a problem or a task. These constraints consist of all assumptions and beliefs a person has as well as perceived expectations from others. Thus thinking outside the box is a metaphor for discarding all the limitations and assumptions that constraint the thinking about a task. So when the term is used when for example starting up an ideation session, it could instead be put like this; let us discard all our assumptions and limitations about this task. That would make the meaning clearer, but the assumptions and limitations still need to be identified before they can be discarded. Suppose a person succeeded in identifying and discarding all constraints and assumptions, what happens then? He or she would end up with a problem or a task without any restrictions; a problem without a context. That might sound like the perfect creative environment, but it is not. Thinking inside the box is not really a problem. In fact, constraints are what enable creative thinking. It is very difficult, maybe even impossible, to start with a blank page and no constraints and from that achieve a creative outcome. In other words the box is needed in order to create new ideas. On the other hand, to try to ideate about a task with all assumptions and restrictions still unquestioned and in place is likely to lead to analytical thinking that cannot generate any new ideas. This is where re-boxing comes in. By not trying to get rid of all constraints, but rather replace them with other, new constraints a person can be successful in generating creative ideas. Every time the constraints are changed it forces the mind to address the problem from a new perspective and that is essential to the generation of new ideas. The workshops we have designed are based on different ideation methods, with the purpose of achieving this re-boxing of the situation or task by changing the participants’ assumptions and constraints. This is done in various ways; one example is when the participants are pushed to a new box when a random word or picture is presented as an association trigger in the ideation session. More examples of how re-boxing appears in the workshops are described in the following sections.
In short the concept re-boxing is all about changing the perspectives and ways that a task is thought of and addressed. This creative and explorative approach is fundamentally different from a purely analytical approach, in that the analytical approach generates a Boxing process where the exploring approach generates a Re-boxing process.
Why is it so difficult for companies to innovate? We have found an answer to that question and it is quite simple.
Many companies today are terrified of “wasting time”. They are so terrified of wasting time that they would never venture into an activity that they don’t know the outcome of beforehand. They are so terrified of wasting time so that they wouldn’t consider spending time and resources developing a concept or an idea if they don’t “know” how much money it will generate. And that is the clue to why they have such problems creating innovations that are more than incremental. If you know beforehand what the outcome of an activity will be, and how much money that outcome will generate, then by definition it isn’t really an innovation at all. At least not anything more than a very incremental innovation.
The conclusion of this is that in order to open up to the possibility of creating innovation, companies have to get rid of their paralyzing fear of “wasting time”. They have to understand that not knowing the outcome of an activity does not mean it is a waste of time, in fact, not knowing the outcome should be seen as an interesting opportunity, because that is where the real chance of achieving innovation is found!
For our presentations at the case company we prepared a bunch of small cardboardboxes filled with shredded paper. Inside each box we put a small piece of paper with a “re-boxing trigger” on. We wanted the audience to walk away with something physical to remind them of our work, and how they can use it, and therefore we gave them this little box to keep on their desk with some ideation help inside.
When you have a problem, you open the box, read your re-boxing trigger, and receive new frames for your problem. In that way you can find a new perspective which helps you come up with new solutions. A re-boxing trigger can be a sentence like “Who is your favourite film character? How would he or she see the problem?” or “Tell your problem to a teenager. How does he or she see it?” These questions might seem silly and not very useful, but the fact is that if used with playfulness, these can help you change your perspective completely for a while, which can give useful new input to the problem and creativity to find different solutions.
This morning we held the last of five presentations on our Master thesis project. It feels a bit empty. We still have some polishing to do of our report, but other than that we are all done. To keep ourselves occupied while finishing this, and to give ourselves some kind of “closure”, we will spend this week trying to sum up our process, our findings, our workshops and our reflections here on the blog.
Let’s start with a suitably melodramatic tune to set the mood: