From the monthly archives: March 2013

Define and refine the problem

“If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution” — Albert Einstein

Even though this statement was read 100 times and the agreement with its content was 100%, there is still a lot of people to do otherwise.

Being young entrepreneurs or old employees in companies that seek to innovate, all have a tendency to immediately propose a solution when it touches on a problem and do not devote energy to problem definition.

We are now seeing an explosion of new approaches or methodologies to find solutions and very few people concerned with a clear and concise statement of the problem.

This statement is important because teams (not a “genius” alone) could add a sense of ownership of the project, to be focused on a common problem and to have elements to assess the development of the project.

A core component of Lean Startup methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a startup can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect question.”

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However, we don’t like to think about problems!

To imagine that the transformation of the world we live in is necessary seems to be a constant challenge, each time a solution to a problem is presented, and brings over a series of problems to solve. This is the result of lack of conciseness and clarification of issues.

To define the problem in specific terms, identify where this problem exists, its size and what impact this issue has on communities and/or inside of organizations, is the way to go before we explore possible solutions.

To define the problem means asking the right questions, a task that requires a precious help of our curiosity and imagination that are often used to launch new ideas but that do not fit in needs or wants.

To define a problem means creating ways of prevention of undesirable consequences of proposed solutions and this means identifying future problems requiring a solution.

With ease, in an organization, we recognize that employees are constantly seeing problems everywhere and although we see it as a pessimistic behavior, this can be translated into an important activity in defining problems.

Design thinking requires a team or business to always question the brief, the problem to be solved. To participate in defining the opportunity and to revise the opportunity before embarking on its creation and execution. Participation usually involves immersion and the intense cross examination of the filters that have been employed in defining a problem.”

When we venture to solve problems we have to be alert enough to realize that our lenses are not equal to those of the people living these problems and to observe, aware of the use of our filters, means collaborating in teams with varied perspectives and also constantly questioning “why?” everything that comes along the way.

Today it is very easy, in a changing market full of new technologies, new behaviors of users and consumers and new business models, to have a project completed (products or services) and can’t fit it in those markets. It is not because there was an error in the process or lacked the investment, but because they no longer correspond to the real needs of users or consumers.

The definition of the problem needs constant refining and the prototypes are the way to do it, before proposing a solution.

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More than thinking…

To experiment means learning when doing and learn from mistakes but is also an opportunity for personal and organizational growth.

Almost all of us have experienced the acquisition of innovative products whose main accessory was an instruction manual which in turn promoted other businesses, for example training and that enabled us to use these products fully.

Nowadays, deliver products without a friendly service, i.e. that do not translate simplicity and usability seems to no longer be the preferred bet of the enterprises. More than deliver products what matters now is to propose well-designed services.

In my opinion, this means that all over the world organizations begins to have a major concern addressed to the needs of users or consumers, although there is still a good deal of satisfaction of want and desire of these users.

Today it is possible to combine the organizational skills with the real needs of customers to develop new solutions to their problems but it is necessary to make use of a more open process, more interactive and more collaborative.

But to create and maintain sustainable differentiation, where products may still represent a trap it is prudent that organizations think of their business as an open service and encourage their customers to participate in the world of co-creation.

It is also important that organizations think their business model in order to create value with other activities linked to the outside world.

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Service design is a “structure” useful to maintain the perspective from the outside world of users or consumers as the main element in the selection and development of ideas for innovation, because innovation is not solely in the internal focus on available technologies or capabilities of a company.

When we look at the services through the consumer or user journey we find significant interactions with each other, as the service provider and its employees, its customers and other stakeholders, and we can see how they are involved in a process or series of processes, or value chain. These interactions can be imagined, built and implemented adding value to all parties involved.

“The practice of Service Design focuses on integrating the dynamic collection of service elements within a customer journey around a qualitative and integrated user experience. In order to be able to deliver this, distributed organizational resources need to be combined to create an optimal service offering.

Similar to Open Innovation, the Service Design approach aligns the strategic decisions within a project with the broader business goals of the organization. – Elsevier

Open innovation and service design are interdisciplinary processes that require specialists from various disciplines to work together throughout the project.

But it is important to note that it is not always easy or possible to do so, given the particular characteristics of some interventions.

Service Design on the other hand is not always about innovation. It can also be about incremental improvements to existing services.

There is a fairly wide field of innovation to explore, be it in either the services or services derived from products. There is also experimentation that provokes curiosity and promotes questions and hypotheses.

This attitude of provoked curiosity produces energy and launches a debate that is essential and requires diversity in teams, i.e. interdisciplinary.

My advise to anyone who buys or plans a service design projects is to make sure that design of the realistic implementation is included. Or at least an understanding of the implementation challenges, that is based on real life experimentation with real people, in a real context. Otherwise it’s just thinking, talking and guessing. And where service design needs to grow is to more doing and experimenting.”

When people around an idea have all, or mostly, knowledge and practices in the same disciplines, the results are convergent and potentially limited.

At certain times the difference is key to unleash creativity.

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The possible choices and the strength of the connections

To observe how people react to different stimuli to which they are exposed and understand these reactions should be the first step to consider in resolving the issues that arise in front of us.

Different lenses to observe and different backgrounds to understand help us to find richer solutions, i.e. solutions applicable to a greater number of people with the same or similar problems.

The human experience cannot be analyzed and understood exclusively through a discipline or reduced to a perspective.

In our lives we face problems of multiple dimensions that require differentiated levels and solutions and often at home or in the organizations we are faced with problems whose solution requires the participation of multiple disciplines.

Not everything around us needs interdisciplinary methodologies or very elaborate solutions but we do not learn anything from someone who sees the problems in exactly the same way we see them.

Our behavior is subject to multiple levels of influence and consequently to a variety of perspectives and the way we build our cognitive map will influence our ability to solve problems or create value.

Our world of solutions and value creation is not restricted to verifiable metrics: On the contrary it extends to infinity, to the world of possibilities where we must include the solutions resulting from combinations, connections and contributions. This world of possibilities is a curious world where there is room for different feelings about things and that gives place to passions.

Each of us is a frame of reference for everything that happens in our lives and so we build the future through the options that we created in environments of complexity where we operate.

But if, generally speaking, our way is summarized to choose among the proposed to us we’re not building the future, we are tacitly accepting the choices of others.

“As individuals we relate to our complex, uncertain and foggy world not only through our senses, but also through ways of making sense of what our senses sense. These ‘ways of seeing’ can be thought of as ‘mental models’, and our minds are filled with them, whether we are aware of it or not. In today’s complex environment, the most successful thinkers can quickly and effectively abstract the best qualities of radically different ways of seeing from others and apply them to the situation at hand. In doing so, these thinkers develop an ‘adaptive lens’ on the bewildering phenomenon we call the world. – Mihnea Moldoveanu and Roger Martin

Blue Pearl

The world in which we live is a complex world where many of the solutions presented to us are not built on the basis of our needs.

For this reason we need to create adaptability, that is, we need to explore the art of possibilities to achieve the maximum breadth and depth of knowledge. This holding necessarily passes by our network of contacts and by developing new connections.

The more diverse are our connections the most comprehensive will be our field of exploration which causes our ability to explain a lot with little and our ability to see and observe increase significantly.

When we highlight the connections between the various disciplines represented in our networks, we can explore creative ways to achieve value and meaning and to share our vision of the world.

That is, create things of more value by establishing connections, deeply understanding the needs of people also means a new way of thinking.

This involves thinking about what we think, so we can create a set of skills that will enable us to embrace the complexity without becoming dependent on who provides.

From the observation of connections in a particular context we can sense what information is relevant, decide where it is important to reduce or cut out, understand the causal relations of the connections, and make the final choices.

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Creativity and my or our emotions

For me, the needs of users or consumers are always where the job of a design thinker begins and understands them is the beginning of a rewarding path.

No design, no matter how beautiful or resourceful is, serves to something if it doesn’t fill a need.

According to Richard Seymour, “design is to make things better for people”, an activity that is focused on human behavior and the quality of life that we often associate with beauty and emotions.

Seymour told a story about an experience with one of the repair of a clock that gave rise to a very interesting question that we should ask ourselves:

“Do we think beauty? Or do we feel it? “

“Design could be viewed as an activity that translates an idea into a

blueprint for something useful, whether it’s a car, a building, a

graphic, a service or a process…

Scientists can invent technologies, manufacturers can make products, engineers can make them function and marketers can sell them, but only designers can combine insight into all these things and turn a concept into something that’s desirable, viable, commercially successful and adds value to people’s lives. – Design Council

If the designers or people who think like designers are able to accomplish this combination, they do it by incorporating not only knowledge about things but above all incorporating and transferring to the result the emotions and meanings that the various elements of a team share.

By doing this we are creating opportunities to feel things, to react to the beauty or the lack of it, to show our emotions.

When we see people in their day to day, we notice that these people display a huge variety of emotional expressions. For example, when we see the expressions in a natural environment, we easily recognize the meaning of these emotions or their representation.

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These expressions are observable behaviors, verbal and non-verbal, which transmit emotions and which are internal and internal emotions or affective states that we live at certain times. They are extremely useful for us to know if what we created provoked emotions.

For example, the expression “is awesome” or “fabulous” can be heard when the result of the work is presented and surprise listeners.

But will the thrill experienced at these moments was the emotion designed? Does I represent the existence of meaning in our value proposition?

The ability to create something that has meaning and utility, because the utility is a privileged destination of creation is a purpose which must always accompany the design thinker.

To think of something so intense with the intention of creating a new meaning is to start a path of needs that only empathy can allow.

To read the emotions, ability made possible by empathy, is to know to where they want to go those who are the recipients of our work. Empathy is to stand in the place of the other and this promotes the improvement of any environment, making what we do into something better or something innovative.

And innovation means completely rethinking the way to achieve a goal and, in some cases, this may mean redefining the goal that chased, passing many times from our emotions to the emotions of others.

To innovate means adapting the environment to new demands and needs of the newer to the older.

As also means coming up with a new idea capable of creating a better world and enable to create best children in a changing world.

Innovation means creating positive learning environments, applying the future to a new context.

As we are moving forward in our journey of life, we are thinking of leaving something, as a testimony of our presence, which can serve to tell later.

All this because the technological innovation allows now leave a legacy like never before was possible, that is, the narrative of our experiences and emotions.

At that time we are telling a story of emotions and meaning!

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A flow of joy

Creativity flourishes when things are done for enjoyment. When children learn a creative form, preserving the joy matters as much—if not more—than “getting it right.” What matters is the pleasure, not perfection.”

Creativity often leads to joy, both for the creator and for the viewer, be it an active role or not in the shared good.

But the creativity or the purposes toward its direction also generate conflict when (and almost always is so) our action is shaped by the constraints of reality.

“Creativity” in organizations is often faced with two questions:

To what extent should I sacrifice my creativity in favor of business?

To what extent should I sacrifice sales for my creativity?

When we created it is necessary that we are familiar with the walk towards the unknown and we cannot lose in future uncertainty or feel fear if confronted with the “sacrifice” of creation.

“In the creative act, the artist goes from intention to realization through a chain of totally subjective reactions. His struggle toward the realization is a series of efforts, pains, satisfaction, refusals, decisions, which also cannot and must not be fully self-conscious, at least on the esthetic plane.” – Marcel Duchamp

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The sacrifices in creativity are often placed both the designers of Web pages as by the painters of portraits of illustrious people or the creators of toothbrushes and vacuum cleaners.

A creative person gives his/her personal slant on things that a consumer or user so much like, but will it be important to know what the weight of that mark in the final result?

What we need to know is to what extent the creative act in its process of mutation from the intention to the realization destroy the intentions to meet the needs or desires of the consumer.

Operating a business in the global arena demands innovative ways of understanding and responding to the needs of people. Business people who know how to listen to their customers rather than just study figures and statistics will have a splendid future, and those who are able to draw on their intuition will emerge as natural leaders in this new business environment.”

A creative act is not carried out by one person alone. The recipient of created things is at least in the mental construction made by the creator, because he represents the outside world that is necessary to decipher.

It seems to be a fact that, increasingly, the aesthetic qualities of consumer products influence the behavior and preferences of consumers.

Consumers or users of products are consumers of beauty and creativity and these two attributes, sometimes are going hand in hand and sometimes are not, although the two represented positive charges when there is a decision to buy or to acquire.

Beauty can be seen as part of creativity, although many people refer to as fundamental factors of creativity novelty and usability. Like elegance and attractiveness beauty is also an important factor in the results of creative activity.

Creativity: the ability to form or formulate something that no one else has done before, and that feels as if it has the proper  conformity of the parts to the whole, i.e., the ability to formulate something that feels beautiful.”

There is however those who defend that beauty and creativity cannot coexist because beauty fits into an area of familiarity that is opposed to originality.

Is this dilemma, the ultimate sacrifice of those who defend creativity as fundamental lever for the success of organizations?

“There is no doubt that lessons can be learnt from the arts (and the artistic process) that could nurture creativity in business.” – The Guardian

 

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This article is a review of an earlier published on this blog.

 

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Looking for solutions

The good things in my life are those that serve to satisfy my needs from the most basic to those who make me feel free and at the same time passionate and an integral part of a project of life.

These good things, whether they are goods or services should always walk hand in hand with clear and accessible information, which showed me that are useful things, usable, efficient, effective and above all that are things that I really want.

To do this, these things in addition to being useful they must be simple and intuitive in handling or use and should be available whenever necessary to systematically producing expected results.

Should be the things I desire because they transmit joy, well-being and release the moorings of my dreams.

These are some of the features of the things that I would like to have access instead of things that are the dreams of others.

It is in dreams we often place to realize our wishes when the myths do not become reality.

It is not realistic to try to live without desires. Not worth even thinking about it, because desires are food or fuel to our creativity, intrinsic motivation, give us satisfaction, and push us to achieve our purposes.

The problem arises when our wishes become our needs and suddenly we are unable to satisfy our desires, the dissatisfaction emerges and almost always gives rise to imbalance.

Brain connected to mouse

In fact, we all have our own unique filters, including our culture, our experiences, trends, preferences and prejudices that only complicate (or not) the satisfaction of our desires.

Although the desire can have negative connotations because of pressure from the society or societies which want to control the desire, this should be seen as positive and constructive.

It is the case with our desire of participation, of commitment, of productivity, of happiness and well-being.

It is this kind of desire greater than becomes a necessity that we must meet and often feeds the entrepreneurs.

The creation and implementation of products and services, satisfying the requirements of the people, require an interdisciplinary approach on the part of entrepreneurs who is based principally on the observation of interactions (involvement) among people and goods or services.

This is important to gauge the meaning that things have for users or consumers and design thinking in my opinion is the way to achieve this, as it allows through teams supported in diversity see the problems or identify the needs through multiple lenses.

And how this can be done?

Embracing constraints!

If we work with constraints such as, time, budget, location, materials, etc. and we are aware of our limitations, we cannot create the perfect solution, but we create the best solution, given the constraints.

Taking risks!

If we are comfortable with the notion that we may be wrong, but we experience it and try new approaches, we also assume that it is possible.

Asking everything!

If we make a lot of questions, we will be taken to the domain of the right subject which will lead to the correct answer.

We can do this, not having a dominant concern with underlying question, but a question about ideas.

In design thinking we spend a long time, in different disciplines, away from the last cry of “new technologies”, using paper and pencil to sketch the ideas or using non-precious materials to make prototypes.

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Value and desire

Innovate in an organization, through their products or services, can produce very significant benefits if we innovate in the business model.

Innovation can enable new opportunities in expanding markets, increase margins through new ways of doing business and improve operational efficiency through a more efficient and effective use of existing resources.

Innovation emerges from the base to the top, in teams that are formed by sympathies or natural synergies and interact without having to ask for permission to do so.

Organizations need leaders that increase the power of collaboration or managers who facilitate the unpredictable and promote the creative work of all.

Each organization is a collection of unique features and capabilities that provide the basis of its strategy and the main source of their returns.

But innovation is not only to create new products and services. It is also about developing creative processes and new ways of thinking.

Innovation is, thinking about the people, about things, about the relationships between them and solves problems in new ways. It is to build a better world by managing resources and talents!

The effective use of potential resources in innovation is not only by the inventory of available resources but also in the assessment of these resources.

Argentina

The development of new features and greater productivity of technology may be the answer that organizations need to obtain and thus a correct evaluation of the physical and human resources can change the value of the existing potential in the organization.

This means that it can be important not to say just what our availabilities are but also evaluate the potential of them.

The evaluation of internal resources, allows a balanced demand for external resources without wastage of financial resources and to recognize the adequacy of resources is important in the development of an innovation strategy.

“Technology, or knowledge, that exceeds what the market is willing to pay for ceases to be a competitive advantage.” Clayton Christensen

But what resources (people, time, resources and information should) be available to support the efforts of innovation?

It is curious to note that both excess and lack of available resources can inhibit innovation. This is because on the one hand, the organizations where there are abundant resources have a conservative culture where creativity is taboo and on the other hand, in companies with resource scarcity cost compression inhibits innovative perspectives.

However, to do evaluations, not just stating their availability enables companies with scarce financial resources to increase their chances of developing innovative products and services.

The evaluation of resources can enable, feeding the kind of approach to develop in innovation, the continuous redraw and its adaptation to market requests.

For example, “the main objective of lean design is to use existing components and make sure that the final drawings are compatible with existing processes, so that the resources of the company can be leveraged as much as possible.”

The capacity for innovation, or the ability to provide resources to implement innovations in processes, technologies or other, quickly, effectively and efficiently, but without creating major additional costs, relies heavily on the knowledge obtained in the evaluation of existing resources in the organization.

But so that this knowledge is not only information and can therefore be integrated into the framework of the Organization we must take into account:

– What is that determines what are the components that promote and those that inhibit the adaptation to new realities.

– What is the innovative capacity of the Organization as a system.

Change and adaptation require innovation and this means constantly making things different and better. We know that not everything that is different is better, but what is better is always different than there were before.

Innovation is the creation of something new with a value extremely desired, but either the value or desire, are determined by the intervention of users or consumers.

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Recognize and reward creativity

One of the major organizational problems that arise to all managers in these troubled times of change is knowing how to motivate or be able to retain employees.

To learn how to manage change, how to help people, how to develop and how to redraw the organizations to achieve amazing results is a concern for any champion in organizations.

And to be a champion means be aware of the symptoms of the evils of the organizations and their context in a way to avoid acute problems. Be champion is always to seek a good definition of the problems, a situation facilitated by a DT approach:

Design thinking is about creating a culture to encourage creativity and radical collaboration (by bringing group members with different backgrounds and specializations to work together to solve problems).

But collaborate is not a thing to be normative by the law! To collaborate is a voluntary act that requires energy to overcome many barriers.

“Cultural barriers to Design thinking which include personal blocks in the organization like semantic gaps where people use same words to mean different things and they also use different words to mean the same thing which leads to confusion.”

But, to collaborate only means one thing! Means putting human values in the center and focus our efforts on creating learning experiences that transform the maintenance of status quo in the production of creative solutions.

This is a warning to all those responsible for “Human Resources”, which for too long has filled his professional life with the sounds of dismay produced by a culture that always favors the reward for doing well the established to the detriment of creativity.

The characteristic passivity of so-called Human resources departments as an integral part of the organizations has been the dominant feature in this conquest of talents. Now people involved in these departments are confronted with more dynamic business environments and with several implications in terms of hiring, evaluations, rewards and recognition systems.

Ideo Design Thinking

In this sense they will assume is true role that is to lead people who feel they have the will, who are capable, who are creative and who want to grow.

They are internal entrepreneurs and therefore they represent a new perspective of management and leadership.

The empathy with all the company’s employees is fundamental, because it is the only way to understand the real needs of top leaders and employees at all levels.

For the new “RH”, to focus action on the values of the people is to assign meaning to the collaboration and connectivity, managing the combinations of talents and innovating in recognition and reward plans and being attentive to the new demands that is working with constraints.

Creativity starts in the way we look and see people, even those that represent the talent management, competencies and remuneration.

They are part of the right and left hemispheres of organizations, are harbingers of standards and motivations, of discipline and creativity, success and recovery.

Traditionally the error (fail) was penalized in organizations which was translated in the absence of any reward, but today we must lead that not punishment and turn the error in learning.

The management of the potential of people who work in organizations can now pass for being the lead of a cultural transformation process, reducing the excessive weight of analytical thinking and balancing it with intuitive and creative thought.

For this it is necessary:

A – Select more creative people.

B – Do not favoe the traditional way and exuberant as are rewarded those who promote what is reliable and recognizing and duly rewarding those that promote what is valid.

C – Include in the assessment criteria creativity, work with restrictions, empathy, holistic thinking, collaboration and experimentation.

The “Human Resources” should no longer have as a major concern the maximization of profitability they have today and pass to explore new paths.

Innovate for talent goes through the creation of a new dimension, more integrative skills and learning, open to all, bigger and bigger, than the sum of its parts.

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