Good evening (Retrospectively posting)
Today was another great day in and around London. We started at our residence shared space and enjoyed our first guest speaker of the day.
‘Innovation for fun and profit’ – by David Bott (Innovate UK)
Our morning started in the communal space with a guest speaker David Bott examining design thinking and innovation through a ‘for profit, and for fun’ lens.
He examined ideas from a perspective of how to move people away from a self centred (solecistic) mindset to team for their collective benefit. Company goals in his mind are to get ahead of the customers ‘head’ anticipate needs before customers (users etc) need them and anticipate where customers are going.
Innovation for David, has a number of facets; products, methods, exploitation of new markets and new ways to organise business. For example, a scanner designed to detect falls in the elderly were not cost effective, but its inventor tirelessly shopped the idea around at different industry presentations. A large supermarket chain ‘Tescos’ approached the inventor and ended up ordering 60,000 units to monitor supermarket queues for over crowding. Once detected additional staff would be assigned to check outs to alleviate congestion, allowing Tesco to promise enough staff in times of high demand. It also meant manual observation of queues could be shut down but rather than eliminating staff, they would be re trained and re assigned.
Obstacles to innovation can include: cost to commercialisation too high, regulatory environment, technological (we can’t do it), context, trends and the complexity of the situation.
His message: Ideas are not the sole prerogative of a lone person/s, it’s the responsibility of the organisation.
He shows us several models of thinking from the not so past that are valuable today.
The Stage-Gate® Product Innovation Process | Stage-Gate International – useful for checking viability of ideas in a staged approach. Idea generation also has an element of fun for the collaboration in organisations it can foster and banding together in response to a challenge that ideas are put forward to address.
Use ‘Yes and..’ not ‘Yes but’ when discussing ideas and try not to project our biases on to them.
‘Elephants, empathy and ego; service design beyond blueprints’ – workshop from Lloyds Bank
After a short walk we went to a communal space and heard from Ross Breadmore service design lead from Lloyds Bank.
His story about implementing service design mapping in a large institution led to cut through of understanding needs and potential opportunities to fulfil gaps in points in aspects of Lloyds services and products.
Telling stories for peoples experiences in the form of short video movies and service maps made for a more compelling artefact to communicate their bank customers needs. It was hard he said, for staff to dismiss commentary from actual customers around a particular internally held belief or bias.
Again empathy for people was a strong theme of Ross’ talk, with the powerful quote he shared from a lead agency creative from a London Google talk he attended recently. ‘If you are not into people, you have no future’.
Like Nick Le Fevre from IBM in day one, taking insights from interviews, observations and other discovery activities, Ross’ would have people map insights and data on to a blue print framework that captured, peoples actions, interactions and touch points then back end activities thought a persons journey.
We did a similar exercise at Ross’ direction in groups; mapping the experiences of one our our team members airline booking. She revealed that whilst the flight booking and payment went well on her app, the gap occurred when the booking number of the airline mis matched the booking number from the app third party. She had lost the confirmation and unsure of departure times causing her stress, and had to call a customer service line to talk to a person who was able retrieve and resend the booking detail.
The blue print map captured the actions and emotions of the experience and showed a gap that the back end process. The service did not account for the mis match and revealed an opportunity for the process to be fulfilled (score one for an addition to the fictional product roadmap.
“Be humble, bite your tongue and champion others” Ross Breadmore
As a sole service design lead in the bank, other people started taking an interest and trying it themselves. Rather than shutting this down Ross took the approach to upskill and help people with their work, often updating his colleagues first attempts and giving them credit for the work. Similar to here with people at REA interested in discovery and user research, this the same approach my UX researcher and I take; skilling, pairing with or mentoring people who are interested in running their own studies.
As user research grows at REA my UX researcher and I are here to guide the discipline as a practice stream.
Ross’ comments confirmed for me the framing of UX Research in my team and across the larger organisational landscape as a strategic partner to design and product.
Lunch – Skygarden
After another tube ride (my health app says I’ve walked at least 10-20 flights of stairs), We had lunch at Sky Garden. A building that before shading was fitter on the windows, was melting cars. Lunch there was spectacular with inspring views of major London landmarks and seeing how big the city sprawled.
Ravensbourne Design School
After lunch and a walk across the Thames river (hello London Bridget) we caught another tube train to Ravensbourne, a design college next to the space age O2 arena.
Our host was Paul Sternberg , Head of Design Innovation. The space of the building fosters cross collaboration between disciplines with no physical departments but open collaborative spaces and rooms for study or lectures. Designers sit next to media students, getting ideas and skills from interacting with other areas of practice. Offering several masters in design innovation, it was amazing to meet undergraduate students with strong awareness of design thinking, social design, organisational psychology and applying them at an early stage of their pre career life.
The role of pastoral care, it was not limited to just one department of Student Services, but also by all staff to look after students who were living out of home, managing finances and starting new social connections, taking on debt (courses cost 22,000 GBP) for the first time, a lot to take on in addition to an academic workload.
We finished with a presentation and discussion by Deans; Lawrence Zeegan (Dean of School of Design) and Gary Pritchard (Dean of Media studies). They were tasked with collaboratively revising curriculum and programs, taking a user centered design approach to having it work around the student. I’ll put them here for brevity. Take away for us; boundaries in practices are blurring, the challenge is finding common language when we’re talking to each other across practice. Their curriculum was also pragmatic “People, Purpose, Profit’ creating graduates with business acumen as well as skills. Like Ravensbourne, we are all involved in creative processes and continuing to work together collaboratively, exploring ideas keeps us ahead in our market.
This ethos reminded me of the spirit embodied in the REA graduate program. Looking at the confident undergraduates, I can see similar qualities in our graduates, past and new.