“But where is the Design Thinking talent hiding?” It may be time to make way for a new order of business with #DesignThinking in the lead.

prototype
Prototyping in session

Never before has anything fired the imagination of the world like Design Thinking. You can almost see Design Thinking vends pop-up in nooks and crannies where you can order ‘cup or cone in 3 flavours’.

But why this new attention to something that looks like common-sense-stuff-we’ve been-doing-forever? For one thing, while the sense is common, the practice is not. Especially when it comes to the world of business, steered by the twin objectives of feasibility and viability. Design Thinking suggests we get the customer into the equation even before we start creating the specifications of a new offering. The best way to do this is to ‘get out of the building’.

So Jorge and I had a chat, he in Mexico and I in India, to see if we could demystify the discipline, in our bid to protect businesses from themselves and from ignorant, opportunistic vendors.

From the post

Just like innovation and artificial intelligence, design thinking is a buzzword. There is a cottage industry of practitioners who, with good intention or not, are hoping to get their pockets full from enterprises who want a step by step process that reduces the uncertainty behind innovation.

To many, design thinking is the answer.

Design thinking is powerful but misunderstood. I’ve written about these misunderstandings in the past:

This is a topic which resonates with design thinking practitioners like Sunil Malhotra. We’ve had back and forth conversations over Twitter and Facebook, and we felt the need to demystify design thinking for the benefit of businesses and the discipline itself.

#DesignThinking goes way beyond thinking and somewhat beyond design as well. It’s intuition with Data, it’s Visual Collaboration with Building and Testing ideas, its Iterating with Human Attention. And you think everybody can do it??

So what’s your order?

Watch the vidcast here …

I’ve been having a hard time finding people with the traits that are needed for Design Thinking. I’m wondering if there’s talent around and if so, where it is hiding.

Let’s talk.

Design Thinking for the travel industry Beyond the jargon lies a fundamental human capacity

One of my most memorable moments during a trip to Sikkim, was on a road trip in the mountainous region around the river Teesta—beside the road, a shallow stream accompanied us, riding on a bed of hundreds of smooth pebbles; the green hills all around were lifting their misty veils.

Over the week-long holiday, we had got used to the natural beauty of Sikkim, but it appeared that there was no way for us to document it through the windows of a moving vehicle. Try as we might, the rough terrain was impossible to capture without looking like a smudge of paint.

It was during one such trip, that one of our drivers, Mahesh, slowed down at a river crossing, and surprised us.

“You can take the picture now! See, I want you to take as many pictures as you can. I want, that when you go home and you see these pictures, you will remember me!”

Mahesh asked us to soak in the view and take our time — something, that we later realized, no one had said throughout any of our road trips.

Throughout our holiday, we traveled with many drivers, some for transfers, and some for sightseeing. As a driver, Mahesh was just like every one else. Every driver we traveled with, was equally skilled in navigating the rough terrain and guiding us to tourist spots. The difference was that while everyone took us from point A to point B, Mahesh cared about our experience while we were traveling. While some drivers kept calling us to hurry up so that we could complete the itinerary, Mahesh told us to soak in the atmosphere and take our time.

As Design Thinking is gaining popularity, companies are running every which way to train their employees in the methodology and its tools — and that’s a great thing. But at its core, Design Thinking starts with an emotional connect with the end customer. Without this mindset in all aspects of conducting a business, all the tools and methodologies are just jargon. What’s critical is that this emotional connect — call it human centricity or empathy — must permeate throughout the organisation’s culture to the very last mile — especially to the last mile.

Having previously worked within the travel industry, one thing that I observed was that it thrives on partnerships for pretty much everything — transportation, accommodation, sightseeing, recreational activities etc. Customers book their tours with one agency, and interact with other agencies who fulfil the itineraries.

Servicing the end customer may not be your job, but if your partner doesn’t, you lose the customer.

Collaborating with other stakeholders and sensitising them to the importance of ensuring that the customer has, at the very least, a neutral experience, if not a delightful one, is perhaps most crucial for the B2B travel ecosystem.

We loved Mahesh for his empathetic attitude; but even so, due to the overall handling of that tour, after that holiday, we vowed never to take tour packages. With travel advise from fellow travellers and bloggers online, our subsequent travels have been quite fulfilling, all without the involvement of travel agencies.

So how do you (and your partners) treat your customers? Are your employees like Mahesh, or is your entire ecosystem eroding to DIY travellers?

Read the unabridged post here.

Why your business needs design thinking induced customer-centric website?

“If your business is not on the Internet, then your business will be out of business. – Bill Gates”

27+ million searches happen every hour on the Internet. One of those searches could be for you, and for your business. Your organisation’s website is where your customers, employees, business partners, competitors and even investors can find you.

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Once you’ve set up your web presence, it needs to be constantly revisited – to keep it in sync with the changing times as well as to cater to your customer’s ever changing needs.

Here are some thoughts to consider for your website:

  • Customer is the king/queen and should be well informed – Most consumers head straight to a brand’s website for information; they look for a one-stop shop for all the valuable information they need. Your website is the online brochure of your business, products and services, promotions, upcoming events. Making sure relevant information is available, can help influence people’s perception of you and your business. Applying the Design Thinking methodology, the online medium can be refreshed from time to time. Empathising with your customers, for instance, can help make sure you provide value to your loyal customersdownload
  • 24/7 accessibility to cater to a wider market – To be available during off-working hours, with customers having the convenience of browsing through your services at their convenience, is a great selling point. To increase your reach and be more customer centric, you can have a live chat window to answer queries from global clients spontaneously, throughout the day. Along with social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, these two-way communication channels help you gain insights into your market that other channels just cannot provide. Grievances vented out through these media are a goldmine of opportunities to enhance your brand value, and retain your customers.
  • Testimonials from existing customers – Reviews and testimonials on the site play a big role in boosting sales, as it influences a customer’s purchase decision. Actively seeking out your star customers can help you test and iterate new ideas.
  • Customer support – All too often the FAQs of brands answer fictitious questions that businesses imagine their customers to have. Using the communication channels mentioned above, the actual FAQs can be developed. This will not only help customers save their time, but more importantly, will prevent frustrating experiences. A win-win for your brand recall and your customer.

A well designed, customer centric website is the most cost-effective and impactful tool to attract and service customers. All that is needed is keeping in mind their perspectives.

So, when was the last time you revisited your website? Does it still create a strong business impact? How about incorporating Design Thinking to rethink your web presence?


Image sources:

Why your small business needs an online presence

Website benefits

Design Thinking: The New DNA of the Financial Sector Focus on Customer, Creativity and Diversity

This post has been curated using various articles. We have tried to put into perspective as to how the Banking sector can disrupt its traditional outlook towards its products & services and innovate using Design Thinking. 


The financial services sector is facing multiple challenges, from increased regulatory demands to sluggish economic growth and low interest rates. Fintech startups such as PayPal threaten to undermine traditional revenue sources and ways of doing business.

Also, the rapid pace of development witnessed in 21st century civilization has turned many a world upside down. Disruptive products, services and technologies continue to manifest at an almost unfollowable rate, while societies and markets exhibit increasing magnitudes of complexity.

In such a complex world, where consumer, market and industry dynamics are constantly shifting, how can the banking sector keep pace? How can it ensure the services, products and experience it provides evolve with the needs and expectations of the 21st century individual?

Design thinking may provide the solution, by seeking to answer the question: “How can banks boost their growth by successfully applying design thinking in a de-banking era?”

Design thinking puts the end-user, the customer, at the center, and creates a workplace atmosphere that encourages creative ideas and values diverse teams. It requires that leadership shifts the way it devises strategy, beginning by understanding client needs and behaviors and then working back from there.

Just talking about being “customer centric” and “user experience” doesn’t cut it. Every organisation talks about their focus on the customer – few execute. And the reason is that they need a process – this is where Design Thinking comes in. It is a well designed, tried and tested process. We, at Ideafarms, work with many of our clients to build design and customer empathy at the heart of the organisation, not at the edge.

And there have been notable success stories of banks using design thinking, from Singapore’s OCBC Bank, to Auckland Savings Bank, Bank of America, Barclays PLC and National Australian Bank.

The Design Thinking process can help financial services companies understand customer needs and behaviors, allowing firms to build out prototypes, test and learn from them, and finally launch the products and services that will help them succeed.

Improving the user experience will better banks’ customer relationships and add to the value proposition of the bank’s business model.

“We believe that while the banking sector is going through a period of disruption driven by digitization, new regulations, changing customer behaviors, low growth perspectives, a sticky cost base, and increased competition, this is not the end of the sector. Our view, instead, is that this marks the genesis of the banking sector’s new DNA: a combination of changes in business models, agile execution, and design thinking.” 


Further reading:

Design Thinking goes to Tihar Jail… creating theatre workshops for female inmates

While we all somewhat enjoy learning, being tested on what we’ve learnt is not always fun. But the cool thing is when we start doing, the theory starts being tested, not us!

And this process is so satisfying. Through it I’m gaining the maximum insights. With the guidance of Ideafarms, and in collaboration with Lady Shri Ram College (LSR), I am in the process of designing a month-long theatre workshop for female inmates at the Tihar Jail, using DESIGN THINKING!

After rigorous on-the-job training at Ideafarms and focused self-study of Design Thinking, I have come to believe in its immense scope and power. Now, I eagerly go out into a different field of play and test the reach of its scope.

It is a journey filled with uncertainty and anticipation, and I am loving every minute of it – from training LSR volunteers to going into the field and testing our prototypes.

We had our first session one week back and have used all the responses and feedback we got to sketch out the next 12 sessions. We plan to treat every session as a prototype and iterate on the process as we go along. While this approach can be challenging and may not result in a concrete output at the end of the month – like a play or skit, we are confident that, through our journey with the participants, we will leave them with an understanding of theatre and an ability to use it as they deem fit – whether for expressing, story-telling or performing.

With eagerness to see the workshops unfold, I go in today for our second session. Let’s see how the ball rolls!

 

Design Thinking with Women Entrepreneurs "Why should boys have all the fun?"

Less than 10% of startups have women as a co-founder. It is stated that about 73% women entrepreneurs failed to get funding from Venture Capitalists.” – WEEfoundation.org

The statistics about Women Entrepreneurs shock me. Not because I have lost touch with reality, but because I am slightly optimistic about change and the speed at which it occurs.

Women Entrepreneurship and Empowerment (WEE) Foundation, IIT Delhi wants to help change these statistics. They have developed a curriculum for the 30 selected participants that is designed to target the specific needs and challenges faced by women in India. I am proud that we contributed our bit to the movement. Last Sunday, we conducted a Design Thinking Primer with them.

In order to practice Design Thinking it becomes necessary to adopt certain mind-sets – being empathetic, being open to failure, being sensitive to feedback and more. This is what makes the methodology so valuable to me and gives me the confidence that if adopted, it can accelerate change.

I also believe that our ultimate goal for Design Thinking must be to use it to create accurate and sustained Social Impact. Being able to share it with the WEE entrepreneurs has taken us one step closer to this goal and I’m excited to see what’s next.

It was refreshing to deliver a Design Thinking primer, alongside Mr. Sunil Malhotra to the group of inquisitive and energetic women with ideas they want to share with the world. Though it was a post lunch session – and we’ve all attended one of those – the interactive nature of the primer kept energy levels high!

In the two hour session we presented and discussed design and it’s distinction from art, craft and Design Thinking, as well as the ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of the much discussed methodology. My favourite part, was sharing exemplifying stories – it always drives the point home!

The session in action...
The session in action…

It was definitely a Sunday well spent for us and I hope that the participants of the session gained equal or more value than we gained conducting it!

Social Apps

Quick! A show of hands to see how many of you thought this was yet another post about yet another Social Media app? All of you?! Thought as much. Unfortunately, even a search on Google for “Social Apps” reveals a lot of Social Media apps and not any that matched our understanding of the term – Apps that can help / provide enablement to help with Social Causes.

The idea came to our CEO, Sunil Malhotra while watching the Satyamev Jayate episodes – Why isn’t anyone thinking of mobile solutions for the social sector?

Which obviously led to the question – Is someone thinking about Mobile solutions that can help?

Why Mobile?

Mobile phones are becoming the common man’s computer – available with all of us wherever we go and keeping us always connected – could they be used to empower the Social sector?

What is it about mobility solutions that make them perfect tools to become a vehicle of aid?

1. Their pervasiveness – in developing countries like India basic feature phones have managed to reach even into the rural areas.

A glimpse at the mobile market in India. (source: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/india-cellular-market-booms-but-not-for-operators/125678-11.html)

2. It’s a personal device and available with us wherever we go. In an emergency we naturally reach for our phones.

3. Simplicity of use – “ stripped of complex menus and navigation and even your kids have figured out how to use your phone better than you.

And just the basic fact that mobile solutions and smart phones have triggered everybody’s imagination and resulted in brilliant innovative ideas that touch every aspect of our life.

Let’s see some examples …

Close at the heels of the Satyamev Jayate episodes was the very unfortunate incident of the Guwahati molestation case. There was huge outrage and a lot of people expressed their anger and frustration, some through blog posts. Amidst all the outrage it was quite pleasant to see there was a sane voice of a young software engineer Shantanu (goes by @tantanoo on twitter) who wrote this post http://tantanoo.com/random-rants/2012/07/aftermath/ . In this post he explores ideas about how technology could come to the rescue in such situations. What stood out for me is that he peeks outside the proverbial box, into other boxes and draws parallels from the likes of natural defense mechanisms in the animal kingdom, from ongoing research in the Department of Defense and other apps developed across the globe (apparently there are quite a few of them out there!).

For example he talks about how maybe on the trigger of a button, the phone could shriek out loudly on your behalf (because let’s admit it, in most situations when we are caught off guard, though we do believe we need to raise our voice, we are not able to) or emit a smell so offensive (like a skunk does when its attacked) that the attacker is stunned. Do go through his post. Highly recommended.

It’s also heartening to see that someone has already made the first move in India. An Indian non-profit organization WhyPoll has launched a smart app called “Fight Back” which can help women fight sexual assault. The app lets women immediately alert friends and family if they feel threatened via SMS, email or facebook and they can in turn reach out to help or alert police who make help available faster. Similar apps are available and functional outside India too but its good to see someone make a move in the positive direction in our country too. The app and service I believe is currently available in Delhi and NCR only. Maybe a little more concerted effort is needed even from our authorities to recognize the value of such an initiative and roll it out country-wide.

First Smart App from India to help women reach out for help in case of a threat.

There were many such issues raised by the team of Satyamev Jayate – that are close to all of our hearts and we all feel something should be done about it. I am sure there are many ways in which technology and design thinking can come together in crafting effective solutions to address these malice. Much like pointed out in Shantanu’s post, a little out-of-the-box thinking is required, taking into account real-life scenarios and borrowing ideas from the life around us.  We would love to hear from you if you have any such interesting ideas or know of any Smart App ideas that have been / are being implemented in the Social sector. The iron is hot thanks to efforts like Satyamev Jayate. Let’s not let the fire die down!

Also Read:

Award Winning Case Studies @ Cannes Lions 2012

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a global event held annually at Cannes, France. It took place from 17 to 23 June this year. The festival showcased some fantastic ideas and work from several creative professionals around the globe. We bring you some of the best work in interactive, digital, design and smart technology space that we found really interesting.

 

Augmented Mobile Experience

1. A Shadow QR code, that works using the sunlight’s shadow to give people a unique lunch shopping experience. This campaign won the Direct Lions Gold Award.

httpv://youtu.be/EvIJfUySmY0

2. BAND-AID Magic Vision: Featuring the Muppets, a mobile AR experience that turns any ordinary BAND-AID Brand adhesive Muppets bandage or box into a stage for interactive entertainment so that kids forget the pain and enjoy. This campaign won the Mobile Lions Gold Award.

httpv://youtu.be/FE2I6G2_ogk

3. An augmented reality (AR) app created to help find the best students while giving them a taste of what life is like as a Medical Officer. This campaign won the Direct Lions Gold Award.

httpv://youtu.be/oUNm_n61maU

 

Innovative use of Technology

4. An annual report that could only be read under sunlight. Crafted by mixing right ratio of the photochromatic colours, in order to render the report all white under artificial light. This campaign won the Design Lions Grand Prix Award.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cahedLjFSmw

5. VIP experience for loyal customers of Red Tomato, by giving them fridge magnets in which with a press of a button, it would automatically place an order for their favorite pizza. This campaign won the Mobile Lions Gold Award.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFji6MbyxOI

Innovative Technology for mobile

6. Google partnered with Coca-Cola to create a mobile app that lets you gift a Coke can through a special vending machine anywhere across the globe to a stranger. This project won the First Cannes Mobile Grand Prix.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45Z-GevoYB8&feature=player_embedded


Ideas that can make a difference

7. Catching people while they’re already bleeding, by putting a simple marrow registry kit into a box of over-the-counter bandages, and turning an everyday act into a chance to save a life. This campaign won the Grand Prix for Good Lions Award.

httpv://youtu.be/ZG8NxjlyUxU

8. Minus One is a simple, one-step initiative to save fast-disappearing forests. A green initiative by Samsung Printers. This project won the Media Lions Silver Award.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KThJoYt4ml8

9. American Express created Small Business Saturday, a new shopping day right after Black Friday, to help small businesses get more customers. This campaign won the Direct Lions Grand Prix Award.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIYHjs1vEAo

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3 Point Something

 

Since the advent of smartphones and mobile applications, many enterprises are exploring ways in which they can take their business or parts of their business mobile .  We have ourselves helped organisations design concepts for how their Sales, Marketing or Field Service executives can be empowered with Smart Devices as well as Smart Collateral.

Although Mobile is the obvious way to go,  a mobile solution cannot be approached with a traditional desktop or even the web mindset. You cannot just package an existing desktop/web solution into a smaller screen and call it mobile. “Mobility is not Miniaturisation“.

Smart Devices are highly personal – so much so that a lot of companies are promoting the B.Y.O.D philosophy – they are always on, always with us, usually connected and directly addressable.

Which is why when our CEO, Mr Sunil Malhotra was requested to speak at the CII Conference on Mobile Business, he talked about “3 Point Something”  the 3 main factors – What, Why and How – any organisation should consider when they decide to go mobile.

We would love your feedback on the presentation. If you have an app idea or would even like to explore ideas on how your organisation can go mobile, get in touch with us. We have specially structured our offerings to help you Ideate, Design and Develop your Smart Apps.

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Videolog – An interview with Mr. Joan Kluun (Former MD – Waterloo B.V.)

Last week we had the honor of having in our office Mr Joan Kluun – former MD, Waterloo B.V. Ideafarms had worked with Waterloo and helped them design their Product Selection Guide (PSG as we like to call it) back in 2003. Almost 10 years since PSG and we are fortunate to still have a warm place in his heart, which was validated by the fact that he quickly agreed to give us an interview about his experience of working with Ideafarms. An interview that just started as his feedback on working with Ideafarms, soon grew into something much more insightful. Mr Kluun shared with us his valuable views and opinions about the need for a solution like the Product Selection Guide in the HVAC industry and how it can especially be a useful tool for any user given the current technologies and interfaces. Which is what gave us the idea of sharing it with all of you via this videolog. The Product Selection Guide is an interactive Sales Configurator we had designed and developed for Waterloo B.V back in 2003. You can read more about the solution here, or jump straight ahead to the interview.

The Interview

Mr Kluun shares with us his need for the Product Selection Guide at Waterloo B.V.

Back then, a solution like PSG, Mr. Kluun says was at least 10 yrs ahead of its time and according to him this solution now has a lot of potential, especially with the advent of multi-touch interface and portable devices like the iPad and Android tablet. Watch what he has to say about the future of Sales Configurators like the Product Selection Guide.

Mr Kluun also talks about his experience of working with Ideafarms. This one will make you smile for sure :-)

And also have a look at some of the pictures from his visit here

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