The Informed Consumer and Insights about Insights

Insight – inspiration – vision. Those were the some of the magic words mentioned at the Informed Consumer study research in Stockholm. The study is conducted by a Nordic insight agency Kuudes and the content consists of current and future trends and motives underlying consumer behavior. The results of the study were first presented in the beautiful Fotografiska museum on Valentines day 2017, and in addition to the release of the results fantastic quest speakers were there to inspire the enthusiastic international audience.

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The first speaker, Chairman & Advisor from Berghs School of Communication Pär Lager woke everybody up by stating that “The opposite may also be true”. His big question was how to constructively find our the other possible truths that exist in every problem and solution. Insights play a big role in finding the opposite truths, and Lager framed that as outside driven company culture, which means that consumers, their behavior, motives and consumer trends should always come first.

An example used by Lager was Amazon. In the 2009 financial crisis they were able to grow substantially, and did that by selling something that has always existed in a channel that was not new. What was new however was the way they were able to capitalize on the consumer behaviors and to build new offerings by combining existing technologies to build a unique marketplace. The example is of course revolutionary and often cited, but it clearly states what can be done with a clever use of insights.

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According to Lager, insights need openness to change, and without that they are useless. It’s good to remember that even though the world is moving fast, many things still evolve very slowly. Because of that there is a great risk to get stuck in the old ways, and that is of course to be avoided at all cost. And again, this is where the alternative scenarios come to play!

Next up Head of Consumer Design at Alra, Tytti-Lotta Ojala inspired us with her talk about brand-led innovation and the role of insight in that. From a real-time survey done during her speech, it was quite clear that what’s missing from organizations when it comes to making good innovations are bold decisions. Those can be done by backing them up with clear insights and vision about the consumer and the future. Ojala stated that in order to have successful insights, they need to be defined somehow. Organizations need to think about what insights mean for them, and what do they try to capture with insights. Only then can the organization talk the same language.

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For Ojala, insight is a vessel for engaging creativity. It is not a fact, but rather a vision, and indeed needs visionary mindset and creativity to be successful. Insights should inspire people in the companies to build brands their consumers grow to love. Ojala also stated that the stronger the value proposition of the product is, the less you need to do to get noticed. A strong proposition stands out from the competitors and catches attention, but you have to think big and try to change the game. This is the way to create love from the consumers.

Last but not least was time to release the findings from the Informed Consumer study. The results contain 7 consumer segments and 3 underlying trends in consumer mindsets: significance, self-importance and moderation.

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Significance is the need to understand our purpose, and in consumption behaviors that means that the consumers are looking for significance in their choices. This is often done by grounding daily choices to personal values, which can of course vary greatly. Brands that are able to take a stand and be authentic are interesting to people looking for significance, and in fact 58% of consumers want authenticity form their products!

Self-importance is more about creativity and self-expression, and according to the study 54% of consumers value creativity and trendiness in daily life. Consumption is then focused more in creating meaning and experiences, not just fulfilling basic needs. Individuality and status are drivers for consumption.

Moderation is about loyalty, modesty and longer relationships with brands. Consumption is often cautious and consumers want to make smart choices. Routines play a part of this trend, and 75% of the consumers say that they make choices based on routines. Minimal but still good quality is important, and cutting down on less important things can be considered a pleasure in itself.

There results presented were from the Swedish study, and obviously there are differences between cultures. Kuudes has previously conducted a similar study in Finland, you can find the results here. A highly recommended read!

Ahto´17- lean service creation

ahtologobanneri-5855During this week TEKES (Finnish Funding Institute for Innovation) and Futurice  organized a free LEAN service creation workshop as a gift to Finland celebrating it´s 100 years of independence. Participants were from development functions from various industries representing the variation of Finnish companies. Naturally the bigger purpose of the event was to spread the word of agile, customer centric development methods, to boost Finnish economy. So on a grey Wednesday morning we were 500 hundred participants in 60 groups of 4-5 people together with 50 000 Post-its eager to master the method.

What is lean service creation?

According to my understanding Lean service creation is a service design process developed by Futurice.  It´s generated by applying commonly known best practices and company´s own experience from client work. It combines the principles of lean start up methodology with design thinking principles and the Strategyzer business model canvas.  The phases in the lean service creation process follow pretty much the double diamond theory frame for service design process. All the material is open source and can be found here: https://leanservicecreation.com/ .  The method is aiming in creating excellent digital services, but I would highlight, established companies can apply the process to all development work. Why is this needed?

Love the problem not the solution

A research by Harvard business school´s Shikhar Ghost points out very clearly that 75 % of all startups fail. One reason behind the phenomenon is that business school methods are not directly adaptable to startups. Those principles are based on business logic and creating five year plans as a newly founded startup only has a service and it is still figuring out, what the business logic will be. Situation is pretty much the same for established companies, when they are aiming for service innovations. For a startup setting energy in creating business plan would be almost like writing phantasy stories as there are too many assumptions included.  But how often established companies fall into the same trap? My rough estimation is too often. We have the tendency to fall in love with our own solution and forget the customer experience. This is where the lean startup philosophy, or in this case the lean service creation steps in.

businessproblesmDuring the one-day work shop we were facilitated through the phases of the process by learning by doing in it practice. Despite the fact that we only had 6 hours of time, and we were not able to try all the phases nor to dig deeper in to the phases, the main message was clear: Love the problem and test and validate everything with your customers.

You can be the change

Although we only worked like 16 minutes with each of the phases continuing straight forward to the next step of the process, the work shop mastered to demonstrate the power of the facilitated process and design thinking principles. At the end of the day all the teams had developed really good ideas, that most had some potential for further development. We felt inspired and energized. I guess the commonly known story in many company is not the lack of ideas, but the ability to develop them further. It´s also very true that in many companies the culture doesn´t support the design thinking principles. Easily this leads into a conversation, where a bigger transformation is needed. But don´t fall into this trap, because then nothing is changed.  Here you have a very practical tool to start working with your ideas. You don´t need to be a designer to  start  figuring out, what motivates your customer.

Information about Ahto´17 can be found from the facebook group.

#designthinking #servicedesign #leanstartup #leanservicecreation #agiledevelopment

 

A Morning About Facilitation vol.2 – Virtual workshops and meetings

In a previous post I summarized my experiences and takeaways from a facilitation demo by Grape People. The event was inspiring and the content felt useful for everyday work, so I decided to attend their virtual facilitation demo as well. Fitting for the topic, the demonstration took place online so I was able to see firsthand in my own experience how virtual facilitation works. The demonstration was done via Skype, and participants were able to contribute by using the annotation tool.

Virtual meetings and workshops are becoming more common, as it often makes it easier to arrange a common time without asking people to travel. Therefore it was great to hear new ideas and tips for how to best facilitate virtually. Many of the same principles apply to virtual and face-to-face meetings, but the fact that people are not present in the same room gives an extra twist to the situation and some extra responsibilities to the facilitator. Just like in face-to-face meetings, most often the meeting process is the biggest reason for bad meetings and workshops. The workshop target should be clear from the start, and the facilitator should be well prepared with a structure and timeline for the meeting.

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Trendwatching.com Live Trend Event in London

Some time ago I had the privilege to participate in a massive trend event organized by a trend agency called Trendwatching.com. You might already be familiar with their free online content and monthly briefings (if you are not, check it out!), and in addition to those they provide a subscription based premium service packages and live events all around the world. After using their premium content for some time I was eager to see how they would put together a live show!

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I was most eager to hear about their methodologies in collecting data and analyzing and forecasting trends, and these were all presented first thing in the morning. Trendwatching.com has an army of trendspotters from around the world who spot exiting new innovations and report back to the trend team. The team then matches the new innovations to their existing trend framework to analyze which way the trends are moving and how to update the framework itself. About 90% of spotted things fit this framework, but with the 10 % it gets exciting. Whenever there of these oddballs are found and if they can easily be grouped together, a new trend is created! Even though forecasting is not always simple and straightforward, I quite like this mechanical approach. It can be easily adapted to any organization wanting to find a way to do a little forecasting themselves.

kuva2A simple Venn diagram can be used by anyone to find the sweet spot between needs, drivers and innovations.

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Legal Design Summit

Legal design is a new hot topic in service design domain globally – and also in Finland. Dottir, a law firm, and Hellon, a service design firm, organized the first ever Legal Design Summit in Finland on 16.11. at the University of Helsinki.

In the opening speech it was mentioned that legal design is not only important for companies who constantly seek competitive advantages – it is also a growing interest of the public sector. From the Finnish ministries, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is a pioneer in the field of legal design; in a current law-making process, there are not only jurists in the group but also other experts – and also one service designer!

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Legal Design simply means that a legal writings (a law text, contract etc). are formulated and designed so that it is easy to understand. Legal design is both information design and communication design.

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A Morning About Facilitation

What facilitation is? That was the question addressed in a morning seminar by Grape People. The company specializes in facilitating trainings and workshops and offer consultancy services related to these things.

The mission of Grape People is to get organizations to facilitate themselves. The process is quite simple, and can be applied to any group situation, where participation and involvement is desired. Therefore by learning a few basic principles anyone can easily become a facilitator.

How to facilitate?

Miikka from Grape People defined facilitation as combining the knowledge of a certain group. It’s about bringing this knowledge to the surface, making it visible and grouping it to gain understanding and new solutions. Sounds simple, right? The aim is usually to make sense of a problem, an issue or a topic, with hopes of finding solutions or new ideas in the end.

The key elements of any facilitated gathering are clarifying the issue and/or goals, creating the solutions and summarizing the action points and what will happen after the workshop or meeting. By keeping this simple structure as a backbone to a discussion, the facilitator is able to ease the thinking process as the participants are concentrating on one piece of the puzzle at a time. Without a structure it is easy to jump directly to e.g. thinking about solutions even before clearly defining the problem.

Remember:

  • Get the participants talking within the first 30 minutes or they don’t open their mouth at all.
  • The solutions and answers are created together in the group and are not brought in by the facilitator.
  • Most problems that occur during group gatherings are related to the process. By structuring the gatherings and planning the meetings and workshops these can be reduced.
  • The ownership of the created ideas should remain with the participants. Therefore it should not be the facilitator’s task to summarize!

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Hack the Budget

Hackathons – modern versions of workshops – are now popular also in the public sector. These events follow the service design principles; experts from various fields, customers, entrepreneurs and members of other interest groups gather together for a day or two, form teams, discuss, ideate and develop various solutions for a certain wide and complex subject matter.

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Hack the Budget was held on 31.10.2016 at Design Factory, organized by the Ministry of Finance of Finland in cooperation with Open Knowledge Finland and Rapid Action Group. The aim of the event was to explore new approaches to government’s budget data and explore how it could be made more understandable and usable for relevant stakeholders. For example, could the budget data be visualized somehow so that it would be easier for the citizens to piece together where their taxes go? Or how the budget data could be utilized when evaluation of social impact is of interest? The state budget is especially interesting when the state has a monetary deficiency and an aging population – citizens may ask where their tax money go, now and in future.

Hackathons and Jams – what is the difference between them?

Hackathons focus on solutions. The organizers have described the subject matter and the problem which can be wide and complex – and new, innovative solutions are required. Therefore it is only good that the teams consist of experts from various fields. It is also good if potential product or service providers and customers join in. In the end of the day (or two days) the teams present various solutions for the problem described.

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