Author Archives: Jordan Glendenning

The Penultimate Week!

It’s the penultimate week of Enterprise by Design, and we had a very useful and interesting session tonight if student reports are to be believed.

The creative currency that the undergraduate teams have been accumulating throughout the competition are finally put to use in a Dutch auction and a timeslot-buying market simulation.

But, as with last week, the post-graduate discussion downstairs before the event was where a lot of really interesting discussion happened that is worth thinking about.

Something that I think the whole Enterprise by Design process has struggled with is giving the students the right amount of information they needed to be able to make the best judgements for their projects.

A lot of groups have said time and again that they weren’t 100% sure what they were supposed to do that week, and even coming into the fourth week with their PechaKucha presentations there was mass confusion and uncertainty.

A few ideas were thrown around by the post-grads for a solution to the issue, but something I wondered is whether situating the simulated market in a fictional currency was one of the causes of the confusion amongst the students.

A lot of students would ask what the credits were worth, or how much resources were going to be, and in truth the answer was “we don’t know”, because in the end their worth fluctuated the more scarce a resource became.

If you want a large group of people to quickly understand the value of something, it needs to have reference to something familiar for them all. A touchstone that they will all recognise and understand is actual currency.

When you tell someone you can ‘hire’ a TV and stand for their presentation for £160, fake money or not, it immediately has a value they understand and can place in context. When you say 160 creative credits, suddenly you’re throwing a stumbling block into the game.

For a project and competition that is aimed at bringing interdisciplinary teams together to understand how their differing expertise can come together to benefit a business in the real world, using real world values would probably be the best way to communicate that to the participants.

“You’re going to get £10 to spend for each team member that turns up, per week”, is more effective than saying, “You’re going to get 10 creative credits to spend per team member”. To borrow an idea from writing, you lose the willing suspension of disbelief that team members have when you throw a concept they don’t yet buy into at them.

“What? Why do we get creative credits?”

The mental roadblock of “what are creative credits?” stops the team from listening to the rest of the instructions. It’s like saying that the creature that looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and sounds like a duck is called a “smeerp”.

Obviously, this may introduce the complication of teams thinking they may actually get £100s for their end presentations, but this notion is easier to dispel than the confusion that students went through with creative credits and the idea of what they’re valued at.

Other than that, however, the night was really successful. The students were given the opportunity to speak to consultants, the academics and the business representatives, in 10-minute slots.

Some teams decided to hog a particular source of information, a solid tactic, by purchasing 40-minute blocks and muscling out any competition. From what I heard from some of the teams, they really valued the longer time spent with the consultants; and gained a lot of useful feedback on their ideas.

Using the spreadsheet market was an interesting concept, and I think it was a good solution, though there needed to be more oversight. One team, who will remain nameless, actually went 20 credits ‘overdrawn’, and thus spent more than they should have. Nevermind, I’m sure the rest of the teams got what they needed in the time they had.

I’m looking forward to next week to see what the teams have to offer Rib Ride and Zip World!

Week Six with And The Winner Is…

By Jove, I think they’ve got it!

It’s week 6, so you’d hope that the teams have indeed by now reached a point where they could point directly at something and say, “We’re doing this, and this is how we’re going to present it to the judges in two weeks’ time”.

But before I get into the undergraduates and how they’re getting on, a note about the pre-event meeting.

In the post-graduate meeting, Andy posed a question to the business PhDs, asking whether what Enterprise by Design is doing is ‘Action Research’.

Action Research, whilst not quite a methodology, is more of an approach to research which solves problems through active inquiry, balancing problem solving with data-driven collaborative analysis or research.

Whilst I hadn’t come across this term before, it’s an interesting idea and something that we do touch on in Creative Studies. It focuses on having multi-disciplinary teams solve problems, rather than coming at them with a single mind set.

Enterprise by Design definitely gives these teams a focus, and a problem to solve. One of the business PhDs said she thought the students here didn’t have enough of a say in the process in order to call it Action Research; but what it does do if give them the idea that multiple disciplines are even necessary.

If the undergraduate teams take anything away from this process, and I think that they probably will, I hope it’s the idea that their sole area of expertise isn’t the be-all-end-all.

I was working with And The Winner Is… today, and I must say that I do like their team name. Positive reinforcement is always good. Straight out of the gate, the team had already narrowed down their four ideas from last week into one.

Alongside narrowing that idea down, they had a good idea of what they needed to do to solve the problems the SWOT analysis might show (having a head-start on getting their homework done by starting during our time).

Not only did the team have a great handle on what they were doing, they were so focused and asking great questions, I forgot to take a picture for this week to accompany the post.

As long as they keep focusing on bringing everything they’ve already done together to create the final presentation, it seems like they’re going to be fine.

Week Five with Fast Track

We’re entering the final stretch now, and the teams are putting their heads down and pumping their arms to come out ahead. Nevermind the fact that one team member had three sachets of coffee in his tea-break cup; he might not sleep, but he came up with some great ideas!

After last week’s presentations, the teams were told that they should really focus in on something concrete to put toward the judges panel at the end of the Enterprise by Design process.

Every team last week had not yet come up with a product or service that they really wanted to push, or develop, and so this week we were focusing on getting those final products on paper.

One way that they would be able to do that is by generating as many ideas as possible, and selecting the best from the pile. To continue the metaphor, their ideas, like a group of runners, will separate the weaklings from the strong throughout a race.

The group work hard coming up with ideas

Enterprise by Design is more a marathon than it is a sprint, in real terms, but in University terms it’s much quicker turn-around for a project this size than many undergraduates might be used to.

In the School of Creative Studies and Media, we tend to think of ideas as being a dime a dozen; cheap and plentiful. The hard part is figuring out which of those ideas can be combined in useful and innovative ways. This is the task the students had this week.

I was working with team Fast Track this week, and, true to form, they came up with the ideas in the discussion sessions rather quickly. This was good, because it meant that more time for clarification and discussion about those ideas was possible.

I asked them how they were feeling about Enterprise by Design by now, during our coffee and tea break, and they were to a person happy with the task and week. “It’s the first week we’ve been on track”, they said. Idea generation isn’t so hard.

Sticking with an idea you aren’t sure about is difficult, though. They were unsure of themselves. I caught one of them out and said that he was censoring himself and not putting down what he was thinking and he nodded sheepishly.

But, by the end of the task, the group came together (minus one, who missed this week for illness) and got the ideas that they needed. They’re going to meet this week, hopefully, and synthesise the initial ideas together to create something really worthwhile.

Overall, they had a good week; they felt like they finally had a direction to move in. About time too! I have a feeling that most groups are in this position though, and this week they were all a little happier with their task and what’s required of them.

Week Four with Liquid Slate

Half way through the project, the teams had to produce a “PechaKucha” presentation of 10 slides, lasting 20 seconds each, and with a 30 second video to round it off.

I was ‘observing’ team Liquid Slate this week, in which I was mostly collating feedback that the professional panel, made up of academics and our industry liaisons, gave the team after their presentation.

Liquid Slate chose to focus on digital marketing, offering up key buzzwords like ‘gamification’, ‘documenting’, and ‘challenges’. Their basic idea was to use the ubiquitous smart phone’s innate technical capabilities to capture information about the customer’s adventure and allow them to easily remember that day and share it with others.

Alongside this, they wish to feature a loyalty/rewards system that gives users a digital currency to use for discounts, free beverages, etc. at the various adventure sites around North Wales.

One of the key aspects was their desire to use NFC, or near-field communication, tags which could easily integrate with an app, developed for Android and potentially iOS, to allow tourists to start and stop a particular walk and have the information recorded easily and without hassle for the user.

Feedback

So, thinking of the feedback that the panel gave the team then, we can see that Zip World’s representative was very interested in the idea of gamification and it was something that they’d already tried to think about.

He pointed out that an app that can be started before the actual journey began, to get kids excited, or give people information before they arrived, was a major selling point.

One of Zip World’s biggest issues right now are wait times when customers are waiting for their turn at a zipline. The downtime means that people are reaching for their phones, but instead of doing something related to Zip World, they’re scrolling through Facebook or Snapchat.

They’re definitely interested in mobile tech.

At the end of the session, the teams were asked to present questions to the panel to see what the reps had to say. Liquid Slate asked to what degree the companies were interested in developing the level of infrastructure that a product such as theirs would require.

The answer was basically to look at ROI, or return on investment. If you have an app that costs £15,000 to produce, and it took two years to see a significant return on their investment, they’d perhaps not want it. But if their return was a few months, and it adds value to the company in some way, they’d be more inclined.

Overall, I think it’s fair to say that many of the groups had little idea going into this presentation this week of their actual product, service, or campaign that they wanted to sell to the companies, but Liquid Slate had an idea and just need to think now how that idea might intersect with what’s already available in the area.

Week Three with Fortnite

This week, the undergraduates were asked to bring together the outputs they had already created — the user personas, and the digital version of their asset map from last week. Combining these two things meant that they could devise likely narratives for their personas as they come to north Wales.

I was sat with team Fortnight, who from the sounds of things are really on top of their tasks. They set to the task with a speed and efficiency that was surprising to see. Perhaps going off what they were doing last week, they had a note-taker already prepared, and each had done their pre-requisite work enough to be able to start as soon as they heard the word ‘go’.

It was really interesting to see how invested in these fictional users the team members were, with a narrative slightly outside of the scope of this project coming to bear on almost every example. They were really engaged with the empathy aspect of deciding on a target audience.

With direction from the event organisers, the undergraduates were thinking about how to bring the adventure tourism together with ‘wellness’, a concept basically rooted in healthy living; both in terms of body and mind, and the more nebulous spirit and soul.

The team seemed to find it more difficult to focus on the wellness aspect of the task/brief, because it was newly introduced this week, and they were instead focusing so heavily on the narrative of what their personas would do when in Wales, figuring out where they were most likely to stay, eat, and even shop.

I reminded the group that we were trying to think of how the customers of the two companies would take something back home with them, and then how that might translate to them returning or even encouraging others to travel to the area for a similar experience.

They were good in that they didn’t think purely of physical things they’d take with them, but the metaphorical, experiences, and even emotions they’d take away from a trip to these adventure sites.

In future, I’d remind them to remember the wider context of the tasks, and think about why we’re coming up with the narrative of these personas, not just the mechanics of what those narratives contain.

Week Two with Sales in Wales

This was the second week for us all participating in Enterprise by Design this year, and there was a definite sense that the undergraduate students were happier than last week. Being asked to form a brand new team within half an hour of meeting someone for the first time is daunting for anyone.

But, coming to this session knowing who they’d be working with, the undergraduate population got down to work fairly quickly. Representatives from Zip World and Rib Ride respectively introduced their employers and their background, market power, customer numbers, and future intentions.

Enterprise by Design 2018 is focused on bringing these two companies together in a mutually beneficial way. By bringing undergraduates from five different schools, and in four areas of specialism, this project hopes to bring a breadth of knowledge to bear on the problem given by the companies’ brief.

This week, the students were asked to map out the services, infrastructure, and ‘assets’ of the local area, focusing in particular on the corridor between Menai Bridge and Bethesda; the main hubs for Rib Ride and Zip World, respectively.

I was working with Bethan, Chloe, Tomos, and Xi Xiao (who in week 3 decided upon team Sales in Wales), and I found that they were bogged down by certain things mentioned in the brief as pointers; the geography of the locations and not their quality as assets, in particular.

This isn’t much their fault, as they were all unsure of the area in question and hadn’t much experience in this narrow corridor of Gwynedd that we were discussing. With the help of Google Maps, they were better able to place these assets on their own map.

In future, it might be more beneficial for the group to focus on non-physical importance of assets too. A stronger instinct to search online for a broad overview of something they aren’t sure about may be beneficial, as well.

In terms of the work the group produced in the week leading up to Tuesday’s session, the group had three different (one team member only joined this week) personas that they will be able to merge with this week’s task in order to better identify places where gaps in the North Wales “adventure map” exist and what they might do to solve those gaps.