Category Archives: EBD18 Velocity

Consultancy Week: How to Sell the Simplistic Solution to Succeed

Imagine this scenario…

You have collected 400 creative points over the course of the process. You now have the opportunity to spend these points on scarce resources and consultancy. But a TV starts off at 400 points, with immense demand. And you need sessions with three different consultants to help provide insight for your team’s idea. Do you spend very little money on a table stand and spend most of our money on consultancy? Maybe we don’t need to speak to every person as we have the best idea in the world, but we just need a way to stand out for the judges next week, to buy a large TV screen for our exhibition stand. Although, we probably do have to speak to Gareth about communication, Swain about our business model, Phil about the wellness tourism sector and Cameron about the technology involved in our idea. Should we buy out 40 minutes of Gareth’s time or should we saviour that money for a better stand?What should we do? We only have 1 minute left to decide!

This is how everyone was thinking and consolidating on Auction and Consultancy week. It is the battle of understanding what takes priority for your team, especially under scarce supply, limited funds and against 11 other competing teams.

It is all about understanding the value of the creative points, something that has been very little understood under this week. Every team is assigned homework after every week’s session. This is to not only help and guide the teams to prepare for the next upcoming week, but also give more time for the teams to really work together and build upon their work in the session, as sometimes 2 hours is not enough.  For completing this work, each member can be awarded 10 points; 40 points per team, per week. This helps incentives doing the work. Except, without receiving the rewards themselves and not knowing what the creative points can buy them, the currency’s incentive salience and value is diminished. And this is what the postgraduates have been discussing this week, to understand what is the best way to rework the currency system to reward teams for their efforts on a weekly basis without replacing their intrinsic motivation.

One possibility has been to have a current creative currency and a potential creative currency system, to illustrate what teams have earned and what they could have achieved. Additionally,  another point raised is that the value of these points could be established earlier in the process. For example, in Week 3, there could have been an early intervention or consultancy week to guide remove any uncertainty or to clarify ideas and thoughts the teams may have had, only provided by spending creative currency. As this is an competition, the team’s collective effort and actions should be rewarded and thus, would have more points than other teams for which they can buy more resources and expertise. However, this does not mean other every team is disadvantaged, as they also had the same opportunities to earn the same amount of points. Therefore, the more effort and intrinsic motivation the team has, the more collective points they earn and can spend.

This is always an exciting and high-pressured event in the Enterprise by Design process. However, it is also full of complexities and uncertainty. Hopefully now after having invaluable expertise and buying scarce resources, all the teams will direct all their efforts to the final part of the process; the final week where the winner of £2500 seed fund will be announced!

 

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 6, the end is nigh whilst innovation is a high

Six weeks ago, the Enterprise by Design process began for 2018. Now, there is only one week left until the main presentations! Time flies when you are innovating.

Everyone has been wearing their creative caps for the most part of the process, but now it is time for direction and focus. This week is all about being decisive and to have a consensus as a team for one idea and really push down with it, shape and mould it and present it for next week. And what a selection of choices that Team Fortnite have!

Innovation as a concept relies on the possibility for constant developing progress and staying away from any ceiling effects. With this in mind, there can never be a perfect idea or product, but only ideas that have potential by being highly feasible to create, desirable within the market and viable regarding a healthy investment return. Without these attributes, there would be no innovation but only another idea. That is why it is critical for every team to highlight and clearly communicate these attributes in their final presentations in the next few weeks, and why it was notably important this week to have the opportunity to spend extra time conducting action research and discussing as a group on their own ideas. This session time is so useful to truly understand beyond the face value of the idea and to dwell into the nooks and crannies of how the idea or even prototype is going to thrive and survive amongst the mess of every other team.

It is also important to acknowledge that Enterprise by Design is a vulnerable process and is significantly useful to anyone with their future if it is done with maximal intent and effort. This process is the first real step into how many real-world problems are and should be solved; through the perspective and cooperation of multiple fields and experts. Within academia, there is a reductionist approach towards focusing on the technicalities of ones own field that we tend to forget there is more to a situation than one single angle. Having the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience within the teams, it allows the opportunity for everyone to be highly critical and have valuable insight of how successful their idea can be and what they need to do to achieve that success. This brings on to next week’s session, as each team over the process has collected their own account of creative currency, which will be used as spending money for an array of resources and expertise; to build upon and receive constructive feedback on their current ideas or to help communicate and sell these precious ideas in the final presentations.

Lastly, one really critical piece of advice would be that “a complex problem doesn’t always need a complex solution, and sometimes the simplest prevails amongst the clutter”

 

 

Week 5, Liquid Slate

For Enterprise by Design this week, the main focus has been on location, location and location, except with Andy Goodman hosting the episode. Specifically, this session was about identifying broad numbers of location-based technology that are currently used within society, i.e. Bluetooth, iBeacon, GPS, Near Field Communication and many more, and combine these technologies with previous week’s work, the four user personas, adventure asset map and wellness tourism, to create 24 different and introspective scenarios per team through 2 rounds. Fortunately, Liquid Slate managed to do over 36, respectively.

These scenarios created are essentially randomly assigned components that may have some degree of congruence between them all or not, but ultimately are acting as constraints to really focus down and create potential ideas for each niche scenario. This activity was all about quantity over quality, to think outside and beyond the mundanity of normative thinking and perspectives. After each team have come up with all of their scenarios, they were asked to narrow down and select four potential ideas and evaluate how feasible, viable and desirable these ideas could be – with the latter being worked out using estimation.

The power of estimation and approximation is of vital importance within modern times for many fields and careers. The basic premise for estimation is to guide towards an answer through a rational series of questions. For this session, estimation was used to understand the target market for each of four potential product/service that they have now narrowed down to. By doing so, this will help the team to reflect upon their ideas and understand more about how viable – is there a potential market gap – or desirable – is there currently a need to be fulfilled? – their ideas are.

Regarding Liquid Slate, it was clear that the team had a lot of creativity and innovation still at bay. There was so many ideas flowing on the table, no matter how random the constraints seemed to be. However, the only criticism or point that I could say is that the unison of all four components of the scenarios was not always fully considered. Nevertheless, with 36 potential ideas, there would be at least one or two hidden golden nuggets amongst the pay dirt.

In sum, I was very happy with the team’s progress within this session and their completed homework. It seems that each team member knew what was expected of them and managed to utilise much of their creativity this week.

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.

Ideation with the USS Enterprise by Design

This week I worked with the team, USS Enterprise by Design.

A major task for today was developing as many ideas as possible, with an emphasis on quantity, not quality. Andy inspired us to forge through with ideas of potentially questionable quality with the quote “if you feel like you’re in control, you’re not going fast enough”. By generating loads of different ideas at a fast pace the team can have more to work with and more ideas to share and develop on.

By randomly selecting a persona, a context, a technology, and a wellness, the team was given a basis on which to develop their idea. We did two rounds of this to give the team different scenarios to work with.

Round one featured Steve, as 42 year old divorcee with two children, at Aber Falls, using infrared and environmental wellness. Round two featured 45 year old Mary, her husband and two children, at Penrhyn Castle, using GPS and intellectual wellness.

After quickly developing as many ideas as possible, we then heard a little about estimation from Iestyn. He explained that the estimate just needs to be plausible, it doesn’t necessarily need to be right.

This brings us to the homework task for this week. The team needs to come to a consensus about which ideas are the top 4 which need to be looked at further. There needs to be a consensus as the collective product relies on the interdisciplinary knowledge of feedback of the team. Taking the four top ideas, each team member needs to estimate the size of the market for the product/service that they are examining. With this information the team can get a better idea about what to do for their final idea.

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 4 – Presentations with Cyflym

Cyflym’s presentation had a focus on the subject of wellness in North Wales. Their user persona was a 25 year old accountant named Jimmy who was visiting Zipworld and Ribride, and the presentation covered the activities he could do in between over a few day trip. Based on his interests of wellness, hiking, and photography, Jimmy’s journey was plotted for him to visit Snowdon, Betws y Coed, Llandudno, Conwy, Bangor, and Menai Bridge.

There were some great examples, but there wasn’t much information about a specific product or service. The team did, however, mention that they were looking into the importance of social media and potentially developing an app. Their video reflected this, with an interesting Instagram feature and strong narrative of a journey around North Wales.

The panel did question the team’s name of Cyflym, the Welsh word for fast. The narrative depicted was quite laid back and not reflective of the name, however, the team said that though the journey may be slow in pace, it can be fast as it’s done in a relatively short amount of time.

Overall the team have some good ideas, and it will be interesting to see what product or service they develop in the coming weeks.

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.