Marz2009's Blog

December 13, 2009

A letter to MACErs 2010/2011 re trade fair

Filed under: Uncategorized — marz2009 @ 10:34 am

Dear fellow MACEr.

Hope you are enjoying the course, by now you will be feeling pretty tired and stressed with all those assignment deadlines looming.  I really do know how you feel.

So, I’m writing to you to give you the edge over the other teams.  You may be wondering what is the point of doing a trade fair.  Well, think of the prize money (£50) and opportunity to network and gain valuable feedback for your product.  Even if you do not have a prototype, still go along, you will get lots of ideas from the public which will help you.

Now, the practicalities.  You will be allocated a tiny 3′ x 3′ table.  Blag another one!  Try to assimilate two tables on the day, just make sure you turn up early enough and no-one notices what you are up to.  Look confident as though you know what you are doing – that always helps too.

Before the day, choose a team member, or two, to organise the display.  This year’s winners had dressed up around their catering theme; they wore pinnies and had a white table cloth, real plates and cutlery.  In fact their display was relatively uncluttered even though they were also selling some gift bags.  They had a video of a cookery session playing on a laptop – do the same!  It gives the public something to focus on that isn’t just you!

Our stall was more Christmasey and fairly cluttered.  Our focus was on displaying our product.  With hindsight we should have looked more upmarket and ditched the snowman tablecloth and tinsel.

That reminds me, it will be noisy in there with lots of un-Christimasey music – sorry.  You will need chocolate and sweets, not just to feed the public but yourselves as you will be fighting the urge to sleep where you sit/stand.  Some of my team left the trade fair, went home and worked on assignments until 5 – 6 am.  A sort of ‘badge of studentship’.  No doubt there will be those  in your team that do the same.

The trade fair will look like a chore, but see it as an opportunity to be creative and have fun.  It is all about PRESENTATION.  Find a theme and go for it.  There will be endless photos and videos taken so keep smiling.

Talk to anyone and everyone about your product.  There won’t be many outsiders there, except for the Major of Kingston and some judges, but even fellow students will surprise you with their thoughts and comments – LISTEN TO THEM – then go home, sleep, get back to the last session of the year and have fun.

Before I go, you MUST come in for Corrine’s last session.  Drink gallons of coffee and drag yourselves in somehow.  We had not laughed so much in ages, an absolutely brilliant afternoon so don’t miss it.

Happy Christmas to all you Macers 2010!  Hoping it’s a White One!

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December 11, 2009

Reflection on BRANDING 11.12.09

Filed under: Uncategorized — marz2009 @ 9:05 pm

Many were very tired during this afternoon session.  Deadlines had been met and teams had attended the Trade Fair the previous evening.  There was no surplus energy available.

Corrine spoke about BRANDING  – what it IS and what it IS NOT.

Branding is everything that creates an experience for the customer.

Identity is expressed as the visual part of the brand – logo, colours, layout, adverts, design.

DNA is the unique message of the business – communicated in the brand.

She showed us a video of Nike Air Town Air Troupe performing – to show how the performers expressed what Nike stands for – action, movement.  The music was loud – drums, bass, futuristic, urban.  The dancers were very agile, performing routines on top of work tops – this communicated that Nike is for the young, the daring, Nike make clothes for gymnasts, aerobics, dance – not just for runners.

The important lesson to take away from this was that

A BRAND IS NOT JUST A LOGO – IT IS EVERYTHING!

See, hear, touch, taste, feel = branding.

We  all send out our own brand messages.  Culture is very important.  Different cultures associate different things with, for example, colours.  In China red is the colour for marriage, in the West it is white.  We must understand different cultures when branding.

Corrine showed other examples of videos to illustrate this – there was the ‘PC v MAC’ advert, the PC was portrayed by a dull, boring man.  The MAC man was casual, young, cool.

Also, we need to put rules around our logos stating how they can and cannot be used.  They need to be protected.

Font and typefaces are very important and send out coded messages.  Each typeface has its own personality, its own voice.  When trying out logos using typefaces it is a good idea to produce them in BLACK.  If the logo does not work in BLACK it certainly won’t work in any other colour.  Also, consider the ‘negative’ image – does that work?

A ‘mark’ is a symbol, a ‘wordmark’ is a word.  E.g. NIKE is a word mark, but the ‘tick’ sign is a mark.

Corrine invited students to take part in some hilarious sketches to show how different our cultures are.  That is something I am enjoying more and more.  It is such fun to be in a group made up of such diverse students that have come to study here from all over the world.  Corrine orchestrated a great role play using  Italian, German, English, Jordan, Chinese and Indian students singing their national anthems.  It was tremendous fun, particularly when some tried to order donna kebabs from Seb.  It made me truly appreciate the richness and depth of experiences each student here represents.   Sadly, you missed a brilliant afternoon.  A ‘Secret Santa’ ended our last session of 2009.

December 5, 2009

Reflection on 4th December and presentation

Filed under: Uncategorized — marz2009 @ 7:56 pm

We had three ‘dragons’ to impress as we took part in a ‘Dragon’s Den’.

Corrine, Andrew Beaumont and Sofia sat through team presentations then gave feedback.

Clearly, although our presentations was not up there with the best (others had produced power-points and videos) our prototype had really impressed everyone!

Sofia liked PIKA,  later she said she would buy our cape and only queried some safety features which we are addressing.  She would also use her cape when not cycling as it was so attractive.

Andrew also like the PIKA cape and would happily spend £40-50 for one – would we branch into the male market too?  He also queried material getting caught up in the wheels – something we have already looked at.

Corrine thought it was great.  She felt that the prototype had won people round as it was so good.  She said the packaging was very important.  As the cape would be portable it should have a matching bag in the same fabric that can be carried around, rather than be tied to the bike.  She felt this was an important marketing point.  Include a diagram with washing instructions and labeling – could use iron on transfers or digital prints.  She suggested that manufacturing is shared out between the group so that everyone is involved in making the capes.

Feedback from our peer teams: Worried cape might blow up in the wind (material will be heavier than current prototype).  One student would like the option to wear her own belt with it.  Another suggested it fitted in with the ‘Accessorize’ chain of shops and we should look to sell it there too.  Said the design was like a fairytale.  One team would pay £10 for the cape if it was waterproof and would use it more generally instead of an umbrella.

In all this was a great opportunity to get some invaluable feedback.  Whilst we believe in our product I think we had not expected such great comments from the dragons or other students.

Our team also discussed the forthcoming trade fair, what we would all need to do.  Certainly this time of year is very busy and we have had to scale down our stall.  The important thing is to have a good demo of our cape (Cyndy is working on producing another version for the trade fair) and then do our best to promote it, maybe even take advance orders/payments!

The business plan that I have been working on is not in the same format that Corrine wants.  This has left me a little disappointed as I had spent time with Magda last week finalising costings and the end product had received good feed-back from PIKA team members.  I had used the YE template that I believed was the correct one to follow.  So, am concerned how to make time to do the new version but will simply have to.  Perhaps next time MACE students could see Corrine’s template a little earlier in the course.

However, everything is coming together, the trade fair will be lots of fun and it will be strange not to have sessions over Christmas.  PIKA will carry on over the holiday but output will be organised around everyone’s commitments.  Some members are going home (abroad).

Wishing you all a very happy and blessed Christmas.

November 29, 2009

Finance and Equity Gaps – the Role of Founders Equity and Experience in Raising Finance

Filed under: Uncategorized — marz2009 @ 12:45 am

Whew, rather a long title but so much to learn!

First, great news to hear our Feasibility Study was the best.  Will need to tweak it and add photos.  Corrine reminded class not to use the terms ‘it’s possible’ or ‘perhaps’ and to be specific.  Could write about our three personas.

Session with Catherine Gurling

To understand the role of founders equity in demonstrating commitment to a venture and the process of raising finance.    Understand the difference between equity and finance gaps and be able to define both correctly.

Appreciation of the principle of gearing in the ratio of debt to equity terms when raising capital from a bank and/or other investors.


DEALING WITH MONEY

Most annoying thing when setting up a business is dealing with money!

The 5WH rule

  1. Why do you need money?
  2. What for?
  3. How much?
  4. Where will I get it from?
  5. When do we need it?
  6. What will be the result?

Applications – where does it go?

Sources – where do we get it from?

Why do we need money?

  1. To create value (aesthetic, social and/or financial)
  2. To turn nothing into something.
  3. Idea into enterprise.
  4. Generate a surplus by adding value.
  5. Multiply what you put in – into something more.

IMP apply your ‘time’ into pricing out of product.  RECORD YOUR TIME!

Be aware of your market, aesthetic value differs according to  eye of the beholder.  Don’t use a blunderbuss to sell – use a rifle to target your exact market.

Values= Aesthetic, Social, Financial

How do you determine value?  How do you determine cost?  How do you put a price on it?

PRICE SENDS OUT A MESSAGE – MATCH PRICE TO LOCATION.

Model of transformation process to create value:-

INPUTS                                                                         OUTPUTS

£’s in                                    firm value Products

Raw materials                 Creation Services

Labour                               Process Information

Financial Capital                                                       Knowledge

Information

What for?  Assessing the funding requirement.Factors affecting funding and potential source:-Trading Form and Industry Sector (Ltd/PLC),Venture Stage of Development, Others: Co-op Franchise, Licensee, Joint Venture.

Venture stage of development influences funding.

To start up,  4xFs!    Friends, Family, Fools

Seed corn – prototype

Start up – debts – bank, equity – private; business angel  (cannot touch equity as it remains in the business!)

Amounts/purpose required.

WHAT FOR?

Match life of asset with term of funds.  E.g. property purchase with 25 year long term loan, working capital with overdraft facilities, prototype development with equity.  (NB an overdraft is cheaper than a loan).

WHAT DO YOU NEED MONEY FOR?

Start with a cash flow, have a good think first on what you need, find out what it will cost (LIST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS – THESE WILL CHANGE!) Assess what will sell and when, consider cost and pricing.  (Must use YE templates).

Consider price points. Large companies market TOP – DOWN.  Smaller companies opposite.  Each person directly responsible.  Be flexible, keep trying to sell to find the right formula.  Entrepreneurs are not like BIG BUSINESS MODELS – they ‘MAKE QUILTS, ADD BITS TO IT AND IT BECOMES SOMETHING UNEXPECTED’.  Must watch cash in small businesses. Cash flow – how money moves around.  Forecast (Cash flow shows how the cash is planned to move in and out of the enterprise).  Actual cash flow – shows how cash is actually moved in and out.  Difference shows you what happened against forecast.  Intuitively easy to understand.  Check sales results against the forecast.

FORECAST CASH FLOW:

Sales to be achieved for the month

Units/sales

Against

Projected Costs by month

Net position

Can you afford this??????????

GOOD LINK: http://www.businesslink.gov.uk

CASH FLOW TO DETERMINE WHAT YOU NEED AND WHEN!

Start a 12 month, total cash flow.  If sources exceed applications then you should be generating surplus.  What you can do will be restricted by how much money you can raise.  What cash can you realistically raise.  structuring an investment:  Debt versus equity – cost of money – Risk

How much are you willing to lose?

Bank will ask how much we are putting in as equity ourselves.

With this money, how much can we get as a loan?  (need to plan to pay that back in cash flow).

Sources:

  1. Friends, family, fools,
  2. YE site
  3. Competitions
  4. HSBC laon
  5. Internal cash generation (when we make a profit!)

Share capital is owned by directors, owners, shareholders.  Founders equity is permanent investment that you are prepared to lose!

ROLE PLAY EXERCISE

Two students played the parts of bank managers, two were there to ask for money!

1) Couple had to re-locate from Gulf due to health, new business, furniture company to make wooden chairs, loan is for factory.   They invest 30K, want to borrow 40K.  Any previous experience? – No.  Were in oil business, never worked in UK, will produce chairs in UK but sell to the rest of the world.

Issue:  considered high risk, bank offers less and at a high rate causing shortfall in money that is needed.

2.  Second role play:  Couple  want to get into high end, want more money (since last loan) want 56K over 5 years.  (They have v good financial bank record)  Bank offers 35K at 10% – lesson here is to ask for more and negotiate, don’t accept the first offer.  Present a clear case,  what is it needed for?  how much overdraft facility?  How much for capital?

Dealing with a bank, it is about what YOU put in and ask for more, negotiate down.  The less risky ventures get better finance packages.

Most new ventures have difficulty raising enough money.  40K loan should be matched by 40K in equity.

Profit and loss statement is the THEORETICAL PROFIT.

Balance sheet shows balances that aren’t tracked by the cash flow or profit and loss accounts.

Wow, a lot to take in.  Session was very valuable and Catherine is certainly impressive.  She has masses of experience both in manufacturing and finance, a well spent afternoon.

As for PIKA.  We had our team meeting during the day and after this session.  Having seen Cynthia’s prototype it is clear that this is the way to go.  Anything much simpler would not be successful.  We suggested some small changes which she is going to consider.

To sum up what the team will be doing over the next week.

  • Logo – Christine and Yoon are redesigning the logo following Corrine’s suggestions.  They are also looking at our headed paper and business cards.  Our mission statement could be ‘Fashion confidence’ or similar.  This should be resolved before Friday.
  • Prototype – looking good.  Seeing it has helped the group to understand what Cynthia has been doing.  Agreed that she will produce one for our trade fair we intention of securing advance sales.  Ought to look into other fairs but this could be tricky with team members away over Christmas.
  • Trade Fair – I’ll book a table and organise it.  Team is looking at what else we could sell to boost our profile – maybe fluorescent hair clips or water bottles with PIKA on them?
  • Business Plan,  Magda and I will meet up in London to do this together.
  • Feasibility study, I will ‘tweak this’.  It needs photos etc.
  • Christine will produce some cycle survey results to be put on team site.
  • Yoon has video’d our day and will use extracts to upload onto team site.
  • Presentation for next Friday, I will look at this.

Next week we will look at BRANDING – IDENTITY – LOGOs.

Also, must do a five minute presentation.  This is what we do, this is our market strategy etc.

So, where am I and my role right now?  Certainly last days have been hard.  I have been concerned about accountability and money being spent without the group knowing.   Things will be in the open now, all possible spending must go to group via e-mail for group’s comments and OK.  As Magda said,  communication has been lax and we must all stay informed.  I had said at the beginning that the members must keep me informed as to their progress etc.  This had been working well with the team sending information to everyone so we were on top of developments.   Corrine’s very positive chat at the end has helped group to feel that things aren’t as bad as we thought and has boosted ‘the troops’.  I am still unhappy about the possibility of members putting an unequal mount of money into the project (even if through friends and associates).  Just feel that since everyone works equally hard then this will benefit those who have access to larger amounts of money so they make more at the end.  Students who can’t get hold of cash easily will lose out financially.  I will look at other ways of doing this.  It was suggested that there are ways of working out shares etc.

Otherwise it has been good to have the quieter members of the group speak up.  Have felt that I was fighting their corner and now at least they are expressing their opinions.  Really pleased they feel able to speak out more.  I still feel strongly that this is a TEAM project.  It is about using the ‘WE’ word not the ‘YOU’ word.  Without everyone’s input we would not have got this far.  The business side is extremely important because whatever the end product, it fails if the support is not there.   Most people seem a bit stressed as we have other deadlines to meet (the dreaded debate!) but with only two weeks to go before we break up we can do it!  My role is to encourage everyone to meet their agreed deadlines for next Friday.  I feel a lengthy e-mail coming…….

I’m rambling.  Time for bed.  Good night.

PIKA – FASHION CONFIDENT!



November 23, 2009

Friday the 20th of November’s Reality Check!

Filed under: Uncategorized — marz2009 @ 12:38 pm

Today we got our team Young Enterprise business pack!  Things are certainly moving forward.  The pack includes folders for each team member and another folder with more information including the ‘shares’, stickers and ‘certificate of incorporation’ which needs to go to our bank.

Corrine went over our prospective business plans.

  • Summarise what the business does in 1-2 sentences.
  • How will this idea turn into a business?  What are customer needs – gained empathy, observing user behaviour, interviews, talked to shop owner, read up on research on cycling accidents.  need to state what we did.
  • Personas – we discovered this need and here are three people demonstrating our customers.
  • Our product/service and how it fulfills this need.  Make it real/tangible.  (Could use pictures).
  • What is the product, how it fulfills need – what is unique about PIKA?

On to MARKETING:

Note down the size of the market, use the ‘bottom up’ approach – there are five of us in the team and we only have this much time so we are targeting local authorities, schools, women’s cycling groups, shops, etc.

PARTNERSHIPS/ALLIANCES

Demonstrate knowledge of people already working in our market (For PIKA – could this be the Royal Borough of Kingston?, local Cycling Touring Club?)

COMPETITORS

Those on OUR level – i.e. people taking away business, people offering something different.  Demonstrate how we are different.

MARKETING STRATEGY

Stage one is……………

Stage two is……………..

have a step by step approach so the growth is clearly illustrated.  Could use personas:  Lena goes to rallies –  Hollie goes to the gym – Barbie shops

SCHEDULE

Could say we want 10 customers/to sell 14 items by end of January, again, be specific.

Plan out to APRIL 2010.  Remember to point out any challenges – e.g. the Postal strike, talk about resources required.

(Corrine has posted examples of business plans – have had a look, some are American, some are British.  I looked at a manufacturing plan for men’s clothing (New Look) – finding the projected growth daunting particularly as we do not have a costing for our own prototype just yet).

DECEMBER 3rd HSBC SEMINAR – well worth going to this.  Yoon has offered to go to the Bright Ideas workshop – I am working in Chichester and not able to come up.

COSTINGS:

This part of the session baffled many.  Corrine used the example of a hamper of food products.

  • bottle white wine at £3
  • bottle of red wine at £3
  • box of fudge at £2
  • box of eggs at £1
  • box of chocolates at £2.
  • straw filling at 10p.
  • hamper itself (basket) £5.

Basic cost for the contents/hamper come to £18.10

BUT – We have forgotten other hidden costs –

  • packing
  • storage
  • postage/delivery to warehouse
  • phone calls
  • paperwork
  • staff to pack and take orders
  • staff to deliver to post-office/or company to collect from us

So, on basic price of £18.10 we want to make a £10 profit, – sounds reasonable enough, BUT……

shipping to us is £5, delivery to customer £10, packaging £3, insurance £3, bubble wrap £3, time staff use to deliver to post-office £1.75, car at 25p per mile for one mile, import/export tax £10, VAT £4.91, foreign country delivery £5

Now our basket costs £45.91 to put together!  Accounting for the sales cost of £18.10 we find that it has cost US £17.18!  We have made a loss!

This was worked out using tangible costs, still need to add cost of warehouse (storage).  What are the constraints on storage?  (50p per hamper per month to store in a warehouse) – how many can be stored?  When do we break even?

FUDGE – if it costs £2 wholesale and we know we have to buy 20 items then we have to spend £40 a month on FUDGE.  We need to sell 14 bars to break even.  This is a very interesting point to keep in mind, work out WHEN we break even, how many products do we have to sell before we start to make a profit.  I really liked this concept as it helps to focus.

MARKETING COSTS:

Digital : Web site – hosting cost, £10 per month, domain name £10 a year, pay-pal fee – 20p to sell anything plus 1.4 -3.4% of price (=59p!)

Analogue: flyers –   30 x 50p each = £15.

THE REALITY CHECK:

Once we have our prototype, must try out this method of costing.  Then look at how to trim, reduce costs.

OTHER IDEAS:

Do ‘role play’ as an angry customer, look at our refund policy.

What happens if only one hamper is sold?  The real price for selling only one hamper comes to £429.90 as we have to buy our stock in bulk and store it.

HERE’S AN EXAMPLE:

I pay £4 for a pair of shoes from China, would want to charge my customers £15 per pair of shoes.  But, my minimum order from China is 500 items – this means a minimum investment of £2,000.

Shoe import tax is 20%.  It would be wrong to assume that I need to sell 140 pairs to break even by Christmas.  Must assume that everything will go wrong and price accordingly!  (Need to see samples, what sizes, what colours)

Make a plan for pockets of money to be available at intervals, expect to break even within a few months.  Look at the whole picture and assume the worst.

BUT – if I could convince a local company (spa salon) that they need to buy our shoes to give to their customers, then I could have an advance order.  Maybe all it needs is to cost out putting the spa logo onto the shoes, but I could have money up front.

WHAT IS THE BREAK EVEN POINT?  Aim to break even in March.

HOMEWORK: to work on our business plan and to add in the finance, fill in the finance section in pencil as we will have the opportunity to discuss it next Friday.

READING LIST:  ‘The Opposable Mind (how successful entrepreneurs think),  Designers Guild Research  (in library under BSM701).

Good code of conduct:  I will treat my employers the way I want them to treat my customers.

Knights Park campus has a new Innoversity room for all to use.

Reflection on how I feel?  Today’s session has been a real wake up call about finances, pricing our product and finding customers so they place/pay for orders in advance.  I have contacted the Royal Borough of Kingston as they have several schemes to encourage and develop cycling in the borough.  They recently had a project which used school girls from Tiffin school and a designer, together they designed a Hoody to encourage young women into cycling.

I made contact to explain that we are doing something similar and have been invited to come up and talk with them as they would like to look at ways of ‘working with us’.  We do not have a prototype to show them and I cannot get up to Kingston this Wednesday so have arranged to telephone them and have an initial discussion that way.  Christine has been ill so I have done this to keep momentum going.  I am hoping that there is the potential for some collaboration as we need help to get our cape out there.

After today I am more aware then ever about the financial implications of our project.  Rather than focusing on ‘the cape’ we need to look further forward at how exactly we will get it onto the market and all the costs this will involve.  This part will be hard for me, I am hoping that common sense will compensate for a lack of financial training.  With Magda’ s help and financial knowledge  we should be able to plan a strategy, in blocks, but the immediate stumbling block is lack of information on what our capes will cost us.  Another steep learning curve.

My role is to think BIG – get stuck in to the business plan, especially the finance section and keep looking at this as a BUSINESS and not get too side-lined by the ‘product’.  After all, we could apply our business model to almost any product – the skill is in projecting into the future.

We will have a meeting on Tuesday (for PIKA) and another one on Thursday (to practice our debate for the other module).

Looking forward to having some fun on December 11th, as promised, but lots to do before then.

November 16, 2009

Thoughts on Friday 13th November.

Filed under: Uncategorized — marz2009 @ 12:19 am

Friday afternoon we had a great session led by Bracey Parish and Jonathon Pitts from Young Enterprise.

They believe in the importance of ‘Learning by doing’, the YE graduate programme is structured to facilitate just that.   They went through the registering process (which we have done) and all that is left is to await the arrival of our YE kit.  We need to find a business adviser and have been given Mr Christopher Williams through YE.  It was good news that YE has liability insurance for us as long as we do not get involved in dangerous activities or produce food and drink.

Our finance director (Magda) will need to arrange an appointment with a bank (HSBC have contacts with YE) and we should be able to get free banking for our business.

Our team had been worried about financial commitments to PIKA.  Our company will have 1500 shares at 50 pence each.  Everyone has to own a minimum of one share and no more than twenty each which equals £10.  We should think of this as our start-up funds.  We can sell shares to others but only if the transaction includes services, such as advertising.  If PIKA ends up in profit then this will be shared out among the team, if we have a loss then we are not liable, basically the bank will carry the risk.  With this new information I will be able to finalise our contracts which have been on hold because of concerns over liability and shares.

Bank account: minimum of two signatures, could be five, requiring just two from the five, or two designated ones.  We need to discuss this but I feel that Magda and I should be the two designated signatories. We also clarified among the group that Magda will be responsible for day-to-day finance; no-one can action a purchase without her permission.

We cannot trade on claims that we are raising money for charity, but a proportion of our profits can go to charity.  We cannot trade with North America (due to possible litigation).

As a group, each director will own the intellectual property rights to PIKA after the company is folded.  It is important to liquidate our company by 31.7.2010 (or the bank can keep our money) – could always register PIKA with Companies House if we wish to continue.  We will need final report and accounts when liquidating and these must be sent to YE head office (Oxford?)

BUSINESS PLAN – one will be needed to open a bank account.  It includes a memorandum (our feasibility plan) and articles of association.  I have downloaded the HSBC business plan template.  WE MUST OPEN A BANK BUSINESS ACCOUNT WITHIN THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS.  The accounting period starts when PIKA is registered and ends on 30th April 2010.  YE charge VAT (17.5%) and corporate tax (10% of profit).

Our final business presentation will be on 30th April 2010.

To raise funds it was suggested we do a sub-enterprise.

We could go to companies and get pre-orders and payments.

Again, it was stressed that the YE scheme is a learning process, the only way to learn is to start a business and run it, through YE we minimise personal risks.

SHARES – if we do have shareholders they must be invited to the AGM.

YE logo – this must go on the bottom of our stationery.

TRADE FAIR – there is a trade fair at KU and we should take part, 10.12.09.

What now for PIKA?

We need to look at  soliciting  funds from other organisations, also consider applying for grants.

The business plan should work in blocks of two months: plan for what will happen at the end of each block of two months, e.g. by this date we will be selling, making profit etc.

We are waiting for more results from the cycle survey (Christine).  Yoon has done an excellent video of a new persona – Lena – and is working on our web-site.  Magda is chasing sponsorship and getting material samples.  Cyndy has produced prototypes and we have narrowed the design to a simple cape which she is working on.  Once material samples have arrived she will be collaborating with Magda on costings.

I was really pleased with Friday’s session.  All very informative and answered many questions that had been troubling our group.

My role now is to organise the Business Plan, finalise the employment contracts and keep momentum going.  I need to plan our growth carefully.

During this past week I remembered why my previous charity had been so successful as I fell into one of my old roles of networking and PR.  I had read in the local Hampshire paper about a woman, Sarah, who works for both the Cycling Touring Club and East Hampshire District Council.  She runs local cycling schemes so I arranged to meet with her.  She was fascinating.  She runs a weekly event for up to 60 disabled people in the local woods, she also runs a confidence building course.  I met up with this group; some had had surgery and found that cycling was the only comfortable way to exercise.  Others were simply unfit and all needed to get back into cycling gently.  They thoroughly enjoyed the session.  I was able to chat with them before spending over an hour with Sarah.  She hopes to take her cycling initiative into schools and wants to target young female students – the same age group as our target market.  She has many plans and is thinking of organising  a cycling event and inviting companies, manufacturers, cyclists, professional cyclists and the general public.  The event would include games, competitions and cycling displays.   Sarah was keen to see our cape and trial it for us, we would very much like to be involved in her event.

I found it so easy to make contact.  This is what I did with my charity; just picked up the phone and made connections with great results.  I dealt with the media, our supporters, suppliers and organised fund-raising events and transport of goods.  But PR is not my role now, although I believe I can be an ambassador for PIKA.  Standing back will be hard as networking and meeting people is something I really enjoy even though I do not have any formal qualifications in marketing and PR.  This role falls onto another team member, I have made suggestions to her about people and organisations to contact and will have to see what can be achieved.

I do feel, now that the initial weeks are behind us, the team members are finding their own momentum in their chosen roles.  This should be an exciting time for everyone as we move forward and see tangible results.

raft race running helicopter 005 (2)

We are having fun!

November 8, 2009

Reflection on our presentation and an incredible week!

Filed under: Uncategorized — marz2009 @ 7:47 pm

Where do I begin?

As a result of all the hard work produced by the team this past week PIKA has stormed ahead and to quote Corrine, we are ‘on a roll’ and ‘on the money’.

When our team first got together it was through an interest in fashion, sports and wanting to improve people’s lives.  We then decided upon helping women cyclists.  At this stage the emphasis was on producing something bright and fashionable.  Much research followed which opened our eyes to the safety aspects of cycling, particularly studies that showed women are more likely to have accidents than men.  This was because they tend to lack confidence on the roads which makes them less visible to other road users.  So at this stage the team’s focus was on developing a high visibility garment made from reflective material.

I talked with a shop owner and discovered that women tend to buy the same products as men and that wearing high visibility cycling gear does not necessarily make them safer.  A confident attitude makes them safer.  The findings in a recent government report showed that women prefer to ‘hide’ and do not like to ride their bikes in a manner which draws attention to themselves.  Their predisposition to want to hide and not to draw attention is the very thing that makes them invisible to motorists, especially drivers of larger vehicles such as lorries.

The months of October and November have the highest numbers of road traffic casualties as motorists, cyclists and pedestrians struggle to adapt to the clocks going back an hour and subsequent darker afternoons.  Young people (aged 14-25) are particularly vulnerable road users.

We had originally considered designing cycling wear that was fashionable but had high visibility strips sewn in, the idea had been to present a desirable item which happened to have a safety element.  We then looked to see if there was a need for just high visibility clothing.  We talked to cyclists using empathy methods and developed three personas for our perceived market.  Cyndy produced some very good prototypes, at one point the team was considering making a high visibility belt.

Yoon and Christine observed cyclists at night around London in the rain.  Apart from discovering that half of the cyclists ignored traffic lights, they also found that many did not wear high visibility clothing; liked to pursue the dangerous habit of listening to their MP3 players while cycling and few had proper lights.  One team member watched a parent trying to get her teenage daughter to buy a high visibility vest with no success because it did not ‘look good’.

A cycling survey was produced and distributed to web-sites used by cyclists.  Originally the survey included a wide range of women as another report had shown that after a break from cycling women start to return to it in their forties.  Now we had more feedback it was becoming clearer that our target market could not be so wide and would focus on young women aged 14-25.  The survey would need to be adapted and modified.  (Magda and Christine have now done just that).

So, having spent the last weeks investigating the area of cycling for women and having considered the idea of developing a high visibility garment for its own sake, we had come full circle.  Now armed with our findings we knew that we had found the right target market, need and product.  We had ended up where our first thoughts had started (to produce a fashionable cycling garment for young women) but this time we had information to support our decision.

Friday’s presentation to our class was based upon our research and conclusions.

We stated the background to our team and our research including findings from recent government reports.  Our product would be fashionable, functional, waterproof made from eco-friendly materials.  Our market is 14-25 year olds wanting inexpensive products.  We talked about our competitors who are relatively few.  They make fashionable cycling wear that is comparatively expensive.  We can fill a niche for trendy cycling wear that is cheap to buy.  Our first product would be a waterproof cape that can be folded up and stored under the bike’s saddle.  Our company’s commodity will be a reflective and bright fabric.  This is being sourced.  We will have a pre-launch to generate interest in our product and will use social networking sites to promote the cape.  We will approach magazines with the aim of having our cape photographed on photo shoots.

That sums up the presentation.  Cyndy and Magda had put it together during the previous week and Cyndy had made a powerpoint to go with it.  My contribution would be to speak about the reports and statistics after Cyndy had spoken.  Unfortunately we did not keep to the running order, some confusion ensued and I gave the background information before ‘the Pitch’.  This certainly re-enforced the need to rehearse the delivery and not just plan the order in which people will speak.  (With a debate coming up soon this has been a valuable lesson and we will certainly allocate time to rehearse for that).

However, the presentation went well and we had some excellent feedback. The class seemed to grasp why we wanted to help young women cyclists and how our product would fill the need for ‘fashion that gives confidence’ – coined by our lecturer, Corrine.  I see it as a way of  ‘sneaking in’ a safety product under the guise of fashion.  If a young woman wears a cape believing it makes her fashionable and on trend it will make her happier to be seen, it will improve her confidence and combined with the high visibility reflective detailing her visibility to other road users will improve.  The cape certainly seems to fill many needs.

Clearly we would have to look more carefully at our personas and provide new ones to match the narrower age range: 14 – 25 year old women.  One student was worried about securing the cape to the cycle and avoiding it being stolen.  Again, this is an area that will require work but this should be achievable.  Cyndy explained that the capes could be small enough to fit into a handbag or be rolled up under the saddle.  One student mentioned bikes she had seen which have an attachment on the back with an additional wheel for transporting a child.  She was particularly worried about the safety aspects.  We all agreed on the dangers of the child not being seen but felt we should concentrate on our target market for now.

Our competitors were mentioned; how did we feel about them?  Again, pricing would be key to our success.  The capes would have to be cheap to be affordable to our target market, sourcing inexpensive material and  manufacturing would be crucial.  We were not competing with expensive designer bike wear retailing for hundreds of pounds.  Our product would be waterproof, fashionable, cheerful and cheap.  Corrine advised that we keep to five different styles of capes (i.e. five different patterns/prints) which would provide enough choice for our customers and keep down manufacturing costs.

Marketing would be so important for our venture.  I feel that we need a celebrity to endorse the cape and certainly Cyndy has contacts in the fashion and magazine industries that could give the cape valuable exposure.

Other things I took away from our Friday session:  a video showing a company using real flies to advertise itself at a conference – weird but effective.  This made me open to considering more unusual ways of advertising.  The need for a liability waiver – can a cape injure a person?  Could it get trapped in the spokes of the wheels?  I am not sure how this would happen, but we need to make sure we are not vulnerable to being held liable for any potential incidents.

There is a lot to do but the presentation clarified that we are on target.  Work needs to be done in prototyping, testing it on our market, re-prototyping and re-testing, marketing and moving the project forward.

My role now is much clearer as each team member is concentrating more on their defined roles.  In the early weeks we were all involved in researching and finding what we would be doing as a team in the area of cycling for women.  We are now much clearer about what we want to achieve.  We have identified a target market and a suitable product to address the needs of ‘fashion that improves confidence’ and aids safety.  I understand better our individual team members and have more confidence in leading the project and team.  My role is to make sure that each team member uses their skills to the best of their ability.

I am working on the feasibility study (Bright Eyes competition entry) and particularly how it will feed into the business plan.  With so much happening it becomes very important to keep everyone informed and on track.  There is excitement in the group and renewed enthusiasm.

November 2, 2009

Prototyping

Filed under: Uncategorized — marz2009 @ 12:04 pm

Wonderful news today, Corrine says all the teams have improved.

HURRAH!

But our team still needs to meet with her, we know we could do better and we need some crucial feedback.

FRIDAY 30TH OCTOBER.

This Friday our session was on PROTOTYPING. As a process it should be fun!  Prototyping is a way to tackle the ideas that are floating around in our heads.  Prototyping can demonstrate what will or won’t work; what could be improved.  Importantly it puts the risks at the beginning of the project.  Far better to try out things now and make lots of ‘mistakes’ rather than do so at a later date when it becomes much harder to change things.

When I was involved with a charity I did not just deliver goods to a hospital that I presumed would be needed.  We went out to the hospital and observed.  We talked to doctors, nurses, parents, children and the community.  Then we met the needs.  It would have been incredibly expensive, arrogant  and wasteful NOT to investigate the need BEFORE giving aid.  Also, we came across so many things we could never have anticipated such as people’s perception of giving; attitudes to children and health; the government’s policies.  Much of this was totally alien to us.

Back to Friday………..

We watched a video made by Johnny Chung Lee on ‘Desktop Virtual Reality Displays’ using Wii remote.  He demonstrated his prototype in a very clear and concise manner.  Despite having made this discovery on his own, Lee was very happy to share his ideas on the internet.  His generosity generated much interest in his field of work and he is now collaborating with others.

Lee’s actions demonstrated that the internet can be a powerful tool for good.  Too often we feel we must protect our ideas from being stolen by predators.  Simply having the courage to be open and inclusive could reap innumerable rewards .

Lee’s actions were revolutionary to me.  He made me consider our own team site.  The site could be far more than just a marketing tool to display our creativity.   It connects us globally with people who share our concerns and are working to alleviate similar problems.

Next we watched a video featuring prototyping by students at Stanford University.  I wished we had come up with this ourselves.  They were interested in how students used their bikes to get around campus.  They observed the difficulties students experienced trying to cycle with a cup of coffee.

It looked so simple.

  • Establish the need to transport drinks of coffee while cycling around campus by observing lecturers and students.
  • Get lecturers and students to try out different containers/prototypes and get their feedback.
  • Refine the prototype.

PHASE ONE: The user and his/her need, his/her point of view.

PHASE TWO: Prototype, get feedback, improve on prototype and test again.

This video certainly helped our team to focus on our own project.  Magda has already spent hours observing cyclists in London and will expand this further.  There is a sense of stepping back and disengaging from our ideas.   Concentrate on the end-user and the need will become apparent.  This is a priority for this week.  Having watched the video I felt rather envious: a good example to learn from.

A link led to videos by students at the Rhode Island School of Design.  My personal favourite has become Adam Meyer’s  interactive jump rope which enables children to have skipping competitions with those from around the world and all at the same time.

I liked the way in which we could sketch out ideas without using computer technology, pen and paper can be more effective.

Looking at our ideas afresh.

Corrine took us through a new approach where we had to identify our product – I summed it up as a high visibility item for female cyclists.  Then we had to break it down into components – it illuminates at night, it glows in the dark.  Great, so what else does that?  Cat’s eyes (road), car lights, insects, torch, moon, mirror, water, human and animal eyes.

So far so good.  The ‘natural’ items in the list above are the animals, insects, moon and water.  The ‘man-made’ objects are glass, silver, electricity, mirror, torch.

What materials are used?  Natural: rock, water, insects?  Man-made: plastic, wire, glass, silver, paper.  Now, what materials/elements are missing:  sand, earth, wood, steel, string.

Her next question was very helpful, how does nature do it?  Insects (such as fireflies) have chemicals (luciferin, luciferase and oxygen which combine and cause a reaction that produces light.  The lens at the back of a mammal’s eyes reflects back light.  This approach has its own school: ‘Bio Mimicry’ – a system that looks at how nature does things.

Reviewing my list, did I have  every type of matter?  solid, liquid, gas, – almost – moon, water, possibly fog (gas) but not sure where lightning would be classed.  Looking back at natural and man-made components – how do they function?  Well, moon reflects the sunlight, water reflects the moon etc.

My areas of interest were INSECTS, EYES and MIRRORS.  Something to look at more closely in the future.  Until now our focus has been on  a material that is already available.  However, if the project could last for longer than nine months perhaps we could look in more detail at how these work in their own rights.

THE DE-FAULT SETTING

This is one of Corrine’s sayings but it sums up the problems in designing.  We have to acknowledge and avoid the de-fault setting and look at the issues from the customer/consumer’s perspective.  The above process of breaking down our de-fault setting into its component parts and expanding them would help to discover a completely new answer to the discerned need.

COMMUNICATE THE IDEA.

There are many ways in which to communicate ideas, again, the simplest are often the best.

  1. Try out someone’s ‘shoes’ – ask customers for feedback on their experiences, talk to the company/shop owner for information about their customers.  There could be discrepancies between how the customers and company view each other.  This is something our team could easily do for cycling and safety.
  2. Time for a bit of drama – role play!  Perform the different roles and activities, then change something – could be a constraint, a user, the object.  We learnt earlier that changing just ONE thing in the process can alter others.  So act out being a customer buying a trampoline on-line.  Now, remove the computer – what happens?  How does a customer purchase that trampoline?  What if we change the customer and this time he does not speak the same language – how does the company communicate?  We could adapt this to cycling and safety by changing constraints like the weather, location etc.
  3. Quick and Dirty Prototyping – I was prepared!  Had brought in a plastic bag of rags, sheets, gaffer tape, scissors – even toilet roll!  There was no time to do this during the session but will produce something for you now.  This could be a belt or a wrap, it is light and easy to pack away.  There is a velcro like fastening and the product could be wrapped around the waist, an arm or a leg.  It has a panel which flashes.  All of this and it only took one minute to make.
  4. one minute wrap

  5. We carried out our own behaviour sampling by ringing friends on our mobiles and listing what they were doing AT THAT MOMENT.  (Good example of scenarios changing as I cannot get orange mobile connections at KU!)  Most respondents were at home and on the computer.  So, in answer to the question – What are people doing?  Now we know.
  6. Informance was particularly interesting – rather like being a mimic.  Observe another person, then copy.  Humans are tactile, physical beings.  If you were to show me what I need to do to work a television remote control, I would watch, listen and probably forget.  If I picked up another remote and then copied your actions I would almost certainly not only remember what you did but also KNOW what you did.  To understand a ‘customer’ try walking in their shoes (and other wise words my granny used to say).
  7. Scale modeling – just as it says, a scaled down model of something.  To look at how pupils move around a school, could produce a scaled down model of the school and move little cut-outs around to show peak times for movement and where any ‘blockages’ occur in the building.  For cycling we could build a model of a street and use toys to negotiate obstructions and vehicles.
  8. Paper prototyping is something our team tried out this week.  Just sketching for five minutes and comparing our results.  In Friday’s session we used a cut-out version to communicate how lift buttons are used.  I repeated my idea at home and here it is.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Interestingly I had assumed the buttons were INSIDE the lift while others thought they were outside.  I found this particularly helpful.  What happens and when?  Linking back with the idea of using senses, we had to repeat the process without talking, then talking but with eyes closed, each time using our sense of touch when moving the paper around.  If it had been appropriate we could have used taste and smell – maybe Guide dogs would appreciate buttons which emit smells?

Our team will be meeting soon via Skype to look at how we could apply some of these methods.  I may use quick-and-dirty prototyping to communicate with my team and/or talk to a cycling shop owner about how he/she sees female customers.

A reflection on my role as Project Manager in the team:

Well, quite a challenging week.

Most of the team met on Wednesday and we agreed to enlarge our target customer base and push ahead with an online cycle survey.  The video of this meeting will be added to last week’s post.   However, the absence of a group member did disrupt the meeting.  Guidelines need to be drawn up to cover this situation in the future.  Should a team member be unavailable then what protocols need to be set in place?  Could they forward their contribution in advance?  What if the absence is due to an unforeseen emergency?  A valuable lesson learnt and I am working on the employment contracts so we can avoid any future misunderstandings.

I believe it is important to make sure that everyone is included and heard, particularly in these early stages as we need to agree who we are and what we want to achieve.   Now I need to start delegating more and look more carefully at strategies for the coming weeks, short term and long term.  It is my responsibility to produce a business plan using each person’s contribution.

My role has been to organise meetings and communicate agreed tasks and deadlines for the coming week.   Our team has also had difficulty meeting and more recently uploading our videos.  This is now being addressed with extra meetings during the week, some for a reduced team.

Everyone is feeling stressed with the increased work load.  It was clear a week ago that members were feeling overwhelmed; I tried to listen to each person and encourage them.  Reflecting on the last month I can see that I had found it difficult to lead fellow students when my main concerns were for each person’s wellbeing and sense of belonging.  In my charity work I had been the driving force and this had come easily.  Others had been caught up by my enthusiasm and had given their support willingly.  Our MACE team felt unreal to me, I did not want to play the role of the teacher and felt I should be a facilitator in my leadership role.  However, now that we are past the initial stages I need to move us forward.  The best boss I have ever worked under led by example.  He was prepared to ‘muck in’ and somehow that inspired his team to try even harder.  He was also fair and highly respected for his calm manner, experience and knowledge.

I would like to be like him but equally I have my own style which I need to make better use of and improve upon.

In our team we are still trying to find what our product/cause is.  We agree on the general trends but not on specifics.  I am conscious that this is a learning exercise involving fellow students, but we are also running  a business and I need to keep momentum going.    I am beginning to delegate more as the workload grows exponentially.  The video camera has caused us all immense problems as uploading material is complicated and time-consuming.  We will have to review how to get our ideas across in an  imaginative but simpler manner.  We are all finding time is at a premium and from now we will be meeting up in smaller groups to be more efficient.

This is a steep learning curve for myself and the group but I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.

October 25, 2009

Reflection on my role in Maceteam2

Filed under: Uncategorized — marz2009 @ 11:15 pm

 

Our team had a shaky start as it was one of the last teams to be formed.  We had a core of three people and had planned to speak to three others who had shown interest in joining us.  Unfortunately events overcame us, teams were allocated by a different tutor, then changed again. 

On reflection this has enabled us to be sure that we have the best mix of skills and experiences possible.  All of us are interested in sports and safety and can fill the gaps in each other’s knowledge.

My role as managing director is evolving.  With such a small group I am very aware that many decisions have to be made jointly.  I feel that my role so far has been to make sure we all know what is expected of us and that we keep to deadlines.  Also, it is important that each member is able to express themselves in the group and I feel responsible for making sure that everyone is heard.  We are still getting to know each other and last week proved very difficult.  We were given a group assignment but due to prior commitments we were unable to meet as a team.   Magda, Yoon and Christine did manage to meet up in London;  carry out the required research and produce a questionnaire but as Cyndy had charge of the video camera we were unable to film the process.

Thankfully we were able to talk via Skype  and communicate through e-mails.  Last Friday’s lecture helped us to resolve many issues as a group.  By talking to our tutor we have been able to find a solution and have a new plan for tacking assignments and team work.

So far, I have made notes during meetings and agreed division of work-loads.  I have set-up our team wordpress site and posted assignments, although I can see that will change in the future as each member will be required to take turns in posting on the team site.

Our group has a fascinating mix of people.  Two of us are native English speakers and the non-native English-speaking members are able to express themselves very well and contribute fully to the team.  I am concerned that three of us are part-time students.  This means we are away from campus and in paid work for the rest of the week.  This does make it much harder to have ad-hoc meetings.  However, we are committed to the business and having had advance notice we have arranged to meet up this Wednesday as well as the usual Friday. 

I am very aware of the different personalities in our group.  We are still getting to know each other but last week we all came under a lot of stress and everyone, including me, let our guard down.  It was clear that the team members were anxious.  It was encouraging  that as far as possible everyone was honest with each other and some solid ‘group bonding’ took place. 

We are still at the stage of researching exactly what our product/cause will be.  Although we agree that it is in the area of cycling and safety for young women, more work is being carried out this week on empathising with our target customer.  Our Maceteam2 blog site gives more information about our work.

I have accessed the paperwork on the Young Enterprise web-site.  Initially this did look overwhelming but I now understand that it is there to guide us and to be used as a reference.

Once our group is past the stage of deciding upon our product/cause then I can see myself being able to engage more fully with my specific role overseeing and managing the company as an entity in its own right. 

 

053

On Friday we were encouraged to think about analogies for our companies/ products/services.  Take a look at the photo above.  It is a view from a helicopter being flown by my son over the Isle of Wight (yes, I am very proud).  In order to fly a rotary wing aircraft he has to deftly work pedals with both his feet while operating a steering column with his hands; checking on the instrument panel and listening in over the airways to other pilots in the vicinity.  He has to have a very light touch to make the helicopter hover only a few feet from the ground without crashing.  I understand this skill is akin to being able to pat your head with one hand while rubbing your tummy in circles anti-clockwise with the other.  He also needs his wits about him as he shares airspace with planes, gliders, kites and microlights!  That is my analogy for my role as the managing director of a new and exciting creative company.  As the ‘pilot’ I make the parts work well both independently and together so as I steer us towards new horizons Maceteam2 can ‘fly’.

October 24, 2009

Reflection on ‘Storytelling, Personas and Design Thinking’.

Filed under: Uncategorized — marz2009 @ 11:29 pm

Before I reflect on yesterday’s class I feel I need to reflect on where I am personally as we approach the end of the first month on this course.

I arrived home yesterday to find the phone was not working; the internet was intermittent (BT man told me the signal may be getting through as it travels along different fibres/are different lengths).  So, here I am sitting at the computer praying I can finish this assignment without being ‘bumped’ off the internet.  The land line should be fixed next week, am staying positive.

For now, am feeling comfortable.   Last week, just as I began to understand what was required, the ‘proverbial’ mat was pulled from under me and I felt like I was ten again on the first day back at school after the summer break.  Without the cover of my security blanket, the one with ‘mature student’ written all over it, I felt anxious, exposed and disheartened.  I like to see where lectures are taking me; to understand ‘why’ and not just ‘what’.

Yet, as I type this I am excited and hopeful.  There was a lot of positive and mutual feedback at the session yesterday which has certainly helped me to find my way again.  The following weeks will leave me feeling unbalanced at times, but that is just as it should be.  I am a student.  I am learning.  Rather like the scripts that I am so used to working with, I will be broken down, analysed, taken apart and then re-assembled again.  The end product will be worth it.

Reflection on session held yesterday, 23rd October 2009:

DESIGN THINKING

Storytelling and Personas. 

These are two ways of relating with our target audience, in this instance we’ll call them our ‘customers’. 

We all love to hear stories, a fictional account of a person or an event can help us to connect with our audience in a way that statistics and figures cannot.  The focus should be on the customer, not the perceived product.

In our first session on describing shoes we discovered that a personal story about a pair of shoes makes them more memorable and interesting.  Storytelling can use the written word, images, events.  A story helps us to identify with the subject.  When as children we listened to the story of Little Red Riding Hood we could imagine how frightened she was; how dark and scary it felt to walk alone through the woods and how much she was looking forward to seeing her beloved grandma.  Stories activate our imaginations.  www.girleffect.org told a story about how a young girl’s life could be improved.  This was accomplished in a very simple manner using just text and prompts.  Straight away we became that child and could empathise with her problems.

We looked at the idea or producing a ‘persona’ – a profile, character, imaginary person that could be our customer.  Take my fake persona, M is a mature student.  She works part-time while bringing up the last of her four children and this is why she needed to do a part-time course.  She drives to university as the bus connection from the train station is too arduous and she has heavy bags to carry.  She wants to improve herself and gain qualifications to help her attain her dream of teaching in higher education.  Her mind is bombarded with the needs of her family; her youngest teenagers are taking A-levels and applying to universities.  She feels she has done a good job with her family but has also paid the price for putting her own needs on hold, although she would not change any of it.  She likes to keep fit but has no desire to turn back her biological clock.  She realises she has her own unique views and enjoys being with other students.  She has experience in the film industry, charity and schools.  There, I have just made up a persona for one of the many students on the MACE course at Kingston!  Is M typical of fellow students?  No single persona will answer the question – who is our customer?  But through empathising with the cognitive, emotional and physical needs we can produce several personas and then identify the more common traits among them.  Next we can reduce this number to a few that reflect our students/customers.

Consider the cognitive, emotional and physical needs of the customer.  Our brief for our team work was to produce personas and make a video for each one to tell their story.  The videos would not need to be complex ‘Hollywood’ dramas, sometimes the simplest methods can be the most effective.

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO (www.ideo.com), stated that we are going through a period of change where design is going back to its roots.  Historically, design was about large projects such as Brunel’s engineered bridges, train systems etc.  More recently we think of design in terms of smaller objects, a piece of furniture, a vase, something small and decorative.  Brown believes that design thinking, i.e. Innovation, is becoming larger again as it encompasses services, consumer experiences and brand experiences.  He states ‘we believe that companies which view design as just making things cool or pretty are missing the point’ (TEDGlobal conference, London).   Design is about more than aesthetics, it can be used to tackle a whole range of creative and business issues.  Design thinking is a way to create and manage the future.

It includes:

  • New strategies
  • New markets
  • New brands
  • New applications for technology
  • New ways of connecting to customers
  • New partnerships.

Design is a human centred process.  Designers consider the needs of people before the needs of the company.  (IDEO has produced a booklet accessible on their web-site: Human Centred Design).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Design Innovation

Design Innovation

Design thinking is supported by a rich set of tools.   There are three important phases:

  1. Inspire – empathise, frame the problem, ascertain goals and needs, make scenarios, make prototypes
  2. Evolve  (IMPROVE) – (how users use the prototype) empathise, frame, define, improve prototype
  3. Validate – (EVALUATE) – (test with users again) empathise, frame, define, prototype.  Purpose is to evaluate that prototype is the right one for the market.

 design innovation 3

Ideation: have ideas, observe and inquire, tell stories, synthesise, brainstorm, experiment, execute.

Inspiration: insights are fuel for innovation.  More insights are needed, get out in the world.  The world is a source of inspiration.

 

In order to be inspired we need to be out in the world interacting with people.  Empathise with others,  see the world how others see it, from their viewpoint.  Aim to understand on a multiple of levels.

  • Social
  • Cognitive
  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Cultural

Analogous situations: When presented with a situation try to find something that is similar in the way that it operates.  When IDEO had considered building an operating theatre they studied a car racing pit stop crew and found many similarities in the way that the operating and car racing teams worked.  For our own idea of safety and cycling, we could look at another form of transport/people carrier/mobility to get fresh insights.  An idea may be to observe a toddler on a trike negotiating a park, or watch workmen moving around a dangerous building site.

Our teams were encouraged to start testing audiences and test marketing now, it is a continuous, evolving process.

Innovation is a process.  Rather than presume what is required/needed start working with the customer to ascertain his/her needs.  Innovation is a journey where the destination is unknown.  Being innovative is better than being ‘right’.

MACE 23.10.09 003

It would be wrong to assume that we prototype in order to ‘show’ the product to others.  We build things to learn about our ideas.  An idea might go through hundreds of variations.

This is IDEATION.

Prototypes don’t have to be physical but must be tangible.  Even stories can be prototypes as they are tangible and  experiential. 

Corrine stressed the importance of play.  We need to be playful in our teams in order to be creative.  Where there is freedom to have fun then this leads to more creativity and better ideas. 

Lord David Puttnam will have the final word in this post, he started his career working at an advertising agency.  “The only thing I remember doing a lot, a really lot, was tap dancing……..we’d be screaming with laughter, absolutely falling about and meanwhile creating some very remarkable work’. (The Creative Economy, How People Make Money From Ideas)

If it worked for Lord Puttnam, better get my stilts out of the attic……………..

Design Innovation
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