Engaging People Perspectives and tools for involving others in innovation processes
â€œChasing deer without a guide only takes you into the bush.â€? - Li Quan, The Art of War
Engaging People Perspectives and tools for involving others in innovation processes Thor Rigtrup Larsen email@example.com Copenhagen, March, 2012 Illustrations by DrawMore Graphic facilitator Anne Madsen firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to Engaging People! What is in front of you now is a collection of perspectives and tools for involving others in innovation processes.
This is for you who has an interest in involving people more in your work, whether you call them users, citizens, customers, stakeholders, or something else. The publication serves both as an introduction and an inspirational expedition into the fields of open innovation, user-driven innovation, design thinking, online community building, and many other approaches to open innovation processes. Engaging People came about as part of an internship project during my final year of the KaosPilot education. My assignment was to research tools for user-driven innovation by interviewing experts within related fields. In November 2010 I traveled around Europe and North America and met with 24 inspiring experts and practitioners. It was a fantastic and eye-opening journey for me both in terms of expanding my geographical, cultural, and intellectual horizon. After a busy month I came home and passed on the extracted knowledge I had obtained from the conversations. However, the project I had been a part of was only targeted towards a Danish-speaking audience. Traveling around and meeting all these inspiring people was an incredible learning journey for me and I wanted to share the insights with as many as possible, also outside Denmark. Therefore I have now gathered all the interviews in English for this online publication. I hope you will find the tools and perspectives useful and relevant and wish you good luck engaging people.
All the best, Thor Rigtrup Larsen
Table of contents page 6
An invitation to open up
A conversation with Jerri Chou, Head Strategist at Lovely Day and Co-founder of All Day Buffet, The Feast Social Innovation Conference, and TBD, New York, USA
Between innovation and communication - credit and conversation
A conversation with Shaun Abrahamson, Organizer at colaboratorie mutopo, New York, USA
The praxis of use-driven innovation
A conversation with Jannie Friis Kristensen, Experience Design Lead at HeadFitted and former Head of Innovation at InnovationLab, Aarhus, Denmark
From tool to mindset
A conversation with Liz Sanders, Founder of MakeTools, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Dust and matter - feeding in, out, and back
A conversation with Chris Barez-Brown, Author, Founder of Upping Your Elvis and former Head of Capability at ?WhatIf!, London, UK
Amplifying differences to move beyond consensus
A conversation with Benjamin Aaron Degenhart, Free thinker and student at the KaosPilots, Aarhus, Denmark
The physical frames of freedom
A conversation with Attila Bujdos贸, Senior Research Supervisor at Kitchen Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
When the user is a partner
A conversaton with Mette Freisner, Global Innovation Partner at Vestas, Aarhus, Denmark
An expedition into inspiration
A conversation with Meg Lee, Innovation Director at WDHB, San Francisco, USA
After the Millennium Clash - guiding people and illuminating insights
A conversation with Christian Schneider, Design Thinking Mentor and Tutor and former Design Manager and Director of IDEO Milan, Hamburg, Germany
Radical evolution, radical innovation
A conversation with Nuppu G盲vert and Ville Tikka, Founders of Wevolve, New York, USA
Doing Design Thinking and learning business
A conversation with Andrea Scheer, Design Thinker at inventedhere, Berlin, Germany (with the participation of around ten of her colleagues)
Open minds and open processes
A conversation with Jakob Ipland, Business Designer and Human Centered Researcher at Innopia, San Sebastian, Spain
A conversation with Rebekka HĂ¸y Biegel, Consultant at ChangePilot, Aarhus, Denmark
Cultural probing 2.0
A conversation with Bo SchiĂ¸nning Mortensen, Research Assistant at Aarhus School of Architecture, Aarhus, Denmark
Creating the frames for innovation
A conversation with Jeppe Spure Nielsen, Project Leader of HandiVision at Alexandra Instituttet, Aarhus, Denmark
Parallel tracks - the community and the pipeline
A conversation with Dalhia Hagege, Consultant at bluenove, Paris, France
The fine line between creating frames and letting go
A conversation with Lama Juma, Initiator of the KaosPilot Alumni Community, Copenhagen, Denmark
Gardening a community - long tails and social objects
A conversation with Tommi Vilkamo, Head of Nokia Beta Labs, Helsinki, Finland
A conversation with Carl Damm, Co-founder of Strong Bright Hearts, Aarhus, Denmark
Passion and purpose
A conversation with Daniel Walmsley, Director of Technology, Purpose Campaigns, New York, USA
Co-creating value on the inside and the outside
A conversation with David Dencker, CEO at MUUSE, Copenhagen, Denmark
Answering questions, integrating communities
A conversation with Giordano Koch, Specialist in Innovation Communities and Open Government at HYVE AG, Munich, Germany
What is the public for?
A conversation with Peter MacLeod, Principal and Co-founder of MASS LBP, Toronto, Canada
An invitation to open up A conversation with Jerri Chou, Head Strategist at Lovely Day and Cofounder of All Day Buffet, The Feast Social Innovation Conference, and TBD, New York, USA
"It's bubbling up all over the place!" Jerri starts. Usually innovation is about getting ahead to get money, but what we are seeing now is a shift. There's an increasing focus on socially-based or open innovation. Businesses are opening up for their innovation processes and make them participatory. Business is going social. People are trying to adopt the open innovation approach in many ways, but mostly it takes the form of getting inputs and then designing something for the users such as contests or idea generation workshops/platforms. "That's because it's the most crackable for organizations to engage with," Jerri says. She continues. "You don't see a lot of innovation in business contexts that is actually driven by the users today. Right now it's mostly about getting ideas." Of course, there are also plenty of exceptions to be found. An example is X PRIZE who work with bringing about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Their innovation process starts with an open challenge and a prize that teams signing up then compete to achieve. Design is done by the participants in an elimination style which results in disqualified groups splitting up and recombining with those who move forward to leverage best practices and learnings from failure. Another is LEGO, where users can play around with their own designs online, and then get the bricks needed to build it shipped to their home afterwards. This is beneficial not only for the users who have the possibility to dream up whatever they want without limitations, but also for the company who gets invaluable insights into what excites their users as well as a constant flow of new design ideas. "There are many different ways of engaging open innovation," Jerri states. Kickstarter is also an interesting place to look. First of all it is functions very well for it is transparent and accessible. Also, it convenes people around ideas and helps 6
them come alive. It would be interesting is to see a model that combines something like Kickstarter with something like OpenIDEO - a platform where people would upload a project and the community would help strengthen the concept or design and then finally fund it and launch it. Jerri herself is working with an online platform in collaboration with Nokia that is called change-connections.com. This is a conversation around how the future of communication technology can help people around the world live better lives. The method applied here has been to first have a series of conversations with experts, and based on those start new conversations where everyone interested is invited. The dialogue is ongoing and spreading like rings in the water.
â€œThink of it as a party invitation. People will only come if they find it interesting and fun.â€? Here is an important point to notice. You can't request people to join an open innovation process, you can only invite them. You have to put yourself in their shoes and try to work out what the incentive for them would be. "Think of it as a party invitation," Jerri says. "People will only come if they find it interesting and fun." What motivates people is purpose. Using open innovation benefits products and services related to what people are passionate about. It helps fulfill their needs, whether it be moms about their kids, tech geeks about open source, or social entrepreneurs about new business models. With all the new means of online communication available today companies have potential for direct access to markets. When you open up to people into your organization, a conversation starts that generates insights on both sides. In that sense opening up can maybe even become a replacement for, or at least a very big part of, branding strategies. 7
But opening up for innovation also opens the question of copyright. Companies invest their money and time in the innovation process, but the people that get involved from the outside are also investing themselves and will feel ownership towards whatever is created. There is a challenge here that so far hasn't really been solved. There is a growing gap between the tools available now, like patenting and copyright, and how innovation processes happen. Open innovation could benefit by learning from the music industry. Generally business needs to innovate itself when it comes to patenting and copyright. If, for example, instead of treating people like pirates, companies might treat them like fans. This change could unleash innumerable possibilities. Look at the success Nine Inch Nails had with putting their latest album out for free. It sold more than 2 million copies in two months, peaked in charts around the world and received hours and hours of airplay. The commercial limited edition album version sold about 100.000 copies. They have understood how to leverage fandom. We're facing a paradigm shift. One must understand that people will always modify a product. We need a new way of thinking if we want to monetize open innovation. The models that start-ups and social enterprises are creating are cracking how things can and will work in this new paradigm and they will eventually come to challenge the big guys. They are open in thought and method and are more related to the laws of the internet than the laws of business. Terms like network, social rewards and cocreation are finding their way into the business vocabulary more and more. Companies can't shift overnight, but will have to do it eventually.
Between innovation and communication - credit and conversation A conversation with Shaun Abrahamson, Organizer at colaboratorie mutopo, New York, USA
What you see in communities, is that where it of course can't exist without the people, it also can't exist without its leaders. An example of a great community leader is Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress. He is a developer, yes, but he is also a very smart communicator. He responds to every comment he gets on his blog, and if he needs to communicate to larger audiences, he posts a video. He has understood both the importance of communication as well as the need to scale the conversation tools you use. Other examples are Craig Newmark from craigslist.comÂ or Tim O'Reilly from oreilly.com.
"Crediting is the key word in leading communities," Shaun says. "It's not if contributions from people are working, it's if they're credited." The value of innovation communities should therefore be measured, not only in economic terms, but also in more social terms like customer relationship and human resources. "Crediting depends on where you want people to pitch in. Apple, for instance, is famous for 'stealing by observing', which is a one-way approach to innovation, but in the case of the app store, they have opened up and give people the full credit for the applications they develop. Sometimes getting inspired by observing and testing products based on understanding user behavior is the right solution, sometimes it's more beneficial to open up and have a dialogue or simply let people build on a platform." Shaun continues. "Of course then you need to find a fair reward system," he 9
says and points to Triple Eight as an interesting example of an open model where the designers get a share when their products are sold. Google Search is also an interesting case in this aspect, as it doesn't exist without user participation. The more we all upload, the more we can all get back. And who hasn't felt a little excited when googling oneself and seeing that you're visible out there on the web. We reward ourselves. But our online behavior also leaves "data shadows" that google can trace and harvest. Google provides a service, and we produce our own rewards. In turn we open up for both Google and others to get insight into our lives.
“Crediting is the key word in leading communities. It’s not if contributions from people are working, it’s if they’re credited.” Doing community-based innovation can be placed in between how many or how good the innovations that come out of it are as well as the potential business value in them, and how much the public sentiment towards your organization and the understanding between you and your stakeholders is improving.
You can see it as a graph with two axes. If you then place yourself with a point up both axes, right in the middle, this is the conversation. This is where open innovation, co-creation, and all the other related derivatives are. Working from this place you can change both behavior and sentiment of your users, increase awareness of your organization, develop products, services and experiences as well as save money. What's also interesting about this graph is that whereas the people who measure on the communication axis are focusing on a free and open exchange of ideas, the people who focus on measuring on the innovation axis will sue you for doing the same! "But why divide?" Shaun asks. "There is synergy in the interplay between the two worlds." Kickstarter for example is a good place to look at for the synergetic effect: Your project gets funding and you create awareness around it. A favorite recent example is the Glif Iphone 4 Tripod Mount & Stand As an example of how he and colaboratorie mutopo have been working on both axises, he mentions a project called Betacup they did with sponsorship from Starbucks to make paper cups disappear. Communicating about sustainability issues is complex â€“ for example, while paper cups are very visible part of waste for Starbucks, they are a relatively very small part of their footprint. With Betacup, a conversation was opened up and people could explore for themselves the challenges of arriving at sustainable solutions from pure economics to local differences in recycling infrastructure. The public sentiment showed clear support for new alternatives around reuse, for example, where much of the conversation had been focused previously only on recycling, there is a clear benefit from a communications perspective. The winning design from the conversation is now on trial on America's west coast, so on the innovation axis value has been created as well.
The praxis of use-driven innovation A conversation with Jannie Friis Kristensen, Experience Design Lead at HeadFitted and former Head of Innovation at InnovationLab, Aarhus, Denmark
Jannie is educated from Information Science at Aarhus University, a place considered by many the cradle of participatory design. According to Jannie, user-driven innovation is a term that is a bit misunderstood. The users don't have the answers, they merely offer perspectives. Your job is to listen to them and build the relationship. Jannie explains. "Instead of talking about user-driven innovation, maybe it makes more sense to talk about use-driven innovation. Involving people needs to be a praxis, not a stand-alone event. It should be an iterative process towards greater understanding with multiple prototypes along the way. Development is an interactive process." That is why it is better as a company to involve people, not as a single event but over the course of time, so the praxis is developed. Start up should include processes both within the users and the employees of the company; otherwise it is just a one-time one-way communication. It matters in the small things. For example, when you need people's feedback and thoughts around a product, put the product in their hands and then give them a week to reflect and play around with it. Don't just ask for their quick opinion on their way out of the door! If you only give people one chance to answer, they will try to tell you everything and it can be difficult to know what their priorities are. That is why user-driven innovation gets a bad reputation, the knowledge is not acquired and processed in a sensible way. 12
When organizations complain and say that user-driven innovation doesn't work and that they only heard what they already knew, they should remember that to get quality output you also need quality input. You need to feed the users something they can be inspired by and work from.
â€œInstead of talking about user-driven innovation, maybe it makes more sense to talk about use-driven innovation. Involving people needs to be a praxis, not a stand-alone event.â€? "We need a new corporate culture." Jannie says. "We need to learn to ask questions and listen. Maybe it is a cultural thing, something we pick up in school where we are constantly told to answer? I don't know. I do know, though, that it is hard to get past that locked image you have of yourself and truly take in new perspectives. If you ask your users, and you listen, you often find that they have a different perspective of who you are and who you thought you were in their eyes. To bring their perspectives onward into an innovation process you need to take in what they say. You can't bring a perspective with you unless you are able to hold it yourself." It is Jannie's opinion that if you just give companies a bunch of tools for user-driven innovation, it is hard to get anything out of it. Tools work in the hands of those who use them. Some companies involve users as the most natural thing in the world, some can learn, and some will probably never learn. That is just how it is. It is a matter of figuring out from case to case what it takes to successfully involve users in your company. "And if it is relevant," Jannie adds, "don't involve users if you are unsure what you are going to use their perspectives and insights for."
From tool to mindset A conversation with Liz Sanders, Founder of MakeTools, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Working as a consultant, Liz Sanders explores participatory design and other collective forms of creativity to find ways of addressing the challenges in society today. It is her perspective that it is in the initial stages of a process or project where the important things happen; this is where the biggest possibility of influencing the outcome lies. Tools for participatory design are best put to use here because that is where you want the influence and perspectives of the relevant stakeholders.
"You can call these stakeholders users, citizens, employees, bosses or anything you want, but when involving anybody it is important to remember to look at people as people, regardless of their given role. You are working with them, not on them!" Liz says. People are behind anything we create, and people are more complex than simply users of some product or service. To truly create something together, you must embrace this. What you want to bring forth is the whole person. Tools, therefore, is just the beginning. What you are really aiming for is for people to work from their mindsets. 14
A tool is a really good place to start, because tools have clear guidelines. In a participatory workshop or project setting where people have little or no prior experience of working beyond roles and designing together, giving them a tool to work with gets them started thinking in participatory terms and therefore also working together. For those seeking this by themselves, starting from the tool level flattens out the learning curve towards full understanding. One experiences the participatory process on your own through hands-on activities. When people then have worked with tools for some time and they get the general idea of the patterns and thinking behind them, they begin to work from another level; the method level. Methods can be thought of as the approach for performing an action, whereas tools provide the action frames. When working from here you are able to act more freely than if you were simply following the rules or guidelines of a tool. One knows why the tools are pointing in this or that way and when they would be appropriate to use. The last level you want to reach is the mindset level. At this point people have embodied the thinking through their actions and their own experiences. Learning by doing. It is when working from this level that you create the biggest impacts. At this point people are really getting the full potential of participatory design, because now they know why they are using those methods and tools. They are not just participating, they are being participatory.
â€œWhat you want to bring forth is the whole person. Tools, therefore, is just the beginning. What you are really aiming for is for people to work from their mindsets.â€? This three-level model of course does not exclusively apply to participatory design processes, but is a model for learning and becoming aware of where you are working from in general. Liz tells how she has often experienced confusion in organizations or project groups that stems from people not knowing that there is a bigger picture behind the tools they use and therefore they apply them in an isolated fashion. Instead of saying: "Here's the tool!", try to say: "Here are some things to get started!" Working with participatory design means both seeing the tools you use as not just a tool but also a step towards greater understanding, and also seeing the people you involve as not just a user or employee but also as a whole person. Truly believe that people are creative and insist on inviting them into the process. This way you get the absolute best out of both. 15
Dust and matter - feeding in, out, and back A conversation with Chris Barez-Brown, Author, Founder of Upping Your Elvis and former Head of Capability at ?WhatIf!, London, UK
Chris frames innovation as a process to get from insight and ideas to impact. Through his experience he has gained a lot of insight into this process and how it works when it’s working best. “What helps open innovation work is to give a really good brief and insight to the people you are involving. If you don’t, it’ll probably just turn out as rubbish in the end!” Chris says. “Otherwise people get confused and their inputs are pretty much useless or on the wrong brief” Another key to success is to have a process or system to handle all the inputs. For example Coca-Cola once did a project where they got 300,000 ideas. “After that, 2 people had a bad six months!” Bottlenecks are dangerous not only for your work flow and work load, but also for your reputation. If you don’t respond to people when it’s still relevant for them, they probably won’t help you again. And working with open innovation, you rely on energetic and voluntary help. People want to be part of something bigger. If you appeal to people’s emotions you can bring something bigger than yourself to life. And you should always remember to recognize people for that. Also remember to make it easy for them to participate; people don’t want to risk getting something wrong if they’re doing it as a favor in the first place. If you have too narrow a template for participation, people will be nervous and therefore won’t share their perspective and insights you need. The frames should be open enough for content and ideas to bounce off each other. Chris has an example of what such frames can look like. “I recently joined a client’s phone-based open innovation session. First an issue was introduced, followed by some educative stimulation for the conversation. Forty people joined the call and it 16
was messy! Instead of harvesting everything that was said, what people had found valuable would be emailed back to the facilitator at the end of the session. It worked in a fabulously chaotic way as each participant wanted to be there and filtered the quality themselves.” Creativity in groups is all about the people; not the tools. Really there are only two things in play if you want to innovate with people: dust and matter. Dust is the stimulus you provide to people; the input. Matter is the ideas that come out the process; the output.
“Really there are only two things in play if you want to innovate with people: dust and matter. Dust is the stimulus you provide to people, the input. Matter is the ideas that come out the process, the output.” There are three levels in which to pay attention during the group innovation process: On the mental level, it is important that the participants feel safe. The brief must be clear and the facilitator must source that the process is in good hands and everybody can just lean in. On the second level, the emotional, it is about having fun, about learning, and about growing. The third level is the spiritual. Here you must pay attention to the participants’ values and beliefs. The atmosphere you create through the physical frames are also important. A stimulus-rich environment will create the right energy, a higher level of fun, and foster more ideas. On the topic of users, Chris has a point. “An important thing to note is that even though users may be experts and can provide great insights, they are not necessarily good at getting ideas. You need to ‘peel back’ to get new ideas from them; ask into and understand beyond what is being said.” 17
This can be helped by proper feedback systems. “If business is an experiment and innovation is its biggest driving force, then feedback and learning loops are at the heart of it.” Chris has a method for this he calls Funky Feedback. There are five steps: 1. You check in with yourself and the person with whom you are working, make sure the shared intention is good and clean and that you are in “the right state” for giving and getting feedback. 2. You share the raw data you have observed about the other (“You produced many ideas.”) 3. You share your interpretations of that data (I think that was a big help and inspiration for all of us participating!”) 4. You share your reaction to the interpretation (I love that and I have confidence in you participating in innovation processes”) 5. The other person reflects upon the feedback and internalizes it. As a concluding thought, Chris puts it all into the larger perspective. “It is life! It is who we are! We humans have survived this long because we constantly seek new ways to improve things.” In other words, innovation is inevitable. But there are more or less effective ways of doing it.
Amplifying differences to move beyond consensus A conversation with Benjamin Aaron Degenhart, Free thinker and student at the KaosPilots, Aarhus, Denmark
"First of all, in terms of effecting change, I am not dealing with companies at all. I am not really interested in it," Benjamin begins. "What I deal with is people empowerment." He continues: "It is interesting to think of communities and how they can grow together as organisms. What is the collective intelligence? What are the perceived commonalities and shared emotions? And most importantly, what are the internal differences that mutate the community and keep it evolving? And how can they be amplified?" As digital beings we are increasingly intersecting multiple social circles. We have multiple identities as we shift in between the different social spaces. You could argue that we are even beginning to live in meta-communities, where we are both the generic sum of all the identities that we take on in different contexts and on different platforms, and still we are being someone specific in that meta-community. Of course, this also happens online, but our realities are increasingly blurring with the speed of the internet. 19
Benjamin interrupts himself. "You know what? I want to share something a friend of mine recently shared with me. Instead of talking about being online or offline, let us talk about being onlife or inlife. Because the key thing is really in what way you are being present, both in your own life and in others." Benjamin is part of a Collective Intelligence Practitioner Initiative, CIPI, a concept originally initiated by Finn Voldtofte, where he is practically working with what he calls speaking to a field. "It is about challenging social conventions," Benjamin says, "just sitting together in a circle and seeing what emerges, exploring the field together. One thing we think could be interesting to experiment with is raising our hand on each other's behalf to speak. How deep and how light can our connections be? How can a social body operate as fast or faster than a processor? Can a system be so intelligent that it attracts distraction?" When this exploration works well is when the group is able to keep the purpose in the middle and still use their internal differences as an asset, disagree, move each other's thinking and cover bigger areas collectively. It is the amplification of differences that is bringing the people in the group together and moving them forward; not the shared vision. By simply being in contact with both yourself and the others at the same time you respect the collective. "To work with a field you need to be the field yourself," Benjamin concludes. But amplifying the differences takes effort. "When I go into a room I intuitively scan it for people that are like me in one way or another. This kind of homosocial behavior is comfortable, but nothing really happens when we just talk with those we already agree with. Nothing is moving. Energy only really builds when I am able to seek out and meet those that are different from me."
â€œInstead of talking about being online or offline, let us talk about being onlife or inlife. Because the key thing is really in what way you are being present, both in your own life and in others.â€? Of course there also needs to be things binding a group together. Shared emotions are the strongest community building asset, and rituals are a very primal way of achieving that together. When our ancestors sacrificed a cow, they bonded not only with nature and the gods, they also bonded with each other, expressing themselves in a way that, as they collectively experienced the staging of the dying cow, almost organically tuned them into the same frequency. Rituals are both the expression of 20
culture and the foundation of the shapes it takes. Rituals are mirrors reflecting back to us our thoughts and beliefs. They help develop our self-awareness and define our culture, which in turn frees us to divert within it. In that sense, rituals are also stories. It is very interesting, when working with communities and unfolding the collective intelligence, to think in creating new stories and rewriting the old ones, weaving the collective narrative. Benjamin gives an example of what the collective narrative can look like. "I was part of a session hosted by a woman named Mary-Alice Arthur. She asked us the question: 'When did you pass a threshold and what energy came from it?' Then she asked the question: 'What are the five stories that would serve the group the most?' After we had found those five stories, Mary mirrored back the essence of the story to us by weaving everything into a meta-narrative, and it gave meaning to everybody in the room. Master storytelling is building the stories that are already there." Language allows us to express incredible complexity. When we speak, we charge our shared space with symbols. These symbols become attractors to which the collective can relate. But stories also need the beauty of the individual. Group-forming-processes is the movement towards a shared language within which we can express our differences to each other.
Collective intelligence empowers the individual's brain in the community. While some things need to be decided upon in consensus, it also kills ideas. We compromise and dumb down the community by only going for the lowest common denominator. It is so hard for us to support what we don't understand, but problems must be solved in another system than the one that created them. Every creation needs to surprise the creator, and the creator must be ready for this to happen. Future technologies must embrace what we don't understand. We need to learn how to support each other without necessarily understanding each other. We need to move beyond consensus. 21
The physical frames of freedom A conversation with Attila Bujdos贸, Senior Research Supervisor at Kitchen Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Kitchen Budapest, or KIBU, is a place of freedom. Here young people come together and bring their ideas to life. Technological innovation and communication is the purpose here, but the clear emphasis is on the social aspects. It is a place of collaboration and a space where creativity emerges out of freedom. And the physical space is important. We all know that the best times usually happen in the kitchen! KIBU is where you meet informally and experiment with ingredients until you have something that could be a meal. As a bonus, you have a lot of fun while you cook!
"We had two options for a space;" Attila says, "Telekom or university. Both are places where technological culture happens. However, the first is big and corporate and focuses on technology. The second focuses on research and is too slow for us. We are freer in the way we like to do things; ie, we work chaotically." KIBU now has its own place. The physical space is important to Attila, both for attracting the right people and giving them the best possible environment in which to collaborate in. It is apparent that everyone is building the space while doing their 22
projects. Also, it is a very lively place with wall-to-wall whiteboards, messes on the tables, and people walking, talking, and working in big open spaces. People have called it a playground, which in Attila's perspective is both the best and worst comment to receive. KIBU has a reputation for being playful and fun, which are both necessary for innovation and successful collaborative projects to happen. However, it can be difficult to communicate this concept to partners thinking more conventionally.
â€œTech itself is boring! We donâ€™t give a shit about processor speed, we lean to the social side. What is important is how people relate to technology, how it changes culture.â€? "We have had to adopt more bureaucracy, more structure, because even though we have our own space, we are still sponsored by Magyar Telekom. Being sponsored presents us with some big challenges. For example, there is a big gap in how we develop projects at KIBU and what our sponsor expects. Also, they are big and corporate; we are small and creative. That means that for them to start a project or launch a product, they think of it more as hitting the button and letting the machinery work, whereas we build and think in prototypes. Because of our differences, the scaling from prototype to product can sometimes be a bit difficult. The production and idea pipeline between us is not just a hollow tube where everything flows freely, both sides have filters." Apart from its main sponsor, KIBU collaborates with a great mix of people, organizations and universities. Attila describes KIBU's role as being in between worlds; they help building the bridge between making money and making art and mixing the two cultures. He believes that is one of the reasons they are able to create value. Many different types come to KIBU: hackers, designers, scientists, people from in the social sciences etc., etc. Everybody is free to simply start up their own projects in collaboration with others. The strength here lies in the diversity of the network which creates a dynamic flow of ideas and projects and better chance of success with your project than if you would just be sitting alone at home. KIBU simply provides the framework and guidance for anybody who enters. The spirit is free, positive, and collaborative. The relations are both professional and personal. "No project with only one person, no person with only one project" is one of the guiding principles. People have to collaborate. Projects get launched through an ideation session, where everybody gives input on ideas and are free to join or start up any projects based upon these principles. 23
A KIBU Ideation Session with 15-20 participants will typically take 4-5 hours. It has four rounds: 1st round: All participants sketch out a project proposal on a piece of paper, put it on the floor in a big mosaic and circle up around it. Energy and focus are more easily kept when people stand up. By turn the participants choose a proposal that excites them, after which each is explained by its originator in 2 minutes. Calculate about 1 hour for this round. 2nd round: Everybody picks 2-4 projects they like, not including their own. Then, again by turn and with the sketches in their hands, they explain exactly why they have chosen these project proposals. They have to be supportive and positive about the project, almost become an agent trying to sell it by highlighting its advantages and potential. This is not a forum for discussion, so comments are not allowed. This round takes about 1-2 hours. 3rd round: The participants rate their willingness to engage in the different projects with post-its in three colors. One color is for wanting to become the project leader for a project, another is for wanting to be part of it, and the third is for just wanting to see it happen. Limiting the number of post-its to, for example, 5 per person is generally a good idea. This round takes about half an hour. 4th round: Prioritize the project proposals by which ones are the most popular, meaning which ones have the most post-its on them, and let the participants organize themselves around them with the intention of bringing them to life. The projects are now ready to be launched. Last round takes 10 to 30 minutes. Remember to take pictures of all drawings! "It is one of the best and most inspiring things we do at KIBU," Attila says. â€œThere are always new projects, and then, of course, KIBU is a project in itself.â€? It were the two founders of KIBU who developed Prezi, an innovative online presentation and storytelling tool that is now being used worldwide. Prezi is a good example of what kind of innovations emerge from the kitchen: Even though they are based on technology, they focus on the people using it. Attila explains. "Tech itself is boring! We don't give a shit about processor speed, we lean to the social side. What is important is how people relate to technology, how it changes culture."
When the user is a partner A conversation with Mette Freisner, Global Innovation Partner at Vestas, Aarhus, Denmark
When working in a field like building wind turbines, the technical requirements for being able to innovate are often very high. So what good are regular users in these cases? "Well, first of all, who are the users?" Mette asks and answers herself: "I, as a regular person, am not a user of wind turbines myself. I am, however consuming the electricity they produce. The link is the electricity companies, the engineers and technicians that work with the turbines every day. These are the users of both Vestas' services and products. 'User' can in this sense be defined as any person who is in contact with the product; the whole value chain of the product or service. In Vestas' case that means that the users are naturally what Eric von Hippel calls lead users. It also means that the users are partners of the company."
"Generally there is a belief that the "users/buyers" of the wind turbines, naturally don't know what the next generation of wind energy producing device shall look like and be. It is due to the complexity in such a device and that itÂ takes a great insight to know what is doable and what isn't. Vestas' involving of its users/buyers is pretty 25
unconscious as I see it", Mette says and continues; "But it doesn't mean that it isn't happening."
â€œWhatever you are working with, you will always have a user or some other kind of receiver of what you are providing to the world as you do when building wind turbines. If you allow their perspectives to become part of yours, innovation will happen.â€? Mette's experience is that there is a great amount of trust in the employees and their capability of generating user/buyer insights. Her reflection is that this trust naturally means that the employees have been given a great responsibility to do so. "This responsibility is communicated between the lines. And the people in Vestas - Technology, Global Research and Innovation (where I work) are, due to their nature and the research and innovation focused culture, using every opportunity possible to have a chat with other people in the value chain of the products in Vestas. The harvesting system for getting their thoughts and experiences spread internally in the company is random, but I believe that it is getting around some way or another and is creating new questions and new insight, that sparks new ideas that can be developed, tested and converted into new business advantages for Vestas. So the conclusion is, that any kind of user/buyer can be good to our innovation process, whether it is a conscious or unconscious action. And my belief is, that users/buyers could be playing an even bigger part of the innovation process in Vestas - with great benefits for all parts". Vestas is working on creating a strong platform. "We are momentarily working on an open innovation platform where every user, co-producer, co-researcher, supplier - people from every part of the value chain - will be invited to become a part of developing next generation of wind energy producing devices. We have about 350 universities, institutes and other knowledge fora in our innovation network with whom we continuously start up new development projects. Vestas continuously team up with other companies representing immature but promising technologies and create common projects to exchange knowledge and insight. This also goes with companies that are producing bits and parts of the turbine today. They are continuously invited into collaborative projects where both parts gain from the work that is being done. And then there are all the people with whom our about 23.000 employees speak daily gaining new insight. Mette Freisner believes that this new platform will give a lot more attention to these people, their insights, and their ideas.
A service that was actually developed through collaboration with one of Vestas' users that is also one of their collaboration partners is the Power Plan Solution, where Vestas' experts as a service help DONG measure wind speed and direction and all the subtle changes in the weather that happen all the time, and that has a huge impact on the productivity of the wind turbines in the Wind Power Plants. Vestas became aware of the great value in this service through their dialogue with DONG Energy. "Vestas is doing these tests on every Power Plant in which they are involved. But actually making it into a separate service, that you can buy an advanced version of to your Vestas Wind Power Plant, or maybe to a Wind Power Plant with competitors' wind turbines, was an idea that was born in the close dialogue with DONG Energy," Mette tells. This is another example of how innovation is likely to happen, when you allow multiple perspectives on the same thing. Mette is expecting to see more and more initiatives of this kind in the future, both in Vestas and in the rest of the renewable energy sector. "I believe it is the way things are pointing. I know that a great source for inspiration for the engineers in Global Research and Innovation in Vestas is YouTube videos where people around the world have uploaded their more or less tested ideas," she says. In Mette's perspective there are a number of things you must consider and ask yourself if you want to implement a strategy of user-driven innovation: - Consider the mindset of your company. Are you regarding your users as passive consumers or resourceful human beings? - On what level is implementing a user-driven innovation strategy a priority? Is the CEO backing this up or are you on your own? - How can you create a consciousness of your company in the users? How do you make it interesting for them? - To what extent do the users need training to participate in the innovation process both when it comes to skills and professional lingo? - What should the communication platform look like - physical, digital or both? And how loose or tight are the frames? - How long are the time cycles in your profession? Does it take a lot of testing before a product can become a reality or can you go from idea to action in one day? - What exactly is it you want help with? People give better answers when the questions are also good! Whatever you are working with, you will always have a user or some other kind of receiver of what you are providing to the world as you do when building wind turbines. If you allow their perspectives to become part of yours, innovation will happen. Maybe not as the first thing, but every interaction counts. 27
An expedition into inspiration A conversation with Meg Lee, Innovation Director at WDHB, San Francisco, USA
Meg begins: “You can see society at large, and very visibly the business world, moving towards greater empathy. Inclusion and involvement, engaging internal and external stakeholders, is becoming an organizational and innovation process that many businesses are beginning to focus real attention on in the development of their culture and brand. One approach of engagement that is getting increase traction is design thinking. The mindset and practice of design thinking is fundamentally optimistic, collaborative, and focused on uncovering a variety of solutions to solve a challenge. It is able to pull multiple perspectives together to solve complex problems driven by a human-centered, system level point of view .” The user-centered design process became a mindset and practice to creatively drive strategic action. “The business world sees the advantage of user-centered design, applied to their outfacing business challenges as well as their internal practices to build an innovative company culture,” Meg says. “In the process of organizational change, this 28
is a powerful platform to work from when building up innovation as it is a practice that needs to be cultivated as a business strategy AND as an organizational culture. Exposure to innovation is learning at the edges and learning is at the heart of the strategic. The way we do it is to take companies on a journey through explorations that dive into strategic and management challenges by inspiration from a diversity of experience. In this way we co-create meaningful, immersive experiences with our clients.” Meg continues. “We work with the organization on navigating through this experience together, we travel to different contexts – that could be geographic, demographic, industry – to get inspired and iterate on possible solutions. We are more like a coach than a director. We provide the tools, but the insights are from the active engagement, interpretation and synthesis that come from our clients’.”
“We pluck different strings from outside the organization and hear if they resonate. If they are in tune, there is something, a common chord, to move towards.” WDHB work to encourage change and insight by leaders by reflection on head, heart, and guts - the concepts, the emotions, and the action. Impact as a result has action at the individual, team, and ideally, organizational level. “Of course, as it is a journey we take our clients on, we can’t guarantee what the final outcome will be,” Meg explains. “When you work with dynamic processes things always turn out differently than planned. What we can assure is a very high level of inspiration, especially those non-apparent inspirations where innovative insights can be found. We pluck different strings from outside the organization and hear if they resonate. If they are in tune, there is something, a common chord, to move towards. Change won’t come just looking to your left and to your right. What we try to do is to make organizations see where opportunities lie in the mindset, practices and cultures of a diversity of dynamic contexts.”
After the Millennium Clash - guiding people and illuminating insights A conversation with Christian Schneider, Design Thinking Mentor and Tutor and former Design Manager and Director of IDEO Milan, Hamburg, Germany
Christian Schneider was one of the pioneers trying to communicate the user-centered design approach right from its beginning in the early nineties. “It is really about taking a closer look to peoples’ life, exploring and building on your understanding to create applications that make sense. The field has now evolved naturally into what we call Design Thinking,” Christian says. “It is democratic in thought and its processes applies beyond design.” To design for relevance you first take a close look at real life and then add technologies. You need both qualitative and quantitative research around the behavior patterns of the users of a given product, service or experience, and you need to do it from multiple angles. The art is to get under the skin of what you are working with, and for that you need patience and at least two persons. You illuminate your insights with perspectives coming from different backgrounds. Design Thinking and usercentered design is a team effort. Design was always driven by technology: What are the newest materials? What is possible to do with the latest breakthroughs? After what Christian calls the Millennium Clash, fueled by the economical and ecological crises, the world realized that we need to start working in different ways. We don’t need more elitist solutions, but rather qualitative understanding. With globalization, our problems have also become global and our old systems don’t have the capacity to solve them. “We’re getting to a new world order. The Millennium Clash has awakened people’s sense of responsibility and is engaging innovation. We need to overcome our challenges differ30
ently,” Christian argues, “and Design Thinking can do that; not design. Even though design is dealing with many issues, it deals with them only on the surface.” If you want innovation to happen, you must involve people. You can develop all the packaged and clever concepts and create all the shiny presentations you want, but where innovation really emerges is through the spontaneous interactions between people. If people are connected and stay in contact on a regular and spontaneous basis, ideas and innovations will start popping up. You can’t really plan for it to happen, but you can, however, create frames that promote it. And it happens through connecting people, not institutions. Keeping multiple perspectives and connecting people, user-driven innovation has an important part to play, but it cannot stand alone. As a method it aims to make obvious the tasks you want to solve. Having your users innovate with you as an organization validates your design choices as well as strategic decisions, but applied separately it has only little value. User-driven innovation is definitely part of the process, but it’s also just part of the process.
“You can develop all the packaged and clever concepts and create all the shiny presentations you want, but where innovation really emerges is through the spontaneous interactions between people.” There is something on the rise and the emerging field is still trying to define itself. There are no precedents to the situation we’re in now, all of us, so nobody knows for sure what’s around the corner. Working in these lost and unknown spaces requires being open for allowing diverse inputs and seeing and understanding the potentials there are. It is complex work, because whatever we work with, human beings are always involved, and human beings are complex. We must explore this together and leaders and guides are in demand. We need more people who understand emerging behavior patterns, and we need to combine the perspectives to illuminate the insights. It is a network of filters that can provide us with the light we need to see. 31
Radical evolution, radical innovation A conversation with Nuppu G채vert and Ville Tikka, Founders of Wevolve, New York, USA
Wevolve work with systemic radical innovation. They start from a broader, future perspective when dealing with design. "System change takes time, and bigger problems need bigger solutions!" Nuppu and Ville state. "We look at what is happening on the macro level, the big currents that have trajectories into the future, then pull it down to people in the present. We look at technological, socio-cultural and behavioral changes. " With this approach they try to bridge the gap between think tanks, whose time perspectives are long, and designers who often think short-term. Nuppu and Ville seek to get a more nuanced understanding of where we should be moving towards as well as the motivation - it is not only a matter of what we do, but also why we are doing it. If you want to spot the opportunities for social innovation to happen, you need to look at the macro patterns first. Dealing with the whole world in a future perspective is an enormous task. Therefore, their research always starts with finding the focus and scope that will structure the research. After that they work both from the desk and in the field and use methods both from virtual ethnography and trend spotting. 32
"Lead users are a great resource to involve in this work," Ville says. "First of all, they have the right mindset; they are already cutting edge and pointing towards the future. Secondly, lead users focus passionately upon the connection between the project and the user.” End users, or "normal" users, are then good for making sure innovations are relevant for a majority of people. Seen from Wevolve's perspective, involving people is an iterative process where different people are involved in different stages. For example, they have been involved in designing the framework for changeconnections.com, also mentioned in the conversation with Jerri Chou. In this case, after the problem had been defined, a lot of experts were invited for a conversation. Based on this, new problem statements were formulated and the conversation opened up to a broader audience. The dialogue is oscillating between finding clearer problem statements and involving the right people to contribute.
“In a way, fostering radical innovation comes from nurturing radical evolution. Be open for surprises, see the emerging patterns and don’t follow any guide.” Nuppu and Ville have some insight and advice on dealing with iterative processes like these. "If you seek to bring about radical, not incremental, innovation, we are talking about change in a noticeable scale. All change is led by social movement, and in movements you always have leaders. But movements are also self-organizing in nature and it is hard to predict who the leaders will be. In a way, fostering radical innovation comes from nurturing radical evolution. Be open for surprises, see the emerging patterns and don't follow any guide."
Doing Design Thinking and learning business A conversation with Andrea Scheer, Design Thinker at inventedhere, Berlin, Germany (with the participation of around ten of her colleagues)
inventedhere is a constellation of about 20 design thinkers, graduated from Potsdamer D-School. Because they all know each other from the school days, but have not been doing business together for very long, you could call them a new company with an old culture. Their organization is flat, dynamic and self-organizing like the internet. It is the passion to make real the possibilities from Design Thinking that birthed invedtedhere. A phrase permeating throughout all aspects of their business is “learning journeys”. “Starting up a company is a journey, not a goal. We are always inviting new people to come visit us, partly because we are always eager to learn new things. Also, we don’t have enough money yet to travel out ourselves and visit all the people we want to talk to,” Andrea says with a smile. “Because we have all studied together, learning is a very big part of our culture. Now we have just taken onto the business level.” “Tools are nothing without the culture,” Andrea continues “The question for us has been how to truly implement a Design Thinking culture. We believe it is a matter of just doing and being it. Design Thinking is more than just a process where you can work with different tools; it is a philosophy. It can’t be learned from a book, you have to experience it; feel the easiness that comes from working with it.” inventedhere operates using four main steps in developing a Design Thinking process (tweaked from the original 6 steps of : Understand, Observe, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test) : 1) Observe: In this step you research and understand the problem and make a problem statement. Research is conducted both as desk research and field research. 2) Point of View: Here you make personas that embody the problem statement or represent stakeholders. You focus on the need of the persona or personas. The outcome of this step is a reformulated problem statement that begins with “How might we…” 34
“Sometimes you jump back and forth between the steps. That does not mean you have done something wrong. Creative processes need to be dynamic.”
3) Ideate: This is the first time you think of solutions. Wild ideas are encouraged. Judgement is deferred. You say, “Yes and...”, but not, “No, but.” Ideas for solutions are visualized on post-it notes and then clustered. The best solutions are selected by simple vote. 4) Try: In the final step you prototype and test the selected idea or ideas. Quick prototypes and early feedback are essential here. If you make the prototypes too nice, the feedback you receive will not be on the concept or idea, but more on the details of its design. Andrea emphasizes that the steps are not necessarily taken in order: “Sometimes you jump back and forth between the steps. That does not mean you have done something wrong. Creative processes need to be dynamic.” 35
Open minds and open processes A conversation with Jakob Ipland, Business Designer and Human Centered Researcher at Innopia, San Sebastian, Spain
At Innopia they operate with five types of innovation: Product, service, experience, social and business-model innovation. They involve users in all the types, though not necessarily through the entire process. They select as a team where it will benefit the most to integrate the user in the process. In Jakob's opinion user innovation is a very useful method, but warns that it is dangerous to think that it can do everything. Know why you want to involve users in your innovation process and know how. Getting ideas is easy, choosing the right ones is hard. And there is no one-size-fits-all in this game. Innovation processes are not linear and models should only be guidelines. Success depends on both the design and facilitation of the involvement process. You can't afford to not do it right. You also can't afford to sit in your own little bunker and think about things, you need to come out and get inspired by real needs. Users can be involved to different degrees of involvement. On one end of the scale, you can look at blogs and comment threads on the internet to see people's thoughts around your type of product or profession. You can also look at what Jakob calls parallel universes. This means researching on people's thoughts in areas that are only peripherally related to the product or service upon whinch you are working. For instance, if you are working on innovating sewing machines, you could look into DIY communities. Another way of involving users, although not directly, is by taking an ethnographic or anthropological approach and observing people, their habits, their needs. On the other end of the scale you have the actual user involvement, inviting people into the innovation process to ideate and co-design with you. Depending on the desired outcome and at what stage you want to invite people in, there are two main 36
types of users that are interesting to involve: Normal users who have some kind of relation to the product or service you are working on, and super users, or super amateurs, who have extensive, nerdy knowledge about your product, service or field.
“Your job as the innovator is to create the possibilities for all types of disruptive insights and perspectives. A team of single-minded, individualistic geniuses rarely results in innovations that meet people’s needs. The key to human-centered design is staying open-minded.” Jakob has a clear opinion on what it takes to be able do successfully do humancentered design. "We have all heard the Henry Ford quote a million times that if he’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse, and he was right!. It is not enough to just ask users what they want, you have to understand them." He also says that figuring out the right time perspective is important. You need to ask yourself if what you are innovating on should meet the needs of people today, tomorrow or years from now. A method Innopia is working on is something they call user sessions. "It is like a cultural probe and a prototyping workshop in one," Jakob says. The problem with cultural probes is that people often want to look good or be too nice or accommodating towards what they think you want to see and therefore accentuate different things when you give them a camera and ask them to document something. There is quite a big margin of error when using this method. A way to get beyond that is to take prototypes to their homes and let them use it there together with you. Thereby you can both test and ideate together. The main benefit of involving users is, according to Jakob, to assess if you are working in the right direction. There is always a need for more information to qualify your work and keep it updated. Research plays the biggest role in the beginning, but the need for it doesn't stop at any point. You start out by scoping your research, but you need to be open all the way to the end; you never know when somebody says something that can be of great value to your work. Often that somebody will be a user that either with a basic question or observable actions of a normal user or the insight of a super amateur can tweak your product or service to the better. Perhaps they’ll send you flying in a new direction. Your job as the innovator is to create the possibilities for all types of disruptive insights and perspectives. A team of single-minded, individualistic geniuses rarely results in innovations that meet people's needs. The key to human-centered design is staying open-minded. 37
User logic A conversation with Rebekka HĂ¸y Biegel, Consultant at ChangePilot, Aarhus, Denmark
The users don't drive anything! What matters is understanding what matters to people. This is what Rebekka calls user logic. User logic is all about seeing things from the users perspective. It is a human-centered approach to design and innovation that has its roots in anthropology and ethnography. At its base is the acknowledgement that users are also human beings - you don't wake up as a user! The goal of practicing user logic is to formulate the right and relevant questions for innovative processes, and to do that you must have a deeper insight in what drives the people who are going to use the product, process or service you are designing. There are three phases in exploring user logic. First, you scope the projects. How many resources do you have? What do you want to explore? Also, decide which methods and persons are relevant for the research. Second, you collect data by observing and interviewing the selected people using the chosen methods. Third, you formulate the main insights by analyzing and categorizing all the data from the second phase.
A methodology Rebekka mentions as a frame for choosing the methods for this process is triangulation, which is the combination of different perspectives, for exploring the same thing and coming to the same conclusion. It is a means of heightening the quality of the research process and can be used to support the relevance of the possibly unspoken needs of the users that appear as main insights during the user logic process. The way Rebekka uses it is, for example, by exploring via making interviews and observations on different locations and doing it with more than one person.
â€œThe users donâ€™t drive anything! What matters is understanding what matters to people.â€? After what Rebekka defines as the user logic process comes the creative development. User logic serves as the fundament for the innovation process.
Cultural probing 2.0 A conversation with Bo Schiønning Mortensen, Research Assistant at Aarhus School of Architecture, Aarhus, Denmark
Bo Schiønning Mortensen, together with his friend and colleague Mikkel Lindskov Pedersen, has taken cultural probing one step further. Cultural probes as a concept were developed in 1999 by Tony Dunne, Bill Gaver and Elena Pacenti. They are a means for the designer to get valuable personal insights from users, us regular people, in order for him or her to design better and relevant solutions. It works like this: You give a selected group of people a documentation kit (could be in the form of a camera, video camera, post cards, sketch book, etc.) and a theme or topic you would like them to explore (could, for example, be where they feel safe in their home or what annoys them when traveling). The whole point is that when you give people the voice, and you listen, your insights are of a qualitative higher level than when you simply ask or observe. This way you get a chance to see everything from a user’s perspective. What Bo and Mikkel have done is to take the concept of cultural probing and then asking the question: Can you do it in a way, where the user is unaware and therefore more intuitive and, you might say, honest? The answer took the form of artifacts, something that is put into a local context and where people can interact with it. It is unfinished in its’ design. For instance, it could be a rough bench in a common green area, where the elements can be split and moved around, thereby encouraging people to do so and thus making them take the 40
first step towards taking action and designing their own community. Cultural probing 2.0 is as much about empowering people to take ownership of their local community as it is about getting raw information. You obviously need to monitor the changes that happen with the artifact, maybe by engaging one of the local people. Besides giving the designer valuable information about the local culture through the personal traces of activity that people leave, Bo and Mikkel’s method will also potentially change the behavioral patterns of the people taking part in the interaction. The ultimate goal is for the artifacts to become superfluous.
“However, when you choose to meet people in their context and at a scale where they feel at home and confident enough to take action, chances are people are more likely to engage and take ownership” There are three important design parameters for making the artifacts. First, they must be simple, obvious and fit into their context. Second, they must be easy to interact with. Third, they cannot be too long-standing for they are meant to be temporary observers and change agents; not design icons or works of installation art. The question of how any changed behavioral patterns will be anchored naturally arises, and to this, Bo’s answer is that of course there are no guarantees. You are working with people in a context and with both elements being complex and constantly changing entities, there are no givens. However, when you choose to meet people in their context and at a scale where they feel at home and confident enough to take action, chances are people are more likely to engage and take ownership. Cultural probes 2.0 is an open-end solution where the space will not be created until the user takes part in it. With this bottom-up approach, the architect or designers role is changing. Instead of being the decision-maker of every thing and every detail, the designer is here a facilitator of action and interaction. It takes courage to walk this path, as the designer becomes less of a hero and more like a host. 41
Creating the frames for innovation A conversation with Jeppe Spure Nielsen, Project Leader of HandiVision at Alexandra Instituttet, Aarhus, Denmark
Innovating and designing with end users is worthwhile, but it starts with culture. Jeppe and HandiVision is exploring how to develop aids for the mentally and physically handicapped by involving them in the design process. The project has over 20 partners and is aiming to both test known methods for user-driven innovation and develop new ones. "And engaging the end users," Jeppe emphasizes. He draws attention to two of the cases he has been working with during the project. One case is that of Egmont HĂ¸jskolen, an educational facility for handicapped people where they have been working with creating services to provide to companies, such as The Accessibility Police - a concept where the students test spaces and products to see if they live up to their demands. The other case is that of Landsbyen SĂ¸lund, which is a community for people with all types of handicaps. Here they have been working on involving the community in testing and designing different services to themselves, for instance a "Snoezelhouse" where the members of the community can go to get their five senses stimulated. Through the project, Jeppe has identified some obstacles to overcome before he sees user-driven innovation in the health sector successfully implemented. Companies often want to keep their cards close out of fear of others stealing their ideas before they get them patented. Furthermore, the value chain in Denmark for implementing new products in the health area is not supporting innovation. Companies are producing to a big market and are basing their production on what is in demand in the public sector. This also means that new products can have a long way to go before reaching the end users. "There is what you could call a glass wall between the companies and the handicapped," Jeppe explains. 42
So far, the project has enjoyed great success with many of the initiatives, and involving end users in the health sector can definitely be a worthwhile way to go. However, Jeppe has a point: "User-driven innovation is just another method. What really is important is that the frames for innovation are there. The innovative culture must come first." And for that to happen, in the majority of cases Jeppe has seen, the host organization must be lead by people who are open towards innovation. Implementing user-driven innovation starts with the culture and a good place to start with the culture is with the leaders.
â€œUser-driven innovation is just another method. What really is important is that the frames for innovation are there. The innovative culture must come first.â€? And Jeppe has another important point. "When working with user-driven innovation, especially in the case of giving the end users toolkits for designing themselves, it is imperative that the methods are being customized to both the field and the organization with which you are working. They should bridge the company culture and the community culture. And again, before that can happen, the cultures must be open for innovation."
Parallel tracks - the community and the pipeline A conversation with Dalhia Hagege, Consultant at bluenove, Paris, France
Open innovation is a fairly new concept in France. Not more than two years ago, it wasn't part of the business world's vocabulary. Now innovation departments in companies are more and more interested in scouting, meaning using innovation companies like bluenove as trust agents to build relationships within their innovative ecosystem. bluenove has focused on becoming the French leader in open and collaborative innovation. It helps companies define the need and then build and communicate with a community that is capable of innovation. "You can't have just one person getting input!" Dalhia argues. "Innovating with consumers is all about creating community. But it's important to note that although it can lead to innovation, it's not guaranteed. You have to be able to respond to the inputs you get. You have to have a pipeline from the community to the company." 44
Working with open and collaborative innovation is a process that runs in two parallel tracks. In one track, you work with building the community, understanding the people in it, their incentives and expectations and try to tap into the community rhythm, proving activities and frames for dialogue. In the other you build the pipeline from the community, based on the existing innovation processes in the company. You figure out which employees to appeal for and who to involve in the community so as to better give the right persons the right ideas and be able to implement new solutions. The impact of working in those two parallel tracks is that you can't measure a project alone on how innovative it has turned out. There's another scale in play as well, and that is the brand conversation that takes place between the company and the community. There are benefits to reap both in terms of better outcomes and better PR or mutual understanding.
“Innovating with consumers is all about creating community, but it’s important to note that although it can lead to innovation, it’s not guaranteed. You have to be able to respond to the inputs you get. You have to have a pipeline from the community to the company.” Dalhia also talks about the 1-10-100 rule of communities: The top 1% most active members will create content. The top 10% will respond and comment. And the total 100% will simply look at the content. To create momentum in a community, you focus on mobilizing the 1%. The communities bluenove build may be made of several actors: There is of course the users or customers, but also start-ups, universities and public labs can have a role to play. Suppliers and employees beyond the R&D department of the client organization may also take part. Getting companies on board can sometimes be a bit hard, because a thing to understand is that innovation is a touchy issue in many places. Many large corporations deal with legal issues of copyright, and so, they're hesitant to open up to a large crowd. There is a relatively high level of fear of people stealing the innovations. But if you don't open up, you won't get new inputs.
The fine line between creating frames and letting go A conversation with Lama Juma, Initiator of the KaosPilot Alumni Community, Copenhagen, Denmark
"Being offline, being online, essentially you are still the same person. Online communities are best when they also exist offline, when they have their own culture and the online platform is actually just a great tool for figuring out when would be a good time to meet up and get a beer or a coffee." Lama reflects upon her work with building the KaosPilot Alumni online community platform. "One of the difficulties of starting up a community is that we are all part of several communities already. How do you convince people to spend time in a new one? And when are you a part of community? If it both exists online and offline, is it then defined by the people in it, their commonalities, the shared physical spaces, the shared online platform, the diversity of interests, the stories, or everything above? Or anything? I think it really depends on the community itself and what is important to them." 46
There are a couple of things that Lama believes are important when starting up an online community. Thinking long-term is the biggest one. Building social relations take time and it is crucial to respect that. Community building is a process. Another is to use the knots in the network, the people that are the connectors, who know a lot of people and naturally link them to each other. Working with what is there and what emerges from that is the only way to build something resilient. Filtering noise is also an important aspect of working with online communities. A way to deal with that is to work with the sub-groups that naturally form and provide them the platform to evolve. When people can choose between different sizes of social circles within a community, they are much more likely to feel comfortable enough to start taking leadership and contributing. Crucial to this is also to not try to smooth out differences but instead promote diversity. This encourages people to not just be passive members, but rather jump into the discussions and become content creators.
â€œAn over-managed community is a dead community. There is a fine line here between creating frames and letting go.â€? It is difficult to anticipate every detail of how a user interface influences people's behavior, but every design decision you make guides the actions. That is why it is important to update the user interface according to the content that is being created. Facebook knows this and they are constantly tweaking their design. What they are doing right is keeping their site as alive and dynamic as the people that use it. According to Lama, building a community is more than just building the right online platform. "I have used both Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning to build up the community. It is not about where you would like to have people, it is about where the people you would like to talk to already are. Then post interesting stuff there to spark conversations. To build and create momentum for your own community is not a matter of quantity, but quality." 47
"Managing a community platform is a leadership task, not a management task," Lama explains. "You are not just making sure things happen in the way you intend, you are rather providing the frames and looking for spots of emergence to help them grow for the benefit of the whole community. Community manager is actually not really an accurate description of what you are doing. I much prefer the term community gardener. Your finest purpose is to make yourself superfluous as a manager. A community is not a community if it depends only on one person. You must always seek to let it grow bigger than yourself. An over-managed community is a dead community. There is a fine line here between creating frames and letting go. Let the members of the community decide what creates meaning for them to let emerge and then help them do that. It is all about empowering people with an agenda to connect and make things happen."
Gardening a community - long tails and social objects A conversation with Tommi Vilkamo, Head of Nokia Beta Labs, Helsinki, Finland
Nokia Beta Labs is a lead user community where Nokia can prototype and get feedback on new applications for mobile phones. It has evolved from a blog Tommi started in 2007 to a living community with over 700,000 people having signed in so far. Through Beta Labs, Nokia has tested over 80 applications out of which almost half has made it further up the system. The end goal is of course to launch new products, but Beta Labs is also just a playground where things can happen on a spontaneous basis. Nokia is learning to become better at listening and the users are learning to give better feedback. Beta Labs is only one out of several open innovation initiatives from Nokia. Even though a lot of Nokia employees spend their free time in the community, running Beta Labs itself on a daily basis is only a small team, acting as a spider between hundreds of Nokia engineers and thousands of users. They are the community gardeners, planting, growing and harvesting from the community. They observe what the community does and listens to what it thinks. "The more than 700,000 community members are an invaluable resource both in terms of innovation and user insight," Tommi says. "And even though it's hard to measure the specific financial benefits, there's no doubt it's a good investment."
Then, of course, there are Nokias people creating application prototypes and feeding them into the system. They are the ones really running the show, generating the content that sparks the conversations - the social objects. These social objects can be anything from architecture to football teams to donuts, but you can't have community without social objects! They frame the conversation.
â€œUsing and building online communities is a two-way street. You get what you give and give what you get. You must understand the members of the community and what makes them tick - what gives them value - and provide it to them.â€? In online communities, as well as in other areas, the term long tail plays an important role in understanding how people engage. Only the top 10% most active users will generate 80% of the content, and the rest will generate the remaining 20%. Put in a graph, it looks like a tall neck with a long tail. This is also known as the Pareto Principle. In Nokia's example, with more than one billion users worldwide, even reaching only the top 1% will still create a community of one million people. There is power in numbers. In Tommi's work, users can be defined in three different categories: lead users who are the ones on the cutting edge of using our applications, beta testers who are providing insights and information through blogs, and "normal" users who can validate if new innovations will have success in the marketplace. As Beta Labs is a lead user community, Nokia has reached out primarily to tech media and blogs for engaging and inviting people, but are involving the other types of users as well. "However, a community like ours is mostly good for innovation, not validation," Tommi explains. It's crucial that the community is active, and as described previously, some are more active in it than others. Therefore, there's always the risk of a minority hijacking the conversation. There's no guarantee that the leading voices know best what will work outside the online frames. Peter Drucker once pointed out that ideas alone won't 50
move mountains, for that you also need bulldozers. A community like Beta Labs can provide Nokia with invaluable feedback, but going from idea to implementation, you will have to prioritize and make decisions on your own as a company. The company and community are linked in an oscillating and spiraling process where input becomes output and feedback becomes innovations. Therefore, it doesn't make sense to build up communities for short-term projects. It must be thought longterm, possibly infinite, as a community will, when it's functioning well, take on a life of its own. Make it to make it last, then you can use it for making smaller projects along the way - feed it with different social objects. When gardening a community, you have to understand that the value people are looking for is social. Their motivation for joining is intrinsic and they want to feel appreciated. Mixing money into community building doesn't do any good, actually it's often counter-productive. What helps building up the community is responding, recognizing and rewarding people whenever they contribute. In Beta Labs the three levels are: 1) if you post something, you get a response, 2) if your idea is good it will be integrated into a new application, and 3) if your idea is really great and you have been active in the development process you will be featured as the originator in the actual finished application. Using and building online communities is a two-way street. You get what you give and give what you get. You must understand the members of the community and what makes them tick - what gives them value - and provide it to them. In return you also create more value for yourself. Give the people in it social objects to form conversations around and make it clear what is required for them to be part of this community. Build it to last and think long-term relationships. And most important, start small, but just start!
Meaning-driven innovation A conversation with Carl Damm, Co-founder of Strong Bright Hearts, Aarhus, Denmark
Innovation without meaning and motivation makes no sense - it might happen, but it won’t create long-lasting value! Carl Damm and Strong Bright Hearts collaborated with Aarhus Main Public Library a couple of years ago on a project to involve and engage its users more. What he learned quickly though, is that there was an even more pressing need; for the library to engage itself. The employees needed to first create a culture where collaborative innovation was part of it, before they could invite others to do the same - or it would lead to nothing - was Carl’s argument. As is the case for most of us, we tend to focus on others before we focus on ourselves, but that is in fact a problem because how can others then count on your contribution? There is a Native American expression for this, hazro, the meaning of which is something like everyone’s responsibility to take care of his/hers own needs for the benefit of the tribe. So through co-creation workshops where the employees changed their physical spaces, they were also being taught by example the tools and methods of involving others into projects. The rooms were changed so that they now invited more open collaboration. Some of the employees later became innovation consultants for the library themselves. What Strong Bright Hearts did was to start where the real need was and then work from there to ensure the effects would have greater chance of being anchored. How might one sense the real need? In Carl’s perspective, it starts with a genuine interest in other people as well as the realization that people are not something to be managed and controlled. You must meet people empathetically; heart - to - heart. Really listen to them in order to be able to hear what they are actually saying thereby creating the conversations that matter. That is the case when you are working with softer, less definable things like organizational culture, but it is also the case when 52
you are working with hands-on projects. If you are not working with the real need, the energy and motivation to carry something forward simply won’t be there. Next is to work with the motivation to innovate and create change. As a consultant you can motivate and inspire which can somewhat feed into the whole culture. This was true for the collaboration between Strong Bright Hearts and Aarhus Main Public Library. But to create something new that will have long-lasting value, you must bring forth people’s passion. They must feel that their own sense of purpose links into the project’s. This is what Carl means by meaning-driven innovation.
“You build momentum from people’s motivation and support them when they’re ready to take the leap from the known to the unknown, when they are ready to go for something new in other words, to innovate.” Innovation is change and change happens one person at a time. To know where and with whom to intervene, and to amplify the beginning change process, you must keep the perspective of the whole system at all times. You tune the field by looking at the informal patterns, interactions and constellations among all the elements in the system. You work with where the energy is going and lead it from there. You build momentum from people’s motivation and support them when they are ready to take the leap from the known to the unknown, when they’re ready to go for something new - in other words, to innovate. A final point is that the innovative leap is not linear. There are an infinite number of paths you could jump onto. The question then becomes which path do you have the courage and the incitement to follow. What is for certain though is that all things live and die and that a seed will always leave its shell to become a tree.
Passion and purpose A conversation with Daniel Walmsley, Director of Technology, Purpose Campaigns, New York, USA
After many years of valuable innovation generated by volunteers collaborating via the Internet, it's natural that large corporations want to get a piece of the pie. But too often they fail - not because of a failure of engineering, but because they don't understand the personal passions that drive the contributors. Daniel: "The new generation of online tools favors overall success over institutional survival. The 21st century is no place for corporations seeking to survive indefinitely no matter what they produce. Instead the tools we have favor more goal-oriented projects that solve specific needs that participants have collectively identified. This is where people will put their energy, their passion, voluntarily. And because it's so easy to share positive and negative results, this is where innovation happens." Daniel points to an online collaboration tool called BetterMeans, intended for building and managing decentralized organizations. "The part that excites me the most about it is that people contribute to projects based on where their energy and motivation is, rather than where a HR manager has told them they must work, yet they are still given strong incentives for delivering useful results. You could call it passion-driven collaboration. It takes all the simplistic approximations of industrial-era capacity planning and throws them out the window." If these tools are to be adopted by existing companies, scale helps. "When you're introducing them to an existing workforce, these tools follow the online rule of 1/9/90. 1% will use it and get it. Another 9% will just use it, and 90% will ignore it. If your company is smaller than 25 people then these tools won't reach critical mass, and usage will quickly drop off. That's why it's good to open up your company to as much external collaboration and innovation as possible." 54
Through simple communication tools, like YouTube or 4chan where the media is clearly defined and it's easy to participate, you can see examples of how ideas can spread very fast - if they are appealing. But it's hard to predict which ones will really take off. The internet is like one big, collaborative brain. What's really interesting is how ideas in the heads of people will find their way on the internet and back again into the physical world.
“The internet is like one big, collaborative brain. What’s really interesting is how ideas in the heads of people will find their way on the internet and back again into the physical world.” Where ideas successfully make that journey is when they take on their own life. A good example of that is Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's recent Rally To Restore Sanity / March To Keep Fear Alive. The whole thing actually started with a post on reddit.com where a user supposedly had dreamt up the concept. The idea gained foothold and then found it's way to donorschoose.org where reddit users donated $500,000 to get Stephen Colbert's attention, as he was already planning a Restoring Truthiness Rally - a mock rally in response to Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor event. They got his attention! All this was not possible before, but with the emergence of social media, it is now. In self-organizing ways, crowds can now empower individuals who then in turn can give something back to the crowd. And it starts with an idea and spreads through passion. Through his work Daniel has identified some key factors for how you can help ideas spread. "For people to take part of an idea it needs to link into their own purpose; it must give them some sense of belonging. Feeling part of something bigger starts from within. The idea must also lead towards achieving something new and the objective must be clear. Empower people, give them a voice and creative freedom and a movement around your idea could be in the making. And make it fun!"
Co-creating value on the inside and the outside A conversation with David Dencker, CEO at MUUSE, Copenhagen, Denmark
"People use the terms relating to our field in so many different ways," David begins. "At Crossroad Innovation we use the word co-creation as a sub-branch of open innovation. A sub-branch of co-creation is community-based innovation, where you work with crowds or groups of people. This is what we focus on." He continues. "There is a need to find some clarity around what is meant by all the different terms people use for explaining their approach to collaboration. Even certain types of viral marketing are cocreation to some extent. When your users start experimenting with different types of use for your product and post it online, that is where co-creation and innovation meets marketing. A good example is Nathan Sawaya who creates art out of LEGO and calls himself a brick artist. It is an equal relationship. Nathan's work is great PR value for LEGO, just as LEGO has provided Nathan the tools he uses to express himself artistically." Regardless of the jungle of collaborative terms out there, the main thing is that it is about creating value both on the inside and the outside of your organization. Together with the people surrounding your organization, your products and services you cocreate value through brand building, product development, internal processes etc. Co-creation can be applied in many fields and for many purposes. Online communities are interesting because they are an easy way for you to interact with your users. They are great for many things, you just need to be mindful of their 56
limitations as well. There is a lot of communication that gets lost if you only interact with your users digitally. It is, for example, very difficult for your customers to test out how comfortable they think a couch is online. If an online community is to succeed, it is important you support your work there with business anthropology and ethnographic methods. You need to understand your users, not just online, but also in their everyday life in general. It is an ethnographic truism that you can't ask people what they want, because they don't know. Listen to what people say and take it seriously, but also keep the perspective that what people say they want is not necessarily equal to what they really want. "The problem is, of course, that those kinds of insights don't come cheaply." David elaborates. "Typically companies don't get to these insights and valuable understandings of their users because they instead spend their user community budget on fancy drag'n'drop technologies instead, or because they haven't connected their community building strategy properly to their business goals. Using online communities for business purposes should be taken seriously. Just making a Facebook page simply doesn't cut it!"
â€œUsing online communities for business purposes should be taken seriously. Just making a Facebook page simply doesnâ€™t cut it!â€? Finding the right people to co-create with you is also a challenge. A method many use is Eric von Hippel's lead user approach where you find users with extensive knowledge of your product and innovate together with them. The problem with that approach is that it is retrospective; the lead users are experts in products or services that already exist. You need to find people who are ahead of the next market trend, and since that lies in the future, it is very hard to tell who that is. "But perhaps the most important tool missing from our field right now," David continues, "is an infrastructure for intellectual property. When you are co-creating with lots of different people and organizations that all have different interests, who then owns the ideas, and should anyone? This area still needs more guidelines and best practices." 57
Answering questions, integrating communities A conversation with Giordano Koch, Specialist in Innovation Communities and Open Government at HYVE AG, Munich, Germany
HYVE AG is an innovation company that focuses on three areas: 1) innovation research which is searching the internet for discussions on products and analyzing the discussion threads, 2) innovation design which involves designing new products closely with users often through workshops, and 3) innovation communities which is the building and management of online communities that are integrated with an innovation process. Their main focus is on the innovation communities. "We work to answer questions," Giordano says, "it might be a practical question presented by a client or a theoretical one presented by one of the universities with whom we collaborate. Sometimes it might be a problem presented internally by ourselves." HYVE AG uses methods such as netnography to spot patterns and user insights, and crowd-sourcing communities and lead-user or expert workshops for harvesting user ideas and for letting users evaluate each others ideas. Users can be integrated in all parts of a value chain, but for the biggest impact it is important to integrate users early in the innovation process. From a business perspective users will buy and pay more later if they feel ownership of the product; if they feel it has become part of them. However, for the ideas to become finished product designs, the ideas most often have to go through the hands filtered through the eyes of professional designers. User innovation is not just about letting users design. User innovation is about integrating users and designers into the innovation process. 58
HYVE AG builds their own online community platforms, but also use existing social media. For instance, they have have made a matching game on Facebook that can be used for rating designs by first allowing one user to choose between two designs and then allowing another user to determine which design the first user liked better. As Giordano says, "You can't cheat!" One of the biggest challenges of working with communities is getting the necessary amount of users to a community and creating the momentum. Another challenge is getting the right type of user. Although at times you simply need end users, at other times you might need experts or lead users. People are not walking around stating what type of user they are on their t-shirts or posting it as Facebook updates.
“If organizations don’t allow for transparency and invite people in, they are not going to survive in the long run. Today’s systems must be open.” Even though small to medium-sized enterprises typically are a bit skeptical towards adopting the concepts of user innovation, this is the way things are going. "The big companies are increasingly trying to incorporate open solutions like the ones we are providing," Giordano says, "and it is even spreading in politics now. We had the Bavarian Government as a client. If organizations don't allow for transparency and invite people in, they are not going to survive in the long run. Today's systems must be open."
What is the public for? A conversation with Peter MacLeod, Principal and Co-founder of MASS LBP, Toronto, Canada
Based in Toronto, MASS LBP is a new kind of company which works with government to change how governments and citizens interact. According to the company’s founder and principal Peter MacLeod, MASS works at the intersection of twenty-first century mass society and the 18th century political institutions that struggle to keep up. MacLeod worries about the corrosive effects of simplistic attempts to gauge and report on public opinion. He argues that the widespread use of telephone polling creates what amounts to a “phantom public” that haunts modern politics and encourages politicians to play the margins. This leads to a political environment that is preoccupied with gaining the upper hand and exploiting so-called wedge issues. By designing better processes that seek to ‘re-invent public consultation,’ the company also hopes to address declining trust and confidence in public institutions. MASS relies principally on two innovative methods to more accurately discern genuine public interest and create legitimacy for public decisions. Running what it calls a Civic Lottery, MASS typically sends out 5-10,000 letters to randomly selected households. Each letter asks the recipient or a member of their family to volunteer to join a Citizens’ Reference Panel. Each panel typically meets over the course of four to six Saturdays to learn about an issue and examine it in great detail. For example, a Panel might be convened to examine and propose cuts to a hospital’s budget that would result in service changes, or else to determine the strategic priorities for regional government. 60
Remarkably the company reports that 4-7% of households who receive a letter respond and volunteer. This is an extraordinarily high rate that MacLeod says disproves the view that citizens are apathetic or disinterested in public affairs. “Paradoxically,” says MacLeod, “the problem for government isn’t that it asks too much of citizens, but too little. While people want a say, they are also willing to serve.” From among the respondents, 24-36 participants are randomly selected — balancing for age, gender and geography — to serve on the panel. In many ways, the process is like a volunteer jury that is supported by an extensive learning phase, and exists to provide advice to government that is based on a deeper appreciation for the needs and interests of the community. When the process works well, the public is better informed, and the participants have a sense of their own ‘democratic fitness’. What’s more, governments are also more likely to make smarter decisions that better reflect the will of the community. To date, MASS has sent invitations to more than 100,000 Canadians and continues to demonstrate its theories about citizen engagement by working with a wide-range of clients. This summer it will bring its work to Europe, developing new projects in Finland and the Netherlands, and also working in the US.
“Paradoxically, the problem for government isn’t that it asks too much of citizens, but too little. While people want a say, they are also willing to serve.” MacLeod is adament about the need to “rehabilitate” the public in part by creating opportunities where citizens can stretch their imaginations and flex their civic muscle in meaningful ways. “If the key question of twentieth century politics was some variation on “what does the public want?”, I think the question for twenty-first century politics will be “what is the public for?” Right now politics offers a pretty thin answer: pay your taxes, vote (maybe), obey the rules, keep your nose clean. But this neglects the productive capacity of the public to offer anything to our society. It’s this deficiency that I think is profoundly out of sync with deeper currents and fails to satisfy many of our basic needs for belonging, purpose and a sense of shared achievement.”
About Thor Rigtrup Larsen Since my teenage years I have built up a long list of initiatives from the ground, all with the common purpose of finding ways of solving society’s problems through innovation and collaboration. Among these initiatives I was behind the creative network organization Ska’ vi lege? (Wanna play?), the Shanghai based creativity consultancy Skullcrackers and the student-led organization Arkitektstuderende Uden Grænser (Architecture Students Without Borders). I am an educated KaosPilot and have a BA in architecture. I am now Head of Development at Creature (www.creature.dk) where I work with social innovation and value creation. For more information, contact me at email@example.com
Perspectives and tools for involving others in innovation processes