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finding awesome

(our process)

ben huggins

nandita chakravarti

ray kung

sandra niehaus


our mission: Discover the recipe for awesome by analyzing great products, services and experiences and distilling out the ingredients that fuel their success. Using these ingredients, Intuit will be able to strategically inject awesomeness into their product ecosystem and company culture as a whole.


how we found awesome The process outlined in this deck shows how our team uncovered the recipe for awesome by: • 

Defining a process strategy

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Going broad on ideas, then going narrow

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Exploring and inventing new methods for generating ideas and visualizing results

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Presenting our strong point of view in a compelling, memorable way

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Working as a group with complimentary creative problem solving styles and


defining the process Starting with our first group meeting, our team met to dissect and “fall in love with� the problem of exposing awesomeness. Through participatory sketching, we collaborated on a process that involved brainstorming products, services and experiences that we considered awesome. From there, we planned to dig deep on each item and discuss why we thought it was so great. We would then look for affinities in the reasons for awesomeness and group accordingly. These trends would eventually become our frontrunners for awesome ingredients.


defining the process Our team soon realized that we would need to go both broader and deeper to truly expose awesome. We revised our process to include a phase of “individual exploration� where each team member would explore new awesome products and the reasons behind them using a method of their choosing. That way, when we reconvened, we would each have a unique perspective to add to the discussion.


going broad The first step in our process was to generate as many ideas as possible, using post its to track and group our output. We generated about 100 examples of products, services and experiences and coded them from the wall into a document we call the “Awesome Spreadsheet”. To gain additional perspective, we also generated a list of things that are “not awesome” to identify characteristics that should be avoided, or even inverted to alleviate pain and create positive traits. Using the spreadsheet, we recorded the reason for each item being so awesome, or not awesome, respectively.


going deep: original team method Once we had compiled our lists of awesome and not awesome, we began our phase of going deep on understanding the root causes. This process was to involve product-centered methods like user interviews about the WHY of awesomeness behind favorite products. One specific tool we planned to use was the empathy map (pictured right) to guide the interview conversations and get to deep emotional causes of awesomeness. From there, we planned place ingredients on the axes of 2x2 grids and see how many of the products on our original list ended up in the upper right quadrant. We would use these products as examples to present back to intuit. BUT... our plans were about to change...


redirection: meeting with intuit Upon meeting with Armando and Rosanne at Intuit, we gained some valuable insights that significantly transformed our process: • 

Our exploration should not be product-focused. Instead, it should center on emotion associated with awesomeness. Too narrow a focus on product might miss contextual factors like anticipation or brand fanaticism.

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We should not feel constrained by established methods or frameworks. Instead, we should feel free to develop our own that would be most suited to the problem.


going deep: individual exploration As a result of our conversation with Intuit, our team reshaped our process of going deep. Each team member would individually explore root causes of awesomeness using a method of their choosing, but we would focus less on product and be more creative in our methods.


ray’s method: flows, twitter analysis, mental notes • 

White boarded how awesome things come to be so through promotional methods, using examples like grassroots movements and extravagant product rollouts.

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Experimented with the Twitter analysis tool Neoformix, looking for common themes around use of the word awesome in the collective Twittersphere.

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Explored the ideas in Stephen Andersons’s Mental Notes cards as factors that might create awesome through influence.


sandra’s method: bodystorm interviews • 

Sandra pursued an experimental approach to interviewing on the hypothesis that movement and re-enactment would help trigger deep memory associations. In this first effort, the hypothesis proved to be true.

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Four participants were given 5 minutes to list products, experiences, or anything else that came to mind as truly awesome. The only limiting criteria was that it be something they had personally used or experienced.

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Participants re-enacted one of their experiences or products, narrating as they went. Available furniture was used to “stage” the scenes, and fellow participants could be called on to play specific roles.

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Sandra facilitated by asking clarifying questions, or prompting if needed. A senior colleague served as facilitator for Sandra’s own interview.

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The sessions were videotaped, discussed, and analyzed for awesome ingredients.


nandita’s method: digital field study, sharing • 

Explored the Facebook timelines of six friends to identify the reasons why people share. Her hypothesis being that people are more inclined to share awesome for very specific reasons.

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Distilled several characteristics that manifested in sharing patterns, including things like anticipation, achievement and discovery

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Visualized each characteristic and documented it with examples in a process flow sketch (pictured right)

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Interviewed some of the participants to gain further insight

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The entire document is located in the supporting documentation folder located at the end of this deck.


ben’s method: awesome accelerator + cult brands • 

Awesome Accelerator – Derived from mind mapping and root cause analysis, the awesome accelerator (bottom right) starts begins with an awesome product, then branches to what makes it awesome. Each reason is then boosted one order of magnitude (ex. “less expensive” becomes “free or open source”) and new products are added that match each amplified reason

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Cult Brand Exploration – Using ecommerce site “wish list” functionality, he identified products that people most aspire to own and brands that capture “fanatics.” He then used twitter word clouds to see the terms that are most commonly associated with each – powerful statements of emotion.

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Engine of Awesome – A concept detailed in our presentation that shows how awesome is a function of many connected factors.


coming together • 

The individual team members brought back their research findings and combined their awesome ingredients into an awesome distillation spreadsheet.

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The ingredients were then collaboratively grouped, and prioritized using a loose affiliate mapping technique. A single representative term was selected for each concept. The list was then further narrowed to the 10 most compelling ingredients.

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The new representative ingredients list was then mapped against the team’s original brainstorm list of awesome “Ethos/Pathos/Logos” items to validate the approach.

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In parallel, antonyms of the awesome ingredients were mapped to the “not awesome” list of items.


organizing thinking • 

The team explored a number of different ways to represent and structure the 10 ingredients.

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One approach was to explore whether all awesome ingredients pertained to some combination of the Self, Time, and Context. A Venn diagram was used to map the ingredients to the most appropriate intersection of these aspects.

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Another approach was the “Engine of Awesome”, which represents how the ingredients “live” within a dynamic feedback system. This approach maps the ingredients to a particular relationship point between the user, product and society.

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Last but not least, an awesome modular box was created to represent in a physical medium how the awesome ingredients could fit together in a variety of ways.


presenting findings The team’s presentation plan underwent a number of evolutionary steps. We wanted to be emotive – so we considered video as a means of communicating our awesome ingredients. However, we also wanted to be practical and to spend more time developing a strong point of view than producing and editing video. In addition, we felt the presentation itself should embody and illustrate our awesome concepts as much as possible. For example, we decided to use the simple concept of a closed box for suspense. We considered what order of presentation would tell the story of our ingredients the most effectively. Should we try to overtly connect one to the next? We decided against this, opting to let each ingredient stand on its own


how we worked as a group (1) Each team member was able to use at least some of the new communication, persuasion, and influence skills learned in class. For example: • 

Sandra (Systematic / Generating & Conceptualizing) noticed Ben’s effective use of questions to influence, and focused on increasing her own range of influence and persuasion techniques to help organize meetings and facilitate team decisions.

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Nandita (Generating, Conceptualizing and Implementing) noticed the team’s coming together and reasoning, and focused on her own abductive reasoning skills to influence and come up with creative solutions.


how we worked as a group (2) • 

Ray (Conceptualizing/Direct and Spirited) noticed Nandita’s visual skills to present information as well as her deep research skills and worked to build on them through presentation organization.

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Ben (Optimizer / Systematic) noticed that this project would require several cycles of redefinition and adjustment to get the most insightful results, so he worked hard to suspend judgment and be open to changes in the team approach as the project evolved. 


supporting documentation All the process artifacts supporting this documentation deck is located here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_qvWweztRptU2xKZ2w4cDk2S0k&usp=sharing


thank you.

ben huggins

nandita chakravarti

ray kung

sandra niehaus


Hf755 intuitgroup documentation final