SPD in your face!

It sounds so easy. It also shows that you don’t get anywhere if top management are not with you…

So how to do that in a company full of managers, but without any clear structure or overview???


Silence the Voice of the Customer

Innovation is successful when it targets customers’ needs, but how sure can we be that this is something we can predict effectively? In this article Tony Ulwick argues that the traditional voice of the customer methodology is the wrong tool to determine customer needs. Tony presents an alternative methodology that makes it possible to determine all the needs of a given customer group.



3 Ways To Predict What Consumers Want Before They Know It

The quest to identify opportunities for innovation starts with pinpointing problems customers can’t adequately solve today. More than 50 years ago Peter Drucker wrote, “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it sells him. One reason for this is, of course, that nobody pays for a ‘product.’ What is paid for is satisfaction.” Companies think they are selling products and services, but in reality people hire those products and services to get jobs done in their lives. As marketing guru Ted Levitt quipped to his students a generation ago, “People don’t want quarter-inch drills–they want quarter-inch holes.” A problem arises, and the customer looks around and chooses the solution that gets the job done better than competing alternatives.


About the personas

The thing is that I have the feeling that I can both end up spending a lot of time on personas, considering how little I think it matters in the big picture. I see it as a nice tool but somehow the continuous processes behind that – how to create something (a system?) to go from the the gathering of the rich data and getting it through the process of interpretation, to personas, to building blocks for ideation sessions that are combined with other building blocks into new product concepts and services.

This assignment….

The current assignment starting to take shape now, is a big mouthfull when considering the amount of wasted time I produce when alone and not supermotivated… (When have I been the most motivated? Social projects with a few others). It’s clearly difficult for me to now be on my own and actually have to do all the things that I have been able to hand over to my team mates in earlier projects (practically everything that I was supposed to do. Maybe the reason why have done so many extra courses and extracurricular activities? And somehow I must be good at it, since I have managed to keep on top all the way until here. I should probably stop worry about it – like with scuba diving and procrastination: look if it didn’t work you would never have made it this far.) Now I lost my thread, but it somehow feels nice to just write out what I have in my head. Since I don’t have anyone to talk to about it at the moment and cannot talk to myself or a camera, I guess this s the best option. And then it’s also easy to go back and retrace y thoughts from the past. Nice, bonus that might become valuable later on, but for now it’s just good to empty my head and maybe this will leave space for some new iterations, once my head has dealt with all these current issues ‘up there’ 🙂

So, what is up there at the moment? I think I might be on to some thing too big. In order so satisfy everyone, I’m now doing a project with both data gathering in Africa, data processing and data communication of that research. On top of that I also have to do observations/data gathering of how the project team works in London, their context (maybe a good possibility to talk to the Heroes head managers?), and combine that into some combined deliverables in the end, that both will benefit the company as well as be the basis of my thesis.
Maybe one of my main mental barriers is the theoretical basis of what I’m doing. I believe that all/most of what I do and what I think is based on what I have learned, but I’m slao quick to draw my own conclusions and it can sometimes be difficult for me to tell the difference – and be clear about my thought in general (even though it all makes sense in my head) – so that might be an issue once I get into this project.

The thing is……

The thing is….I could go along with the rather interesting assignment on my desk right now, which is almost approved and I just need to formulate it into an assignment for my chair person. But considering the things that I think I can see from my experience so far, that project might be just a drop in the ocean. And somehow I would like to create a bigger impact, and deal with innovation strategies/inspire the guys further up in the system where it actually matters something.

I’m maybe best at exploring/talking to people, making quick judgments and then produce ideas that might inspire or make people think. More than being an implementer who see all the details and do all the proper steps in the right order. In relation to my closest manager ms. S.M. I already sense that she expects a very different approach and working method than the – maybe rather chaotic – one that I currently have set forth.

And I’m not good with authorities anyway plus I feel that there might be something in this assignment that either scares me (probably) or makes it difficult for me to find my motivation to work.
When I got the idea of the ‘Thingy’ yesterday, I suddenly felt this motivation to start doing something, similar to when we started S-Force. There’s something about these kind of entrepreneurial-ish tasks that I really like.
So maybe my challenge is to make this one more entrepreneurial? And even though I said (and to some extend believe) that I prefer action-oriented tasks over theoretical tasks I felt today that it might not be like that.
At least the possible other assignment much more related to organizational structure, innovation processes and connections/communications within the company made me smile and become enthusiastic again. To some extend it is very similar to the PW Retailers case, so I shoudl be talk to mr. F about that. What his thoughts are like….

Where to start? Where to focus?

In this company that I am now doing my internship – Company X – I have now been part of it for 4 weeks, and I’m still confused. Yesterday I figured out that there is a big marketing department doing indepth market studies in the regions of Africa my project might go into. And they do both qual and quant studies. So first question is then: What is the role of this entire unit I’m in when there is already a big department with lots of researchers doing almost the same?

Is it just the Design&User insights’ manager Mr. E’s way to keep designers in the company? Using user insights as an excuse to keep the designers together by creating a new dept., even though it would make more sense to merge the User Insights activities with the team already doing that (Group Market Research). Instead they have had external agency C.Partners doing personas study for Europe. Seems very well-done but unknown by the GMR people and not understood or used properly by the project teams.

It seems like the management level is overloaded, too big, fragmented and unstructured. Quotes from employees such as: “when you start something in this company there’s probably always someone else who’s done it before’.

Maybe one of the issues is that it is a former (still?) publicly owned company used to operate as network operator and now getting into ICT businesses and digital services. From looking at the ideas for new services and products it does not look like there is much direction or underlying ‘red thread’ in what is done, and the ideas do not seem well thought through, but more like the results of a first brainstorm with only incrementally new ideas or copies of other companies services.

The technocentres (where I am) are supposed to combine the ideas from R&D with user’s needs to come up with new products, but it is very unclear what projects are actually going on, and from talking to the employees there does not seem to be good communication between the two departments (T.C. and R&D).
Next to the fact that there does not seem to be a culture of talking to or making use of each others competencies, it seems hard and confusing to get and overview of who’s working where and who have the competencies needed for a project – in case you are one of the few who actually try to look for competencies in the organization. Therefore many projects seem to be initiated based on local initiatives in the different departments (not necessarily bad) and then with the people that you or your closes colleagues know about. If that’s a general pattern then the company’s progress is very much determined by the strengths of the internal networks and how well people know each other and have overview of the organization. The latter seems not to be the case.

Experiencing La Poste (my first French experience)

Well, now I can really say that I have experienced the French bureaucracy! 🙂

Mission: open a bank account.

Day one: First of all I was recommended to go to the post office to set up an account. Not the most logic place, but the daily director of my student house told me that the local BNP-bank was very rude and unfriendly(!) so I thought that “La Poste” was just outsmarting the banks and expanding their business from traditional post office duties (they also offer cell phone contracts). Well, “outsmarting”….maybe not the right words. Keep that in mind…

Nearest post office was the one inside the International University City where I live (with 5000 other students from all over the world). Of all the places in Paris/France this should be THE place where I could manage to set up an account, since my French is still limited to “bonjour” and “merci beacoup”.

So I went there Monday evening after arriving, but the woman behind the desk didn’t speak a word of English. However, she managed to explain me somehow that I should come back the next day after 14H (the bank-part of the post office apparently was closed).

Day two: Sooo…yesterday I returned to La Poste full of confidence and with all the papers needed (my nice, new Orange colleagues called them in advance and asked. And they even gave me a day at home to fix my banking). Now a guy was sitting behind the desk. Hoping that he spoke English I was quickly disappointed, especially when he wrote me a note – in French – telling me that I should come back tomorrow (today). So much for my day off and the message I received the day before.

He did manage to sell me a phone number though, and I managed to set up by myself only with a French manual 🙂

Day three: Again, I went to La Poste (I really needed the account this week to receive my first internship gratification). The man was again sitting behind the desk. This time he made a phone call and then he explained me in French (He could have spoken Swahili to me and being just as understandable) that I should go down to another branch to talk to Madame Nicole. (Why I was not told that one of the previous times I don’t know).
Anyway, so I did. (Still naive I thought that Nicole maybe was an English speaking employee). When I came in I was politely greeted in French by two not very busy employees. As I asked for madame Nicole they just pointed down the hall to some undefined place. I looked in through the doors, and managed to find Madame Nicole – a friendly looking lady busy with another customer. But she found time to find me a chair so I could wait outside.

Then I saw a sign just next to her door saying open from 17-18 (in French of course), and the clock was quickly approaching 18. The man from yesterday had written from 17-19 so I got quite surprised, and started imagining me waiting and waiting, and then at 18 they’d close down and ask me to come back next day – again.

Fortunately she just welcomed me once she was done with the other customer. English was not a language she had ever heard about though! And just like all other French persons I have med so far, they happily speak French – despite my obvious non-existing French abilities. I was not even sure how to say “bank account” in French!!

And now to the positive part: An hour later I walked out of La Poste på Rue d’Acueil after signing 10 different papers, and now with 1) a bank account, 2) a credit card, 3) online banking – AND I actually know how to activate it, what letters I will receive, what I should tell Orange, and that I will receive emails with my account status.
Nicole, thank you! You are amazing! You showed that language apparently isn’t necessary. Not even for opening bank accounts. And I’m now sure that I can manage ANY situation in the coming six months where I run out of words! 🙂

One last curiosity:
(and a nice example of La Poste’s excellent procedures)
I needed to put money in the account right away, and it was fine to use my Visa card for it.
However, what I did not expect was that I had to go to her ATM machine, withdraw 20 €, give the money back to her, so she could write a receipt manually and put that back into her system(!)

Why she couldn’t withdraw the money directly from my card I still don’t know… 🙂