Originally posted on Lucyinnovation's Blog:

Lucyinnovation blog has moved house. It now lives at lucyinnovation.co.uk

It’s moved because its been spruced up.

If you follow this blog, and want to keep following, you need to go to lucyinnovation.co.uk and scroll down to Follow Blog by email and sign up again.

I know that’s a pain. I’m sorry its clunky and not very innovative, but I hope you choose to keep reading….

Lucy

@lucyinnovation

Lucy@lucyinnovation.co.uk

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Lucyinnovation blog has moved house

Lucyinnovation blog has moved house. It now lives at lucyinnovation.co.uk

It’s moved because its been spruced up.

If you follow this blog, and want to keep following, you need to go to lucyinnovation.co.uk and scroll down to Follow Blog by email and sign up again.

I know that’s a pain. I’m sorry its clunky and not very innovative, but I hope you choose to keep reading….

Lucy

@lucyinnovation

Lucy@lucyinnovation.co.uk

How do you get ideas?

 

ImageIn 1965 James Webb Young published a book called ‘A technique for producing ideas’. It is a small and simple book. This blog is about what it says.

It talks about whether it is possible to identify a standard format for having ideas, so that ideas become a definite process, like an idea assembly line – in the same way that Henry Ford produced his Ford Model T.

Young starts on the premise that an idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements. And that the key to an effective idea process is an individuals’ ability to search for relationships between elements that turn separate unconnected bits of knowledge into something greater.

Young identified a five-step process for having ideas.

1. Gather raw material; this is an on-going process and includes two types of material. Firstly specific material related to the problem you are trying to solve, for example getting under the skin of your supporter and really understanding where the opportunities are for you to add value. Secondly general material, which could relate to anything at all, for example the topics that interest you or you are passionate about. It is the combination of the specific and general material that you then have to opportunity to combine into something new. An example of this is when Steve Jobs dropped out of college. It gave him the opportunity to drop into classes that he was interested in. He attended calligraphy classes that had no practical application at the time, but years later he was able to combine this element when developing the fonts and design of the Apple Macintosh. He talks about this in his 2005 commencement speech.

2. Order and catalogue your thoughts; Young talks about Sherlock Holmes who spend hours indexing and cross-indexing his thoughts in scrapbooks (remember it was 1965). You too could keep a scrap book and there are now also many online tools to gather your raw material in one place, for example Pinterest, your own blog, Slideshare or even Twitter. Then seek relationships; deliberately look for relationships within your gathered raw material. Write your random thoughts down and build on those thoughts. Young describes it as ‘listening for meaning rather than looking’  

3. Incubation; if you are following the process, at this stage you are likely to have a hopeless jumble of random thoughts. This stage is about putting the whole thing out of your mind. Go and do something else, anything else. Something that stimulates your mind and emotions, have a nap, go for a walk, read a novel, go to the movies, go the gym or phone a friend. This is a definite and necessary stage that allows the unconsciousness mind to processes your thoughts.

4. Out of nowhere the idea will appear; according to Young this is the way ideas come, after you have stopped straining for them and have passed through a period of rest and relaxation from the search. The expression ‘sleep on it’ isn’t accidental. It is the process of your subconscious mind processing your thoughts.

5. Shaping and development of the idea; this is the really difficult bit. You have to be brave and put your idea out there.   You have to take your little new born idea out into the world of reality and develop it to fit external constraints. This is where good ideas can easily get lost. However, according to Young, a good idea has self expanding qualities, it stimulates those who see potential to add to it and possibilities in it that you have overlooked will come to light.

So if ideas are a new combination of old elements it is important to gather raw material by constantly expanding your experiences. So get out from behind your desk and experience more. It’s important. 

2012 blogs in review

I love that WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepare an annual report for their bloggers. I love how they bring the stats to life. I less love that the most searched for term is ham and cheese sandwich. Maybe I should write about ham and cheese sandwiches more?

Did you know:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 23,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, lucyinnovation’s blog would power 5 Film Festivals.

Click here to see the complete report.

You are awesome. We will be back.

Most days I am thoroughly underwhelmed by mediocre customer service experiences.

It amazes me that in a competitive marketplace how little emphasis seems to be placed on providing outstanding service, especially when we know that personal recommendations are key in helping people make purchasing decisions, whether buying a new product or choosing what charity to support.*

If you receive poor or mediocre service you might not say anything. You just might not return. If the service is diabolical you probably will tell the world in order to stop anyone else having he same bad experience, or sometimes to give the diabolical service provider the opportunity to put it right. (You can see some of the best diabolical service complaints letters that went viral here)

So when something exceptional happens it really stands out. Something exceptional happened this week and I want to tell you about it.

I went for lunch with a friend at the Oxo Tower Brasserie on London’s Southbank. It’s on the 8th floor and has stunning views over the city. It was her birthday.

TG51We had a delicious meal and while we were waiting for coffee something unexpected happened. Our waiter, Marco, arrived at our table with a plate with Happy Birthday written on it in chocolate sauce accompanied with a scoop of ice cream with a candle in it.

My friend thought I had arranged it. (For a fleeting moment I thought of taking the credit, but I had to confess I hadn’t been that thoughtful.)

TG50

I asked Marco how he knew. He said he had overheard us talking when we toasted with our wine earlier and he thought it would be a nice thing to do.

It was more than a nice thing to do. It was awesome.

So a scoop of ice cream with a candle on is no big deal. The big deal was that someone was paying attention to us, understood that it was a special occasion and took the time and effort to do something to make us feel special.

Exceptional service like that is so rare. Yet in a competitive marketplace if you don’t offer exceptional service how do you get your customers to return and recommend you to others? The same applies to your supporters and donors.

It takes a bit of extra effort – but the result was that Marco and the Oxo Tower Brasserie stands out in a crowded marketplace of average experiences.

So thank you Marco for being a brilliant waiter and making our day. You are awesome. We will be back.

*Recent research claims that 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations (Source)while only 14% of people trust advertising.  Source: “Marketing to the Social Web,” Larry Weber, Wiley Publishing  2007

 

 

Because not all the smart people work for you…

british_library_00_1492524cLast week I went to an event about Open Innovation in Public Services at The British Library.

Open innovation involves collaboration with partners and networks to share the risk and reward of developing new ideas. It is an innovation model that is used in the corporate sector and there are an increasing number of public and third sector organisations starting to ‘do’ open innovation.

It’s a good idea, as Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems said “Because not all the smart people work for you”

We heard from five speakers

Vicky Purewal Head of Challenge Prize Design at Nesta spoke about her work to grow the field of challenge prizes.

A challenge prize offers a reward to whoever can first or most effectively meet a defined challenge. The challenge prize concept dates back hundreds of years; canned food was a solution to a problem back in 1795 when the French military offered a cash prize of 12,000 francs for a new method to preserve food.

Challenge prizes as a way to solve problems has seen big growth in recent decades. The challenge prize model is effective in seeking ideas from a wide audience, it is more flexible than grant funding for an idea or project as there are less strings attached and the concept of winning a prize is filled with excitement as opposed to obtaining a more sobering ‘grant’ type of funding.

The design of the challenge prize and process, including the setting of clear goals and context is crucial to the prizes success. Check out some examples of challenge prizes run by Nesta, the NHS and the X Prize Foundation.

Carl Reynolds, (introduced as a Doctor and a geek), spoke about NHS Hack days.

A hack day is a gathering of a diverse group of people for at least a whole day (sometimes more) to work on a specific problem. There is an element of competition, prizes and a commitment to develop the solutions once the day is over. Hacks originated from software developers so usually involve a technology solution.

Carl’s had identified that the poor use of IT was making NHS staff jobs harder and their work less efficient, so the focus of the hack day was to ‘make NHS IT less bad’.

Given that they were starting from a fairly low benchmark, getting some key people together for a hack day to address this challenge was seen to be achievable at a relatively low-cost and risk. After all what could be a worse outcome than the current situation? Things could only improve.

The NHS hack days involve doctors, patients, healthcare experts, technology and software developers and designers. The first one was in May 2012. 120 people attended over two days, eight judges selected the best ideas and there was one overall winner. There was a range of solutions that you can see here.

Heather Niven from GeniUS York spoke about the open process they have piloted to solve the City of Yorks strategic and operational challenges.

In response to massive public sector cuts York Council identified that they could not continue to deliver their services using their current business model.

They developed an open innovation pilot giving staff and local people the opportunity get involved in solving some of the challenges in their local communities. They developed an ideas platform in a record quick time of 3 days. They launched challenges on the platform for a short time period and involved an online community of staff and the public to suggest solutions.

This pilot has repositioned innovation as a priority and turned York Council from a ‘big tanker to flotilla of active networked organisations and individuals’.

Heather spoke about what they had learned; the need to go at a slightly slower pace, the value of getting input from outside of the organisation, how brave senior managers had to be to open up and the shift in culture required to help staff to get involved.  Heather’s ultimate tip for anyone setting something like this up is  ‘be brave and proceed until apprehended’

Jenny Parkin from Camden Council spoke about their Innovation and Development Fund

The Innovation and Development Fund is designed to engage with residents and staff to facilitate and build capacity for innovation in the borough of Camden and help communities make things happen in their local area.

The funds criteria is for ideas that address socially engrained problems in new and different ways, ideas that positively change current practice and demonstrate financial sustainability in a way that is new to the Council.

Asking the outside world to come and help deliver services is a cultural shift and the approach to the fund has been an iterative one of learning and making changes at each funding round. Jenny shared some of the learning about the importance of communicating the opportunity to a range of audiences and the making the process as simple as possible. Jenny highlighted the value of the shift in culture and approach required and the learning journey the Council had been on as much as the end results.

David Townson spoke about the Design Councils’ leadership programme that supports public sector clients to improve products and services.

David spoke of the importance of design as a framework for innovation and how all innovation should originate from an understanding of your audiences and the challenges they face. The real innovation is how you help them solve those challenges.

Getting closer to your audience or customers helps you gain insights that you would not get just sat behind your desk. David spoke about sending Barking and Dagenham Council teams on ‘service safaris’ and forcing people to go to where their customers were and experience what they experienced to gather real information. Following service safaris teams visualised, sketched and prototyped their ideas.

At the end of the process the teams have a sketchbook of ideas and have engaged with their customers, providing insight and a better understanding of the problems that their communities face.  Only when you have an understanding of the real problems your customers are facing are you in a position to solve them.

Open innovation is now part of the Barking and Dagenham training programme, creating a cultural shift, a different approach to problem solving and more importantly providing more effective services.

How do I start doing Open Innovation?

There are many ways to develop open innovation to help your organisation develop better products and services. If you are considering this there are five key tips to consider.

  1. Be clear on your end goal.
  2. Build good relationships, seek to understand your audiences, whether staff, customers or the public
  3. Communicate clearly at every stage, keep people in the conversation, listen and respond to feedback
  4. Be open about what is working and what is not and learn from it
  5. Just start. You won’t have all the answers and that is exactly the point. The value of open innovation is finding solutions with others.

How could your organisation use an open innovation model to develop better fundraising and services through challenge prizes, hack days or an open innovation programme?

The Dragonfly Effect – its all wings and analogies

The Dragonfly Effect is a book by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith about ways to use social media to drive social change.

They use the analogy of the wings of a dragonfly as the four essential ingredients in any social media campaign.

It breaks down how to ‘do’ social media to drive change into four ‘wings’.

Wing one; is about focusing focus on a single concrete measurable goal or outcome and then breaking it down into small manageable actions or chunks.

Wing two; is how to grab attention and get noticed amongst all the other noise that we are all bombarded with.

Wing three; is about engaging your audience emotionally through telling stories and making a personal connection.

Wing four; is about how to make it easy for your audience to take action and enable others and the importance of providing fast feedback.

There are some interesting case studies, and they give tips for beginners on using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and building networks. However, I was disappointed with the overall content as it was repetitive and cluttered and I found the number of dragonfly and wing analogies a bit irritating. (The dragonfly analogy is apparently because the dragonfly is the only insect to move in any direction when its four wings are working in concert)

However they make some good basic points, which apply to any activity designed to drive change, that of

  • Focusing on the end goal
  • Grabbing audience attention
  • Engaging with the audience
  • A clear and simple call for action

So my advice is, if you are planning to use social media (or drive any sort of change) to take these principles and get on with testing out your campaigns and messages rather than spending time reading the book.

I’d love to hear about what you are doing and what is working and not working for you on social media right now….