Monday, 26 August 2013

If kids can do it, why not employees?

Sparktruck is a brilliant way of getting kids to learn about creativity and learning. As founder Eugene Korsunskiy puts it "You do your best work when you are having fun".
Whilst the concept is aimed at schoolchildren and teachers, the ideas and approach of sparking ideas and producing fast prototypes is absolutely appropriate, and badly needed, in solving complex problems that large organisations face. (8 min video)

If having seen the Sparktruck video, you thought this is great for kids, but 'what's it got to do with big organisations', this video from Cisco Systems shows you. It's amazing, and encouraging, that this high-tech engineering organisation utilises techniques that involve string, pins, Blu-tac and cardboard in developing end-user experiences and gets great results. The great thing about Cisco's approach to using Design Thinking for complex problem-solving is that it is:

  • Low-cost 
  • High-engagement 
  • Can quickly show tangible (ie physical) results
  • and yes, can even be fun
The video is 14 mins in total. It includes a great example of how Cisco used this technique to improve their 'new hire' experience. If you are interested in Knowledge Transfer for joiners, the excerpt from 9mins 47secs to 11:00mins is inspiring.

KIN is holding an 'Creativity in Innovation training' Masterclass on 19th November, run by Dr Kamal Birdi of Sheffield University Business School. KIN Members can register for this event here. If your organisation is not a KIN Member, contact or go to for more information.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Christmas lights and hand sanitizer - really understanding the problem helps find innovative solutions

Two fascinating videos that illustrate how understanding a problem from a user's perspective can lead to really innovative solutions...

The first addresses the serious problem of hospital-acquired infection. Whilst personal sanitisers are commonplace, the designers of Swipesense realised that measuring their usage was key to making sure they are used properly, ie modifying behaviour. What does a 5 year old kid do when their hands get dirty? They wipe them on their shirt. The device mimics this action and sends a signal to a sensor which collects data. The combination of an intuitive action and knowing that usage is being monitored seems to be enough to have a dramatic improvement in sanitation and perhaps save lives.

The second is a video of an unusual approach to persuading Columbian FARC guerrillas to come out of the jungle and go home to their families. If you ignore the overly-dramatic soundtrack, the results of simply stringing Christmas lights from trees to send a message seem impressive.

What's this to do with organisational learning, collaborative working or applying lessons? As I've often suggested, if we do not appeal to innate behaviour then edicts, policy or technology are going to be ineffective. Here are a couple of examples of 'Design Thinking' that really try to understand the problem (empathy) and come up with novel solutions (ideation).