Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Are you a phenomenologist?

Did you see the phenomenal 'Lego Movie'?
I use that adjective deliberately, as Lego's venture into things other than plastic bricks was a result of 'phenomenology'. Yes it is a real word; coined by anthropologists who applied 'sensemaking' to real-world problems and solutions in organisations.

Lego was facing increasing challenge to its much-loved product from electronic games and the internet. There was plenty of 'big data' from which they could tell exactly where the challenge was coming from and predict customer behaviour. What the data couldn't tell them was why customers were making these choices, whether they rational or spontaneous.

Rather than taking a hypothesis and testing it against a focus group, or running trials, a 'sensemaking' approach assumes nothing - a problem may not even be apparent at this stage. Phenomenology has been applied to Starbucks' renewal programme, 'nudge' marketing and healthcare policy and many other previously data-driven innovation programmes.

An anthropological approach to innovation will capture a huge amount of raw information. The anthropologist's skill is to look for patterns, themes or phenomena that lead to insights. Lego realised that by observing what else their customers (kids and parents) were doing, their growth strategy would be radically different - and it wasn't 'alternative bricks' or 'more kits'!

If you would like to know more about these case studies and the observational approach to innovation, I heartily recommend the Harvard Business Review article 'An Anthropologist Walks into a Bar...'

The next KIN Innovation Roundtable in April will invite all members to share their innovation approaches, be they data-driven, phenomenology-driven, or chocolate cookie and a cuppa tea driven. We will also invite all member organisations to benchmark themselves agains the draft KIN Innovation 'Maturity Model'. It should be a phenomenal event.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Community Manager Appreciation Day Events, 26 Jan 2015

This day is open to all Operational Community/Network leaders and facilitators from KIN member organisations. Activities will involve a series of face-to-face and on-line events throughout the day with KIN members and external providers celebrating the 6th annual 'Community Manager Appreciation day.

Key take-aways from the day:
  • An opportunity to hear from experts and gain valuable knowledge and advice from a variety of industry sectors.
  • Experience a range of face to face and on-line social activities and technologies which you can implement in your own community groups.
  • Wide range of tool, tips and techniques from fellow community leaders
  • If you or any of your colleagues lead, facilitate, sponsor, administer or take part in any on-line, virtual or face to face networks or communities in your organisation, then this event is for you!! Don't worry if you cannot join in London for the face to face elements of the day, there will be plenty of on-line presentations and discussions too…
    Detailed line up for the day is still TBA, so watch this space to keep up with developments! We are looking forward to sharing and understanding what makes communities successful in your organisation and also celebrating the work of 'Great community managers', so if you have any success stories you would like to share on the day,or would like to nominate your community leader for recognition, then please contact Erica Hurley directly.

    Full details can be found on this event page:
    Roundtable: Community Manager Appreciation Day Events'

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Learning from failure (or failing to learn)

Most people would regard Honda as a successful company. Their vehicles are regarded as the most reliable on the road. However it is not commonly known that this success is grounded in failure. In fact it depends on it. The most interesting thing about this video is hearing the leaders at Honda talk about encouraging radical innovation and not penalising failure, as long as it leads to improved understanding and consequent improvement

Whilst most organisations have had outright failures or 'near misses', they are too often swept under the carpet or not mentioned. In some cases processes may have quietly changed, in others they are still at risk of repeating the problem.

We know that some of the most valuable learning comes from looking at things that did not go as expected or failed. Not a 'drains up' or blame-seeking, but a rational examination of root-causes and seeking to change processes in the future, to avoid repeating the problem.

The issues around this are as much emotional as procedural. Nobody likes to be associated with 'failure'. It takes a brave project manager to flag something that did not go as planned to ensure their colleagues benefit from that experience. The airline industry is a great example where the culture has changed radically and many lives saved as a result.

The KIN Winter workshop on 2nd December will look at examples of learning from failure and failing to learn. We will have a mixture of learning activities (and yes some will be designed to fail!), expert speakers and case-studies from member organisations.