Unrecognized problems.

A module that truly challenges and expands our horizon in the design experience, starting with designing a simple hypothetical shoe to resolve an existing problem, to coming up with a realistic design for glasses and contact lenses case, the entire experience was eye-opening. Being empathetic is the key to design, and it leads us to impressive results that satisfy both us as a company and the customers. In that Lecture, we were asked to work in groups, and go out and speak to people about how they feel about their shoes. Our intention was to discover if they had seen an obvious problem or not, but what we noticed is that people were not always aware they were having a problem or they were not able to point out exactly what it is. I once read a story about the person who worked in cleaning service and suffered from the issue of hoovers breaking down, or their fabric bags getting too dirty and required too much effort to remain functional. so he came up with a solution, and invented the hoover that comes with a disposable plastic bag that can be thrown away instead of being cleaned, he proposed it as a solution to the problematic fabric bags. The solution was a brilliant one, that saves both time and money. However, when he proposed it to people he was immediately faced with rejection. The problem with this solution was that people didn’t recognize the problem, to begin with, and that made his solution useless. Of course, with time, people began testing this product and started to like it little by little until it became a success. A better approach would be to study the consumer reactions by creating an MVP, to discover how much the consumers can relate to the product. 

There is no right or wrong in design thinking, there is a more suitable way/path however and this path can help reduce wasted time and money.

 

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The Laws of thought

Learning the difference between deduction – induction – and abduction

These are three methods of reasoning, and ways to arrive at a logical conclusion, that we use on a daily basis without realizing it. We deal with them every time we come across a situation of why, when and How… Why are cornflakes spilled on the table, when should you leave to catch the bus to university, or how you’re going to deal with your hunger situation now.

Our deductive abilities can answer questions such as “My little sister must have made breakfast before going to school, and spilled some cornflakes on the table in the process”. What I did here, was creating a reason to come to a conclusion. Another example would be, planing what time I need to leave my house in order to arrive at the university at the right time based on reattained knowledge of how the traffic would be, what time the bus arrives, and how long the trip usually takes. In deduction you have

As for induction, it is the exact opposite of abduction, let’s look at it from the following cycles’ perspective, In induction, you have a case, and a result and you have to come up with the rule. for example. If prices go up, Sales go down, so the result is sales go down when the prices are too high.

 

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Abduction is different from induction and deduction in that it looks at the results first, and then the apply the rule and then apply the case. so basically it involves forming a conclusion from known information such as in a crime scene, a detective identifies who the criminal is from already existing clues.

All three of these design theories are applicable in our everyday life, and differentiating between them is a necessity to come up with better conclusive results rather than preset assumptions.

Dragon’s Den

Since my arrival at Kingston University, I was hearing the word Dragon’s Den, Dragon’s Den… it was a bit intimidating, I assumed it would be like walking into a battlefield. But the deadline was set, groups were selected and the Brainstorming was already taking us places we never imagined. My group (Celine, Nidhi, Sai, and Josiah) we shared many ideas together, inspired by problems we faced on our everyday life, and eventually, we came down to one issue that we thought truly needed a quick solution as it has been there for years and years and still no one solved it. Our choice of a very basic, very common problem… and with three people in the group suffering from it, it was easier to work on a solution. It was the issue of glasses and their supplies not coming with a suitable box to gather all of them together in one place, without taking up too much space in the bag. We came up with Boxie, a retractable case that can be pushed back or extended in sizes.Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 7.19.26 PM

 

Many of us, wear contact lenses at times but tire out from them and decide to switch back to glasses, or vice-versa. And the issue they face is their items are usually scattered all over the bag and it takes them a long time to find them, our box is the solution to a time consuming frustrating problem.

We thought our product is a people friendly product that required an informal but relatable introduction, so we created a scenario of a young woman going to an interview but missing out on her chance because of her inability to find her contact lens box after losing one of her lenses, our scenario was done in a humorous way to match the fun yet practical structure of our product.

It was a really fun and educational experience, that taught us which aspects to focus on while presenting our ideas, including the materials, the suppliers, and the pricing, as well as integrating teamwork between the group members.

Activity theory of Aging

activity theoryWe want to overcome the limitations of a formal logic, This theory is used to explain design thinking in a unique way. While researching the activity theory on a more intricate level, I found an interesting application of Activity theory on Aging. There was a pre-assumption in the past that suggested older people should do what comes “natural” with age, which is withdrawn and settle into inactivity until death which is based on the disengagement theory. A study in the 1970s was published on the “An Exploration of Activity They of Aging” by Lemon, Bengston and Peterson 1972. It discusses the progress of human health and life expectancy based on type of activities such as social or personal “Hobbies” the theory suggests that as people age, they start to lose their identity that they had in work or in family life, in comparison to those who participate in activities and interact socially who tend to have a higher quality of life are healthier and live longer. This is because such actives enhance the sense of self which basic need for survival, especially an informal and less structured one.

Activity theory is based on groups of people working and/or living together, and how it impacts their life such as a team or an organization, it is beyond individual work. In the case of aging, many of the elders who were put into a home tended to increase life expectancy by an average of 20 years due to the group activities they were involved in, This can be invested in creating an even better setup for senior centers, by introducing more social activities and fun unorganized activity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Garden, H. and Retirement, A. (2018). What is the activity theory of aging?. [online] HowStuffWorks. Available at: https://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/aging/retirement/activity-theory-of-aging3.htm [Accessed 11 Jan. 2018].

Learning Theories. (2018). Activity Theory – Learning Theories. [online] Available at: https://www.learning-theories.com/activity-theory.html [Accessed 11 Jan. 2018].

Seeing the world through other people’s eyes.

Design has such a strong humane factor to it, one that plays an important role in the lives of all of us, and that is that in order to be a creator you need to be empathetic. For creativity to serve a successful purpose you must be able to design for people through understanding their needs and wants to come up with “User-centered” designs. Which forces you to put your self in your user’s shoes. I fell even more in love with my design (Creative) background when I learned that Creativity is a selfless process that requires a lot of collaboration, teamwork, and compassion.

In my previous experience with creativity and design, I did not have the chance to grasp this sense of collaboration, I’ve had the pleasure to work in groups before but we certainly had a misinterpretation of what group work is all about. we would be so consumed in speaking up our own opinions and thoughts that we forgot the purpose of the entire “group work” concept is to focus on what the customer wants not what we want. This lead to an environment that was highly competitive and people wanted success only for themselves and what I saw as a result of that was students being demotivated and coming up with average quality work. Acknowledging the consumer as our main goal would have set aside all the feuds, this will get the team started on creating disruptive results.

A basic process to start design thinking:

Empathize> Define >Ideate > prototype > Test

It was quite interesting to have design thinking process be outlined in such a sense, and to learn that the initial trigger for design thinking is Empathy, but what is empathy exactly? The general definition of this word would be having the ability to see the world through other people’s eyes.

It is an attempt to understand the feelings of others. Then you can start your journey; You have to Empathize in order to be able to define what the problem is so that you would be able to come up with ideas that are prototyped into MVP’s to get a grip of the impact your idea will have when you test its MVP. During this process, the important thing is to always remain flexible “Iterate” the continuous process of going back and forth & adjusting to achieve the right result.

Design thinking is all about putting aside your preconceived ideas on something, and starting over with ability to adopt new understandings, perspectives, and needs of others.

References:

The Interaction Design Foundation. (2018). Design Thinking: Getting Started with Empathy. Available at: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/design-thinking-getting-started-with-empathy [Accessed 11 Jan. 2018].

How to charge your worth?

Ever been afraid to set a price for a product/service you provided? I always knew charging too high could risk losing the customer, but can charging to low cause the same damage as well? a story I read in a book called “Influence, the psychology of persuasion” was about a young woman who sold jewelry by placing her pieces in a retail shop, she initially placed her pieces at a price that covered the cost exactly which in her case was relatively low. her pieces remained on the stands for months customers would ask about the pieces but never buy them, she later decided to go lower and place the pieces at half price thinking it would sell, she contacted the retail shop owner by message saying to place the price at x2 instead of 1/2 and her pieces were suddenly selling in an extremely fast pace. Her mistake was the reason for her success, this story raised the issue of the importance of knowing your worth and naming a price for it. The second time I came across pricing was In the business startup and IP lecture we attended that at the British Library, where we learned the importance of investing in our selves before anything else, and to have confidence in our work but how can we communicate that through to the consumer without them refusing?

Here are three basic philosophical strategies, you can use to charge more while talking to the customer:

  1. Steer focus to them: people are buying the fulfillment of a dream, what are their hopes and dreams and where they want to be. They are looking to buy a better version of themselves. How much is your product worth to the client, how many clients they have and how their clients will benefit from your product.
  2. Separate from the monkey: Argue with ur negative thoughts such as ”who am I, I am nobody” Focus on how much time and effort you put into your work. a good way to shut down negative thoughts is by identifying what’s making you sad and talking to it until it calms down.
  3. Swivel the spotlight: Charge more on the impact your work will make on the clients business, it is not about you, it is about your goals, they should be bigger than you.

To conclude that,  build an easier conversation over price with your customer you must begin be talking about the value your service will bring to them, and this will open your path to naming the price you believe represents the value of your work best.

Need is the mother of invention.

“Need is the Mother of invention”

we started in design thinking with a lesson on being empathetic, a truly important attribute of being a sensible human. After putting our empathetic skills intro action whilst designing a shoe on our project, we were then asked to stop working and providing solutions and start observing.

Observe all sorts of people with different living standards, who have different ways of getting by in life, what kind of struggles they might come across, and what solutions we can provide for them. When I see someone struggling with something I would usually rush to help with it, but after being taught that observation is the most important step to designing I decided to step back and wait to see if the person struggling finds his own solution. I came to the realization that we are all creative people, and under pressure, the majority of us can come up with the right solution to ensure our survival.

When the war took over Syria, it caused many problems other than just terror, death, and lack of safety. People were starving, sick, had no electricity and mostly they were not receiving supplies of water. Syrians being the funny people they are, were making humorous and sarcastic videos that in fact were resolving a real crisis. They had used science to create a water-saving method using a simple plastic bottle of water, by poaching the bottle and using the air pressure to keep the water from leaking, here’s an example:

 

This was my individual approach to observations, and how I observed people coming up with their own solutions which can inspire a more advanced implementation.

In the end, here we are in 20th century, with all the technology and advanced means of survival, going back to basic science to maintain our lives. Observation is a good way to notice where things went wrong, and how to fix them, but being in the struggle can certainly inspire us to create and innovate in a basic sensible technique. In my opinion, This makes the purpose of observing, creating a means to a more rapid learning and creation process.

Setting up a business

Over 50% of companies fail after 5 years, and over 70% fail within 10 years time. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I was frightened by these statistics and started looking for a way to manage the risks for my business. In my search, i stumbled upon the creative economy and creative industry course which gives an extensive overview of the business startups.

The past three months in the “Creative Industry and Creative Economy” course, have been eye-opening in every aspect of the process of running a business. Starting with creating a successful business model for our company, by identifying the key basic factors that will help us recognize the odds of survival of our business, and they include (Value propositions, customer segment, channels, cost structure, key activities and resources and partnerships, and most importantly the revenue streams) together these elements work coherently to help us define our business.

An example we took in class is the following business model of Pokemon go. Applying that to my own business(Design Company) has helped me define the value proposition of my company which was done after recognizing a gap in the design industry in Jordan, a 24-hour design-service. In my past work experience, I had several incidents where a customer realizes in the last minute that they need some adjustments or fast designs and we were not able to deliver, which caused our customers to turn to freelancers at times to resolve their issues.

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We later started reading the Lean Startup book, which explained about the methods of decision making and the importance of knowing when to stay the course and when to pivot. I was always curious about the right time to launch my business idea and was surprised to find out that the faster we launch the better. Our launch begins with an MVP (a cheap fast prototype) that is fully functional and summons the core experience of our product, at the same time, it doesn’t necessarily need to be in its final form/stage, Spending too much money on the initial prototype is not advised, as the purpose of it is to test the acceptance of our idea in the market.

Building an MVP is the first step of the build, learn measure cycle. this cycle has been devised to help us with testing our product and collecting feedback. During this process we are expected to continuously iterate our original idea or pivot when required, this will help us save spending too much time and expenses on an idea that may not be successful on the long run.

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Suppose our business model is compelling, and we have started with an MVP (prototype, video, wireframe…) that is receiving great feedback, there is already a huge risk of losing exclusivity to Our product from competitors if we are not backed up with Intellectual property rights (IPR). Intellectual property is defined as creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce by WIPO (World Intellectual property organization).

IP is a double-edged sword that works on protecting our rights, but can also be harmful to us if we breach it’s laws when incorporating other people’s work into our business. We were introduced to IPR by Naomi K. who explained to us in intricate detail, some mistakes we commonly fall into while surfing and using data available on the internet, such as using a song in the background of a video we make to friends, or downloading pictures and using them on our personal social websites without permission. We may not be at high risk of being chased down by the law as students with small social media reference and low income but as business owners, the risk certainly rises to higher extents.

As a graphic designer with a middle eastern background, I must have unknowingly breached IPR laws dozens of times, especially after finding out that Google search images are not for the free use of the public. As a result to my new attained knowledge in IP, I decided to run a company that complies entirely with IP laws, with the purpose of gaining the trust of our customers and having the ability to expand worldwide without being at risk of being chased by the law. I intend to do this by employing or contracting with exclusive photographers for the company to provide “IP protected” images that can also be sold online on our company website to maintain continues a continuous revenue stream. I will also be providing my clients with IPR lawyer whom they can consult for their personal brands, which will help strengthen our customer relations and induce trust and loyalty which are strong elements to our brand mantra.

In order for us to achieve successful long-term goals, we must now formulate an appropriate Strategy. A strategy is not about a specific plan it’s about a vision for the future said Kent (our course instructor), A strategy is a solution to move from where you are now (A) to where you want to be (B)… (Duncan, 2013) It is meant to help us define how we aim to penetrate the market. we tested our strategy abilities in the business strategy game, which is a simulation of running a real-life footwear company, During that experience, we learned how to manage our money and set clear goals to our company.

We started by defining the purpose of our company which was for athlete’s shoes, with the purpose of improving the capabilities of athletes (Niche Market), this requires a focused strategy, this type of strategy aims to be a global leader in a specific market segment. we also used global differentiation strategy that sets the companies’ footwear apart from rival brands, by using high S/Q rating, more models, and styles, more advertising greater celebrity appeal, higher mail-in rebate, or bigger network of retail outlets.

After discussing our strategy in the presentation, we realized the importance of the advertising and marketing we used, and how it was beneficial for us. We learned that advertising together with celebrity appeal was one of the main causes of our winning in the game as it has increased demand drastically every year and improved our image rating. And of course, we were careful to consider the finances we used in our advertising to make sure they do not override our revenues. on average around it is advised to use around 7-8% of our gross revenue on marketing which was a huge success.

We were also very careful in regards to our finance and how much money we spent, despite our high revenues we still tried to cut down costs by purchasing capacity from our competitors instead of building capacity which would have been of too many costs. We also invested into cutting down our rejection rate by improving plant options and increasing worker productivity.

We managed to win the game, with our strategies. Nevertheless, our misinterpretation for pricing and capacity lead to negative feedback from Kent, However, we were forced to use competitive pricing as our attempt to raise our prices to lead to bad revenues, we also had high capacity which we purchased from our competitors (lowered our costs), but left us with large amounts of stock. As a niche market, it is important to recognize that capacity is important but it should not be the main target, nor should we use competitive pricing because a focused strategy has high costs and gives us the benefit of leading in price.   

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After presenting, we also realized the importance of our brand, and how clear we should be as to what our brand truly is about. I have tried to come up with my own understanding of a brand and its the set of values, goals, expectations, experiences that will facilitate and sustain a relationship with the customer and encourage him to choose your company over other companies.

When constructing a brand, dealing with the company must be with clear attention to the personality it is intending to depict. Think of it as raising a child, what kind of value’s do you wish to teach this child what goals are you constructing? the expectations and dreams you have. when you are branding you are carving the soul and the voice of the company that you wish to use to speak with your consumers.

Every topic we tapped into in this course, has helped me recognize a clearer course of actions to consider for my business, I have learned how to mitigate risk and have better time management by knowing when to pivot. one of the main points to consider while managing a business is being flexible and simultaneously collecting feedback to iterate and better my service/product.

 

References

Berman, K., Knight, J., Case, J. and Berman, K. (2008). Financial intelligence for entrepreneurs. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press.

Clegg, S., Schweitzer, Jochen, Whittle, Andrea, & Pitelis, Christos. (2017). Strategy : Theory and practice (Second ed.).

CopyrightUser. (2017). UK Copyright Law – CopyrightUser.org. Available at: http://www.copyrightuser.org/ [Accessed 22 Dec. 2017].

Dall’Olmo Riley, F. (2016) ‘The roles of brands revisited’, pp. 394-414 in: Baker, M. and Hart, S. (eds.) The Marketing Book 7th Edition, Routledge. ISBN 9780415703772

Duncan Bucknell. (2017). The Difference Between a Strategy, a Plan, and a Process. Available at: https://duncanbucknell.com/2013/04/12/the-difference-between-a-strategy-a-plan-and-a-process/ (Accessed 22 Dec. 2017).

Keller, K.L., Sternthal, B. and Tybout A. (2002) ‘Three Questions You Need to Ask About Your Brand’, Harvard Business Review, 80 (9), pp. 80-86.

Percy, L. and Rosenbaum-Elliot, R. (2016) Strategic Advertising Management. Fifth Edition: Oxford.

Ries, E. (n.d.). The lean startup.

Smallbusiness.chron.com. (2017). Different Types of Pricing Strategy. Available at: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/different-types-pricing-strategy-4688.html (Accessed 22 Dec. 2017).

Visualscope.com. (2017). Marketing 102 | Mistakes in Marketing. Available at: http://www.visualscope.com/marketing102.html (Accessed 22 Dec. 2017).

Wipo.int. (2017). Available at: http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/ (Accessed 22 Dec. 2017).

Kavounas Taylor, A. (2013) Strategic Thinking for Advertising Creatives. Laurence King

The Lean Startup

When I was taught business in school, it was all based on a set of rules. I was given a handbook of Do’s and Dont’s, and told how, if I followed the steps given carefully and in the right order, I am going to own a successful business. However, come to the reality of it, I learned that many businesses follow the rules in the book but, still don’t manage to succeed. To me, it was all about figuring out the factors that lead a business to success, and why it fails, I was also interested in the concept of “overnight success” how an entrepreneur turns into what is professionally called a “unicorn”. In my journey to explore running a successful business, one of the first books I came across was “The lean startup”

While reading this book and going to my lectures, I started noticing something about the methods advised to running a successful business, it seemed like a deliberate mess.. why do I call it a deliberate mess? first, we have learned three, very important, basic steps: 

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On my first job, my main concern was bringing my design abilities to the table, by expressing my creativity and providing unique designs. what was interesting was that I was able to leave a good impression on my coworkers and my boss, but when they sent my designs out to the customers, they were quick to reply: Beautiful designs, However not suitable for our market. After many rejections, I was devastated and started questioning my creativity and my work. This is where I decided to go back to being a student again and asked my boss to teach me how to approach my customers with designs they would accept. He always said, “Mais, a good design is not necessarily the right design for the customer”. Which highlighted the importance of understanding the customer’s demands & needs and the market he is targeting before starting on any project.

With “The lean startup” in my hand, my failed past experiences are making a lot more sense. Now I have learned that the quicker an MVP is released the better results you will end up with and the more simultaneous your feedback will be. Most importantly, to be successful you must be flexible, and you must have the ability to let go of things and pivot when it is needed, knowing when to change your path will save you time and help you reduce the chances of failure of your business.

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