Category Archives: General

Corporate Culture – Seeing the Iceberg

Dave Gray - PresentationCorporate Culture is an interesting, important, influential, but hard to capture topic. Dave Gray did a great job at the Dare Conference 2013 – with the presentation now available here – talking about Culture and Change and introducing his Corporate Culture Map tool.

What I find especially intriguing and interesting is the reversed top-down approach – well you might call it bottom-up. But it starts with the Values, which almost every company has outlined in some form and which are normally delivered top-down, although in the corporate culture map they are actually somewhere at the bottom. The exercise is to take these Values and work your way up to the Evidence. This can happen in two forms: (1) looking at real world evidence that support the Values, but more interestingly (2) to define “Evidence”, i.e. behaviors that you would expect to support the Values and which would also be rewarded in the organisation.

Turning Values, that tend to be rather generic, into better defined actions, will help in any attempt to promote or change a specific corporate culture.

One card to rule them all

When we did the Design Thinking exercise last year this was what I was looking for. Startup Coin has created credit card sized gadget that consolidates a number of credit cards and makes them usable in the normal way. You can select which card it should be and then swipe it as any normal card.

Very cool – and a very cool website (just scroll down)

IxDA Munich: Holistic User Experience

We had a great IxDA Munich event tonight hosted by designaffairs in their new office. Claude Toussaint presented designaffairs concept and approach to Holistic User Experience (HUX)

Designaffairs has identified 21 factors that are important for product design. But using the standard Marketing approach and asking customers which factors they value as most important, the normal result is that all factors are clustered very closely together in their rating. So the questions is how to determine the factors that are unconsciously really driving product decisions.

Instead of asking the customer about what they think is important they turn around and ask them about their existing product. The products performance against the 21 factors is evaluated. They then use a multi-regression analysis to identify the importance of the different factors.

This approach enables them to have a qualified analysis on what factors are important for customers. One example they did was evaluating washing machines in the USA. It turned out that the brand is not an important factor in the purchasing decision. And in the design process the collected information is used to prioritize investment decision.

It was very interesting to see an analytic approach to evaluate customer needs, requirements and preferences. Although this approach is not suited to evaluate innovations because it only works with products already established in the market it sounded like an excellent basis for any design project. With an adaptation of the relevant factors it could also be used for service or digital product design.

Design Thinking: The Wallet and Mastercard

Mastercard announced to release a next generation display card in Singapore. The interactive payment card has a built-in display and touch sensitive buttons.

This plays very well with two design thinking activities I had during this summer.

The Xing Design Thinking Group Munich had a great event in July at the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship

Florian Huber, who is managing the ape program at the SCE gave a very interesting introduction and then it was do-it-yourself. We all did a practical Design Thinking exercise in redesigning the wallet. In pairs we reflected on, i.e. tried to understand, customer needs and requirements for the wallet before we started the design and prototyping work. A lot of fun with pizza and beer

And then on August 1st, Daniel Bartels transformed combinat56 coworking space into a Design Thinking lab. He gave an introduction into Design Thinking before again everybody jumped into the Redesign-the-Wallet exercise.

Besides the great introductions into Design Thinking, doing the same exercise – redesigning the wallet – with a different partner in a different setup was a very special experience. Each round brought great insight, but very different solutions and designs.

But now coming back to the Mastercard initiative. The last design was based on the idea that the main purpose of the wallet today is to carry different cards (credit cards, payment cards, passports, driver license) around. So why not combine all those into a single multi-purpose card and make that the key component of the next generation wallet. The same form factor as today’s credit cards, hosting a programmable magnetic stripe and embedded chip that can emulate any other real credit card. And a screen to manage the different identities of the card as well as to display other information, like pictures.  Additionally there would be a programming device that would copy all the other cards into this single multi-purpose card. Not sure about the technical feasibility of the design, but it sounded like a pretty cool device.

Why would this be better than a smartphone with NFC and the corresponding wallet application. Well as long as the credit card is the form factor that works at any point of sales it is just easier to have something that behaves as a credit card with the flexibility of a smart device.

Maybe Mastercard just released version 1.0 of our wallet design.

Know Thyself: Customer Privacy everywhere, or NOT

Today – or actually yesterday – seems to be the day where everything comes together on customer privacy

1 – Some lengthy discussion (at TheNextWeb and iMore) about Verizon’s (and other mobile operators) opt-out setting for monitoring and sharing of detailed information about smartphone users. The whole issue coming in two different flavors: (1) that operators monitor and share those data at all and (2) the very hard to find opt-out – rather than an opt-in – process.

And as a sidetrack to this, Telefonica (totaltelecom) launching it’s Big Data endeavor called Telefonica Dynamic to make money out of customer data.

2 – In parallel arstechnica had a story about Privacyfix a new privacy monitor that attempts to calculate your value on the net for Google and Facebook. I’m not really worth much according to their analysis.

3 – then the zdnet report on the fruitless discussions to find an agreement on the Do-not-track (DNT) feature in the W3C standardization body.  The whole issue driven by the Microsoft’s decision to enable DNT as the default in IE10, thus preventing tracking unless the user actively enables it.

And finally, I just finished reading Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit”.
Retail stores like Target (the name says it already) identifying pregnant women only by monitoring their shopping behavior, gives you a sense on what is possible with consolidated customer information.

Privacy and implications of increased awareness on protecting your own data is definitely something to monitor for the future.

The Tale of Two Designs / Cities (Bus vs. Cab)

Just coming back from a trip to London with its shiny new busses I was reminded of an article I read in a local newspaper (sorry no link available) recently about the design of the new New York cab or the Taxi of Tomorrow as it is called (see here).

The article (as well as this report in Metropolis Mag on the unveiling of the new taxi)  stressed that the needs and wishes of taxi drivers and passengers have been put above the aesthetic appearance. And thus creating a car that misses the iconic presence of it’s predecessors of the Ford Crown Victoria or the Checker cab.

Now compare this to the redesign of the London Transport Bus, replacing the aging and no longer manufactured Roadmaster double-decker bus.  The design was driven by renowned Heatherwick design studio. And while it was faced with similar design criteria, like fuel efficiency, ease of access, etc. as their New York counterparts, they managed to not only come up with a functionally appealing concept,  they also created a beautiful design.

Here lies the great art of design. Combining the needs and wishes of users with an aesthetically appealing form.

Apps vs. Mobile Web (Chart of the Day)

Over at BusinessInsider the Chart of the Day: “Apps More And More Important Than Mobile Web” reveals some interesting statistic. Mobile applications become more important for people compared to the Mobile Web (and I assume that this includes HTML5-based applications).

I think there are several good reasons for that:

  • Mobile Apps also work offline, that is, when you are in the underground, when you are traveling fast (i.e. with a shaky data connection), etc. and being online over wireless networks is still expensive. Yes, with HTML5 you can also run applications offline, but this is not that frequently available. And as Facebook moving from a HTML5-based application to a native iOS app showed, the user experience is challenged.
  • But working offline also extends to storing the content and context of the application even when not connected to a central server, making it the better / only choice for application with a lot of local data.
  • And apps are the ultimate way of personalizing the “menu” structure of your smartphone. While many attempts to enable menu personalization on feature phones have fails, apps finally make it possible to arrange functionality on the home screen of your device according to your personal need.

So I believe we will still see cloud-enabled, multi-device mobile applications continue to grow for some time.

Campus Party 2012 Berlin: Fail Spectacularly

Really great talk by Jamie Finn of Telefonica/O2 at the Campus Party 2012 in Berlin describing his experiences with failing applications and how to turn them into a success. He also describes their use of A.D.S – the Application Definition Statement – to focus and prioritize application features.

… and then fail quickly and often to arrive at the product (application or service) that the users want.

Creative Process: Early use of examples improves output

An interesting, scientific study published by Stanford University suggests that using examples (i.e. copy prior work) early on in the creative design process improves the creativity of the output. The emphasis here is on, early in the process. Using prototypes and repeated look at examples improved the output even further. However, using examples also increased the conformity of the output.

 Also interesting considering the outcome of the Apple vs. Samsung case.