My next step while looking back at MACE!
When I enrolled at Kingston University to do my MA in Creative Economy and Advertising I was still unsure about what the next steps in my career and life would be. I have gained a great bank of experiences so far but after seeing the syllabus of study I realised that the course will give me sight on a different approaches, new challenges and enhance my CV. It’s been a really challenging couple of months packed with a full time job, group meetings, lectures and many assignments. In this essay I’ll touch some key points that really made me think differently and sparked new ideas for the future.
With my newly gained knowledge about customer profiles or personas I can assess and analyse potential clients and specific target markets or “tribes”. The above mentioned was one of the main turning points in the way I approach new clients and projects. I can already see the impact it had on my professional decisions! It particular supported my professional judgement in the following ways:
- better guidance in the way I’ll set up future services and proposals;
- developing questioning skills about the end users persona and;
- becoming the user by walking in their shoes.
The course was packed with a range of experiences and a good example is the blind, death impersonation. It was a brilliant practical way to experience a glimpse of how it must feel for someone with a disability. One needs to become the consumer to know what their needs are and to change your thinking paths to create ideas outside the box!
We visited Wolf Ollins one off the most well-known branding agencies in the world. They were leading the concepts and and designing for the controversial and heavily critiqued London 2012 Olympics logo(Montgomery, 2012). We had to present our brand and product idea to them. We presented our Hero brand and the Creative Director mentioned that our brand was stronger than our product and this meant we had to go back to the start and rethink some of our designs and ask new questions about our product.
Strangely one has to become a different persona. The lecturer played with the idea that one needs to became like an alien, like it is your first time you’ve ever seen or experienced a product and service. It allows a blank canvas to anaylise and ask relevant question. I remember we had a class project to go and observe the APPLE shop in Kingston to observe this in an “alien” manner, asking questions and changing our perspective. This enforces one to step out of the circle and observe the object and its function in a complete and new way. Interesting questions were raised! I have used this in practice and it sparked much attention with my colleagues.
“Before Facebook, we had to cover up our identities online and there was uncertainty over who to trust. Facebook gave us the notion that it was safe, and useful.” says Dr. Bernie Hogan, research fellow at the Oxford internet institute (Kiss, 2014).
During this past year my experience with social media and my online presence was really widened and enforced with new ideas and strategies. My next steps in achieving my goal will be to update my personal website and readjust and refresh my social media channels to boost my online presence. I’ve setup my twitter account 6 months ago and this was an eye opener to experience the impact of twitter and the network capabilities that lies with it. My traffic to my personal site increased, this means better ranking and optimisation on google and other search engines. With this sort of thinking I am can see the potential it has for my future career.
The online economy is expanding and growing so rapidly and heading into the direction of zero. In this global economy organisations can gain more by giving stuff away for free then actually selling it. Facebook in a matter of fact is a “free” platform that provides many channels to create, share and develop ideas. The birth of a new business strategy is happening all around us and previous known business models are ever changing to stay relevant in this networking and content sharing era (Anderson, 2009).
I have a vision to use contacts, experiences and the knowledge I gained from this course to find a business that will be a digital service driven by technology, some still in beta testing, others recently available on the market. This will be a service with some tailor-made products build around brand experiences. I’m not complete sure about the specific details and “tribe” I want to focus on, but this will be part of the journey to success. At the moment I’m reading Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business by Luke Wiliams and this book is all about guiding one to ask questions and fine alternative and completely new solutions and business models. Its a revolution in thinking and challenges one to create disruptive strategies and unpredicted answers.
“To get from disruptive idea to practical solution, actively involve end users to test and review.” Luke Williams (Williams, 2011, P111).
‘Testing Testing’, one of the phrases that got stuck in my head, playing in a loop when I undertake a project or think of a products. A massive fraction of my time was spend developing our Hero brand in Design Thinking class and workshops, prototyping and repeatedly testing our product and idea. This is so important when planning a new business or idea.
(Test the idea; Get customer and public feedback from the beginning stages and build upon this!)
By minimising the incubation stage and get the idea and product in a presentable prototype to get analysed and discussed by prosecutable customers or clients. Crowd funding sites like Kickstarter is a good example of how one can test your idea and get instantaneous feedback and operates as a form of beta testing. From logo’s, branding, corporate identity and physical products should all go through numerous beta testing and constructive feedback to improve and evolve. By doing all of these testing and research you are including the consumer in the process of developing your idea and they become part of this experience and fuelling engagement and user experience.
“Move fast and break things” Mark Zuckerberg’s main command to the developers and employees (Business insider group, 2010).
In this crazy and fast moving world one needs to attract attention to your brand and business and this is not an easy task. Your customer or client needs to know that you exist and must be fully aware of your presence. You have to make your service or business idea desirable and clear. This is one of the main factors to get new technology involved and collaborating with other specialist to get the best outcome and results. Taking two different ideas or concepts form complete different secures and link them or combine them to come up with something completely new and innovative. Innovation is driven by questions that are original, bold and perceptive. Innovation is about asking the correct questions to help us identify and solve problems, come up with game-changing ideas, and pursue fresh opportunities. Most creative and successful people tend to be expert questioners and they’ve mastered the art of inquiry, raising questions no one else is asking—and finding.
Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, stated, “We run this company on questions, not answers.” Eric is determined to ask questions that will lead to discovering game changing answers (InnovationTools, 2013).
In one of the lectures it were mentioned how googles CEO predicts what will happen next in the digital age and the Internet. It was mentioned that it’s the way people use the Internet to connect with each other and how these people with thousands of miles between them can collaborate and create something unique and create a pioneering spark.
In Eric Reis, ‘The Lean Startup’ he talks about the minimum viable product (MVP). A system that helps entrepreneurs and lean startups to start the process of learning as soon as possible. The size of the product doesn’t matter and it’s the fastest and simplest way of getting the product through Build-Measure-Learn stage with a minimum effort(Reis, 2011, p.93-94).
At the moment I’m responsible to grow a new division at the company that I’m currently employed with. This is hands on and practical experience that will benefit me for starting my own business venture. We are a team of two people, a new business developer and I on the creative side. We are not concreted in our roles and objectives but try to mix and dip into each other’s roles and specialities. Growing our skills and knowledge to have a better understanding and approach.
Depending on projects and turnaround times, we collaborate with freelancers and external agencies that specializes in specific services. The new division also act as a buffer for conflicting clients or brands and this help with our revenue while we grow the business. We have minimal overheads and this division runs on similar business model as a lean startup. Projects are short lived and turnaround time is fast to ensure that we reach demo stages quicker to iron out problems and constructive feedback.
Some projects and final delivery media are of such nature that one can repackage or repurpose them for other brands and clients. Always space for alterations and improvement.
My 2 year plan is to generate enough freelance and contract work to be able to sustain myself without a full time job and be my own boss. The mistake I’ve made in the past was to take on any freelance or potential clients without planning the outcome or the long term strategy. After many lectures, reading, discussions and beta testing of our product my mindset and approach have drastically changed and even evolved in some parts.
Anderson, C. (2009) Free: The future of a radical price, New York: Hyperion.
Buchanan, L. (2014). Want to Be More Innovative? Ask Better Questions. Available: http://www.inc.com/magazine/201403/leigh-buchanan/questions-drive-innovation.html. Last accessed 11 April 2014.
Business Insider Group. (2010). Innovation: Mark Zuckerberg.Available: http://www.businessinsider.com/mark-zuckerberg-2010-10. Last accessed 5 April 2014.
Christakis, N & Flower, J (2010). Connected: The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. Great Britian: HarperPress. x-xiii.
Montgomery, A. (2012). London 2012 design icons – the Olympic logo. Available: http://www.designweek.co.uk/analysis/london-2012-design-icons-the-olympic-logo/3034949.article. Last accessed 25 April 2014.
InnovationTools (2013). Ask questions: The single most important habit for innovative thinkers. Available: http://www.innovationmanagement.se/imtool-articles/ask-questions-the-single-most-important-habit-for-innovative-thinkers/. Last accessed 20th April 2014.
Ries, E (2011). The Lean Startup. Great Britian: Portfolio Penguin. 93-94.Kiss, J. (2014). Facebook’s 10th birthday: from college dorm to 1.23 billion users. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/04/facebook-10-years-mark-zuckerberg. Last accessed 11th March 2014.
Williams, L. (2011). Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business. New Yersey: FT Press.