Inspiring Innovation through Design Thinking – III
Experiencing Design Thinking – III
* ‘The food is good, but the service is horrible.’ * ‘Flying is very comfortable, but the allied ones – reaching the airport two hours in advance, checking in and security check in long queues, waiting for boarding, sitting tight for half an hour for the take-off, ten minutes to come out of the aircraft, another wait for the bags to reach the conveyor belt, booking a taxi – lesser we talk, better it is.’
* ‘Shopping in … is very exciting, but the long queue at the check-out counter is worst.’ On how many situations we have uttered similar words?
When we dine in a restaurant, fly in an airplane, shop in a super market, checking in a hotel, or listening to a talk, we are carrying out a function and also having an experience. If the experience is not well designed, the fun of the function is lost. It is as simple ‘what we say is important, but how we say is more important.’ And we can recollect on how many occasions, we have messed, because of the way we have done something.
According to Tim Brown of IDEO, there are three themes that make experiences meaningful and memorable. First, we live in ‘experience economy’ in which people shift from passive consumption to active participation. Second, the best experiences are not scripted at corporate headquarters but delivered on the spot by service providers. And third, implementation is everything. An experience must be finely crafted and precision-engineered as any other product.
Innovation is executing an idea well. Unfortunately organisations stress more on the idea and miss on the execution. You can recollect several examples of brilliant ideas failing miserably because of poor execution. (Demonetisation?)
Once the product or service meets the basic need, we look for emotionally satisfying experiences. So whether it is a movie, shopping, restaurant or a tourist place, their value is in the emotional resonance they create. Several shopping malls have understood this and are doing very well. (You can now understand why many people go to shopping malls only for the experience and not for shopping.) So the real meaning of ‘experience economy’ is not functional – not shopping or food, but emotional. Design has the power to enrich our lives by engaging our emotions through image, form, texture, colour, sound and smell. Through the human-centred nature of design thinking we can use our empathy and understanding of people to design experiences for active engagement and participation.
Some time back, I went to a grocery shop and took several items. One particular material, I needed, only a small quantity, 100g. But the sales people told that I have to buy a minimum of 250g. I reasoned out with them explaining my requirement. They were not convinced. Then I told them that I would like to talk to their manager or owner of the shop. “No need, we have been given clear instructions from our head office.” Even when I threatened them that I have to leave the other material worth rupees eight hundred without buying, it didn’t make any difference to them. Yes, the best experiences cannot be scripted at corporate headquarters, but have to be delivered on the spot by service providers. Functional benefits alone, are no longer enough to capture customers and to retain them. Whole Foods Market is one of the most successful retailers in USA. Their growth is attributed not because of the growing market for organics, but because of the importance of experience. Every aspect of the stores – the fresh produce displays, the free samples, the wealth of information about the preparation and storage of food, the variety of ‘healthy lifestyle’ products – is designed to draw us in, to invite us to linger and participate. In one store, they have even experimented with allowing customers to cook.
IDEO adapted their process methodology of SPARC (See - Plan – Act – Refine – Communicate) to Mayo Clinic for patient experience. The SPARK laboratory is a design studio embedded in one of Mayo’s clinical hospital in which designers, business strategists, medical and health professionals, and patients work together to develop ideas for improving the patient – provider experience. It operates like an independent design consultancy for other units in the hospital. SPARC suggests that design thinking can be applied not only to products and experiences but to the process of innovation also. *