Ideation: the process of forming or relating ideas, images or concepts from collected observations.You won’t find this specific definition on the internet, because it’s my definition that I’ve formulated from various sources and synthesised into a definition that’s meaningful to me.I really want to draw your attention to the notion of “collected observations”. As I walk you through several examples, I want you to think of the power of observation.
The 3 industries I will be touching on tonight include: the airline industry, NPOs – Non for Profit Organisations and the Mobile industry.These 3 industries have been selected because they are vastly different and completed independent of one another.I’ve done deliberately so as to clearly demonstrate the power of observation and its practicality across a myriad of industries.
So let’s begin with the airline industry...
Specifically, Qantas Airways...
Over the past 7 weeks, I’ve spent more time in the airport than in my own bed at home. What this has resulted in, is me becoming a faux-quasi-David Attenborough of the airport landscape – I’ve accrued many hours just observing how passengers (including myself) interact with boarding passes. In User Experience (UX) land, we call this engaging in ‘user experience (UX) research’ or ‘ethnographic research’, i.e. watching human behaviour towards a product/service to gain insight on how users interact with it (and how they don’t interact with it). My finding? Current-day boarding passes aren’t designed to be passenger friendly.
This is the current boarding pass design.Many of the passengers I observed struggled to easily find their departure gate and boarding time from their boarding passes. Older-aged passengers called on the assistance of their travel companion, whilst younger-aged passengers took on average, roughly about 3 seconds to achieve this task.I believe that this struggle is due to the lack of a natural logical flow of information in the boarding pass design. Adopting a Western-world reading pattern (from left to right) for the boarding pass, the string of information on the boarding pass can be read as:The Carrier is Qantas Airways for Flight QF123 leaving on 15 June for me, the passenger, Jordan Sim. I will be seated in 31F in economy class travelling from Sydney to Melbourne and this flight has a boarding time of 7:40am with a sequence number of A123. I have to board at Gate 5 and my service information is Frequent Flyer Bronze QF1234567.This string lacks a logical flow and the pieces of information do not harmoniously sit together to be easily memorised. Information accessibility is poor.
Now compare this to the redesigned boarding pass:I, Jordan Sim, the passenger, am travelling from Sydney to Melbourne on Flight QF433 on 06 June. I will board at Gate 5 at the time of 3:10pm. When I’m on the plane, my seat number is 39F.Reading the redesigned boarding pass is easy – the pieces of information harmoniously work together to form a comprehensive string. In other words, the information is easily accessible.
And here’s a comparison of the two boarding pass designs.The key difference is that the boarding pass has been designed through the eyes of the passenger (i.e. the customer). The information on the boarding pass directly mirrors the physical boarding process. It begins with the passenger travelling between 2 locations via a plane. The plane departs on a certain date from a certain gate at a certain time. Once the passenger has passed the gate, they have a seat on the plane.As such, it can be seen that customer interactions have been considered in the design of the new boarding pass. This makes it passenger friendly.
The second industry I want to focus on is NPOs (Non for Profit Organisations).I’ve specifically chosen this industry because I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Oh innovation isn’t possible in non-for profits. There just simply isn’t any money.”But I say, this is a load of rubbish. You should neverlet your creativity be constrained by your cash flow. Creativity is all in the head. It can never be constrained.
In particular, I want to focus on the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, as its close to my heart. I’m a regular donor – I drop in once every 12 or so weeks. My last donation was down in Melbourne, and my nurse administering me said “Thank God you’re here. We’re running low on you’re blood type”. Now I’m an A+, which isn’t rare by any means. So I asked her firstly, why they were running low, and secondly what the common reasons were for people not wanting to donate.There are 3 main barriers to donating blood:Phobia of bloodPhobia of needlesThe administration form – it’s just too dull, long, tedious, arduous and painfully boring
This is the current donor form.Did you know, if you are a new donor or a returning donor, but haven’t donated in the past 2 years, you have a total of 65 fields to complete.If you are a frequent donor, however, you have up to 43 fields to fill out.In my personal opinion, I think that’s ridiculous. It’s no wonder why people can’t be bothered donating blood.
So this is my proposed solution: a new digital channel offering.Firstly, its about doing away with the standard paper-based forms and utilising the technology platforms that are already available to us. In this case, I’ve chosen the iPad as the suitable medium. Being an electronic device, it will force a complete technology re-architecture and catalyse the re-engineering of existing business processes that surround data capture, processing and management. Right now my data sits in both Melbourne and Sydney in different blood banks. There is no consolidation. I could have said differing things to the different blood banks and neither would have known. Going electronic will force the technological centralised of donor data, allowing of efficiencies in validating and accessing data, cost reduction (less paper printing and distribution costs) and improved maintainability (electronic forms can be easily edited).The iPad was also selected because it would ensure an improved user experience. It’s a sexy medium for users to play with. The tangible feeling of the touch screen interface really enhances the way we consume the form fields and execute the process.Secondly, its about process optimisation through developing new donor form workflows. One of my colleagues in the Melbourne Office, Heiko, brought up an amazing idea of slotting in pre-screening questions to capture upfront, in 10-15 questions, a quick profile of the donor. Based on the combination of their response they would then be presented a smaller sub-set of questions (say another 10 – 15). This would assist in making the form filling process much leaner – instead of filling up to 65 form fields, they would only need to fill up to 30. This is already half of the fields gone, improving the process. Furthermore, its about developing gender specific workflows. Right now the form caters for both a male and female audience. There are questions such as “Have you had male to male sex in the past...”. How is this relevant to women? On the flipside, they ask “If you are pregnant...” – this is irrelvant for males. So by elimiating the gender irrelevant questions, we’re able to speed up the time it takes for a donor to populate their data.Thirdly, its about implementing dynamic form architecture. I have a strong belief in showing the user only what’s relevant. Don’t make them think! In the current form, there are questions which have sub-questions – and all of these questions are displayed to the user. I propose that the sub-questions should only be displayed based on how the donor responds. If the donor responds appropriately, then the sub-questions will be displayed. If they don’t then the sub-questions won’t be displayed, and the donors can move on filling the following questions.Fourthly, its about assisting the user and making it easy. Remember – don’t make them think. Now this idea was spawned from another work colleague of mine in Melbourne, Rene. He said that the currently terminology on the forms were too difficult to fully comprehend. There’s actually a question on the form that quotes the “Gerstmann-Straussler Scheinker (GSS) syndrome”. What’s the GSS syndrome? How many of you actually know what it is? Well did you know it’s a fatal, familial and very rare neurodegenerative disease? Did you know symptoms start with slowly developing dysarthria (difficulty speaking) and cerebellar ataxia (unsteadiness) and then the progressive dementia becomes more evident? Look here the Australian Red Cross Blood Service is making donors laible for their answers. Well those answers aren’t going to be so useful, if the donors don’t fully understand them. As such, Rene recommended that there be an on-board tooltip that allows the donors to hover over the confusing the terminology. An overlay popup will display, explaining the concept to them.
The third and last industry I want to touch on is the mobile industry. And that’s because mobile technologies (and I’m not specifically talking handsets), but mobile devices from phones, to tablet pcs – are so pervasive today. It’s a channel which we can’t ignore any furhter.
In particular, I will be focusing on the Apple iPhone...
Have you ever tried operating an iPhone with your gloves on?The touch-sensitive screen simply won’t operate if you’re wearing a pair. Tap, swipe, pinch. You name any interaction pattern with the iPhone and it won’t work.So this problem was observed over in South Korea, where temperatures in winter drop below 0 degrees Celsius. And one citizen thought of a radical solution.
And the solution was a sausage.Over in South Korea, there is a specific brand of sausage, the Maekseubong Sausage, which allows iPhone owners to wear gloves and operate the iPhone. It works because these meaty snacks are packaged with electrostatically charged plastic, similar to the human touch, fooling the phone into thinking there’s a human finger touching the screen.It’s a pretty unique solution, but nonetheless amazing.
So...I’ve told you about all of these ideas...but I’m sure you want to know the outcomes.
Blog Statistics: I average about 20-30 views per blogpost. For this Qantas post, I received 541 views.Blog Engagement: I received many comments from people around the world, some praising my design, some even offering suggestions and others even adding new designs into the pool.Twitter: Over 30 RT’s – both national and international. I also was recognised by independent UX groups for my work. Facebook: Many comments & likes from friends.Corporate exposure: Deloitte,Qantas AUS, Qantas USA
Nothingyet...and in my opinion...nothing at all – just because it will be such a radical overhaul from both a business and technology perspective.
Earlier I mentioned the particular sausage brand – Maekseubong Sausage. Well this sausage is manufactured by a food company called the CJ Corporation. If you go onto the South Korean Stock Exchange and look up their share price for the 1st Quarter of 2010, you’ll notice their share price increased by 40%. Why? Due to this rampant sausage sales fest. Pretty remarkable huh?So the point of showing you this slide is that innovation has many different outcomes. There are tangible outcomes (Qantas Boarding Pass Redesign); there are sometimes no outcomes at all (Red Cross Blood Service Prototype) and there are even tangible monetary outcomes (The iPhone Sausage). It’s about realising that innovation isn’t always about the outcomes, and it’s about realising there isn’t always one outcome. Innovation today is measured by its propensity to be monetised. But it’s not all just that.
So in this last section, I really want to give you some of the lessons I’ve learnt from my own innovation experiences....
If there’s one thing you take away from this presentation, it is to take the time to observe and reflect on the environment around you. For you cannot innovate without insight. You cannot gain insight without observing.Who’s heard of Malcolm Gladwell? Author of Outliers, The Tipping Point, Blink and What the Dog Saw?Who’s heard of Alain De Botton? Author of Status Anxiety, The Architecture of Happiness, the Pleasures and Sorrows of Work?Who’s heard of David Attenborough?Who’s heard of Pete Williams? CEO of Deloitte Digital?You know what makes Malcolm, Alain , David and Pete such great thinkers? You know what single common thread they share together? They all take the time to observe society around them and reflect on their observations.The Qantas boarding pass idea – spawned from my time observing passengers in the airport.The Red Cross blood service idea – spawned from my time sitting on a chair whilst I was being drained.The iPhone Sausage – spawned from realising the iPhone can’t be operated when wearing gloves.Take the time to observe and reflect
Don’t force it.Ideation and innovation should never become a chore or a task. I personally believe it should be a natural process. It’s organic.I liken ideation to sitting on a toilet. It’s just got to be a natural process, and you simply can’t force it. When it comes, it comes – it’ll drop like a bomb, or all of a sudden the ideas will starting flowing straight onto paper. The harder you push, the closer you are to a brain aneurysm.But let’s put it in perspective. Google Maps – that didn’t come out as a business-driven offering. It came out from a team who thought it was a good idea to map the world. Don’t force it.
Venture into new things.This is all about getting into a new skin. You may have a specific skill-set or specialisation, but nothing’s stopping you from dabbling in other disciples or areas. If you’re adventurous enough, go and learn something new. If you don’t have the skill set, identify the people who do and collaborate with them.The boarding pass...I’ve never done a creative treatment like that before. I’m a business analyst doing creative designs. What?Venture into new things!
Last but not least, and this is where I’m going to wrap up.I don’t think I could say it any better than our CEO himself, but make sure you all have a bit of fun. Ideation and innovation is all about having fun.
nounthe process of forming or relating ideas, images or concepts from collected observations<br />