August 12, 2013

Where do good ideas come from? Part 2

Filed under: Business,Consumer Trends,Marketing,Technology — by xrematon @ 9:12 pm
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I had the opportunity to share some of the ideas captured in my earlier blog post with Stephen Wise, the founder of Bright Young Minds , a crowdsourcing and co-creation agency. I was interested to get his perspective as someone who has clients knocking on his door for ways to get those good ideas.

To begin with, Stephen made some interesting observations about Big Data.

  • Regardless of what we might find out from playing around with Big Data, it already has an upfront advantage in that it removes the need to talk to consumers directly, saving time and money.
  • It can be more representative than qualitative research. Whilst it is possible to observe customers to find out how they really engage with a product or service, the numbers involved will always be fairly limited. Big Data means it is possible to survey the behaviours of vast swatches of the customer base.
  • It’s worth thinking about where Big Analysis lives within an organisation and how this affects how it will be approached. More traditional research will be the remit of the marketing team, who will be looking to learn as much as possible from any research; Big Data is often from the social team who may be mining it in order to find the answer to a specific question and put the findings in a different context. As is raised in this piece from the New York Times, it is important to recognise that Big Data is not neutral – those who work with it will feed in their own assumptions and biases.
  • However, ultimately, it’s important to recognise that Big Data is only a starting point. Big Data is a useful platform – but it needs to be surrounded by great consumer connectivity and co-creation (more on this below), and not just traditional qualitative research to make the most of it.

So – next to co-creation – Stephen explained how the whole space has evolved.

  • Initially business embraced co-creation in a fairly crude way – the aim of the game was to get consumer involvement and input in any way possible.
  • The next stage involved a slightly more discerning use of co-creation in which only the best ideas were taken.
  • We are now at co-creation 3.0 – this is when the consumers involved in co-creation are used selectively – those with appropriate skill-sets are invited to participate on a particular problem. (This is the core principle behind Bright Young Minds).

In terms of thinking about creativity and sourcing good ideas, I was particularly struck by Stephen’s point that, regardless of what the ideas themselves are, often what is more important is the process by which these ideas are brought to the organisation. From my own experience of innovation, I can vouch for this too – all too often end outputs are received as an anti-climax as the client is less than enthusiastic, feeling that the ideas can’t be acted upon or have already been tried but failed. This means that in addition to thinking about where good ideas might come from, you really need to think about how to manage the whole process so that the client is aligned and ready to embrace what is being proposed.

And what might good ideas look like? We talked about the idea of good ideas clustering in a bell curve – that magic diagram which can be used to capture so many different concepts. However simplistic this may seem, it is reasonable to assume that most people’s ideas will cluster. The question then becomes about how to get to those ‘outlier ideas’ – the more radical/fresh concepts that no one else will have thought of. It’s clear that’s where getting the right people will make a difference – find those who are the best lateral thinkers.

Finally, we turned to the future. Here, Stephen is optimistic that as businesses get more open and keen to embrace these kinds of techniques, they will be ready to use skill sets which are not only outside their organisation, but also outside their sector.

To me, that sounds like more than co-creation – how inspiration extraction?


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