Creative Leaders Explore Three Areas of Prototyping

Despite all our planning and analyzing and controlling, the typical church’s track record at translating its rhetoric into results is not impressive.

In the business world, researchers estimate that only somewhere between 10% and 60% of the promised returns for new strategies are actually delivered. The reality for many churches would be between 10% and 30% – tops. Practices that consume enormous amounts of time and attention mostly produce discouraging results.

All the empty talk is making it harder and harder to get anything to actually happen. Churches expect the staff to be member-focused while the majority watches. When a staff or volunteer actually takes a risk, they are punished if it doesn’t succeed. Ambitious growth goals aren’t worth the spreadsheets they are computed on.

Getting new results requires new tools – and design thinking has real tools to help move from talk to action.

Design thinking is actually a systematic approach to problem solving.

Design thinking is fundamentally an exploratory process; done right, it will invariably make unexpected discoveries along the way.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Change by Design by Tim Brown

The myth of innovation is that brilliant ideas leap fully formed from the minds of geniuses. The reality is that most innovations come from a process of rigorous examination through which great ideas are identified and developed before being realized as new offerings and capabilities.

This book introduces the idea of design thinking‚ the collaborative process by which the designer′s sensibilities and methods are employed to match people′s needs not only with what is technically feasible and a viable business strategy. In short‚ design thinking converts need into demand. It′s a human−centered approach to problem solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and more creative.

Design thinking is not just applicable to so−called creative industries or people who work in the design field. It′s a methodology that has been used by organizations such as Kaiser Permanente to increase the quality of patient care by re−examining the ways that their nurses manage shift change‚ or Kraft to rethink supply chain management. This is not a book by designers for designers; this is a book for creative leaders seeking to infuse design thinking into every level of an organization‚ product‚ or service to drive new alternatives for business and society.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Iterate – Leaders who thought like designers would see themselves as learners.

Leaders often default to a straightforward linear problem-solving methodology: define a problem, identify various solutions, analyze each, and choose one – the right one. Designers aren’t nearly so impatient, or optimistic. They understand that the successful invention takes experimentation and that empathy is hard won. So is the task of learning.

For example, the IKEA way of business we know (and love!) today didn’t originally start out that way. Almost every element of IKEA’s legendary business model – showrooms and catalogs in tandem, knockdown furniture in flat parcels, and customer pick-up and assembly – emerged over time from experimental response to urgent problems.

“Regard every problem as a possibility,” was IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad’s mantra. He focused less on control and “getting it right” the first time and more on learning and on seeing and responding to opportunities as they emerged.

Prototyping at work is giving form to an idea, allowing us to learn from it, evaluate it against others, and improve upon it.

Anything tangible that lets us explore an idea, evaluate it, and push it forward is a prototype.

Techniques borrowed from film and other creative industries suggest how we might prototype nonphysical experiences. These include scenarios, a form of storytelling in which some potential future situation or state is described using words and pictures.

Prototypes should command only as much time, effort, and investment as is necessary to generate useful feedback and drive an idea forward.

Prototyping is always inspirational – not in the sense of a perfected project but just the opposite: because it inspires new ideas. Once tangible expressions begin to emerge, it becomes easy to try them out and elicit feedback internally from management and externally from potential customers.

In the ideation space we build prototypes to develop our ideas to ensure that they incorporate the functional and emotional elements necessary to meet the demands of the market.

In the third space of innovation we are concerned with implementation: communicating an idea with sufficient clarity to gain acceptance across the organization, proving it, and showing that it will work in its intended market.

There are many approaches to prototyping, but they share a single, paradoxical feature: They slow us down to speed us up. By taking the time to prototype our ideas, we avoid costly mistakes such as becoming too complex too early and sticking with a weak idea too long.

Tim Brown, Change by Design

A NEXT STEP

Quick prototyping is about acting before you’ve got all the answers, about taking chances, stumbling a little, but then making it right.

Prototyping is a state of mind.

A prototype is a simple experimental model of a proposed solution used to test or validate ideas, design assumptions, and other aspects of its conceptualization quickly and cheaply, so that the leaders involved can make appropriate refinements or possible changes in direction.

Long used in the design of “things,” prototyping is increasingly used to work on designing experiences or other non-material objects.

To explore a current situation at your church that can be improved, work through the following prototyping exercise:

Select a situation consisting of multiple elements and nuances that a guest encounters at your church. For example, a guest family with a preschool child visiting for the first time.

Prepare any accessories (props) needed to recreate the scene where the action takes place. Use cardboard, tape, or any cheap material at hand to create the “sense” of the action a guest is going through.

Make a list of the roles people are involved in and define the sequence and time required to enact them.

Replay the situation three – four times. Each time, try to understand the emotional layers of the situation. Then add elements you forgot at the beginning.

Video record the re-enactment, playing different roles each time. Assign one team member to observe and take notes.

After the exercise, watch the video and listen to the observer’s notes. What parts of the process can be changed to make the experience more enjoyable to the guest? What types of training are needed for your volunteers to make that happen? Are there any physical or space layouts that can be improved?

Leaders who practice design thinking are energized by the ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with constant change. These leaders don’t accept the hand-me-down notion that cost cutting and innovation are mutually exclusive, or that short-term and long-term goals are irreconcilable. They reject the tyranny of “or” in favor of the genius of “and.”

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 98-3, released August 2018


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

Good Design Gets You in the Game…

…great design is the game winner.

Welcome to the world where design is king.

 

In the old days, designers were an afterthought, the people at the end of the production process. Engineers would hand over something that was functionally effective and have the designers make it look good. Those days are over.

Today, design is about experiences as well as products. It’s about services as much as it is hard goods.

Design is now differentiation.

Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company magazine and author of “Rules of Thumb,” puts it this way: Today companies use design to:

  • create distinctive products and services that capture their customers’ imaginations
  • restructure their corporate operations
  • unveil new logos and uniforms that express a fresh corporate identity
  • develop new communications tools that connect with customers and shareholders
  • build corporate offices that encourage and enable collaboration
  • collect and share information across a global platform

Design is a way to solve deep-seated social problems. And design is a money saver, a way to simplify products and make them easier and less expensive to manufacture and sell. Across the board designers have defines a way of seeing that adds to the delight of customers and the profitability of companies.

Application to ChurchWorld

You probably already understand this on some level. You understand that the design of your website says more about you and provides a quick glimpse of your “brand”. You know that the little – and not so little – things like the design of your logo and your letterhead, the print pieces you use, the “flow” of your worship experience all communicate instantly what your church is all about.

But if you are still a design novice, and want to learn more, here are Webber’s three ways to begin to crack the design code:

  • Reading – you may be a word person and you want to try to learn about seeing. Dan Pink’s “A Whole New Mind,” Tim Brown’s “Design Thinking,” Tom Kelley’s “The Art of Innovation” and “The Ten Faces of Innovation,” Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie’s “Designing for Growth,” and Don Norman’s “The Design of Everyday Things” are required reading. Get one of them today; start reading it tonight, and put it into action tomorrow.
  • Viewing – You need to practice seeing. Go to an art museum; browse a furniture showroom gallery; check out the latest model cars. The more you look at objects like these, the more you appreciate great design. You’re not buying, so don’t worry about price. Look carefully at the lines, interior detailing and design, and the small things that make a big difference. “Seeing” is a critical skill for aspiring diagnosticians – like you.
  • Shopping – Go out and find an assortment of small objects that go in your home or office. Look at OXO products; visit an IKEA store. When you pick up one of these objects, you will immediately understand what “consumer-centered design” means. Go to an office supply store and sit in an Aeron chair. Look at the latest products from Apple: iPhone, iPad, the latest MacBook Air. Go to an antique store and see what great design looked like in the past. Take a virtual shopping trip to your heart’s content. When you have collected these objects (or examined them enough), what do these products have in common? Are they as good to look at as they are fun to use? Is there an emotional content to their design?

You don’t have to buy anything to get the idea. But you do have to buy into the idea:

Design is everywhere, and increasingly, design is everything.

 

Great Design is…

Utterly unexpected. A brilliantly designed product or service is clever and amazing. Think anything Apple.

Amazingly competent. A well-conceived product excels at what it does. It is functionally flawless. Think a Ziploc bag or Google’s home page.

Aesthetically exquisite. At the pinnacle of great design are products so gorgeous you want to hug them. Think a Porsche 911.

Conspicuously conscientious. Consumers (especially those under 30) are demanding socially responsible products and services that reflect a sense of stewardship for the environment and a passion for making a difference. Think Prius.

Unfortunately, design is still an afterthought in most organizations. Great design is less about genius than empathy – and it’s often the tiniest things that make the biggest difference.

– from Gary Hamel’s What Matters Now

Designing takes place in the uncomfortable gap between vision and reality.

Marty Neumeier, The Designful Company

Design is not just about products, even though that is often our first and only thought when it comes to design.

Design is change.

You need to find a situation worth improving and then work through the creative process.

For ChurchWorld Design Thinkers (aka Leaders)

  • What are the thoughtless little ways we irritate our members and Guests and what can we do to change that?
  • What are the small, unexpected delights we could deliver to our members and Guests at virtually no cost?

Design Thinking Matters.

courtesy richworks.in

courtesy richworks.in

 

Simon Says, Be a Designer

Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing conditions into preferred ones.     – Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate

If we take Simon’s description but simplify the language and tone, we end up with a new definition powerful enough to recast the way organizations think:

Design is change.

According to Simon, anyone who tries to improve a situation is a designer. You don’t need a Master of Fine Arts degree and 9 years of experience at a design studio to engage in designing.

You just need to find a situation worth improving and then work through the creative process.

And of course, ChurchWorld leaders don’t have any of those situations, do they?

Marty Neumeier, writing in The Designful Company, reminds us that leaders are designers, too, since leading is the act of moving people from an existing situation to an improved one.

According to Neumeier, while everyone uses design thinking in some situations, certain people are particularly suited to it. They tend to be:

  • Empathetic – able to understand the motivations of individuals and form strong emotional bonds
  • Intuitive – a shortcut for understanding situations. While the logical mind works through sequential steps, the intuitive mind is good for seeing the whole picture
  • Imaginative – new ideas come from divergent thinking, not convergent thinking
  • Idealistic – creative personalities are notorious for focusing on what’s wrong, what’s missing, or what they believe needs to change.

Designful leaders are energized by the ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with constant change. Designful leaders don’t accept the hand-me-down notion that cost cutting and innovation are mutually exclusive, or that short-term and long-term goals are irreconcilable. They reject the tyranny of “or” in favor of the genius of “and.”

When you look in your leadership mirror, do you see a designful leader?

 

inspired by and adapted from The Designful Company by Marty Neumeier

The Designful Company

 

The Rebirth of Aesthetics

aes – thet – ics – (noun) a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty

An idea is only an intention until it has been perfected, polished, and produced.

– Marty Neumeier

According to Marty Neumeier, Director of Transformation at the Liquid Agency, the same principles that activate other forms of art will soon become essential to the art of leadership. The more technological our culture becomes, the more we’ll need the sensual and metaphorical power of beauty.

aesthetics

Take a look at the chart below, and see how the aesthetics of the single word on the left inspires your curiosity of leadership through the questions on the right.

The Aesthetics of Leadership

Contrast – How can we differentiate ourselves?

Depth –  How can we succeed on many levels?

Focus – What should we NOT do?

Harmony – How can we achieve synergy?

Integrity – How can we forge the parts into a whole?

Line – What is our trajectory over time?

Motion – What advantage can we gain from speed?

Novelty – How can we use the surprise element?

Order – How should we structure our organization?

Pattern – Where have we seen this before?

Repetition – Where are the economies of scale?

Rhythm – How can we optimize time?

Proportion – How can we keep our strategy balanced?

Scale – How big should our organization be?

Shape – Where should we draw the edges?

Texture – How do details enliven our culture?

Unity – What is the higher-order solution?

Variety – How can diversity drive innovation?

What beautiful thing are you creating in your organization today?

When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.

– Buckminster Fuller

inspired by and adapted from Marty Neumeier’s The Designful Company

The Designful Company

The Playground of the Designer: Working in the Space Between Logic and Magic

ChurchWorld leaders need to think like designers.

Before you rule that out by saying you’re not creative, consider the following thoughts, adapted from The Designful Company by Marty Neumeier.

The easiest way to understand the design process is to see how it differs from the traditional organizational processes you are used to. Most decision-making processes used in churches today were derived from the business world. Those processes came from the early management theory developed as the Industrial Age hit its stride. Those processes emphasized two main activities: knowing and doing. Leaders and organizations would analyze a problem, look to a standard box of options – actions that had been proven to work in the past – and then execute the solution. The traditional church organization is all head and legs. 

The designful organization inserts a third activity: making.

Leaders still need to analyze the problem (knowing), but they then “make” a new set of options, and then execute that solution (doing). By inserting making between knowing and doing, leaders can bring an entirely different way of working to the problem. The head and legs are improved by adding a pair of hands.

In reality, designers don’t actually “solve” problems. They work through them. They use non-logical processes that are difficult to express in words but easier to express in action. They use models, mockups, sketches, and stories as their vocabulary. They experiment and try new things. If they fail, that’s no problem – they’ve just discovered a way that won’t work.

Leader/Designers operate in the space between knowing and doing, prototyping new solutions that arise from four strengths of empathy, intuition, imagination, and idealism (more about this in a future post).

In the meantime, if you are a leader, you should be a designer. But don’t think you are creating a masterpiece right out of the gate. Designing, innovating, making – whatever you call it, it’s a messy, chaotic process.

One that you can’t afford to ignore.

When the great innovation appears, it will almost certainly be in a muddled, incomplete, and confusing form. For any speculation that does not at first glance look crazy, there is no hope.     – physicist Freeman Dyson

An organization that automatically jumps from knowing to doing will find that innovation is unavailable to it.

To be innovative, an organization needs not only the head and legs of knowing and doing, but also the intuitive hands of making.

How are you putting hands to work in your church?

inspired by and adapted from The Designful Company, by Marty Neumeier

The Designful Company

Less is Almost Always More, Even When We Ask for More

The bread aisle at the grocery store confounds me.

courtesy Mike Mozart, CC jeepersmedia/15026803517

courtesy Mike Mozart, CC jeepersmedia/15026803517

I just wanted to buy a loaf of bread to make a sandwich – I didn’t really want to wade through 7 long shelves of every imaginable type of bread possible.

My grocery store is just like your grocery store: when you stand in any aisle in any retail store in the U.S., you will be inundated with choices. Whether you are buying cereal, candy, TVs, or jeans, you’ll likely have huge number of items to choose from. Whether it’s a retail store or a Web site, if you ask people if they’d prefer to choose from a few alternatives or have lots of choices, most people will say they want lots of choices.

This is true in ChurchWorld, too.

Too Many Choices Paralyze the Thought Process

The book Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar details research on choice. In graduate school, Iyengar conducted what is now known as the “jam” study. She decided to test the theory that people who have too many choices will not choose at all. In a booth set up in a busy grocery store, Iyengar and her associates posed as store employees. They alternated the selection on the table: half the time there were 6 choices of fruit jam and half the time there were 24 jars of jam.

When there were 24 jars of jam, 60 percent of the people coming by would stop and taste. When there were only 6 jars of jam only 40 percent of the people would stop and taste. More choices were better – right?

courtesy Chris Martino, CC chrismar/4596518235

courtesy Chris Martino, CC chrismar/4596518235

Not exactly.

You might think that people would taste more jam when the table had 24 varieties – but they didn’t. People stopped at the table, but they only tasted a few varieties whether there were 6 or 24 choice available.

People can only remember 3 or 4 things at a time; likewise, they can decide from among only 3 or 4 things at a time.

The most interesting part of Iyengar’s study is that 31 percent of the people who stopped at the table with 6 jars actually made a purchase. But only 3 percent of the people who stopped at the table with 24 jars actually mad a purchase.

More people may have stopped by, but less people purchased.

The study may have proved that less is more, but why do people always want more choices?

Information is addictive.

Dopamine, a chemical created and released in our brains, is critical in all sorts of brain functions: thinking, moving, sleeping, mood, attention, motivation, seeking, and reward. Dopamine also causes you to want, desire, seek out, and search. Dopamine makes you curious about ideas and fuels your search for more information. A fascinating topic, but it will have to wait for later!

It’s only when people are confident in their decisions that they stop seeking more information.

Application for ChurchWorld Leaders

  • Resist the impulse to provide large number of choices
  • If you ask people how many options they want, the will almost always say “a lot” or “give me all the options.” If you ask, be prepared to deviate from what they ask for
  • If possible, limit the number of choices to 3 or 4. If you have to offer more options, try to do so in a progressive way. Have people choose first from 3 or 4 options, and then choose again from that subset.

inspired by and adapted from 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, by Susan Weinschenk

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

A short note about this occasional design series:

ChurchWorld leaders are designers. They create actions, processes, and services that people use to engage in life-changing decisions. Designing without understanding what makes people act the way they do is like exploring a new city without a map: results will be haphazard, confusing, and inefficient. If leaders know a little more about the psychology of design, their audience will benefit from that design.