Welcome to module Five
Conceptualisation, Ideation & impact
Learn innovative methods to create world-changing solutions through strategic design. Analyse, expand on and improve the way you are delivering value.
CREATIVELY TACKLING PROBLEMS
MEASURING YOUR IMPACT
FOCUSSING ON WHAT MATTERS
“Most people are born creative. As children, we revel in imaginary play, ask outlandish questions, draw blobs and call them dinosaurs. But over time, because of socialisation and formal education, a lot of us start to stifle those impulses. We learn to be warier of judgment, more cautious, more analytical. The world seems to divide into “creatives” and “non-creatives,” and too many people consciously or unconsciously resign themselves to the latter category,” says Tom Kelley in this Harvard Business Review article.
In the article, Tom explores some of the common fears faced as well as some tips to work around them in order to deliver innovative, targeted solutions.
PUSHING PAST DOUBT
How do you judge yourself? It’s amazing how much people right themselves off as ‘not the creative type’. But in the right mindframe and conditions, we’ve seen ‘uncreative’ people really come out of their shell.
In this TED video, David Kelley talks about creative confidence and shares experience to help people come up with great ideas. He also wrote a book on the subject. Take a look.
Creatively tackling problems.
Once you have a clear idea of the problem you’re tackling, the system in which that problem exists, and the key users and stakeholders, it’s time to do what most people enjoy most... coming up with solutions! Whilst we warned against ‘having babies too soon’, this is the time to pull out your notebook with ‘idea babies’ that you’ve jotted down and look at ways to provide strong value for those you’re designing for. Yes, you might already be running a social enterprise, but creative new ideas may help you refine your business model and create significantly more impact.
It’s time to look at how we design an experience, not a product or service.
DIVERGENT & CONVERGENT THINKING
If you look back at the Double Diamond process that we showed you in Module Three, using divergent, then convergent thinking is what we’d encourage. Simply put, that means that quantity and variety of ideas at the beginning is what we’re aiming for. This is really about conceptualising a large range of ideas (at this stage, no idea is a bad idea!), before we start to refine and test them and work through validating them by using rapid learning loops of building, measuring and learning.
Coming up with a large body of creative ideas can sometimes be difficult, especially when you’ve been deeply involved with your enterprise for a long time. The following methods help open up creative blocks and get the ideas flowing. So whether you’re coming up with brand new service ideas, looking to iterate or find new customers, give these a go!
Focus on one of your products/services. Think of 5 unrelated products/services. Now combine them! What would the outcome look like with brand new features?
It’s common for teams to gather in the same location to work together. Next time you meet, head out to a local park, or a new cafe or library space. Somewhere completely new. Run your session from that space. What new ideas does it bring?
WHO’LL WIN THIS ONE?
Set your team a time limit of 10 minutes and have a competition to see who can come up with the most amount of ideas to tackle a specific task. As a team, put a prize on the line or a points system so that there’s a winner. How much does this influence how many ideas are produced?
First activity - Typically when brainstorming, people come up with word lists. During 15 minutes, draw 10 new products or services. No sentences are allowed - you have to visualise them.
Second activity - Describe a new product to your team. Have each of them draw it on a sheet of paper as you describe it. What does it look like and how have different team members interpreted it?
Focus on a particular service or product that you offer. Now focus on just ONE sense. Smell, sight, sound, touch, taste etc. Come up with 10 new ideas to satisfy that one chosen sense. How does that help create a stronger user experience and value for the person using it?
Jot down the following time markers down a page; six months, one year, two years, five years and ten years. Focus on your product or service. How do you picture your current offering into the future? Feel free to embellish the solution and add crazy new features!
PUMP IT UP TO THE EXTREME
Ok, so you’ve got an idea. But what would this look like if you took it to an EXTREME level?
What if people you’d never dreamed of used it? What if maximised one of the key features that you offer?
Think of three different ‘superheros’. Typically, they have some ‘superpowers’ right? Many are known for these key abilities. So imagine your product or service had superpowers. You might like to combine the superpowers of the superheros to your service or dream up your own.
WORST CASE NIGHTMARES
This is pretty drastic, but imagine waking up, turning on the radio and hearing your worst nightmare (related to your business)... a new competitor has just had a big win which will take your market share or a supplier has gone bust and won’t be able to deliver on a bunch of pre-orders you have. How action would you take to counteract this nightmare and create new opportunities?
Think of a cartoon character eg. Goofy
Write down 5+ things that epitomise this character.
Redesign one of your products/services using these characteristics.
Describe your experience with your team. Sometimes being silly can create new, innovative ideas!
Open up an encyclopaedia, dictionary or magazine and choose a random word. Do this 10 times, so you end up with 10 random words.
Force yourself to redesign your product or service using a selection of these words.
I CAN OUTDO YOU
One person describes a new concept idea. The next person in a group takes that idea and adds a feature to make it way better. It can be ridiculous and out of the box. The next person, that adds to that idea with something even better. There are no limits, but you need to keep outdoing each other with amazing features.
PASS ON THE STORYBOARD
Draw 10 empty boxes on a a few A4 sheets of paper. These will serve as the boxes for which you will create comic strips which describe how a brand new service/product would work. Sit in your team. Give yourselves 2 minutes to sketch the beginning of an experience in the first box. After 2 minutes, pass/swap your sheet around the table. You now have 2 minutes to build on and complete the next step of the new service which your team member began. Keep passing the sheet around until all of them have brand new storyboards with new ideas.
Measuring your impact.
What impact are you really creating? It’s easy to talk about the change you’re trying to create, but if we were to invest in you, what specific measurables could you provide? Is there quantifiable evidence that you are gathering to measure outcomes? What qualitative data do you have to show the value you are providing? Is it anecdotal evidence, or testimonials that customers have left for you as a review? If you’re not measuring it and using that as part of your narrative, your solution may come across as mere ‘fluff’.
In our conversation with Christian Duell, he shared Dee Brook’s thoughts that stuck with him from a conference on social impact, “When it comes to impact measurement,” said Brook, “one simple way to look at it is asking the question, ‘is anyone better off?’
In our interview with Luke Terry, he highlights the importance of providing clear evidence of impact. When pitching to some partners, his audience observed, "we love what you're doing and we love your enthusiasm. We think it'll be great, but there's actually no evidence base to suggest it”. Terry later measured the impact of his project, and produced a report that clearly mapped out the impact that they achieved. “Measuring it has been critical,” identified Terry, “and now we have the evidence base.”
When William Stubbs shared his experience in measuring impact with us, he commented, '“I think it comes down to a core understanding that what outputs your work creates or organisation creates is not your impact. So if you tell me for instance that you have built 100 wells in regional parts of the country, then I don't really care. That isn't an impact. That is an output.
It's an outcome of what work you've undertaken. If you tell me that you built 100 wells, my next question would be how many people have been drinking from each well? How much water do they get? How clean is the water? Why are you building these wells? Do they lack clean water in the first instance? If you drill it down, it probably is going to end up in the case that you're trying to reduce water borne disease in that region, in which case I'd want to know over time, and I'm talking over years, how have those waterborne disease instances reduced?
So I think from my perspective, from the perspective of this work that we do, impact is a long-term distinct improvement in the issue you're trying to tackle.
It is not something that is easily measurable as your social media engagement or your social media reach. How many people turned up to an event is not impact. Impact is not how many books that you provided for a school. Impact rather, is how many people have changed their behaviour over the longterm because of your work for the betterment of society or for their health or for whatever.”
AN IMPACT MEASUREMENT GUIDE
The Centre for Social Impact wrote a practical guide on measuring impact. “The Compass is your guide to navigating social outcomes and impact measurement. This guide is for everyone working towards the creation of positive social impact in Australia and who wants to know if they are making a difference.
What isn’t it? It’s not a set of frameworks, or a textbook, or a jargon-packed treatise on outcomes measurement.”
What sort of metrics might you measure and how might you best communicate the impact you’re creating to the community, stakeholders, staff and investors?
Take a look at the impact reports below, where you’ll find three different examples from three different countries.
What are they measuring and how are they communicating it?
What outcomes, (not outputs), are you aiming for as a social enterprise?
How might your metrics be interwoven into a broader narrative which is easily understood and shared?
Little Yellow Bird is a New Zealand based social enterprise operating in the uniform industry. You can find their impact report here.
We spoke to Little Yellow Bird’s CEO, Samantha Rae Jones last year, where she shares her experience in setting up.
Likewise, a standout Australian example is Vanguard Laundry Services impact report which summarised their first year in business.
As one of Australia’s leading social enterprises, they prioritised the measurement and reporting of their impact and partnered with the Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne and others to make this a reality.
Founder and Managing Director, Luke Terry, has stated several times how clearly measuring and understanding the impact they they deliver has served as a strong tool to bring on investors, influence policy and improve the social enterprise.
Focussing on what matters.
It’s easy to spread ourselves thin. Many entrepreneurs, (perhaps yourself included!) are working on a diverse range of projects... and even if you’re working just on one project, you’re covering a lot of bases, generating different leads, developing different products...
But what if you could identify the most important tasks? What if you put your effort into the jobs which provided you with the best return?
This is where Pareto’s 80/20 Principle comes in.
Give the article a quick read to find out where you could or should be focussing your efforts. You could read this book too.
LET’S FOCUS & IMPROVE EFFICIENCY
Quickly list out your clients (if you already have some). Which ones give you the most work (and $) with least effort? Remember, this is not about trying to satisfy everyone.
Which products or services do you sell? In the past few months, what have been the top sellers?
Which team members are most efficient at completing specific tasks?
How do you allocate your time? Are you easily ‘roped in’ to new tasks or meetings which don’t align with your priority areas?
Look at, (and make sure you set up), the analytics for your website and across your channels. Which channels are providing you with the best bang for buck vs those which are draining your time without leading to conversions?
... and so on!
If you spend time commuting, audiobooks are a great way to continue learning and challenging your perspectives. Have you read any of these yet?
Good luck Elevators!
By now, all of us should have some nice foundations set for which we are to move forward. If you’ve been hesitating to really define or start properly testing your proposed service or product, there’s no better chance to do that than now. It’s important that we continue to learn from testing our MVPs with our target users and continually refining as we go. What will you have tested by next week?
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Thank you for the fantastic energy you bring to the Elevate+ cohort.