En un domingo típico, bajo una temperatura agradable partimos para obtener informaciones espontáneas y conocer uno de los principales participantes de nuestra investigación en su tiempo libre: el servicio doméstico.
Elegimos el bosque de Chapultepec – por ser un lugar conocido y destinado al lazer –, y nos posicionamos en el camino hacia el castillo. No por acaso, elegimos este lugar y desarrollamos una estrategia para que no fuera invasivo tal iniciativa.
Bastó nada más que un cartel (cartulina) con la frase: “Te regalamos galletas de la FORTUNA por tu opinión”, para que docenas de personas espontáneamente se acercara a platicar con nosotros.
Las galletitas de la “fortuna” posicionadas junto a otra cartulina donde 5 preguntas se podían ver, resultaron en un éxito momentáneo entre los adultos. Y paletas (pues claro) entre los niños que persuadían sus mamás a también se acercaren y se dejaren encuestar.
Obviamente en pocos minutos, y muchos acercamientos – interesantes o no a nuestra tarea principal y primera –, una vez empezada la platica, muchas opiniones, puntos de vistas, historias de vida, omisiones y pues claro insights salieron.
Polis y funcionarios del parque igual se acercaron a “ayudar” con nuestro objetivo. Y no para cuestionar nuestra presencia, ya que no estábamos molestando a nadie, sino todo lo contrario, por regalar y dejar que la gente se acercara libremente, sin cualquier obligación de contestarnos.
Eso demuestra que reconocer, acercarse a entender TODOS los participantes de la investigación suele ser una tarea dinámica, estimulante y mucho divertida! Invito a todos a experimentaren lo mismo.
¡Éxito con sus investigaciones! Nos vemos en clase.
Thales Aquino, Diana Ruiz y Midori Esparza.
Our Economy Is Mostly Services. But How Do You Design Great Service Experiences?
WRITTEN BY: Craig LaRosa
Every time you ship a package, withdraw cash from the ATM, or call your health insurance provider, you’re experiencing a service system. We’re a service-focused economy: In 2010, Americans spent more than $7 trillion on services–amounting to 67% of total consumer spending. Service design–choreographing the dynamic interactions between companies and people–cannot only transform a company’s image; it can improve people’s lives. But successful service design is complex and complicated, and many companies get it wrong. At Continuum, we have four rules for designing services with purpose.
Many companies make the mistake of overselling their service–a strategy that backfires when customers are inevitably disappointed. (And a disappointed customer is not a return customer.) United Airlines’s recent animated commercial of a father flying aloft on a bird paints a fairytale fantasy of modern-day air travel. Southwest Airlines has a better approach. The discount king has an ad in which a dorky business traveler at a small-town airport can’t contain his glee at having been upgraded to Business Select. (Reward points! Free drinks!) Guess which airline consistently scores higher on consumer satisfaction surveys? Southwest. Because the airline sets its expectations low, it can and does over-deliver.
Executing successful service experiences requires all silos of an organization–marketing, operations, sales, finance, and so on. But these silos most often only connect at the top of the organization; they’re not communicating with one another at the consumer level. Successful service design depends upon getting one empowered person from each of these silos in the room. This collaboration cultivates trust and respect within the company, but it also ensures that each silo has a sense of ownership in the project. At Continuum, on every project, we advise the client-side team to include people from human resources, operations, marketing, sales, construction, and even frontline employees like chefs and front-desk staff.
We recently worked with Holiday Inn to develop their new hotel lobby experience called “The Hub,” that combines all ground-floor activities into one contiguous space: check-in, cafe, bar, Internet, lounge, and game area. From the beginning, we had every silo represented on our project team. Because we had people from operations on the team, we were able to design within the company’s operations capability, and because the marketing and advertising departments were included, we were able to pro-actively align The Hub with the companies new “Stay You” brand positioning, which is directed at a younger, value-seeking customer.
How do you create a service that works in today’s context but can also evolve as new technologies and behaviors emerge? The simple answer is from one of my colleagues, Continuum Digital Design Principal Toby Bottorf: “Always be in beta.” At Continuum, we design flexibility into every project. We recently worked with a global medical diagnostic and testing service company to design patient rooms. To meet their need for flexibility, we created movable fixtures that can be adjusted or removed within hours and a customized wall system that can be rearranged overnight to accommodate unknown future services. (An added perk: If the company relocates offices, they can take their walls with them.)
Rather than delivering a splashy, innovative idea to our client and then washing our hands of it, we collaborate with the client through the often challenging process of bringing the new service design to life.
Partly, we do that by making the intangible tangible early in the process–showing our client how the final design will work and what it will look and feel like, so they can get everybody in the company on board with the idea. For the global bank BBVA, we created a series of demos in the atrium of the bank’s Center of Innovation in Madrid that showcased the interactive banking touchpoints that would be used in the new retail banking model. This was viewed by more than 1,500 people, including bank leadership, thought leaders, and members of the media. We then took a portable version of this experiential model on the road to share it with other members of the global organization. Ultimately, BBVA’s entire global management team embraced the vision and new direction of the organization.
Like any creative process, service design can be challenging to get right. But when you keep these four tenets in mind, you’ll create a smoother, more enjoyable experience. And a happy customer is a return customer.
El siguiente artículo toma el concepto de perfil de conectador que expone Malcolm Gladwell en su libro The Tipping Point y me hace pensar si existirán herramientas que nos permitasn identificar a los conectadores denttro de las instituciones.
Are You a Connector?
Connector Josh Bycel raised $50,000 in three weeks to fund a medical clinic at a refugee camp in Darfur.
We all know people like them, people who seem to know everyone. They’re always able to help — or if they can’t, they know someone who can. You meet them for the first time and in 15 minutes, you’re talking with them like you’re childhood friends. They’re successful, smart and funny, with a likable touch of self-deprecation. And they’re interested in everything.
Who are they? Connectors. Take Maryam Banikarim, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Gannett, publisher of USA Today. She has a perfect job for a connector — she helps link Gannett’s various newspapers and media outlets “and bring the pieces together.”
“I like people and am genuinely curious,” says Banikarim, 42. “I like stories and want to make connections. But I didn’t know the word for it until my husband read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and said, ‘I finally have a word for you — a connector.’ “
As Gladwell writes, “sprinkled among every walk of life . . . are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. They are Connectors.” Gladwell describes them as having an ability to span many different worlds, subcultures and niches.
Traits such as energy, insatiable curiosity and a willingness to take chances seem to be the common thread among connectors — as well as an insistence that connecting is not the same as networking.
“Networking I see as a means to an end,” says Jill Leiderman, executive producer of the late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live. But connecting, she explains, is about using a genuine love of meeting people and making friends to engage and assist one another.
Connectors show a willingness to venture outside their comfort zones. For example, comedy writer Josh Bycel (shown top) visited a Darfur refugee camp six years ago, and on the way home he came up with the idea of raising money for a medical clinic for the camp. In three weeks, he had collected $50,000.
That idea grew into a nonprofit called OneKid OneWorld, which aims to connect schools in the United States with those in Kenya and other developing countries to provide everything from books to clean water.
“I’m a comedy writer. I don’t know anything about building schools,” says Bycel, 40, who lives in Los Angeles. “But I’m interested in learning. You need to get out and make connections outside of your own world. Being interested in lots of different things by definition allows you to be a connector.”
The willingness to reach out to someone you don’t know is crucial to the art of connecting, and especially important in uncertain economic times. Those who are in mid-career and may have worked for one company for years should learn connecting skills before they need them.
For instance, most people’s natural inclination is to seek out friends at meetings and mealtimes. Banikarim says not to do that. “It’s easy to sit with someone you know,” she says. “It’s hard, but more interesting, to sit with someone you don’t know. This is not like high school. It’s not just the losers who don’t have somewhere to sit.”
It may seem as if connectors are born, not made, but that’s not necessarily true. Banikarim was forced to learn to reach out to people from an early age. She moved with her family from Iran to Paris in 1979, then to Northern California, where there wasn’t an Iranian community. “I was often that new kid,” she says. When she started college at Barnard, “I knew it was either sink or swim. The first week of school, I joined every club and went to every meeting. I ended up as freshman class president.”
Joining clubs and organizations is a terrific way to find like-minded people, but only go when you have an interest — and don’t attend endless networking get-togethers. Keith Ferrazzi, author ofNever Eat Alone, says he has never been to an official networking event. Instead, he advises, join organizations that focus on the events and activities you love.
“I have a friend who is the executive vice president of a large bank in Charlotte,” he writes in his book. “His networking hotspot is, of all places, the YMCA. He tells me that at 5 and 6 in the morning, the place is buzzing with exercise fanatics like himself getting in a workout before they go to the office. He scouts the place for entrepreneurs, current customers and prospects.”
Of course, when you’re walking into that first meeting or class and facing a bunch of strangers, the instinct is to flee. That’s all right. The point is not to ignore the fear, but acknowledge it — and then work through it.
“I sort of just run into fear, as I run into chaos,” says Banikarim, whom The New York Post named one of the 50 most powerful women in New York City in 2008 when she worked at Univision. “You breathe deep, and you have to remember that everyone is scared.”
Perhaps one of the most important attributes of a connector is a willingness to help and to reach out even if there is no obvious or immediate payback.
That means thinking long-term. Jen Singer is the founder of the blog Mommasaid.net, author of five books, a Pull-Ups spokeswoman and an undeniable connector. “The biggest mistake people make is they think ‘if I help this person, that will happen immediately.’ We have to stop thinking in linear terms,” she says.
Helping others out doesn’t mean you can’t hold some things back. Singer, 44, uses the word “coopetition” — a combination of competition and cooperation — to describe her philosophy. “I think this generation understands you share, but also protect your own interests — you don’t give a key to everything you have. It’s a line you have to learn to walk.”
Finally, a connector also occasionally has to disconnect. Leiderman says her boyfriend “has taken away my Blackberry so I can super-connect with him.”
SecondAct contributor Alina Tugend writes the award-winning ShortCuts column for The New York Times and published her first book,Better by Mistake, in 2011.
Frog Design: The Four Secrets of Playtime That Foster Creative Kids
This is the second post in a new series, produced by Frog Design, drawn from their publication, Design Mind. The theme of the current issue — from which this essay is drawn — is “And Now the Good News.” It presents ideas flowing from the most recent TED Global conference.
I still remember an early job interview I had at Trilogy in 1998. Back then, the software maker was dubbed “Insanity Inc.” by Fast Company because of its late work nights and legendary retreats to Vegas. Trilogy was hiring like mad to keep up with demand and was looking for “young, talented overachievers with entrepreneurial ambition and chutzpah.” During my interview I was asked to write a line of programming code on a whiteboard in front of five people. Then I was directed to “Brainstorm all the possible things you can do with bubble wrap.” Bubble wrap? TEDGlobal 2009 speaker Daniel Pink would later call this using a “whole new mind.” For me, it was an exhilarating reminder of the relevance of open-ended play and the continuing need for workplace creativity.
There is a myth, common in American culture, that work and play are entirely separate activities. I believe they are more entwined than ever before. As the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget once said, “Play is the answer to how anything new comes about.” A playful mind thrives on ambiguity, complexity, and improvisation—the very things needed to innovate and come up with creative solutions to the massive global challenges in economics, the environment, education, and more.
So, my question is, “Are our children getting the play they need to thrive in the 21st century?” According to reports from sources such as Harvard University, Time magazine, Newsweek, and The Futurist, the answer is no.
In 2007, Howard Chudacoff, a professor of History at Brown University, wrote a book called Children at Play: An American History, in which he identified a disturbing trend suggesting that play is changing dramatically from a world invented by children to a world prescribed by parents and other adults. He discovered that “the resourcefulness of children’s culture has eroded, as children have become less skilled at transforming everyday objects into playthings.” Plato once said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” What do our children really need to invent for themselves in such a manufactured, overly structured world? While an African child might be monetarily poor compared with his European counterpart, I would argue that he is richer in play because he must invent the very ball he tosses or kicks around. Children in the US simply go to Walmart. From education to play consumption, we have unknowingly created a society of more game players rather than game designers —and that’s an important distinction.
How can we get our youngest to embrace being designers rather than just players?
Jane McGonigal, a futurist, game designer, and TED speaker, recently said, “[Game players] are people who believe they are individually capable of changing the world. … The only problem is they believe they are capable of changing virtual worlds and not the real world.” In a recent magazine interview, a reporter asked Eric Zimmerman, a game designer and the author of Rules of Play, “What do you like best about being a game player?” He responded, “A game player? Wow. I have to say that I think I like being a designer more than a player. Maybe that’s because as a designer, you’re also playing.” Essentially, while players may feel empowered in the game; designers are empowered by making the game—and that has huge ramifications for society. The former works well when rules and boundaries are important to follow (as in an industrial economy). The latter is better suited for a complex future that constantly redefines reality (as in the creative economy). How then can we get our youngest generation to embrace the role of designer rather than player? Fundamentally, it starts by letting children be the inventors of play.
Consider a simple example: John De Matteo, a teacher at Manhattan Academy of Technology (MAT) is considered one of the most innovative instructors in the New York educational system. When he joined MAT, there was no after-school sports program. Within in six years, the school went from having zero activities to supporting 20 sports and 32 teams. How did he accomplish this amazing feat? He credits the program’s success to the students, who invented their own games. Some of the games, like Capture the Farm Animal (which involves rubber chickens, balls and lots of running), are so creative that he has added them to his curriculum and teaches them to others around the country. In a recent interview De Matteo said, “I don’t want [my students] to be limited by what is already out there. I want them to think completely different than what is traditional. It doesn’t stop with school. They learn to become agents of change wherever they go. I may be creating an army of kids that feel like they can change the world, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
There is an American myth that work and play are entirely separate activities.
Like De Matteo, all adults ultimately need to re-imagine how we can enable and support these future “change agents.” The answer may lie in four foundational pillars of play: open environments, flexible tools, modifiable rules, and superpowers.
An open environment is not the same as an enriched one: being open does not mean providing more stimuli. Rather, open environments are those in which the child gets to be the author and the medium is open to interpretation.
Very good examples of open environments might be the Adventure Playgrounds in Europe or the new Imagination Playgrounds in New York. These playscapes are, according to reviews, “designed to encourage child-directed, unstructured free play.” The most egregious example of closed play is a toy like the electronic version of Simon Says, which is modeled after the timeless verbal game in which one player calls out directives to the others in the game. With the battery-operated version, what children might make up in the moment has been reduced to them merely repeating color patterns chosen by an electronic device.
Open and closed environments can be applied to our digital worlds as well. But many virtual creations only allow us to be empowered in a game defined by someone else. Take Webkinz World, a virtual universe in which your stuffed animal has its own online avatar. Game players can earn credits to spend on decorating their virtual pet’s rooms. In this model, being a player, and not a creator, is rewarded and reinforced.
Thankfully, there are more open environments on the horizon. Games like Ridemakerz and Xtractaurs are trying to bridge the physical-digital divide, while also enabling creators to design some aspects of their play. Shidonni, Spore, and Scribblenauts are truly embracing the open and digital potential. With them, the play is so unlimited no one cares that someone else wrote the rules. Kids get to design their own games in real time with Scratch, Kodu, Kerpoof, and Alice. LEGO Mindstorms, Pleo, and the Spy Tracker System from Wild Planet enable authors to write their own software applications for physical products.
Whether physical or digital, there is a reason kids spend hours in a sandbox but only minutes on a Moon Sand Construction Theme kit. Even they know the difference between an open environment and a manufactured one.
Part of being open is being flexible. Technology has given us a whole new set of tools, though they’re being used in ways not necessarily planned for. Phone cameras, for example, have created an army of roaming reporters who upload news as it happens. The fact that people can find different ways of using technology—and that the technology is flexible enough to allow for this exploration—is the key for innovation and invention. I would say the same should be true for physical materials in a child’s play environment. A crayon can be used for drawing anything, but it can also be melted and re-sculpted into something completely different. Consider the electronic Simon game mentioned previously: It is completely rigid, with a prescribed way to play. A simple modification that would allow a child to record his or her own directives would invite invention, ideation, and exploration.
Being open and flexible within parameters is necessary and even helpful, but what happens when the parameters themselves no longer fit our needs? Should our kids be able to change the rules? Don’t get me wrong, rules can be necessary. My mother was a teacher for twenty years, so I fully appreciate the fine balance between learning and discipline that is required in any classroom. Yet I grow concerned when the daily folder my child brings home focuses on rewarding the following behaviors: walk quietly, keep hands to self, raise hand before speaking, and sit still in chair. Instead, I’d like to see a second folder promoting things like: had an original idea, created a new game on the playground, made up a story, solved a problem for a friend, or invented something uncommon from a common object. De Matteo would agree. “Classroom management is important,” he says. “But it’s not more important than raising a student body who can do things for themselves and think freely. If [students] see a school that has all this opportunity laid out for them, they realize the possibilities are endless. As long as we are constantly forcing them to do activities, even though they learn, when they get out on their own they aren’t going to be able to think for themselves.”
Our children have gotten really good at following rules, but where will they learn that sometimes it’s best to break them? I would argue that it’s our responsibility to show them how and praise them when they do it.
We aren’t born with playful minds, we create them.
Using the analogy of kids as game designers, we can consider the environments, tools, and rules as pieces or parts of the game to manipulate. But what a child does with those inputs is largely determined by the strategies, skills, and powers he or she wields. In the book To Play or Not to Play: Is It Really a Question?, author Doris Bergen suggests that play sculpts the brain and that clinical indications will soon become valid for the science of play behavior. It’s crucial to understand that we aren’t born with playful minds, we create them.
Ask a group of kindergarteners if they have superpowers. Half might say, “none,” and the other half would wonder. I feel sure at least one would say, “I can fly.” By fifth grade the very question would probably be met with scorn. And who could blame them? Most parents and teachers wouldn’t even think to suggest such a thing could be possible. Our culture reinforces this message of improbability with perfectly packaged cinematic characters that are larger than life. Yet, children yearn for something more.
Children don’t want to live vicariously through a character—they want to be the real-life superhero. I recently sat down with the CEO of a US-based toy company, and he agreed with me. When his firm conducted research on the packaging for a line of spy gear, children were asked who they most wanted to be. Spy Kids? James Bond? The resounding feedback was that the children wanted to be the spies themselves, not the character. So the company introduced its spy gear with packaging that depicts real kids being super sleuths.
Children also want to develop powers of their own. Of course, I’m not talking about having laser eyes or sprouting wings, but in a world that teaches them rules for the first 18 years, it’s no wonder they might want power. Often that opportunity comes too late. Our kids are thrust out into a world with a limited understanding of what empowerment might really mean.
Superpowers, by my definition, are the physical and mental skills that we develop to adapt and thrive in a complex world while exploring the creative opportunities made possible by global progress. (See “Our FUN-damental Superpowers,” at left.) Superpowers offer an easily articulated medium for children, parents, and teachers that is both playful and purposeful. Fundamentally, they are skills reframed as a type of power within the realm of human possibility and reach. Superpowers are the catalysts that maximize the benefits of the other three foundational pillars. Simply stated, they are the pivotal piece in turning a game player into a game designer.
When 85 percent of today’s companies searching for creative talent can’t find it, will more focus on standardized curriculum, testing, and memorization provide the skills an emergent workforce needs? Not likely. Play is our greatest natural resource. In the end, it comes down to playing with our capacity for human potential. Why would we ever want to limit it? In the future, economies won’t just be driven by financial capital, but by play capital as well. And the greatest game to be played, won’t be played at all—we’ll be too busy designing the next one.
As a principal designer of frog design, Laura specializes in the emotional, social, participatory and future design of products and environments. She has … CONTINUED
Decorated with brightly colored wallpaper and pots of cheery flowers, Giveboxes are festive additions to Germany’s city streets. The small structures, which look like a cross between a phone booth and a gardening shed, hold community-donated items that are free for the taking, says Dougal Squires on Slow Travel Berlin. Clothing, books, shoes, blankets, bags, lamps, glassware, and cologne are examples of the useful(ish) things up for grabs.
The idea for Giveboxes came from an anonymous Berliner known only as Andy or Andreas. (Go to Slow Travel Berlin’s website to hear an engaging interview with the Givebox founder.) Since the first Givebox debuted in Berlin last summer—constructed in an eyesore of a spot that was often used as an improvised public toilet—more have popped up in Hamburg, Vienna, Paris, Copenhagen, and elsewhere, with aminiature version making its way to San Francisco.
Cash-free shopping ventures are popular in many parts of the world, with freecycling and free stores found in North America and Europe. But Giveboxes offer an advantage, writes Chloe Lloyd in E Magazine:
The Givebox cuts out the middleman, hassle and arrangement requirements intrinsic to the better-known “freecycling.” The anonymity of the Givebox also supports the notion that it doesn’t matter who we are giving to as long as there is someone who is in need of goods that we no longer use.
To me, Giveboxes most closely call to mind the charming Little Free Libraries springing up in U.S. neighborhoods, which encourage passersby to leave a book or take a book. Both projects encourage community involvement and reuse, along with a pint-size dose of informal artistic expression.
Want to build a Givebox in your town? Andy/Andreas offers plans, costs, and marketing materials on Givebox’s Facebook page, albeit in German. Let’s find a translator and keep up this communal spirit of giving—I’ve got a rice cooker, a dog-eared copy of The Stranger, and a 1960s red wool coat with your name on them.
Images via Givebox.
Margret Aldrich is an associate editor at Utne Reader. Follow her on Twitter at @mmaldrich.