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Designing Design Workshop

George Crichlow


Today I conducted a workshop to test out my thesis. 

Currently I’m exploring the idea of creating challenger brands. It’s a concept first developed by Adam Morgan, in Eating The Big Fish. In his book he explains that the top three characteristics that define growth businesses are their ability to 1) Change the state of mind of their audience and employees. 2) They are able to change the state of the marketplace and finally 3) Demonstrate rapid and sustained growth.

An example of a challenger brand is Netflix. When they originally launch they challenged their audience to rethink how they rented movies. Secondly they challenged the industry by applying a mail order subscription model to the movie rental business, and finally they grew so quickly that they displaced Blockbuster as the preferred rental business.  Now they are challenging on-demand cable services by launch new movies and TV series on their online platform. They are causing people to rethink what the value of a subscription means.

David Burkas author of The Myths of Creativity outlines 10 myths of creativity and in it he dispels the idea that business people are creative.  It is the restraints of the system that they operate in that frowns upon creativity. In reality companies have enough internal ideas, there just isn’t a process to filter those ideas through. Reframing mindset begins with changing the language of how a company describes itself.

My workshop is designed to help C-level executives rid themselves of the weight of their title and the constraints of their business. It should enable them to think freely and openly about what the possible future of their business can be. Some things i’m looking to test for are: 

1) Is this a fluid process? 
2) Does each exercise build on top of the other? 
3) does the audience feel included, engaged and open-minded? 
4) Does my process generate new ideas?

I began by introducing the concept of a challenger brand. Then I presented the agenda for the workshop and gave them some background. Then I guided them through 5 exercises to help them rethink about a brand. In this case I used the example of The Holiday Inn

The day began with introductions a fun exercise and some background on the challenge. Participants were then given a focusing question to guide their thought process. 

 Below is a summary of each exercises that followed:

1. Breaking from the past


In order to re-imagine the potential of a brand, it’s important to identity the current constraints.  In this exercise we examine painpoints in the hotel experiences and then we challenge those notions. In doing so it gives the stakeholders permission to think outside of the box.

2. In Common


This exercise is about constructing and deconstructing the qualities of a hotel. Each participant is asked list out a number of attributes of the hotel and then as a group work together to distill two words that best describes their common attributes. Part of the exercise is getting group members to collaborate and form the same mental model of the task at hand. 

3. Revolutions


Revolutions is a tool to help clients break from the norm. Design research has shown that the top three narratives to breakaway from the status quo  are to 1) doing the opposite or what is currently being done. When Mini Cooper launch in the USA they reframed the conversation about the value of cars with their Zig-Zag campaign. The second alternative is to exaggerate what is currently being down in the marketplace. Makers of the Nano car in India did this appealing to street vendor drivers on bikes playing up the safety of the small car. Finally the last approach is to do something weird. In launching the Honda Civic Honda. 

4. If We Were Bought By


As a means of reframing the business, participants were asked to take their two key words and apply it to a business or brand from another category. For instance Ikea developed it in-store experience by looking at the flow of the Guggenheim Museum. By reframing the context in which the hotel lives in allowed participants to think more broadly about how to think about designing a new experience.  

5. Brand World

The final exercise builds off the previous exercise and ask participants to frame their idea through the lens of the business. It frames the idea in a way that be implemented.   It asked c-level execs and project managers to think about what it would take to implement the idea

Lastly all participants are asked to vote on their best idea and which part of the idea is the strongest.

At a later date, the ideas are examined and packaged into a strategic recommendation on how to create a challenger brand using existing resources and agreed up ideas to help the Holiday Inn standout within their category