Magda’s Reflective Essay

As a filmmaker and future film production company owner, I found Design Thinking for Start-ups module extremely valuable. The main aims of it were to teach us about behaviours and processes that are necessary when creating a product or a service. It put a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship, innovation, management and collaboration skills. It allowed creative people to learn about business for creatives, how it works, what It requires and how its’ rules are different from the traditional business rules.

The module required all the students to get into groups and create enterprises. Each group was asked to develop, manufacture, market and sell an innovative, purposeful product. The process included processes such as writing a business plan, pivoting, testing the product, thinking about the problem the product was solving, gathering feedback and improving the product. We were also responsible for marketing, sales and finance.

The company I was a part of was called MSAJ and it was created by Aye Nge, Jung Mi Lee, Sakeenah Martin and myself. The biggest problem in our group and what we have learnt to see as the biggest strength was diversity. Each of the team members comes from a different country, studies different subjects, has different interest, perspective and skills. At the start of the module, we did not know how to embrace diversity. We tried to have the same way of thinking, to uniform our ideas. We quickly learnt that this will not help the group, but destroy it.

The first part of the task was to come up with an idea for a product. This was also the part we struggled with the most. Janja suggested we think of an existing problem first and try and find a solution for it. This theory for innovation was also written about by Seelig, Stanford University Creativity and Innovation lecturer. What she suggests is that “Creativity is applying imagination to address a challenge. Innovation is applying creativity to generate unique solutions. And entrepreneurship is applying innovations, scaling the ideas, by inspiring others’ imagination.”.

The first problem we encountered was being cold. We tried to solve the problem by introducing various products that were supposed to heat up, massage and prevent the user from feeling cold. We wanted to create a heatable massage backpack, massage suspenders, heatable ponchos and even a heatable shoe insoles! The main problem we thought we have encountered, was that surprisingly, some of those items already existed. The problem however, was so much deeper. We got stuck on trying to solve the wrong problem. No one in the group had any technical skills that could be useful when creating heating systems. Neither did we know about the materials that were needed. We wasted a lot of time developing poor ideas, instead of realising our mistake and moving on. ’Fail fast’ David Kelley (2013) said in one of his books, and we should have listened. At some point, Janja and Richard both told us the task we created for ourselves is not appropriate for our capabilities. We took this feedback and we pivoted. As a future film production house owner, I need to be able to not only manage people, but also see when the team is going in the wrong direction and be able to see the limitations of the team, be it finance, capabilities or resources.

Next few ideas were a little bit more achievable and required less technical skills. We wanted to create an antibacterial, magnetised make up bag or a tap connector. Our creativity at this point was running out. We felt like we needed a new method for coming up with ideas. We tried vocalising our ideas, writing it down and focussing on each for at least a few minutes and letting it grow. We tried coming up with the worst idea possible, to then see what comes from this way of thinking. All those techniques will be very valuable for me once I open my production house and I will be responsible for keeping the team proactive and creative. Sometimes the pressure of creating something may block creative flow, so it is beneficial to know games and methods that help simulate creative thinking. A lot of those interesting methods were mentioned by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup (2011). MSAJ found this as well as other Lean Startup techniques very valuable. We have learnt about the theory about testing products, as well as minimal viable product and we used them on our project, especially once we came up with our final idea.

After hours spent struggling with product development, our group became really stressed. Janja suggested we spend some time together without discussing MSAJ problems. Jungmi invited the whole group for Korean dinner at her house. What we found out was that we did not know each other at all. We jumped at the Design Thinking challenge so quickly, we did not take time to get to know each other. This was the foundation for our big communication problem. We finally found a real life problem that we could solve. I came up with an idea of creating a solution for weak, mainly internet based relationships amongst adults. We have decided to create a social interactive game for adults.

Before we moved on to doing a business plan, we created a  minimum viable product and tested it amongst students and ourselves. We gathered valuable feedback and we adjusted our game and tested it again. After a few days spent improving our product we started thinking of aspects like strategy, marketing, business plan and sales. The Lean Startup theory taught me of an importance of customer feedback and the speed with which startups should act. In the future I will be in charge of some much more complex projects. The testing phase eliminates wasting time creating the service no one wants. It can also save a lot of money. I have also learnt a lot about various written plans and canvases that help create a business. One of my favourite ones and certainly most valuable for MSAJ was Value Proposition Canvas (Osterwalder, 2014) and the Business Model Canvas (Osterwalder and Pigneur, 2014).

 

After we had our final idea, we needed to focus on the actual product design. We tried to keep all our marketing materials uniform, in terms of content as well as visual qualities. We wanted our branding to be memorable. We created a set style for our game. This gave us a lesson in importance of branding. To make a product that becomes one day becomes iconic, the design plays just as important role as the function of the product.

Dragon’s Den events as well as Trade Fairs, were a valuable practise in presentation and importance of building rapport with the clients. At the end of the project, we all knew by heart what to say to experts or potential customers. We pitched our product so many times we can easily repeat it while half asleep. It also gave us a lot of confidence in approaching strangers and have a belief in the product we created. Confidence in your product is essential when selling it. It also allows for an easy conversation with potential customers or investors. Knowing what you sell and being an expert in the field is important in all industries, also film. This was the reason why we researched our competitors to find out what advantages our product has over other games.

Our biggest problem throughout the process turned out to be communication. Language barrier combined with online communication was not doing a favour to the group. Because of the communication problem other problems occurred, for example tasks were not fulfilled by the people who were responsible for them, the agreements we made were not executed etc. The problem affected the way we worked. We learned the importance of understanding each other. What this makes me realise, is also how crucial it is to set clear targets that everyone in the team understands, ask questions if anything is unclear and listen to other team members.

Another lesson was about feedback. Some conflicts we had, could have been easily resolved if we listened to each other and gave each other honest feedback. Being open about issues can be a bliss for a company. It saves time and confusion. We have also learnt about product development. If not for the course, we would never have had a chance to experience this first hand. We also learned how to embrace differences within the team and how to get the best of it by dividing roles and adjusting responsibilities towards people’s capabilities. We also gained creative confidence and through practise we mastered the art of pitching.

What we all still need to improve on as a team is stress management. The pressure and competition did affect the way we worked. It was a great practise in finding out how stress affects work flow. In the future I will take this into consideration when leading groups.

The whole experience was an extremely valuable lesson in business creation, development, creative design thinking, finance, marketing and team collaboration. I am convinced I will use this experience in my film production house and I am grateful for the safety net that we had that allowed me to experiment.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brown, T. (2009) Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, New York City: Harper Business.

Brown, T. (2009) Designers — think big! [Online] Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_urges_designers_to_think_big/transcript?language=en %5BAccessed 19th April 2016].

Drucker, P. F. (2007) Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Fortune, J., Peters, G. (1997) Learning from Failure, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Kelley, D., Kelley, T. (2013) Creative confidence: unleashing the creative potential within us all, London: William Collins.

Osterwalder, A. (2010) Business model generation: a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers, New Jersey: Hoboken, N.J.; Chichester: Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons.

Osterwalder, A., Pigneur, Y. (2014) Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want, New Jersey: Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Ries, E. (2011) The Lean Startup: how constant innovation creates radically successful businesses,  London: Portfolio Penguin.

Seelig,T. (2015) Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head And Into the World, San Francisco: HarperOne.

Stokes, D.,  Wilson, N. (2006) Small Business Management & Entrepreneurship, London: Thomson.

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The Art of the Argument.

This post have been heavily inspired by the article on Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2016/04/whats-worse-than-a-difficult-conversation-avoiding-one

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How many times you have an argument or a disagreement with someone you are working with or collaborating on a project and you just think it’s pointless to discuss it? How many times you try to convince yourself that it’s better to just let it go and forget about it?

Through my MSAJ experience I’ve learnt that I do it quite a lot. Although it bothers me to have disagreements within the group, I would let it go and try to move on. The problem is, this approach only works if there’s nothing new to be built on the foundation of the group. If there still are projects to be done and the group need to continue functioning, avoiding conflict can lead to even more problems.

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Conflict should not be seen as something aggressive and painful in its result. It should be seen as an exchange of ideas, pitching competition or simply as a way to make things easier or the group in the future.

As Deborah Rowland says, what is needed from collaborators is a ‘shift in mindset from seeing difficult conversations as a hurdle to seeing them as a resource.’ She points out that ‘Difficult conversations can actually strengthen personal bonds if you handle them well.’. I think those statements are absolutely true and I have experienced it during out team work days. We argued, and we argued a lot. The problem was the technique. We saw it as a way to express our opinions out loud and convincing people that theirs are not worth of our time. What we should have done was to LISTEN. Listen, analyse, compare and the decide which option makes more sense. There’s no need to judge who is right, who is wrong. We are all on the same side. We should have learnt this much quicker and our collaboration would be smoother.

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By reading this article I understood the power of communication and calm approach and the agreement that an argument can and will have a positive outcome as long as the team agrees it is not a bad thing to argue. It is a way of discovering new paths.

Also, personally I think it is always best to clear the air, let people know what you think, allow them to freely tell you what they think and start fresh every now and again. Holding things back and letting go of things that bother us only culminate and can affect the whole team once it is too much and you have to express how you fell.

What our guest Alice Vaughan, Community Engagement Specialist at Airbnb, said about her meetings with her boss and how they exchange feedback on a regular basis made me think of my future as a film producer. Having to manage people, I will be in charge of the arguments as well. I think it is a brilliant idea to exchange feedback and be open. The only way to improvement is to know where are you standing and allowing people to help you. It is not the easy way out, but it certainly benefit the company and me as a producer. As Deborah Rowland said: ‘Safety is perilous, and difficulty is strengthening.’.

 

Thanks,

Magda

Dragon’s Den

Macers have heard multiple legends about scary, mysterious and hair-rising Dragon’s Den. What I had in mind when thinking about this assessment was a mixture of my previous presentations and this:

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My expectations for the event were very high. I expected it to be a big event, many people, massive space, tears and sweat. The reality was exactly the opposite. MSAJ prepared the business report and the presentation before the mock event. We received valuable feedback that we could and did incorporate into our final presentation.

The preparations for the event were affected because of my illness. I did not know if I will be able to attend Dragons’ Den at all. To contribute to the group work, I offered to take care of the final corrections of the report as well as presentation. The decision was made a day before the event and the only time we could use to rehearse was before the presentation.

Our visual materials were consistent in terms of style as well as information. The presentation was rehearsed a few times and what we found out to be our problem was the length of it. Because we had to stage playing a game, it added good few minutes to the presentation.  We covered subjects as Marketing, Lessons Learnt, Finance and Product Development. Our presentation had a good structure and we filtered the information we were presenting. We prepared all our props including our trade fair stand, prototypes of the game and the final product. We felt we were ready to present our 6 months’ work to the judges. We were all confident and excited.

During the presentation we showed our visual material including our advertisement. We kept eye contact with the judges and with each other. We tried to keep our presentation short and relevant, however we still run out of time! We practiced and everything was ok, and now when the time has come, it was too long! Maybe it was due to us trying to speak slowly and clearly, so that the judges can understand everything… Maybe.

Apart from that, the experience was stress free, the room was not massive, there were no people there. Nor we felt sweat or tears. The questions we received from the judges were mostly about the product itself and our future plans. We handled all the questions well and the event was a great experience.

For the future Macers: Don’t stress out. Just be prepared and everything will be fine 😉

Oh, and have a look at this: https://hbr.org/2016/03/how-decision-making-evolves-as-a-startup-grows

 

Thanks,

M.

Kingston Trade Fair

I can’t remember a day when I was so cold in the last year. We were all wet, and cold and hungry, but the thought I had in my mind when packing our stool was ‘I’m gonna miss this so much’. I never had to sell anything in the cold and this opportunity made me realise how much I never want to work like this again. On the other hand, it also made me feel solidarity with the group and the power of teamwork. But let’s start from the beginning…

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The preparations for the fair started a few days before. What we needed to do is agree on the box arrangements and designs we were to put on the boxes. Aye did a great job designing our posters and printing them to a high standard. Once we had all the materials ready we spend an evening applying the stickers to the boxes. This DIY exercise allowed the team to relax and enjoy being together and working together on our goal. Maybe the stool was not perfect, but we as a team, achieved so much more than just a stool. We co-operated and had fun together which was really great to see.

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On the day we encountered some issues (like always, huh?). We had some train issues, miscommunication etc. and we were the last team to start putting out boxes together. However (!) we were the first ones to finish! Was it the good preparation? Or the fact that we warmed up with our team work the day before and we knew exactly what we were doing? I’m not sure. But it worked 🙂

Once we set up our stand, we were ready for trading. We agreed on our strategy for selling the game and what or targets were for the day. Although there were not many people in the area, and many of them were not interested in talking to a bunch of freezing students, we managed to meet our target and sell 4 games!

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It’s probably nothing comparing to the sales of other teams, but what matters for us is that we did it together and the trade fair was the result of our team work. I can’t wait for another one.

Pivot, Pivot!

The biggest lesson we’ve learnt from the University Trade Fair was the importance of the design and execution of the product. What we thought will sell the product was the idea and the intellectual property we put into it.

Obviously, it didn’t happen.

We had a lot of work to do before the next Trade Fair that was due to happen in Kingston Town Centre. The first thing we needed to do is simplify the game. All the judges at the Dragon’s Den as well as Janja suggested the game is too complicated. Janja suggested her favourite part of the game was the lying game. We all agreed and changed the game completely. Instead of having 6 games in one we only had one. We simplified it, so that it can be played without even reading the instructions. It still came in the card form and its’ properties remained the same:

  • It unplugs people from the online world
  • It allows for building real life relationships

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The next step we needed to make was to redesign the game and order it from the manufacturer (another lesson we’ve learnt – do not manufacture product yourself. Unless you really know how to).

It was really difficult for us to find the right manufacture. All the printing places around Kingston provided printing but not cutting (we tried cutting ourselves too – did not work). We then started looking online, particularly at business card manufacturers. Business cards are really cheap, but only if you print the same design on all of them. We needed 20 different designs and not large quantities. We only found one company that could provide us with those. We found a discount code, we ordered and we received our cards the day before the trade fair. We changed the design into a more Art Deco Great Gatsby inspired design. Also, the colour palette changed from black and white to more sophisticated black and gold.

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We bought are fabric-lined boxed in Poundland. We also ordered metallic MSAJ logo stickers to personalise the box. We sold our games wrapped with a gold ribbon and a card saying ‘designed with love’.

The remaining 5 games are not going to go to waste. In case we want to develop our company, we have the possibility to expand our product line by 5 new games, all in separate boxes.

When everything was finally falling into place, and despite all the problems on the way we managed to get our product ready the boxes idea popped up. Janja told us the idea for our Kingston Trade Fair stools has changed. We were asked to use cardboard boxes. This changed our focus from worrying about our pitching to customers, to customizing the stool.  It was a little stressful and definitely pricier that we thought, but the final product looked decent. I was happy with our co-operation during the making of the stool. I think we all had a good time doing some DIY.

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The Trade Fair post coming soon 🙂

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In the meantime, have a look at the Pixar’s story: https://hbr.org/2012/02/could-pixars-secret-story-guid

The Trade Fair

The student trade fair was another event on the long list we were due to attend. Each company (postgraduate and undergraduate) had a task of creating a stool and generating sales on the day. For us, the trade fair meant mainly struggles with the actual product.

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A few days before the trade fair, our Operations Manager Sakeenah wanted to order the games from the fabric printing company she contacted previously. What we found out was that the price of the printing was nearly 5 times as much as previously quoted. What happened? We’re still not sure. I must have been a human mistake.

The situation did not discourage us, and we kept on researching other options. The companies we contacted offered great, but costly services that we could not afford.

We have decided to contact the printing department of University. We were told we can use their equipment out of charge. Sakeenah scheduled the meeting. What we found out left us really disappointed but also extremely stressed. We were told that because we do not have the health and safety training we cannot use the printer at all. The only way to use it is to buy the fabric, the ink and expense the cost if one of the departments technicians work. We were told that printing might take the whole day and the results may not be as expected. Again, the cost turned out to be much higher than we could afford.

We had to pivot! If we could not have the game printed on fabric, we had to come up with something  else or we would not have the product ready for the trade fair at all! I came up with an idea of presenting the game in the form of cards. Even though it required the game to be redesigned this was all we could do within two days.

Aye redesigned the game and we spent the whole day printing. Fighting with the printer, printing on the wrong side/wrong direction and running out of ink were all struggles we encountered. Finally, after a few hours of try and error 11 games were complete and ready to be sold. We also took care of printing leaflets and small posters for the stool.

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On the day, Sakeenah brought the table cover and sweets. We brought the games and we were ready to sell. We’ve decided to approach our potential customers in a friendly manner. We wanted to build rapport with them before we start forcing them to buy our product.

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The quality if our product was definitely the downside. However we managed to sell 3 games priced at £4 each. I consider it a great achievement.

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Another success was the Games Night we created. We asked our customers to participate in a games night, where they could play the game for free. We had around a 100 names on the guest list. This is going to be a great night!

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PS

You can still join us for the Games Night! You know where to find us 🙂

PS 2

Great talk about entrepreneurial pivoting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3xcJptA9_g

Testing the competitors

One of the main comments people had when we showed them Sparks, was that it has too much text. Sure, one side of the game is the actual board, the other – the instructions and challenges. I have decided to test out our competitors and see how they deal with the issue of large amounts of texts and lazy players 😉

Test no. 1

MONOPOLY

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Although Monopoly is not our direct competition (its goal is not to get people to know each other), it is one of the most popular games on the market. This is what the distributor says about the game:

Own it all as a high-flying trader in the fast-paced world of real estate. Tour the city for the hottest properties: sites, stations and utilities are all up for grabs. Invest in houses and hotels, then watch the rent come pouring in! Make deals with other players and look out for bargains at auction. There are many ways to get what you want. For really speedy dealers, use the speed die for a quick and intense game of Monopoly. So get on Go and trade your way to success!

The game incorporates small easy to loose elements and is generally quite big. The design is great and the game has a big following due to its 80 years history. However, how long are instructions?

I played Monopoly with my Mum and Grandma Nina during Christmas (I won, just saying). Because Grandma Nina is not very up to date with the gaming industry, we had to read her the instructions (she insisted we do, I think she was scared we will cheat). The instructions are around 2 pages long. 2 pages! And you have to read them before you start the game. Because I knew the game from when I was a child, I didn’t realise the length of instructions.

Test no. 2

DIXIT

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Another game I tested was Dixit. It is a board game involving cards. The packaging is big. And the game is absolutely brilliant! It does allow the participants to get to know each other, but only if they allow it. Here’s how it works according to the distributor:

Dixit is an illustrated game of creative guesswork, where your imagination unlocks the tale! Dixit is a ground-breaking game, offering delightful and thought-provoking entertainment for all your friends and family. Using a deck of cards illustrated with dreamlike images, players select cards that match a title suggested by the “storyteller”, and attempt to guess which card the “storyteller” selected.

I played Dixit after family dinner with my Mum, Grandma Nina, Auntie Ewa and my cousin Asia. Because I played the game before, I explained the rules myself. However, my family didn’t understand any of it, and I had to read instructions in the end anyway. After reading the instructions (that were much shorter than monopoly, but still longer than Sparks) my family was still confused, so we’ve decided to just play it and ‘see what happens’. Unfortunately, Grandma Nina won. And she also got so excited about her victory, she forced us to play it over and over again (and she won every round). We had an awesome family time. I recommend you try it at obligatory boring family dinners 😉

Test no. 3

KORPORACJA (Eng. Corporation)

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The last test was a new Polish game called Korporacja. The game is a representation of a day working in a corporation. Players need to fulfil tasks and not let other players win. The game does not allow the players to get to know each other and frankly was the least entertaining out of all 3.

I played this game with my friends Kasia and Pawel (both my age). The instructions were extremely long and not very clear. We read it, not really understand it and again, tried to see what happens once we start playing. During the game we had some issues with one of the commands that we didn’t understand. It happened several times and we just decided to ignore this particular part of the game. Pawel won the game, but I am sure he was cheating. Even though the game was not very entertaining, we still had a great time doing something new together. As long term friends we forgot how much fun it can be to do new things together. Our games night reminded us of now much fun it can be! We definitely need to experiment with games more!

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When it comes to MSAJ Sparks, the game has very short instructions. All you need to read before you start are around 4-5 lines of text with basic information about the game. After you start playing, you read the challenge that you have chosen. No more reading! It may seem like a lot of text, but you only need to read a little bit at a time, don’t you worry! 😉

Overall result is that all of the games I played during the test had longer instructions that Sparks. It may seem to you at first that games you know have short instructions, but it is mainly because you know the rules already. But don’t worry, once you read our rules, you won’t have to read them ever again. Another thing I have noticed is how much fun people of all ages had when playing games. You know colouring for adults is trending right now, and adults do it to destress and forget about their problems (it’s like meditation). Feels like playing games had exactly the same effect on my family and friends. We all had an awesome time!

I recommend you try it!

You can now purchase our game during Kingston University Trade Fair on the 28th January or through our MSAJ Sparks Facebook page. Just drop us a message. Don’t be shy 😉

Apart from playing our game (we should be supportive for fellow Macers, no?), you can now go to Central London and pick from one of hundreds amazing places where you can meet new people and have a great time. Soon you will also be able to play Sparks in some of those places… More info coming soon…

http://londonist.com/2014/08/where-to-play-board-games-in-london

The Big Day

End of December was engraved in my mind as one of the scariest deadlines during my university time. The challenge we were given was to present the product we were working on for months (or days in our team) to the panel of judges consisting of University tutors and businessmen. Because we only just came up with our product idea a few days before the presentation there was a lot of pressure on us and December turned out to be a very stressful month.

We have written our presentation a few days before. We divided the sections according to everyone’s capabilities and confidence in public speaking. After our mock presentation in class we knew what parts we need to change and we applied those changes to all parts of the presentation. We prepared a few PowerPoint slides, mostly to allow the panel of judges to visualize what we were talking about and to present the board for our game on the big screen. We also printed out copies of the board and the rules for the judges to have a look at during the presentation (although we are more than happy for them to try it out and play during Christmas break ;)) We practiced the presentation multiple times, trying to keep the eye contact with the audience, speak clearly and remember our parts. We also discussed the dress code for the occasion.

The day has come and the stress levels were really high. We felt that we were prepared, however we would be grateful for another few days for preparations. The actual presentation was decent in my opinion. We were all stressed, but I believe we handled the situation quite well. We could have practiced a little bit more to be able to fluently speak out what we were supposed to say, but stress took over and we kept on looking on our notes at times.

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The Q&A part was very interesting and also simulating. It definitely did not feel like 10 minutes! It felt like forever! The feedback we received (during the Q&A, but also in the feedback forms) was mainly about our business model. What the judges suggested was that we should sell our game to HR departments and project managers. Unfortunately, we cannot do B2B businesses; however this feedback motivated us to think about how we can adjust the product to either suit private customers more, or how to reach those HR departments and people that work there without selling to other businesses.

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We will keep on improving on our product and incorporate valuable feedback from the judges. Have you tried any of our challenges yet? Any feedback?

PS

Interesting article about how to use feedback to fuel innovation:

https://hbr.org/2016/01/the-innovative-power-of-criticism

 

Thanks,

M.

Product Development

 

The big day was fast approaching and the team was getting more and more stressed. As we only came up with our idea a few days before the Dragon’s Den there was plenty for us to prepare for the day.

Each of the team members was given an area to research and a task to do. Later we discussed our findings during the meeting. My task was to design the actual board and come up with a list of games we could incorporate in our product.

As I was designing the game for young adults, I wanted to keep it simple and elegant, but not boring. The game was black and white with simple symbols, each representing a different type of game. We wanted our board to be portable and lightweight. We have decided to print it on leather. The idea seemed perfect – elegant, unusual but unfortunately not cost-effective, which was our big concern, as we wanted the students to be able to purchase our product. We have decided to offer the game in 3 different formats with 3 different price points. The boards would be made in leather, fabric and cardboard. The cardboard version will be our primary board game that we will start with.

Compering our game with what the competitor’s offer, the MSAJ product was very small and perfect to keep with you at all time.

Another concern we had was how to get the players to start and keep the game running. Usually all games include a dice or card or extra small items that are being used while playing. Because we wanted our players to be able to keep the game with them at all times and to be able to travel with it and go to parties with it, having small elements that could easily get lost was not the greatest idea. We started thinking of other solutions. The best one seemed to be the one of a fortune wheel. The players could use any long think object like a pen or a bottle to spin it in the middle of the board to choose the game.  This allows for the game to be in one piece and reduces the chances of losing its elements.

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The challenges we incorporated in the game allow participants to get to know each other, laugh and spark conversation. The game also tests general knowledge and talents of participants. The level of difficulty of all games is determined by participants. This allows for all the players to enjoy the game and reduces the party stress. The game allows the players to score points for each challenge. Some games require team work from players what encourages conversation and builds team spirit.

Below I attach the list of challenges from our game. We will be more than happy for you to give us your feedback.

PS

Struggling with your product development? Here’s a rational proposition by HBR. https://hbr.org/2008/03/a-more-rational-approach-to-new-product-development

 

Thanks,

M.

How good are your lies? – Tell other participants 3 facts or short stories about yourself. Only one of them has to be true. If everyone guesses which one is true – you score no points. If no one guesses right – you get 2 points.

3 Answers 5 Seconds – The person on your right hand side has one minute to come up with a question for you. Examples of questions can be found below. You need to provide 3 answers in 5 seconds. Time needs to be measured by the rest of the team. If you answer correctly within 5 seconds, you score 2 points. If you don’t answer the question correctly, the question moves to the person on your left hand side. The person on your left hand side cannot use the answers that you used. If the questions is not being answered it moves to the next person till it reaches the person that asked the question. This person doesn’t have to answer it. The person who answers correctly receives 1 point. If no one knew the answer you get 1 point. Lucky you!

Examples of Questions:

  • List 3 American presidents
  • List 3 fashion designers
  • List 3 countries starting with letter ‘L’

Haven’t you..? – Ever played ‘Never Have I Ever’ ? The rules are the same. Make a statement starting with ‘Never have I ever…’. The first player says a simple statement starting with “Never have I ever”. Anyone who has done what the first player has receives one point. An additional rule – if there is no one scoring, then the one who said the particular “I have never…” must not score any points either.

Picasso Challenge – Listen up folks! 3 people have a chance to score in this round. The person on your right hand side decides what object, person or idea you need to draw. Their task is to make it as hard for you as possible. Take a piece of paper and a pen and start drawing. Your task is to make the drawing as easy to guess as possible. The person who guesses correctly earns one point and you do too! The person who gave you the task moves one to the back. If no one guesses, the person who gave you the task scores one point and you don’t score at all.

On your person… – Come up with a tangible item that is the most unique item on your person. Show the item to the group. The participant that has the same unique item that you posses, wins two steps forward and you stay in your place. If no one has the same item – go my friend! Move 2 steps forward.

The Talent Show – You have a choice of 5 different talent shows (please find the list below). You need to present at least one talent, however if you are daring (or drunk enough) you are welcome to attempt all 5 of them. For every positively received challenge you score one point. So total 5 points to score in this challenge.

  1. Perform your best version of a Beyonce dance (you score a point regardless of the quality of your dance moves. Lucky you!)
  2. Tell a joke (to win you need to make at least one person laugh)
  3. Design a wedding outfit out of the items available in the room and do a quick fashion show (scores available for trying)
  4. Lip synch your favourite song (scores available for trying)

5. Show case the talent of your choice.

 

 

We’ve got the product! (and this time I am serious)

 

It is fascinating to look at my previous blog posts and see how many ideas MSAJ had and they failed before they were even developed. They said ‘Fail fast’, hey? Seems like the easiest way to fail fast and get up again is to test till you find the perfect problem solver that people will love. That’s what we did and we ended up with no product, fast approaching deadline, and a very stressed out team. So how to deal with a situation like this? This module taught me that it’s always good to step back, relax and the look at the situation again with a fresh eye.

Instead of forcing our idea on the people we interviewed, we decided to observe them instead. We started with ourselves.

Janja delegated us to have a fun, relaxing evening spent cooking together. It was supposed to bring the team together, build the sense of belonging and allow us to distress together. It was all supposed to be fun and exciting, but hold on a minute… What are we actually going to be talking about?! The only thing we ever discussed since we met were heatable ponchos for dogs and massage backpack inserts! No matter how bad it sounds, we were so stressed by our slow progress situation, that meeting without discussing the company issues seemed like a waste of time.

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This situation made me think of many previous parties I was invited to. I just moved to London then and didn’t know anyone, so I used to cancel those invitations staying in my comfort zone and therefore missing out on making amazing friends and having a good time. Here’s where the idea came to my mind… How about we create something to make awkward party silences disappear and help people break the ice and get to know each other? Yes! We’ve got our product! A social ice breaking board game for adults! It would be tangible, it is solving a problem and it has a bigger social cause!

But how do we do it? What would the rules be?

When I went to Birmingham this weekend I was invited to a party where I didn’t know anyone. I took it as a perfect opportunity to do my research (and have fun, of course. Let’s face it, I’m not that much into studying).

As I entered the house the party was in, I was greeted and introduced to everyone in the room. Not many people were there which added me confidence. What I found out was that I was one of the first people to turn up and within the next 10 minutes the house was full of people. I didn’t know any of them. The situation I was in was pretty awkward. Although I am a confident person it is definitely out of my comfort zone to come up to a stranger and start speaking to them (unless I have a reason for it). Then, around an hour later the party organiser started to move the table aside and setting up something. What the girl was doing was inviting everyone to play her favourite social game. Perfect, I thought! More opportunities to see how people react to the game idea.

My initial findings were:

-all the people accepted the invitation to play a game.

-people who didn’t know the rules of the game were a little bit shy to start with (including me of course). When I asked, they admitted they were scared the game will be too hard for them and they will fail in front of a lot of people.

-the rules were extremely simple. The game was called ‘Flip cup’ (please find the instructions below if you want to try it at your party).

-the game build team spirit and connections between participants.

-the game was a great laugh. It loosened up the atmosphere.

-people like laughing at each other.

-people like playing games to relax in the new environment as long as the game is simple and there’s a very little or no opportunity to fail in front of strangers.

-although it was lots of fun, this game did not allow people to get to know each other (and here is the idea we are going to introduce! Bang!)

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The idea I came up with during the party (when I was sitting in the corner of the room alone with my Design Thinking notebook and non-alcoholic Kopparberg in my hand. Just kidding) was to create a social ice breaker that will also allow for the participants to get to know each other. That’s why you are going to the party in the first place, no? It would also be tangible in a form of small pocket size board to raise interest of the game by people who never heard if it, but get intrigued by the design of it (conversation sparkler, hey?).

We will do more research in the wider field and start developing the rules for the game according to customer’s needs. Also, Luke’s party next week sounds like a great opportunity to test the product.

Is that ok, Luke?

Magda

PS

MSAJ cooking evening turned out to be great and J’s Korean food was delicious. I can’t wait for another cooking/games night.

Flip Cup Game

Starting at one end of the table, the first member of each team chugs his beer. As soon as the cup is empty, the player puts it face up on the edge of the table and—using only one hand—tries to flip it over so it lands face down. Make sure a little bit of the cup is hanging off the end of the table