The Danish Meteorological Institute with more that 140 years of existence (established in 1872) must be one of the oldest weather services in the world.
DMI collects and processes meteorological, climatological and oceanographic measurements/observations, and measures, collects and compiles related geophysical parameters throughout the Realm of Denmark and provides meteorological services in Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and surrounding waters and airspace.
I was invited to do a 5 hour workshop for the relatively new Innovation Department with 25 highly skilled specialists as part of a 2 day strategy seminar. The task was – in 5 hours – to “provide DMI’s Innovation Department with a universal tool or method to work with innovation in all of our departments and all our clients all over the world”.!
No problem, I said…..
After thinking about this task for a short while, I suggested my – at the moment – favourite approach to innovation: Value Proposition Design (Anders Osterwalder et. al. 2014) used in two different ways and combined it with a simple C-box evaluation of ideas. That seemed like at good idea to the management.
I started the workshop with a few fun and competence related warm up exercises, and then divided the employees into six cross-disciplinary groups of each 4 people.
I then introduced the Value Proposition Canvas – the pixi version – and how it should be used ind The first half.
Focus of the First Half: Take your existing DMI services to the repair shop and give them a make over with the Value Proposition Canvas and adjust your services according to the identified customer jobs, pains and gains.
We then had a plenum session of 45 minutes where all 6 groups presented their customer analysis and ideas for adjustment of products or ideas for news products for each specific client.
We ended the first half by doing a plenum evaluation of all the ideas in a flexible C-box matrix where the axis were designed to the DMI focus.
The Value Proposition Canvas was supplemented with6 well known methods of gathering knowledge about a customer: Data mining/desk research, Interviews, Observation, Participation, Role playing/Mystery shopping and Co-creation.
Focus of the Second Half: Identify potential new clients and identify their jobs, pains and gains – Quick ‘n’ Dirty – and assess what other data collecting methods could be used to validate and supplement the knowledge about this specific customer (method design). Finally assess what existing products could be relevant for this customer and what new products might be relevant to develop.
We then had a plenum session of 45 minutes where all 6 groups presented their customer analysis, suggested method design for gathering further insights on a specific client and suggestions for which existing and new products could be suitable for each specific client.
We ended the second half by doing a plenum evaluation of all the product ideas (existing and new all together) in another C-box matrix where the axis were tweeked a little to suit the focus of the second Half.
C-box creates transparency in decision making
The method of ending each half with a C-box session with plenum evaluation of product ideas provided everybody with a strategic overview of which ideas and products seemed most likely to add the most value to both the customer and DMI and thereby made the decision making process for the management in the weeks to come much more transparent to everybody.
The outcome of the workshop was very positive. Both management and specialists found the rhetoric and process suggested by the Value Proposition Design approach useful in their every day work with product development and client contact.
Surprisingly, some employees mentioned that, apart from the methods introduced to them being useful, the even more beneficial output of the workshop had been the cross disciplinary knowledge sharing in the smaller groups and the plenum sessions. This knowledge sharing was apparently a ‘spare commodity’ in every day busy work life, so the two halfs in combination had provided the participants with a much better overview of both the existing and the desired client base and what their colleague specialists where actually working with. This insight provided a new platform for giving much more relevant input to each other’s problems and product development processes in the future.
And it made me think, that the most valuable activity in innovation is often collaboration – but some time also the hardest.