Innovation is in all of us
Our ability to innovate is an at all time high due to the sheer amount of shareable content and ideas found on the web, in books, digital media and in magazines today. The idea that you can take from one industry and redesign for your own needs is conceptually like… pulling taffy and can be just as fun.
But we can’t innovate without curiosity. It is the underpinning for all new ideas- from the first car to the first self-driving car; from the first airplane- to the first man on the moon, or even the first planned tourism flight on the moon. In order to unleash your curiosity and truly innovate, don’t just ask what’s the answer but ask why and why not. Don’t just agree to the standard plan because it seems to work. Your ideas must zig then zag. Can you draw new conclusions and resolve your problem by redesigning a completely different solution? Here is what I mean…
Our client, who is a trucking company, asked for a digital form to modernize their existing 3 ply driver forms. Standard requirements gathering by their team meant that their solution was to create a PDF that could be filled in. But that’s not even close to where they ended up.
After sitting down and discussing the idea of umwelt, we uncovered a few other seemingly unrelated goals and determined that these goals could drive some of the decision making. The Executive team wanted to tap into innovation to grow their business territory (provincial to national), manage oft-changing Ministry of Transportation requirements, as well as secure future tenders with existing clients. Rather than sticking to their initial idea, they were incredibly curious and open minded about ideas that could transform their business (essentially they are a dream client). We helped that transformation by custom building a driver app and backend system that changed their processes, changed their business thinking and tied together data from disparate departments. The strategies meant that we re-wrote their old-school way of text and telephone dispatch, paper forms and verbal maintenance requests, into an engaging driver app with a brilliant backend dispatch, maintenance and accounting features, that update in real-time.
Enablement or whither away and die
Since our client’s drivers are literally in charge of driving the success of their business, we focused on anthropology and how people think in order to get it right. We can dream up the best idea to solve their business problems, but if their truck drivers, mechanics or dispatchers don’t like using it, we’ve wasted a lot of time and money. So, by spending time understanding what their business does as well as how their business works (and how it doesn’t), we could figure out the gaps and priorities.
The plan on paper made sense, but then we had to think like a driver. The importance of curiosity meant that we needed to put ourselves in their shoes. Truck drivers aren’t notoriously tech savvy or have a great love for filling in paperwork. In fact, some of their drivers had never used a smart phone and were still reliant on paper maps to navigate their trucks. They hated to fill out forms and often had to rely on their memories at the end of the day to record weight measurements, times or other trip data that was not always accurate.
So we had to make it easy to understand and also incorporate fun imagery to ensure it wasn’t intimidating. Using geo-fencing, and the ability to tap big icons (not type with big fat fingers), the drivers have far less work to do than they did before. They have minimal entries per day in order to manage everything from their routes, safety checks, timesheets and truck maintenance issues, which makes this a win-win. Goodbye paper maps, filling in timesheets and lost/incomplete paperwork. Hello real-time truck routing, smart software and accurate paycheques.
As humans, we often come up with good solutions to our own problems, and ways that we could innovate to improve our work- but often fail to recognize the importance of enabling those that use the software. Why should they truly embrace the new solution-WIIFthem? If they think it’s only to solve a need for the business but it makes their life harder the change won’t be adopted.
So look around you at the new ideas and be curious. Ask yourself these questions…
What are all the other ways this could be done (and what is worth capitalizing on)?
Why can’t we do it a completely different way?
How am I enabling the users of this process or software to embrace and love it (as if it was their idea)?