REFRAMED & REBRANDED

 

 

“It is not how you start the race or where you are during the race-it is how you cross the finish line that will matter.” Robert D. Hales

ON YOUR MARKS…

And so here I am, 7 months into a race I hadn’t the slightest clue where it would lead me. I didn’t know what the finish line looked like nor how long it would take me to get there, all I knew was that I wanted to rediscover myself, my passions, my drive, my purpose, and mostly my career. I started this race as a way of taking charge of what and who I am and what I want to be and recreate a brand that communicates my values and my work.

I first came across the concept of Reframing in my first lecture on the course, it was a Design Thinking Class and our first task was to use the process of reframing to evaluate a gift giving experience. As I had missed the precious weeks class, I sat and listened to the various ‘solutions’ my classmates had come up to solve the gift giving dilemma. As I listened, I found myself modifying some of their solutions in a way that I felt would be an even better solution, or simply looking at the problem from another perspective taking into consideration how I personally have felt when choosing a gift. That process of seeing the problem through different lenses and finding insights to support those lenses I discovered was the basis of reframing. In essence, choosing to make lemonade out of lemons is reframing as you are taking a difficult situation and figuring out what positive result can come out of it (Tanner, 2019). In design thinking, reframing employs divergent thinking as a way to ensure you explore various possible solutions, and then use convergent thinking as a way to narrow them down to a final solution (Prototypr, 2018).

 

“I believed through this race I wanted to not only rebrand myself but also be able to look at myself through different lenses, and hence why I chose to combine the two words in order to represent my journey throughout this course”.

 

GET SET…

With all the excitement and expectations, I had for the course, sitting in my first Design Thinking Lecture gave me slight anxiety as I was under the assumption it would be solely based on coming up with creative and innovative ideas which is a weakness I never intended on overcoming. The thought that I would have to sit through this class felt like a nightmare and had me questioning if I made the right choice. However, by the end of the class, I learnt there was much more to the design thinking concept. As Dorst (2010) puts it, Design thinking involves various reasoning patterns that humans use in problem-solving based on various settings of knowns and unknowns. Be it through deduction (e.g. business as usual; target customer is known, and product option is known) or through induction (where the problem is known, and you know the result, but you try to figure out the solution). Hence, based on science inductive reasoning informs ‘discovery’, while deductive reasoning informs ‘justification’ (Dorst, 2010).

WHAT (thing) + HOW (working principle) leads to RESULT (observed)

However, in order to create value for others, the principle of

WHAT(thing) + HOW(working principle) leads to VALUE (observed) Is implemented where we know the problem, we know what value a solution could offer to the consumer and hence we build our business idea based on that ‘possible solution (Dorst, 2010) as if you build a business based on solving a real need, your business can overcome any economic condition as the need will not go away with a stumbling economy (Oppong, 2014). This realization is what led to pushing through as I realized it is not about thinking of the most innovative idea that is set to change the world, but even something as simple as finding a way to make people with disabilities get around a specific building.

GO!

As the module was primarily based on starting a business venture using the lean methodology, the first thing that came to mind was not the business idea but who I would have in my team. As I was late on the course, most teams had already been formed and I knew how vital a team is to business success and hence when I am faced with a problem or opportunity I tend to look at “first who, then what” (Inc.com, 2018). I put the team together based on academic merit, then later added a creative as we had to balance out our analytical capabilities. We thought we had a good enough balance, as Tuckman (1965) shows the most cause of conflict in the storming stage is the differences in skills and abilities and that it is important to identify strengths and weaknesses and see how to best maximise the strengths and minimize the weaknesses in each person. In my perspective, this is the two categories I would place each of my team members. Due to some strong similarities as seen in the table, conflict was inevitable as we needed someone that would be a carer to mediate and maintain harmony during the conflict (McMillan, n.d)

 

NAME DOMINANT ROLE SUBSTITUTE ROLE DESCRIPTION VALUE ADDED
AL Achiever Doer ·      Strives for results

·      Wants to progress towards goal quickly

·      Impatient with delays

·      Enthusiastic

·      Prepared to help others

·      Hardworking to finish task

Calm collected, always made sure we were all completing our tasks as given. Very good with numbers.
TADU Doer Leader ·      Clarifies objectives of team

·      Set our and communicate a vision

·      Always active and ready to lend a hand

·      Keen to see progress

·      Develop team spirit

·      Bored with too much discussions

A perfectionist that can be both a blessing and a curse. A curse because decisions were delayed because there was always something I wasn’t completely pleased with. In addition to the extra money I always wanted to spend on the little details.
EDWIN Leader Thinker ·      Enthusiastic

·      Collects and analyse information

·      Thinks through problems

·      Listens to what is said

·      Creates common purpose

Kept the spirit alive. Almost played a mediator when he could. Great analytical skills
GHALIA Achiever Thinker ·      Wants to succeed

·      Always active and ready to lend a hand

·      Keen to see progress

·      Thinks through problem

·      Anticipates problems.

The creative in our bunch. Her attention to detail is impeccable.

 

TASCA by TEAM ODYSSEY

Design Thinking allows for the integration of analytical thinking (deductive and inductive logical thinking that utilizes quantitative methodologies to arrive at conclusions) and intuitive thinking (knowing without reasoning) (Prototypr, 2018). Throughout our business venture, we followed the below process to help us in bringing an idea to the market that was not only innovative but could also cater to a true need.

Screenshot 2019-04-25 at 23.23.31

Adapted from Plattner, 2010

 As a group, we each contributed 2 ideas which we would analyse and reframe where necessary and settle for the one that we would all agree on. Our ideas ranged from health apps, mobile virtual bodyguard, recipe app for students by students to a wireless charging backpack which we all unanimously agreed on as we all experienced the frustration that came with getting into our university lecture rooms only to find all the seats with power sockets are taken which meant all your devices discharge halfway through the class. This was the empathy stage of our process (EMPATHIZE), in order to  (DEFINE) our chosen idea, we had to relate as to whether a discharged battery was more frustrating when in class or while carrying out day to day activities e.g. while in transit and all airport sockets are not compatible with your charger or after a wild night out and you try to call an uber and your phone is discharged due to the 100 selfies you took.

Screenshot 2019-04-25 at 23.23.45Screenshot 2019-04-25 at 23.23.53Screenshot 2019-04-25 at 23.24.10

Defining our various scenarios made this more relatable and more valid and hence we were able to (IDEATE) how we could solve the problem in the various instances as a backpack could be regarded as too bulky for a night out and having cables and a power bank in small purse means little space for all other essentials. Using body storming and customer feedback, we decided to go for a stylish mini bag that would not only be a fashion item but also have a technology that charges your phone wirelessly while being fairly portable. We were able to then build our first (PROTOTYPE) as seen in figure A1 and A2, and then later was able to (TEST) using our second prototype (B1 and B2) and first minimum viable product (C), making all necessary adjustments based on customer feedback. This was in line with the lean startup methodology that follows a process of interacting with customers (e.g. body mapping) and gaining customer feedback in all aspects of the business model and following an agile method where you produce an MVP, gain feedback and make necessary adjustments till it is accepted by the customer (Ries, 2011) and hence what we did. However, due to the time constraints, we had to conclude our business in the Experiment stage as we did not get to the point where it would be readily acceptable by our customer at the price that we had set.

Screenshot 2019-04-25 at 23.24.20

Adapted from Ries, 2011

SLOW BUT STEADY ALWAYS WINS THE RACE…

Does Team Work Really Make the Dream Work?

Screenshot 2019-04-25 at 23.24.34

Working on this project as part of a team was challenging, having people from different backgrounds and with different views, however, it has not only taught me patience but also allowed me to value other people opinion and realize that it’s not always going to be my way or the high way. I have had to deal with conflicts and sometimes had to compromise what I believed was right as a way to avoid discrepancies. I have also learnt the importance of having a mix of skills to balance off each other as opposed to having similar skills from people with big personalities. In our case, I believe we might have had too many cooks in the kitchen and hence that contributed to our substandard communication and conflicts that would have been easily avoided or solved. Moving forward, I would love to collaborate with each one of my team members, in order to get advice on projects and vice versa.

Screenshot 2019-04-25 at 23.24.42

 

 

Adapted from Tuckman, 1965

Experimental Visits and the Design Museum

Screenshot 2019-04-25 at 23.24.51

One aspect I believe I will hold on to from this course is the amazing opportunities we had such as the Bright Ideas competition that allowed us to interact with various mentors, business investors and just advisors that are experienced and keen to just listen to our ideas and provide feedback where possible while also build on our idea from drawing up the business model canvas to delivering a 3 minute pitch and a 30 seconds elevator pitch which not only built on my confidence as a budding entrepreneur but also gave me access to networks that I would not have gained on my own as I believe your network is truly your net worth.

Most importantly the various experimental visits we did, like the Design Museum where we got the ability to see an idea or concept from three different perspectives; The Designer, The maker and The user and evaluating how all three perspectives depend on each other and how they can be used interchangeably. For instance, how, the user can influence what is to be designed and how the designer needs to have the maker in mind in order to ensure practicality or simply how the maker needs to understand the designer’s vision during the creation of the product or service. This further shows how different skill sets are dependent on each other in order to achieve a common goal.

 

FINISH LINE?

Despite coming to the end of this course, as emotional as it might be, I believe I have not yet reached the finish line. However, I have a clearer picture of what to expect once I cross it and certainly know which paths to take to get there, one baby step at a time. All the processes I have learnt, people I have met and wind and losses I have experienced have made me a better entrepreneur and I am ready to launch my Bespoke women’s suit clothing line in September 2019 followed by an Youth Entrepreneurship Programme in Malawi that will inspire young entrepreneurs like myself so know what opportunities are out there for them, the aspects of design thinking, how to finance their startup and various other tools that I have learnt as a way of growing the currently non-existent entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country. I believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be and can certainly say I have been Reframed and Rebranded.

References

Dorst, K. (2011). The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application. Design studies, 32(6), pp.521-532.

D.school Stanford (no date) Design Thinking Process. Available at: https://dschool-old.stanford.edu/sandbox/groups/designresources/wiki/36873/attachments/74b3d/ModeGuideBOOTCAMP2010L.pdf?sessionID=1b6a96f1e2a50a3b1b7c3f09e58c40a062d7d553(Accessed: 22 April 2019).

Fast Company. (2013). How Reframing A Problem Unlocks Innovation. [online] Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/1672354/how-reframing-a-problem-unlocks-innovation [Accessed 22 Apr. 2019].

Inc.com. (2018). Why Your Team Is More Important Than Your Business Strategy. [online] Available at: https://www.inc.com/robert-glazer/why-your-team-is-more-important-than-your-business-strategy.html [Accessed 16 Apr. 2019].

McMillan, S. (n.d.). Team Work. [online] Web.utk.edu. Available at: http://web.utk.edu/~rhovland/adv450teamwork.html [Accessed 19 Apr. 2019].

Oppong, T. (2014). Don’t Just Start a Business, Solve A Problem. [online] Entrepreneur. Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236522 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2019].

Osterwalder, A. et al (2012). Value Proposition Design. Wiley & Sons. Available at:http://www.peterjthomson.com/2013/11/value-proposition-canvas/ (Accessed: 21 April 2019).

Prototypr. (2018). Design Thinking as Creative Problem Solving: Reframing Problems by Abductive Reasoning. [online] Available at: https://blog.prototypr.io/design-thinking-as-creative-problem-solving-reframing-problems-by-abductive-reasoning-85e5842eafe6 [Accessed 21 Apr. 2019].

Ries, E. (2011). The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Business.Portfolio Penguin, London.

Stfalcon.com. (2016). When to pivot your startup?. [online] Available at: https://stfalcon.com/en/blog/post/when-to-pivot-your-startup [Accessed 19 Apr. 2019].

Tanner, R. (2019). Reframing for Innovative and Creative Problem Solving. [online] Management is a Journey®. Available at: https://managementisajourney.com/reframing-for-innovative-and-creative-problem-solving/ [Accessed 19 Apr. 2019].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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READY…SET…PITCH!

It’s not the successes in life that teach us a lesson, it’s the mistakes we made that truly teach us”.

Steven Aitchison

And so we finally made it. After all the time and effort we put into our business venture, this is it.i am writing this as I return from our final dragons den presentation. It certainly went much better than the previous one, we took into account all the feedback provided in the mock and ensured we did the best we could. As a team, we decided to not proceed with the updated MVP and simply conclude the business. From what started off as a mere problem faced by students not having enough power sockets for their gadget to a product that could transform the industry by providing an impeccable wearable technology. It has been a long road filled with discoveries and lessons. 

From the museum visits to the talks with professionals and presentations, I have seen first hand how an idea can go from ideation to implementation and the various aspects that are in between, factors that can I affect the decisions made and the part that the team plays in the success of the business. I always questioned the saying “investors invest more in the person than the idea and I become a true believer in that”. My team might not have made profits in this business venture but the combination of our skills together can be an asset to any business venture. The creativity, skill and business know-how that we have gained through this process is irreplaceable and I believe that should be the whole point of the module. For you to be able to grow and develop as a person and an entrepreneur and look back at where you started from and see the changes, see the growth and the substance that had been acquired from the process.

Even though we did not win anything in the competitions, each week that we progressed was a win to us, seeing what works and what doesn’t in business is a success because, in future, we will know if we do one thing, we might end up with this and hence let’s go with a different route. 

I am extremely excited to start my new chapter as an entrepreneur having learnt so much from myself, my lecturers, my classmates and most importantly my team. I am coming out of this 10 times better than I came in.

Long Live Odyssey!!!

I will miss you guys and thank you so much for being a very important part of my journey!

Mock Dragons Den

In our lecture last week, we went through the various points we were to cover for our mock dragons den from the marketing to our customer segments. As a group, we decided we would implement new technology in our bag. As opposed to having a power bank and a wireless pad, we would have a wireless charging power bank and hence reducing the weight if the bag while increasing the efficiency and space. We also decided to narrow our customer segment to delays only based on consumer feedback at both trade fairs and judges feedback. We communicated these new advancements to our new manufacturer who promised lower production costs, despite using top quality Italian leather.

Our mock dragons den had mixed feedback, while some judges liked the idea, some thought we could improve on our presentation, by implementing slides in order to show in detail what we were speaking of. They wanted to know why we chose the UK for production and if we would continue with the business and most importantly they wanted us to defend the bag, while would a consumer but a Tasca as opposed to any other bag and carry around a power bank, simply eliminating cables did not prove to be a basis to buy the bag and hence  this pushed us to look deeper into the need for our bag.

Following our presentation, we considered going into collaboration with other existing brands or partnering with up and coming designers as a way to offer a product that was both fashionable and technology savvy in order to suit our fashion enthusiast customer that is keen on trying new technologies. As the judges advised we pick to highlight the nag as a technology or fashion item, we thought having a designer on board will ensure we can meet both aspects. 

Despite some conflict here and there, as a team we seemed to work quite well on the report, compromising where we need to while understanding that we had a common goal. I certainly wouldn’t have asked for a better team. Al is calm, collected and a thinker yet will take action to get things done, Ed is driven with high spirits and will ensure every aspect is visited and I am very attentive to detail, work amazingly well under pressure and a perfectionist. I like to do things to the best of my ability and hence making sure everything g is in place. I believe this week was a great week to play to our strengths and finally get things done. I believe if we had this attitude from the start, this project would certainly have gone a different route. 

I am very excited to finally get through the final dragons den next week!

The key to realising a dream is to focus not on success but significance, and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take greater meaning”.

Oprah Winfrey

ADVERT AND MVP

As we finally managed to get our first MVP, we decided it was only right to shoot our 60-second advert that was required to be done last week. We attended the Oscars in class last Friday where Danzza came first with there advert. It was disappointing that yet again we had nothing to show as our manufacturer let us down and hence we could not shoot an advert without a product.

We went by the Kingston Riverside where we took various shots capturing both the bag and the functionality as seen in the pictures above. We wanted to keep it minimalistic while still portraying a high end image and most importantly highlighting the various the ways that the bag can be worn as this is one of the bags USP as seen below.

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 However, at the current unit cost, we would barely make a profit as it is costing us almost what our unit price was set to be and yet not to the standard expected. We have therefore decided to speak to another manufacturer in Surrey who agreed to meet and has promised to make the MVP before our dragons den.

Seeing the way the bag is coming along is quite demoralising as I know the potential it has and having a clear vision and getting something g parallel to that vision is very demotivating. I do believe we are solving a problem, I do believe we have a big enough market size co spidering there is no one in the market offering something similar to Tasca yet translating it into what it is meant to be is proving rather difficult. Finding the perfect manufacturer that will produce it at our required standard and for the right price is looking very impossible and I have started to believe we bit more than we could chew. There is a lot more that should have gone into the execution of the bag and in the little time we had from the start, we should have focused on just building the best MVP and set out to not sell any products.

Our action plan for the next week is to prepare for the mock dragons den and ensure we get the updated MVP.

EDEN WALK SALE

23/01/2019

Today, we had our Eden Walk trade fair where we aimed to make our sales for our products. As we were not able to have our prototype for the Bright Ideas final, I was in charge of visiting our manufactures to ensure we have a prototype for the final sale. However, after explaining our requirements to the manufacturer, they advised they would not be able to get our requested leather material (croc) as they had to order it from Italy and hence would not get in on time and would increase our overall cost price. They also advised as ¾ of their manufacturing is by hand, some aspects of the bag would not be achieved and hence were forced to alter the design of the bag. Ghalia, who was in charge of the design of the bag also had to defer from the course due to personal circumstances and hence a clear description of what could be done to make it easier for the manufactures became a little hard to communicate.

PHOTO-2019-03-08-08-26-44

Following the first prototype, as seen in the pictures above, the stitching and overall look of the bag was not up to standard and definitely didn’t meet the criteria to be sold for the premium price we had previously set out to charge as it looked for bohemian than high end and classy. The reasoning for this was said to be as it was ‘handmade’ and hence we considered changing the target description to more touristic bohemian customers. However, after communication got the manufacturer our concerns, they advised all necessary improvements would be made and that we could maintain our current target market.

We managed to collect the second prototype which we decided to consider as a minimum viable product and use it for our trade fair in order to accept pre-orders. Despite it being a better version of the previous one, it still was not what we had set out to produce and the cost of production came up to three times what we had initially budgeted for.

At our trade fair, we spoke to our potential customers as well as some advisors and got very valuable feedback on the design, the need, and usability. A very constructive comment came in about our technology and the various upgrades that had recently been introduced that we could look at.

Due to our time constraints, as a group, we had to decide whether we would continue with a new manufacturer and go ahead to launch the bag under the Tasca brand or whether we would conclude the course based on the MVP. We had managed to get up to 4 pre-orders from the sale. Our action plan for the next week is to decide whether or not we would indeed continue with the bag and figure out various ways to manufacture e.g outsourcing to other countries.

Bright Ideas Final

Following our Sprint, one of our action plans as a team was to ensure we had a prototype or minimum viable product by the Bright ideas competition in order to ensure we could articulate the business idea clearer. We contacted various manufacturers that we had been in contact with previously in the UK but could not secure an appointment early enough to have the first prototype worked on. We, therefore, settled for a DIY card prototype that Ghalia (in charge of design) had made which we could use for the demonstration.

As we had been selected as the top 20, we had to ensure our team well collaborated and that we were well rehearsed, so we had various group meetings in the business school and over the phone in order to ensure all our content was corresponding. The judges were pleased with our presentation, raising concerns about our male consumers as they felt the bag would be too bulky to be masculine and the aspect of it being ‘ethically sources’ as being subjective and most importantly ensuring the bag was well differentiated.

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Picture: Team Odyssey

Despite not winning any of the prizes, this experience validated our business idea. By speaking to various judges in a more intimate setting, we were able to get feedback on the feasibility and usability of the bag. We got ideas of collaboration with existing brands and were encouraged to proceed with the idea. As a team, we became more unified as we finally started to see the idea coming to life and this validation from the judges was an acknowledgment that we were indeed on the right path.

In class, we were then tasked to create maximum 60-second ad campaigns that would communicate the bag to possible customers.

Our action plan for the next week is to visit manufacturers and get the first bag manufactured in time for the Eden walk trade fair on the 23rd of February.

Bright Ideas Sprint

31/01/2019

This past weekend, we got the chance to attend the Bright Ideas Sprint as we were selected to participate in the competition. We were able to build and work on a business model canvas and value proposition which helped us touch on the various aspects of Tasca including the resources we would require, our target market description, our primary customer, our distribution channels, the need or problem we are solving and many more aspects.

We listened to various talks from guests like Daniel Elahi from the Apprentice who touched on starting a business, funding, protecting your idea and a brief discussion on his time on the apprentice and what it did for him. This was particularly interesting for me as I would one day want to get on the apprentice as I believe I would be a strong contender and would be a great platform to publicize my fashion line.IMG_3392.jpg

We also managed to speak to various coaches like Shakeeb Niazi, Alan Clayton, Timothy Harri, etc who provided insight on Tasca. Shakeeb highlighted we would benefit from defining our target market further and ensuring we carry out an in-depth pricing analysis in order to ensure our target consumer would be able to afford the bag and willing to pay for it as opposed to just getting another branded bag and a separate power bank.

We also got the chance to have 60-second introductions with other students and briefly explain our business idea. This gave us the opportunity to relay our message in a way that a person that has no knowledge of it could be able to grasp and was also a great ice breaker to be able to relate to like-minded people in various industries e.g social work, graphic design, engineering etc.

At the end of the sprint, we were asked to do a 5-minute presentation as they would shortlist the ideas that would be taken to the final. Whether we would qualify or not, we this experience helped in the development of our business as we had a broad understanding of what we wanted to do and made a few changes based on the feedback received from mentors that were experienced in various fields of business.

Tradefair

30/01/2019

IMG_3301_Facetune_13-03-2019-09-52-23Yesterday we got the chance to take our products to the trade fair in the business school atrium in order to start making sales. We spent the past week trying to finalise on design and realised we would not be able to use vegan leather for our bag as it collects water and hence would affect the battery that is embedded in the bag. Because the dimensions were only agreed on last minute, we knew we would not be able to able to have the prototype by the dale of the sale.

Despite not being able to sell anything or winning any of the awards, the experience was eye-opening as we received very constructive feedback from possible customers and received up to 4 preorders which were exciting. I believe we were able to articulate the product well and hence why we secured the preorders without even having a prototype. 

As a group, our action for this week is to send cadcam models to possible manufacturers and start on with the production. In addition, we were contacted by the bright ideas team that we qualify for the bight ideas final and hence had to do a mini pitch on Monday 28th which went really well. We are working extra hard to get at least a prototype by the final on February 6th. 

The Journey Continues…

Seeing how much I have developed from the beginning of the first semester to now is simply unbelievable. I had been quite Luke-warm about the design thinking class simply because I didn’t know just what to expect and I tend to not do well with the unknown. However, going through it, I have grown to love each and every level of growth, embracing and learning from the mistakes as I go along.

THE CLASS

img_5439What a diverse mix of people. Learning something new each week from this amazing bunch has been quite the journey. listening to peoples ideas, their opinions and simply having to get someones perspective on my personal ideas is priceless. Being able to work in a different group each time for instance when we did the body storming, or were put in groups to practice empathy from a customer and service provider point of view, to doing our presentations on our products, it all has made this worth it.

 

TEAM ODYSSEY

img_5503I wouldn’t have chosen a better team of people to work with. All opinionated, all fun and definitely all stylish. (At least that’s one thing we shared in common from the word ‘go’). The beauty about working with my team, Ghalia, Edwin & Al is that they are all driven, or creative In their own right and all self motivated so getting work things sone has been quite a breeze, even when we need to improvise. Our Tasca bag has evolved from just a product to ‘our baby’ something we are all working towards to bring to life. I have learnt how to work as part of a team, but still taking lead where necessary and most importantly improved my ability to work at certain time constraints. I simply cannot wait to see what the next semester holds.

And so, the Journey continues…

 

P/S: The lovely Ghalia is missing from out team photo 🙂

 

 

 

 

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