WorldLabs’ aim is to help ideas develop and grow by providing the funding, tools and connections needed. To celebrate the launch of their platform they are holding a competition that will award £50k to the most innovative idea from any field! The top 10 applicants will have the opportunity to pitch at a large startup conference in October. The competition is a great opportunity to gain publicity, valuable connections and an opportunity to work on and grow your idea through the platform.
How do you learn? I learn through doing; a-ha..! Knowledge applied through reflection of a real life experience.
Learning to master ‘Creative Confidence’; sharing learning at Stanford d.School’s University Innovation Fellows Teaching and Learning Studio July 1997
Those ‘A-ha!’ learning moments come for me, more often than not, when I’m doing or trying something out; experimenting for myself or more crucially doing it with others.
I spoke to a university graduate and a current postgraduate student recently and they expressed a similar view. They described learning as not knowledge being poured in but in the application of new knowledge; both expressed a desire for more opportunities for active learning in the classroom, for discussion and collaboration across disciplines to share ideas and perspectives. ‘I want to know what I can do with this knowledge; my knowledge out in the world.’
We see that magical ‘aha’ moment a lot when students bring a problem or an idea to work through together in the Ideas Labs we run weekly in the Learning Zone during term time.
Working on your own idea is a motivated process of being willing to challenge your dearest held assumptions, experimenting to apply knowledge you have or new knowledge you have found, joining the dots to make sense of what’s needed to move forward and validate an idea as an opportunity. It’s about the search for desirability, feasibility and viability of a solution users want, need and will pay for; even just paying with their time; whether it’s a project, a social enterprise or a business venture of some kind.
The Teaching and Learning Studio at Stanford University is a place where educators from all disciplines experiment with new ways of engaging students using design thinking and experiential learning to solve wicked problems. The studio supports educators to develop strategies that help students develop skills and mindsets for the 21st century and I was very fortunate to be an awardee of the EEUK Richard Beresford bursary, a personal development fund for educators, which part funded a trip to the studio for the learning trip of a lifetime.
Fresh from d.School inspiration, I’m grateful for a whole new network of international colleagues to exchange ideas on shaping learning using human centred design that puts the student at the centre of the experience. So forward thinking are they at Stanford d.School, that it’s an annual thing for educators to pitch their major and minor courses to students on d.School’s ’Pitch Night’…
I want to learn to facilitate more of those ‘A-ha!’ learning moments for students who come to the Enterprise Team’s Ideas Labs sessions. It’s about creating the environment for students to ‘try on’ mindsets and behaviours; practice being curious, resourceful, imaginative, questioning norms and assumptions, observing, ideating, making connections and big leaps to confidently create new solutions; seeing failure along the way as as the stepping stone to the next experiment…and that’s a tough one for us all to ‘try on’ in our practice.
It’s about the quest to develop all students as creative problem solvers; ‘innovators’ in every discipline. This skill, rooted in creativity is needed in every shape and size of organisation to remain competitive and for employees, leaders and entrepreneurs to continue to find ways to create new value.
So what is Design Thinking and how does it relate to designing learning and facilitating learning experiences and how an it be used as a pedagogical tool?
Design thinking is a mindset. It is optimistic, collaborative, human centred and creative and it’s experimental. It’s the confidence that everyone can be part of creating a more desirable future, and the design process empowers people to take action when faced with a difficult challenge. That kind of optimism is well needed in education and in students heading out into a challenged global environment.
Design thinking is a team sport and through small design challenges we and our learners can learn the attitudes and mindsets to collaborate and create, experimenting by framing a learning through design challenge, unpacking assumptions about the challenge or problem, exploring the problem space with users, defining a point of view about the challenge.
Through optimistic and energised ideation a design team can learn to ‘turn off’ the evaluator mindset and generate ideas through divergent thinking; brainstorming, building on one another’s ideas, generating lots of ideas to create great ideas, and learning that sometimes seemingly wild ideas are the spark to something better; out of the box possibilities; solutions to wicked problems. Ideas are selected for development through voting and the design team builds to learn through improv and role play to imagine possibilities before building simple, fail fast mockups and prototypes to share with users for feedback. What works, what doesn’t..? Return to prototype… return to test… iterate…until ‘Ahah! We did it! Our solution has cracked the problem; what a feeling… ‘like something inside me changed.’
The Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators contains the process and methods of design. Developed by the global design company Ideo, (Founded by David Kelley who also founded Stanford’s d.School). The toolkit offers new ways to be intentional and collaborative when designing educational experiences, and empowers educators to create impactful student centred learning solutions, but also to integrate design thinking into problem based learning as a creative problem solving process. The process empowers students to get creative, starting by solving simple human centred challenges to prepare them for tackling seemingly insoluble challenges.
‘Educators from across the world are facing design challenges every single day, from feedback systems to daily schedules. Wherever they fall on the spectrum of scale – the challenges educators are confronted with are real, complex, and varied. And as such, they require new perspectives, new tools, and new approaches. Design Thinking is one of them.’ Ideo.com
What was woefully missing in my education, and my daughter’s after me, were those serendipidous ‘A-ha’ moments in learning, and it’s this creative, human agency, I now believe that is at the heart of our work as educators. We have a short window of opportunity to intentionally develop learners as creative problem solvers, innovators and value creators beyond their discipline; skills for living and for lifelong learning.
‘Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.’
Ready Unlimited is a small team that makes a big impact
Amanda Brooks, Enterprise Education Development Manager in The Lancaster University Enterprise Team reflects on learning from the recent International Educators Conference:
At the International Enterprise Educators Conference in Glasgow Caledonian University in September, I met Managing Director and principal consultant Catherine Brentnall of Ready Unlimited who was there to share and launch a draft of her guide for Secondary School teachers to support the development of careers and enterprise through the curriculum.
The guide – The Bootleg Benchmarks – ‘Eight ideas for Careers and Enterprise through the Curriculum’ – was developed through a project funded by Enterprise Educators UK, and delivered in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire.
The guide, and an accompanying pedagogy survey, helps identify pragmatic actions which subject teachers can utilise, adapt and experiment with in their own classroom. Catherine shares the Lancaster University’s Enterprise Team’s vision that through education, young people develop the enterprising and entrepreneurial knowledge, mind set and behaviours relevant to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. To achieve this, her mission, like our own, is to work with a community of educators so they can incrementally create and strengthen enterprising and entrepreneurial teaching and learning for all young people, through the curriculum.
Catherine welcomes feedback on Bootleg Benchmarks, and although it was designed with secondary schools mind, it’s an excellent starting point for teaching staff in HE wanting to innovate their practice.
Catherine works with hundreds of teachers and Head Teachers every year across the UK and abroad. Her unique combination of skills and expertise enable her to bridge the gap between academic entrepreneurial learning theory and practice by effecting real change in classrooms. ‘“If you give teachers the time and tools to develop enterprise education for themselves, they can change the experience of every student that comes into their classroom.’ said Catherine. Teachers involved in developing enterprise and Entrepreneurship education in the curriculum say it has enabled students to:
Have a sense of belonging and purpose in their community
Develop a love for lifelong learning
Connect with the world of work and business that they will one day move into
Develop enterprise capability, financial capability and economic and business understanding
See and make opportunities
For teaching staff at Lancaster interested in learning how they might start to introduce Enterprise into their modules the Bootleg Benchmarks offers a helpful eight-point check list from which to benchmark current practice.
For the academic Year 2017/18, The Enterprise Team will be working with faculty teaching staff who offer curricular placements, consultancy projects and/or competitions, to design and promote co-curricular enterprise sessions to enable students to build a foundation for their commercial awareness and concepts of value creation in preparation for contact with organisations. This offer is enhanced by the opportunity to join a community of enterprise learners in the weekly ‘Labs’ in the Learning Zone.
To get connected with other teaching innovators at Lancaster you can join LEEN (Lancaster Enterprise Educators Network) for updates on events and opportunities available to teaching staff at Lancaster by registering here
EEUK’s International Enterprise Educators Conference happens every year in Early September. Slides and themes from this year’s event can be seen here and here. Lancaster university is a member organisation of EEUK and staff can attend the EEUK best practice events throughout the year for free. Regular updates through LEEN.
Using the example of a recent Research & Development phase focused bootcamp, Nesta explains why a cohort approach to learning can be beneficial, especially for groups of people with common needs. Cohort based learning helps to encourage natural collaboration and peer support – building stronger networks among participants, whilst also providing them with the relevant skills.
In addition to talking about cohort learning, their blog post includes a number of useful tools used during the bootcamp to help projects to start undertaking R&D work, including help to conduct a ‘pre-mortem,’ stakeholder mapping tools and guides to prototyping. To read the full article visit the Nesta blog.
Favourite Read of the Week from Strategyzer’s Nabila Amarsy.
What: Employers in the 21st century are pressured to evolve rapidly and innovate at the risk of being outcompeted if they are too slow to react. IDEO’s Tim Brown advises leaders in education and industry on how to instil creativity in their organisational culture.
Why: It’s not necessarily about bean bags, ping pong tables, and free food. Empowering our staff and students to be more creative requires a deep cultural change.
And… In his talk ‘What’s the point of Creativity at University?’, internationally influential thinker on education and creativity Sir Ken Robinson also considers how higher education institutions might play a greater role in developing the creative capacities of all of their students. It’s thought provoking, entertaining and well worth a watch. See the the long version here and the highlights from the talk here.
It is important to start with a clear definition of what we mean by creativity, as there are two completely different types. The first is technical creativity, where people create new theories, technologies or ideas. This is the type of creativity Ken Robinson and Tim Brown are referring to. The second is artistic creativity, which is more born of skill, technique and self-expression. You can explore more about understanding creativity and practical approaches to it here.
Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller ‘Contagious: Why Things Catch On’. Jonah has published dozens of articles in academic journals whilst consulting for a number of different Fortune 500 companies. He has spent the past 15 years studying social influence and how it causes ideas and products to go viral which has lead him to become one of the world’s leading authorities on the matter.
In Contagious Jonah Berger explains how influential word of mouth is in the decision making of consumers. Word of mouth he says is so big because people love to share things with those around them and what those around us say influences everything we do, say, read and buy. It is actually the biggest contributor to virality over anything, being the primary factor for twenty to fifty percent of all purchasing decisions. The main reasons for this are a) We are much more likely to listen to what our friends say about a product over an advertisement. This is because ads are biased whereas our friends will tell us what they honestly think. b) Word of mouth is also targeted, so we are unlikely to tell our friend about a product they have no interest in but will tell them about a product related to their interest. c) Even when ads are directed at an interested audience, the audience may not need the product the ad is pushing as they already have it.
So that is why word of mouth is influential, but how can we best use this to our advantage?
To answer this question we will explore 4 of the key principles the book offers:
1. Social Currency
People love to look cool and disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding, this is probably because about forty percent of what we talk about is our own personal experiences and preferences, so if your product can provide social currency you’re onto a winner.
You can provide social currency in 3 ways: a)Find inner remarkability – The fact is people love talking about remarkable things, which is why you will need to make your product or service surprising, novel or interesting. When people share remarkable things with others the story gets exaggerated and details are lost in order to make people look better. This leaves the core details of your product and the more remarkable they are the better. Offering things that are deemed impossible, mysterious or controversial are great ways to find inner remarkability. b)Leverage game mechanics – This is literally incorporating a game into your product or service. The best example of this is the McDonald’s Monopoly which happens every year. It is so effective because it is a challenge to win prizes which everyone enjoys, you have the opportunity to achieve things which entices people, it also enables you to compare your progress with others and it gives you the opportunity to boast to your friends about how many of the tokens you have or how close you are to getting all of one colour. Being able to look good in front of people increases social currency tenfold. c)Make people feel like insiders – If you can make people feel like they are part of an exclusive club or they gain perks from being a part of your service this can increase social currency massively. Examples of this are secret bars, listing products as limited edition or having a membership providing paying customers with perks non-members don’t get.
What word of mouth do you want?
Before we get into the next principle it is important to mention that there are two types of word of mouth, immediate and ongoing. Opening a funny email and telling your friend next to you would be immediate word of mouth but ongoing word of mouth would be talking about something or using something weeks or months after you first heard about it. Different products and services rely on different types of word of mouth, movies for example rely on immediate word of mouth as they are trying to sell big when they release, an anti-bullying campaign on the other hand would be ongoing as they are hoping to cause ongoing change to stop people bullying. When something is remarkable or interesting it is very good at getting immediate word of mouth but research has shown that there is no difference between an interesting and boring product when it comes to ongoing word of mouth. So what causes the difference?
Top of mind – There are always things which are more top of the mind than others. What is top of mind is influenced heavily by what is around us or what we are fanatics about, a football fan may always have football at the top of their mind because that is what they love. All of the things in our surrounding environment that our senses pick up trigger what is at the top of our mind. These triggers can be both direct (smelling pizza so thinking of pizza) or indirect (seeing a jar of peanut butter and thinking of jelly). The reason we want to trigger things to be at the top of people’s minds is because those accessible thoughts turn into actions and ultimately sharing.
How to use triggers – When we are conversing with others the main thing we have in mind is to keep that conversation going in order to show that we aren’t poor conversationalists, so we will say whatever is at the top of our minds in order to do that. This is why things that are triggered in our everyday lives are so important as they influence what we talk about. Research has shown that triggered products get more ongoing word of mouth than non-triggered products so it is important that we use these triggers to our advantage. Here are a few different ways you can do that:
a) If something is used every day it stays at the top of the mind which leads to it being at the tip of the tongue. You want a product that is triggered by your everyday environment, the more interesting the better but that doesn’t matter as much as triggers as products that are triggered more frequently get 15% more word of mouth. b) Another thing you can do is to have your product link strongly to something else that is frequently used, just like peanut butter is strongly linked to jelly. Take note however that the link must be unique and strong, red and coca cola go together but you will probably think of other things first when you see the colour red. c) You also need to consider the context, so think about the environment of the people a message or idea is trying to trigger. Different environments have different stimuli, so certain triggers will be more effective depending on where people live. The 100 dollar cheesesteak would not have worked if it had been outside a city famous for its cheesesteaks for example.
Social Currency gets people talking but triggers keep them talking.
Now you will have noticed so far that the more we see things the more we are triggered by them, which leads us to the next principle which is making your product public.
For a product to be public it needs to be visible to other people. We are always looking to others for information on how to behave, what to wear, what products to use so it makes sense that we are more likely to buy something that we see other people using, as the product has social proof. Apple for example made the decision to flip the logo on their laptops. Originally the logo would appear the correct way up to the user when they closed the laptop however it would appear upside down to anyone observing that person use the laptop. Now this made it difficult for people to see what the laptop owner was using as it wasn’t designed to look good to others. Noticing this Apple flipped it so other people could see the logo the right way up. They decided that having it look good to other potential buyers was more important; this gave the laptop social proof and also massively increased their sales. The more visible a product is to observers the more likely we are to buy it.
So what happens when your product is not a public product, but a private one?
The fact of the matter is people are more likely to be influenced to buy a t shirt than a tube of toothpaste; simply because of the amount of social proof that comes with a public product (t-shirt) over a private one (toothpaste), and that we very rarely see the brand of toothpaste people use. This does not mean however that we cannot make something that is private public. A fantastic example of this is Movember, which helped to spread the awareness of prostate cancer. By growing moustaches randomly, which is both unusual and visible, it sparked people to ask those with moustaches why they were growing them. They would then be informed of the reason and the cause behind it.
So we have looked at social currency, we have looked at triggers and we have looked at making your product public, what else is there to make your product go viral?
Emotion has been known for quite a while to be an effective tool for spreading word of mouth however it has always been quite hit and miss. Originally researchers thought that the reason emotions were so effective at spreading word of mouth was because they made us feel good, so things like awe, excitement and contentment all caused us to spread the word. When actually running experiments with different emotions researchers found that there was an increase in word of mouth from both positive and negative emotions just like sometimes where there would be no effect whatsoever. So what is the reason for this? Why do some emotions cause virality and why don’t others? The general conclusion is that for an emotion to cause word of mouth it needs to cause a state of high arousal, regardless of whether that emotion is a positive one or a negative one. Emotions that do this are those like humour, excitement, awe, anger and anxiety. Emotions that cause low arousal such as contentment and sadness do not cause virality. The reason high arousal emotions work is that they make us take action. You are not going to take action when you are sad or content as you are relaxed and slowed right down whereas anger, anxiety or excitement raise the heart rate like fight or flight and make you much more likely to talk about or share something.
So, next time you try to get your product to go viral have a think about the boxes you need to tick. Does your product make people look cool and provide them with social currency? Will your product be triggered often enough for people to think about it? Does it cause high arousal emotions? And is it in the public eye? If not how can you go about making it public? Doing all of these things can set you up a very powerful marketing campaign and give you an edge when it comes to marketing. There is more to each of these principles however and we have not covered practical value or storytelling, so after reading this, buy the book, it should really be your marketing bible.
You’ll also find a number of useful resources on our website, under Resource Bank. If you have any suggestions about other materials or resources you’d like us to feature on our pages, get in touch and let us know.