Category Archives: Storytelling

A tactile approach to Service Design Thinking – Design Thinking & Lego Serious Play

Service Design Thinking is an approach to problem-solving that allows individuals to rapidly identify challenges and then go big on ideas before picking one or two to ideate, test and evaluate. 
Principles are:
  • Holistic – seeing the big picture in relation to details
  • Empathy – human-centered focus on real needs
  • Co-creation- iterative approach with stakeholders involved
At the intersection are ideas that last, ideas that are surprising, ideas that work. Before moving into the solution space of the Design Thinking process we heavily rely on words: spoken or written.  But words have two inherent limitations.
  1. Firstly most of us filter what we say, only articulating things that will make us sound smart, intelligent and well educated.
  2. Secondly, the part of most necessary for Design Thinking to work, the Limbic System where passion, music, creativity, and love sit – does not have any language capabilities. In other words, it’s almost impossible to articulate love, music, feelings and conceptual ideas.
One of the challenges in Design Thinking is to visualize all the words people use and make them meaningful for everyone involved. We use a set of tools, canvases, visual techniques and a lot of different materials to play with possible solutions and tinker with a prototype. One of the materials we use in prototyping is Lego.
Design-Thinking-Lego-Serious-Play 2

Service Design Thinking and Lego Serious Play

But there is more to Lego than just playing. Lego Serious Play, the methodology created by LEGO over ten years ago, is an approach that allows teams to find creative solutions to open-ended challenges. The real strength of Lego Serious Play is that we don’t use words, we use ‘art’ and creativity to express something – in this case Lego. It allows for more complex and creative concepts and ideas to be modeled.
Design-Thinking-Lego-Serious-Play 1

Building models with Lego Serious Play

Together with Ben Wickham we thought about how we could combine the strength of Design Thinking and Lego (Serious) Play to design ‘a tactile and playful approach to Service Design Thinking’.
We are going to crash these two concepts together: taking Design Thinking as the roadmap and Lego (Serious) Play as the way we execute. The result is a tactile approach to Design Thinking, for those groups and challenges that require a more intensive and deeper approach.
On the 28th & 29th March, at the Design Thinking Centre in Amsterdam, Ben Wickham & myself will lead a two-day workshop to help you get to grips with the basics of both approaches and their collaborative power. To help us, we have identified a global challenge to address: that of urbanization. If we can fix that – we can fix anything…
We would love to see you.
Click here to book, or if you have any questions, drop Ben or me a line.
See you end of March.
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Serendipity & Strategy – Epiphany 2018

Also this holiday season I did not send any Christmas cards or new years wishes. As my friends know this is not about being impolite, but a tradition to do a mailing on the 6th of January and not earlier. 

Today is Epiphany day – the 12th and last day of Christmas. For me it is also the day of changing perspective – a magic pivot. The holiday season is over and we can focus on the coming year.  A good moment to wish you many Epiphanies in 2018!

Epiphany-2018_card_blog

Epiphany is not only the last day of Christmas, but also stands for an experience of sudden and striking realisation. The word epiphany originally referred to insight through the divine. Nowadays this concept is used much more often also without such connotations, but a popular implication remains that the epiphany is supernatural, as the discovery seems to come suddenly from the outside. More on this see below.

Serendipity & Strategy

The last year was full of epiphanies for me – some good, some bad. Some came ‘all of a sudden’ and some were a logical change that ‘step by step’ approached without noticing in the first place (or wanting to notice ;-). In any case at the beginning of this year I got my freedom back to work again independently as Creative Companion.
And this also gave a boost to finish an idea that too long was postponed: to create an Inspirational Card Set based on Music Thinking principles (as presented in October last year) and the Music Thinking Framework.

IMG_8786-2

First prototype of the Music Thinking Inspiration Cards for Serendipity & Strategy.

In december we started prototyping the Music Thinking Inspiration Cards and this January we will iterate to a set that can be tested in workshops. The idea is to use the cards in very different ways ranging from Serendipity to Strategy in direct connection with the Six Music Thinking Cues from Empathy to Remix of the Music Thinking Framework. The intention is to have the set ready for purchase after the summer vacation.

have a great year
Christof Zürn

PS: an extra project will be the relaunch of both sites:
www.creative-companion.com and  www.musicthinking.com


For all of you who hear the Epiphany story for the first time, below is  a copy from the last years with some explanation and examples about Epiphanies:

A collection of different meanings of Epiphany:

  • EPIPHANY is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something.
  • PHILOSOPHICAL meaning: having found the last piece of the puzzle and suddenly seeing the whole picture.
  • ARCHIMEDES Eureka! I found it!
  • EINSTEIN was struck as a young child by being given a compass, and realizing that some unseen force in space was making it move.
  • DARWIN An example of a flash of holistic understanding in a prepared mind was Charles Darwin’s “hunch” (about natural selection) during The Voyage of the Beagle.
  • JAMES JOYCE Referring to those times in his life when something became manifest, a deep realization, he would then attempt to write this epiphanic realization in a fragment. Joyce also used epiphany as a literary device within each short story of his collection Dubliners (1914) as his protagonists came to sudden recognitions that changed their view of themselves or their social condition and often sparking a reversal or change of heart.
  • In RELIGION it is used when a person realizes their faith or when they are convinced that an event or happening was really caused by a deity or being of their faith.
  • WESTERN CHRISTIAN Religion: The adoration of the magi, represented as kings, having found Jesus by following a star 12 days after christmas.
  • HINDUISM epiphany might refer to the realization of Arjuna that Krishna (a God serving as his charioteer in the “Bhagavad Gita”) is indeed representing the universe.
  • In ZEN kensho describes the moment, referring to the feeling attendant on realizing the answer to a koan.
  • BUDDHISM Buddha finally realizing the nature of the universe, and thus attaining nirvana.
  • WILLIAM BURROUGHS is talking about a drug-influenced state, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is at the end of the fork (naked lunch).
  • EPIPHANIES is the thirteenth episode of the second season of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica television series.
  • EPIPHANY is a web browser for the GNOME graphical computing desktop.
  • HIERONYMUS BOSCH painted the adoration of the magi around 1495.
  • HOMER SIMPSON has an epiphany, after visiting a strange Inuit shaman, and realizes he has to save the town from Russ Cargill’s plans to destroy Springfield.
  • The last page of THE WIRE magazine with surprising sonic stories about music is called EPIPHANIES.
  • Interesting: if you search for Epiphanies or Epiphany on TWITTER many people talk about that they (just) had an epiphany, but don’t exactly say what it was.

Creativity, Music and E-learning

Today I got my official statement of accomplishment from the Stanford Online course led by Tina Seelig, Executive Director, Stanford Technology Ventures Program. It states that I have successfully completed, serving as a team leader and with distinction, a free online offering of Creativity: Music to My Ears by Standford University through NovoEd.

This six-week experiential course focused on opportunity recognition, reframing problems, challenging assumptions, connecting and combining ideas, working on creative teams, and mastering a mindset of innovation. It was also a good opportunity to work with the e-learning platform. I would recommend it for another course.

Here is the trailer:

Creativity: Music to My Ears from Stanford Tech Ventures Program on Vimeo.

And here the final class video.

Creativity: Music to My Ears, the final photo project montage from Stanford Tech Ventures Program on Vimeo.

It was fun to do this online course together with more than 20.000 participants from all over the world.

Here is a selection of some material from the course for inspiration, including some old time classic of creativity like The Powers of Ten, or The 6 Thinking Heads:

YOUR INNOVATION ENGINE
Introducing the Innovation Engine by Tina Seelig

LISTENING DIFFERENTLY
with the key concepts: The importance of active observation, Noticing opportunities around you, Capturing your observations.
Video: 5 Ways to Listen Better by Julian Treasure

CHALLENGING ASSUMTIONS
with the key concepts: Framing and reframing problems, Tools for changing your point of view, Going beyond the first answer, Brainstorming guidelines, Team challenge.
Powers of Ten – Ray & Charles Eames (1977)
de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats
Video: How NOT to Brainstorm
Video: How to Brainstorm

CONNECT & COMBINE
with the key concept: Engaging Your Audience and Telling Your Story in a Creative Way.
Designing Music
Video: Everything is a Remix

CREATIVE MINDSET
with the key concepts: The importance of experimentation, Learning from failures, Mastering a mindset for creativity
Treat Life Like and Experiment– Tom Kelley, IDEO
Life Lessons Through Tinkering – Gever Tully

 

Dad’s Disc Delights – 15 seconds to get the essence

This is a wonderful and charming visual storytelling site on Instagram by London photographer Zoë Timmers. The visual attraction of the vinyl albums helps to tell the story and the love for the jazz heritage. Their challenge is to get the essence of a piece of music across in 15 seconds.

Great ‘Music Thinking‘ learning for all of us!

dadsdiscdelights on Instagram

Zoë’s father has worked in the music industry most of his life and fell in love with jazz early on. Zoë takes all the photos, and her dad writes the captions after their conversations about which records to feature in what order. Zoë publishes to Instagram, and her dad responds in comments.

For more from Zoë and her dad, follow @dadsdiscdelights
Go to their Instagram site:  http://instagram.com/dadsdiscdelights

Hope this will inspire more people to share their musical stories!
This is a picture from approx. eight years ago. There should be more.

The Soundtrack of my Life in 5 Records - Christof Zürn

The Soundtrack of my Life in 5 Records – Christof Zürn

Epiphany through Empathy – wishing you many Epiphanies in 2014!

The sixth of January is epiphany day – the 12th and last day of Christmas. The holiday season is over and we can focus on the coming year. A good moment to wish you all the best for 2014!

What epiphanies would we get, if we could see through the eyes of another person? I made a presentation under the title ‘Epiphany through Empathy‘ and hope you will like it.

Good luck, health and I hope you will have many epiphanies in 2014!

Epiphany through Empathy

Why should I back Ubuntu?

After reading ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek, I was wondering if the Why concept can help me with decision making.

In short the concept of the ‘Golden Circle’ by Sinek is an idea, an alternative perspective, that explains why some people and organizations are more innovative, more influential, command greater loyalty and are able to repeat their success over and over. The fundamental idea is that Why a company is doing something is much more important than the How and the What (although this has to be in sync!). Sinek is using the Apple-Why a lot in his book and presentations: “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.”

When I heard about the Indigogo crowd funding campaign of Ubuntu Edge  – ‘the next generation of personal computing: smartphone and desktop PC in one state-of-the-art device by Cannonical’ , …

ubuntu-edge-concepts-1

… I started to make a list of the why-how-what to make a decision to back this project or not.

WHY

“Ubuntu is an ancient African word / philosophy meaning:‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu operating system brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the world of computers.”  from www.ubuntu.com

HOW

The company Canonical has set up the biggest crowd funding challenge ever with a target of $ 32.000.000 to come up with a smartphone/computer that will challenge the big players like Apple and Samsung. Here the CEO explaining a lot of What and How, e.g. that the car industry has  Formula 1 to innovate and test new cutting-edge technology and that the mobile development is missing such a platform … Shuttleworth (CEO Canonical) says he wants to push developers to test the limits of processing power, storage, and screen technology. “It’s sort of like a concept car,” he says. “But instead of waiting three years to see if something like it gets built, we’re going to try and build it now.”


This is an interesting experiment to first finance the phone with enough followers and then just produce it. Would it be possible that Apple or Samsung would do the same?

WHAT

Is the combination of smartphone and computer and the innovations that come along with it challenging enough? How will this work e.g. in Africa where more and more people get connected to the internet – not via PC but via mobile phones? Will there be less waste when we have more phones and less PC’s/Laptops?

I asked some friends to check the technical specifications of the new device and all of them were very positive, here is a list to compare:

Ubuntu-Edge-Compared-to-iPhone

Ubuntu Edge: Crowdfunding a Super-Smartphone

For me the WHY the HOW and the WHAT seem more or less in-sync with each other, although I would wish that Canonical would stress the WHY more in communication and action.

As Sinek puts it: WHY is  the believe, HOW are the actions we take to realize the WHY and WHAT are the results of those actions.

That’s why I backed Ubuntu Edge. Whether they make it or not, it feels good to back this experiment.

You can back until 21st August 2013: http://igg.me/at/ubuntuedge/x/1633526

Social Media and Sales – great Lesson from Gary Vaynerchuk

Years ago on e-day I had the pleasure to see a talk of Gary Vee. If you have ever seen Gary Vee or not, if you are in marketing, sales or any other business you should at least see this guy once. Here is a (one year old) talk he did at Inc 500 – it is amazing and funny. Don’t skip the last few minutes, the Q&A and the end is also really worth all your time.


Here are the things he is mentioning, but you better watch the whole 1 hour.

  • social media, ROI, it’s a race, it’s a branding race, it’s s a context race
  • Most of us are acting like a 19 year old dude, trying to close on the first transaction
  • It is all about long term value, not about the spend you get right now.
  • Marketing is like a cocktail party, everyone is in play …
  • Thank You Department (the offense) vs. Customer Service (the defense)
  • We call every single customer who places an order and thank them – and that’s it!
  • how much thank you economy stuff are you doing with your people?
  • NFC near fiels communication
  • we are extraverts, even if we are introverted
  • this social media game is not about talking: you need to wire your mouth shut and start using your ears. Because that is the game in play.
  • Word of mouth is the currency and now we have the infrastructure
  • we are in the eyeballs and ear business
  • go to twitter search instead of google search to see what your experience is like
  • retention is the game, life time value is the game.
  • What is the real ROI of social media, what’s the ROI of your mother?
  • The ROI of my mother is everything, I can’t show you in data the ROI of my mother but i promise you it is all of it.
  • really go deep emotionaly with your customer base – they should be your best friends
  • map your entire consumer base
  • push that human element

Brand Patterns and Leitmotives – Music Thinking Inspirations for Branding and Design

When designing a brand it is necessary to have a shared understanding about the why, what and how of a brand. This can be written down and visualized in a manifesto together with the brand DNA, vision, mission, ambition and the brand values, personality, promis and expressions. But this is just like the musical score. To really ‘live the brand’ it has to be performed and adapted everyday together with  your audience.

Music Thinking:
Here are two musical concepts that could inspire and engage brand professionals to think about the brand consumer relation to add value to both sides: first to the consumer, then it will pay back to the brand.

Pattern

Marc Shillum is approaching the filed of branding from a pattern thinking perspective:  Brand as Patterns. He states the most important feature of a successful brand is not just consistency, but rather the ability to continually reinvent the brand image according to what is most relevant at the time. In short, a successful brand must have a long term goal, but the short term strategy of how to get there must be continually reworked to remain coherent and relevant in a contemporary context.

Besides patterns there are more concepts that can bring context and meaning. In the Wagner Year it is worth to have a look on the contextual building blocks Wagner is using in his compositions: ‘das Leitmotiv’.

Leitmotiv

Leitmotives are musical phrases like story elements that does not imitate the sound of – for example – ‘crackling logs’, but make you feel the heat, thread and magic of fire. If you want to enjoy the music you don’t have to necessarily know everything about it, but ‘the more you know, the more beautiful it gets’.

Watch a great ‘musical introduction’ to Wagner’s Götterdämmerung with Kurt Masur and Jessy Norman and learn everything about the coding and decoding with Leitmotivs in film music like star wars and Wagner’s music.

From a branding point of view many different elements should make a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ so that the consumer can enjoy, be engaged and get an emotional bond with the brand without knowing exactly every detail.

But to create a brand it takes a lot of listening skills and contextual vision. Maybe the most importing thing: the music is not ready when the score is written. It has to be performed with real people for real people – again and again.

‘There is joy in repetition’ Prince