Ajsa Udovcic FS

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Reading Responses

The messy minds of Creative People

Creative process in it's purest shape doesn't have to be something as divine as we would normally think. The conversational language makes the article closer to the reader, leaving him not scared with the process, but rather inspired to use all of one's mental resources in order to create. Talking about "The Super-factors of Personality" the author underlines the universality of the concept of a creator. One, who does not have to be divergent or convergent by the definition, one who is versatile and generates new ideas, cannot be described as an individual, but rather a multitude. The article is a composition of instructions in the world of creatives which, by itself, is boundless and grows with the creator.

Ideas for Startups

The article is more or less an explanation of what happens when we overvalue ideas. It is a handbook of how to approach an idea in a non-intimidating way. What I liked the most is the usage of the term "friend", because it decreases the burden that one has to carry throughout the planning process. I enjoyed how the author states that one needs other people, because "ideas get developed in the process of explaining them to the right kind of person". I also liked how the author highlights the importance of staying "upwind" and working on things that maximize your future options, because the jobs that are essentially exiting and new tend to pay less, and therefore they're not the most desirable option. The author also states how an idea cannot exist without a problem it could solve (spam example) this got me thinking about all the problems I would like to solve or enjoy solving, and it generated different ideas. I really liked how the author explains all the obstacles of the creative process and finds it easy to solve them, "is just to do what hackers enjoy doing".

Design thinking

The innovation presented with this article is not the physical innovation that we got used to. The author starts with Thomas Edison who was indeed able to conceive a full marketplace, not only a discrete device. This way of thinking is innovation itself. Design thinking, as a methodology is completely centered on human. In design thinking, the innovation is powered through understanding, direct observation of what people want and need in their lives, or what they like and do not like about the product. Design thinking is a strategic move, used not to maximize revenues, but to make the company more efficient, more human centered, to make the job easier, and work on customer-provider relations. The author underlines the importance of the team in design thinking. The goal is not in providing innovations within products that are already in market, but rather innovating the way of providing. Author gives us an example of Kaiser Permanente which tried to make changes in nursers shift easier and more efficient. Team approached the problem and through their observation they created a method that saved time for both nurses and patients. With other examples author shows us how design thinking can also be very important in value creation (Aravind Company).

Design for Action

Designing a business that is in the same time an intervention is a new product of constantly evolving design. With constant rapid prototyping, design process never ends and creates more and more opportunities day by day. The article is also written by Tim Brown and is in a way description of what happens after the design thinking, what are the steps that you need to take after something huge has changed. The example of Intercorp is amazing and can give a great platform to design thinkers to keep the good work and accept design as an ongoing everlasting process rather than changing one thing only.

What Is Strategy?

What is strategy? The author takes time to answer this question by defining step by step what not to do when creating a strategy. He starts with operational effectiveness which basically means performing all the activities involved with the end product or service in a better way. Operational effectiveness bears an important advantage, but competitors easily copy good works and practices. This brings to the shifting of the productivity frontier, and companies become hardly indistinguishable from one another.

On the other hand, strategic positioning preserves the uniqueness, the distinctness that the company had by “performing different activities from rivals, or performing similar activities in different ways.” Author draws to three sources of strategic positioning:
- serving few needs of many customers (giving the example of Jiffy Lube which provides only auto lubricants without any other services)
- serving broad needs of few customers (giving the example of Bessemer Trust which aims for only wealthy clients)
- serving broad needs of many customers in a narrow market (giving the example of Carmike Cinemas which provide their services only in cities under 200,000 citizens)

Furthermore, the author talks about possible trade-offs in order to compete on the market. He talks about the profile of companies that have, by choice, decided to narrow their market, and those which have broadened their markets and failed. He concludes with creation of “fit”among company’s activities. The importance of activities mutually reinforcing each other lies in the difficulty of copying them. When activities have “fit” the whole system works, and any random activity from the system that is desirable, can’t be copied as an activity, but rather the system that is reinforcing it. In the end he touches upon the importance of leadership in management. He underlines the importance of leadership in sustaining the strategy.

The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy

How to apply strategy? The author focuses on five forces that shape strategy, those being: threat of entrants, power of suppliers, power of buyers, threat of substitute products or services, and rivalry. The author talks a bout different ways of avoiding the threat that these forces can bring. As one of the examples he talks about “Paccar”, heavy truck maker, analyzed competitive forces and positioned its company where the forces were weakest. “Paccar” focused on individual drivers who own their own trucks and contract directly with suppliers. “Paccar” notices how they are less price-sensitive because of their emotional ties, and added luxurious sleeping cabins, plush leather seats and customization of these build-to order trucks. Author also highlights the importance of constant engagements in the industry and how it changes. He gives an example of music industry and a brilliant move that Apple had i with Tunes music store.

He also gives examples of how to deal with all the competitive forces. For each of the forces he provides a description of tactics designed to reduce the share of profits going to other competitors.

So when it comes to new entrants, he advises elevating the fixed costs of competing. To neutralize supplier power, he advises standardizing specification for parts so that the company can switch easily among vendors. Buyers’ power would be dealt with through expanding services and the threat of substitues through offering better value trough wider product accessibility. About price wars initiated by rivals, he advises investing more heavily in products that differ from competitors’ offerings.

The article provides bases for industry analysis and it is a great follow-up for “What is strategy”.

SWOT I

I found this reading very helpful, not just as a manual for the SWOT analysis, but as a clarification of all the concepts that we previously used in class. The author defines all components of the SWOT analysis in the beginning of the article. Strengths - capabilities that enable your company to perform well (need to be leveraged)
Weaknesses - characteristics that prohibit your company from performing well (need to be addressed)
Opportunities - trends, forces, events, events and ideas that your company can capitalize on
Threats - possible events or forces outside of your control that your company needs to plan for or decide how to mitigate
The author also clarifies the factors of the external analysis that need to be addressed. Starting with the workstyle and lifestyle trends. Workstyle and lifestyle trends are all known tendencies that can offer answers considering the industry or branch of the company or unit. Questions based on these tendencies can provide better and more substantial insight in the market that one is trying to place oneself in. Furthermore, author talks about customers and the importance of the target market in the industry and business. Valuing the data about customers and answering the most basic questions about them can highly contribute to the market segmentation and product placement. The other important segments of the external analysis are price sensitivity and elasticity of demand and the emerging technologies where the author provides basic economic knowledge between price and demand and talks about threats and opportunities of the emerging technologies. In the end, the author touches upon the previously read “Five Competitive Forces”.

SWOT II

In the second part the author goes through steps of the internal analysis. Core competencies were addressed the first. Through two different methods of assessing the power of core competencies (benchmarking and method relative to rivals) the author walks us through all the important concepts. Furthermore the author writes about financial condition and how important is it for the company that is slightly changing their existing strategy or adopting a completely new strategy. He points out few important aspects of financial conditioning that have to be addressed (cash flows, access to outside capital, other capital spending plans, hurdle rate of new projects). He mentions management and culture as the last part of the internal analysis asking a question “Is the company change-ready” and how to address this issue. The end of the article is the method for evaluating internal strengths and weaknesses which serves as a manual for the first SWOT analysis.

The design of everyday things

We don't think a lot about the design of the things design way before our time. The adopted habit of using these things made us think about them more as natural than artificial. In the article Don Norman examines the purposefulness of the design of everyday things. Good design has to be consequences of industrial, interaction and experience design. He advocates for the easiness of use of all designed products, especially technology. The expectation of using a product as the product wishes to be used rather than as we wish has to be eradicated by all means. Engineers have had some hard time embracing the fact that most of human beings do not work by the basic principles of logic and their creations were completely subdued to the use of an engineer. Since the author was an engineer himself over the time he realized that technology creates more issues than people.

Therefore today, he is a promoter of human-centered design. He advocated the design that ensures that designs match the needs and capabilities of the people for whom they are intended. HCD is “a philosophy and a set of procedures, whereas the others are areas of focus. The philosophy and procedures of HCD add to deep consideration and study of human needs to design process, whatever the product or service, whatever the major focus. “

The author highlights the importance of the experience and the discoverability of the products. He explains these by including new concepts like affordance and signifiers. H defines affordance as the possible interactions between people and the environment. It is a relation and not a feature. On the other hand, signifiers signal things in particular what actions are possible and how they should be done. These concepts made the design process easier and not just through the use of new vocabulary, but through the use of concept itself. The experience of the interaction with the product became more tangible, more real, easier to follow.

The author than defines other relations and concept in designing. For example mapping – describes the relationship between the elements of two sets of things (light switches and lights), the importance of feedback – the feature of the product to communicate the result of an action and conceptual model – which is an explanation of how something works. He finishes the article with the paradox of technology and designing challenges. He talks about overcoming these issues when designing and different ways of dealing with these.

Experience prototyping

Starting from the fact that experience is firstly very subjective and then influenced by all different factors from the environment, the authors of the article highlight the importance of perceiving the experience within its contextual factors. That is why the experience prototyping is so important. Experience prototyping is “the concrete sensory experience of using an artifact – what the user looks at, feels and hears while using it.” The prototyping is a way for designers to understand the user’s experience of the product. It goes from all different sketches, programs, models etc. Prototyping is anything and everything created with a goal of providing some feedback. The whole process is directed to the discovery of what the user wants and need. The process is a combination of firstly understanding the existing user experience then exploring and evaluating ideas and communication ideas.

Business Model Generation

I've learned so much by using the business model canvas. The book itself lays out the possibilities and musts and mustnots in a very concise and understandable, almost conversational way. The book draws attention with its design and interactivity. It completely includes the reader by addressing to his own ideas and businesses. I really like the way the author disassembled the canvas. Seeing so many different activities at once can look very frightening, but the author finds a painless approach and guides the reader through every part step by step. The business canvas includes all the major aspects a business has to have. Starting from the essential value proposition, all the way through funding and resources. It is a great tool to start up the plan process and to refer to it further in the project. I also appreciate the use of business vocabulary in this almost conversational manner. This was one of the first books about business plans that I've read and even though I understood everything my vocabulary is definitely refined. Each and every segment of the business canvas has equal share within the plan process. When I first started using the canvas I was very vague with my wording and phrasing, because I felt that I don't need that many details on the beginning of the work. Now, whenever I go back to the canvas I have something to add. The mere image of all the segments laid out provides a fruitful insight for the designer and almost every time another, better idea for channels or customer segments. I'm very glad that we're using this tool and that it is followed by the reading. It is the strongest tool in shaping the plan.

Business Model Generation 2

The second part of the book was equally interesting as the first one. I've enjoyed reading about the patterns within business models. The unbundling of a business canvas much better. It makes it easier to deal with one part of the business if you specifically define it (customer relation, product innovation, infrastructure management). Furthermore the author describes other patterns: long trail business model, multi-sided platform, free as a business model and open business model. The examples used are mostly contemporary and familiar. The detailed descriptions of different business models were very helpful in comparing and grouping them. I've enjoyed reading about the free as a business model because it was so familiar, but I didn't know a lot about it. This type of business is most often seen in social media that use advertisements as their incomes. Their customers are those who not paying for the service - wider masses, and those who are paying for the advertisement. Thus one customer segment is completely off charge.

All in all the reading was very interesting and helped in the market research.

Business ideas

ReachMe; Smartphone app

The idea

The idea for the application comes from the widespread use of many different applications that sometimes makes us impossible to reach through only one of those. It would basically merge all of these mobile messaging applications into one by providing a possibility of sending a message to the one that the other user is using at the moment. Let us imagine two users, User 1 has an access to wi-fi, but doesn't have an access to a working phone, so he cannot make a call or send a message to the User 2. If we assume that User 1 has to make an urgent call, the application would allow him to mark his message "urgent" and by sending it through the S.O.S. application the message would be instantly delivered on User's 2 Facebook chat, Viber, E-mail address, phone, What'sApp etc. The application would also have the possibility of synchronizing it's address book with the Phone-book, Viber Phone-book, Facebook friends information etc

Follow up

After installing the application, user can customize their preferences and sync his contacts. The application then gathers information from the phone and creates a network of all previously used mobile messaging applications for every name in the address book.

So the app has access to all of the users mobile messaging applications.

When the user has the need to send an urgent message, he does that through this application which allowed him merging all mobile messaging applications. He chooses the name of the contact and the way he can be reached. The receiver gets a message on all of the applications that user synced in his application.

This way, the user needs to have access to one application, and the message is delivered to that application only. The application is not limited by the number of applications that the user ever used, it is limited by user's input of information. If the address book is composed out of many applications, the message will be sent to all of them.

This provides a great, but not annoying way of reaching people when found in an urgent situation with limited service.

SWOT analysis

- Strengths
ease of use, ability to sync with other applications, constant availability, no character limit, price, understanding of user's need and behavior
- Weaknesses
undefined target market, limited use, essential internet connection, need to get critical mass before coming to market
- Opportunities
marketing, definite target market, human-centered design, large smartphone market, widespread use of smartphones
- Threats
rapid growth and range of the mobile messaging applications, high competition

Analyzing the idea with the method provided, I have realized that even though I would found this application very useful, neither its market or its industry would allow it to enter the field of competitors. This is mainly because the target market is still undefined and the use of application is very limited to few customers. As the last article suggested, there is no industry without customers.

Follow up

The application itself cannot provide services that are new or were not already used. What to aim for then is working through other competitive forces. Maybe the application does not provide new services but its design and ease of use can be appealing to different users. The target market is yet undefined. Other examples of applications like this have been used within armies or in the cases of emergencies. Maybe the good thing would be to go back to the original idea of the emergency app that provides contacting other users through different application when the user is in the emergency. It doesn’t have to be a message at this point. Considering the fact that many smartphones are constantly connected to the internet and\or have access to it, it can collect the data from the phone GPS system, provide another user of the phone’s coordinates and use a sample of text from the application (something like “I am in an emergency, my coordinates are … you can reach me through … “) In this way the application would in an instant provide the way of communicating between users without time consuming typing, searching for the second user etc. The application would provide a message to the app that the second user is using at the moment so the efficiency of getting the message would be highly increased when needed. The user can have an interface where he chooses the message and the contact and whether is he sending his coordinates. This would be achieved through a simply configured set of interactive questions.

What happened? Then the set of recommended answers and the option of writing your own.

Where are you? At this point your place on the map is shown and you can also choose to add to that or not to use your location at all.

How do you want to be reached? The application would provide a list of all the possible ways were the user can choose ways of how to get to them.

"Home"; Restaurant with locally grown food and domestic products

I imagined a restaurant like this somewhere in the urban settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, maybe the capital itself, because without any special need the country's imports most of the goods making the prices of locally grown food increase and become unaffordable for the local population. The resources used by the restaurant would all be locally grown and all other products would have to be domestic as well. It would be employee-owned, maybe even by farmers themselves. The restaurant is imagined as a mundane, hip place, with affordable prices for the target market, which is the current business class. It would be strategically located next to the most important companies and public enterprises (which is not hard to achieve in Bosnia and Herzegovina).

"Over a coffee"; Coffee shop/Communal library

Nowadays, when the information are so easily exchanged the concept of a physical place of meeting is neglected. The "Over a coffee" coffee shop/communal library would have a purpose of providing a physical platform for all thinkers, philosophers, listeners to meet face to face and discuss their interests. The space would have capacity of receiving 100-150 people for concerts, art exhibitions, talks etc. and 30-40 people for everyday use. The interior would be decorated in a vintage, almost random, style with a possibility of customers adding to it (customers can bring different items and find a spot for them anywhere in the shop). The coffee and tea served in the shop would come directly from the source, local source preferably. The shop would have many different book shelves all around for the books from the communal library which starts with a certain number of books but works on "a book for a book" principle, meaning that books can be: rented with paid membership, read at the spot, or traded for another book. Except as a coffee shop, the place can serve as a party in promotion or placement of local bands, artists and scientists as well. Where the place gets to sell more beverages and the artists get the profit from the tickets. The main goal is to let the place shape itself over the course of time. The end product is very vaguely described, but in the same time so wonderfully intriguing.

Rhino

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