Pigs transformed

Pigs Transformed

Earlier in my career, we used one expression a little too much – “putting lipstick on a pig”.

There was nothing more demoralizing than attempting to create a powerful communications campaign for a product that over time had lost its relevance and appeal. Regularly the product manager agreed, but overhauling the widget was often seen as overwhelming difficult or beyond the remit. So the wallpapering invariably commenced. This always felt wrong to me.

When we started UDKU we wanted to be involved in the creation of products and services that were worth communicating. And while we have developed lots of tools to help, such transformations invariably start with some difficult discussions, opening the collective team up to the possibility of change. But innovation isn’t scary and it shouldn’t feel overwhelming.

We all like to focus on the “game changers”, those that have created new business models or opened up a previously untapped market. But there’s plenty more ways to add value to an organisation. Even the smallest process improvement can have a significant impact on business performance.

We often start an innovation process with an audit of the customer experience. What that identifies is those moments that need to be celebrated and those moments that need to be fixed. With a focused remit, we then ideate collaboratively with our clients.

Our toolkit is a little different to most. It’s filled with out of category experience, because we know that one of the simplest ways to drive innovation is to apply something from another industry to your own. So, using an interior design team with a background in hospitality to design a financial advice branch, may not be as mad as it first sounds.

There’s some Decision Sciences in there too. How can we apply the principles of behavioral economics to drive the desired outcome? How does that scientific insight blend into the idea generation process? And how can we leverage subconscious decision making as part of our experience design? When you realize that all of our historical efforts to persuade people have focused on the 5% of decisions driven by the conscious mind, you realize that there is 95% of decision making as yet untapped.

Idea generation is often not the problem, but it is generating quality ideas, assessing them as such and delivering them that creates headaches for organisations. We use a combination of customer research, prototype testing and business impact assessment to manage the inherent risk of the new.

It’s good to have smelled the bacon.


Here’s some tips:

– Pinpoint the focus for your innovation effort.

– Use a wide range of stimulus to generate ideas.

– Apply science to enhance the thinking.

– Agree an assessment criteria based on customer need and business impact.

– Think about all aspects of your innovation value chain (generating, selecting and distributing new ideas through the business).


If you’d like to understand where innovation will prosper in your business and where it might grind to a halt, talk to us about the UDKU Innovation Heatmap, a diagnostic to make any organization primed to innovate.


By Mark Timmins, 8th December 2016

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