We are picking up from where we left off on last week's show. We discussed out of the box thinking, which means to think from a different perspective. In Part 1, we discussed thinking differently and thinking unconventionally. On this week's show, we will discuss thinking specifically from a new perspective.
Recap of Part 1
We started last week talking about thinking styles. Some of us may have multiple styles, such as myself. I like to come up with creative ideas, but also tend to be an analyst that likes collecting information. Next, we talked about thinking differently. We discussed seven different ways that are vital to thinking differently. You want to practice strategic, inquisitive, big-picture thinking, focused, risk-oriented thinking, shared-thinking, and reflective thinking.
As I shared last week, one of these is not better than the other. You should do all seven of these in some scheduled way. Set some time on your calendar to utilize each of these seven types of thinking. Set an hour a week for strategic thinking, then another hour for inquisitive thinking. Ask what questions you should be asking of your team or customers. Step back and take some time to look at the big picture. Go somewhere isolated where you can focus on an opportunity area. Find someone more willing to take the risks that you won't. Collect ideas from people. Set aside all of these times to reflect on new ideas.
One key area of thinking outside the box is to think from a new perspective. It would be best if you change your perspective by taking a different route than your current one. One challenge that I give my staff is to take a different path to work. Sometimes we get in the zone and don't notice new things as we are stuck in the same route every day.
Firstly, we need to get a new perspective  to help us see customers, products, and opportunities differently. Let's look at five ways to do this:
- Naturalism – This is an approach where one sits back and observes. At HP we did a project on lower-middle-class members in India. The project was looking at communication with family members that had gone to college and moved to Europe or North America. Instead of asking questions, we stayed in people's homes. We observed how they interacted and communicated right then and there, which was an eye-opening experience.
- Participant Observation – This is observing while asking questions. The best example of this is when I would go into Best Buy to observe and ask customers why they chose a product other than HP's.
- Interview – This is a large observation. We do this for our Innovation Bootcamp, where we bring customers to dinner, and the students in the class ask the audience questions.
- Survey – This is gathering information about the group. The best way to do this is by asking questions of different types. A variation of this is focus groups. I am not of a big fan of focus groups and surveys because I think bias can be injected into the surveys based on the questions asked.
- Archival Research – There is a ton of work that has been done by other researchers. You can learn from others, so find research that may disagree with you and look at it transparently. Get out of your comfort zone, because changing to a new perspective can help you find that next great idea.
The Customers Perspective
Now we will discuss how to walk in your customer's shoes. The best way to do this is to create a customer journey map. This tool examines how your customers interact with you. Let's look at what is needed to do this:
- Establish User Personas – This is a semi-fictional character based on your prospective and current customers. You take a collection of your customers from surveys or observational studies and categorize them. Allow yourself to think about it in the context of that customer.
- Understand Your Customer Touch Points – How will your customers interact from start to finish? You need to understand their perspective of your ads, websites, product quality, etc.
- Actors Who Influence Your Customers – These are people out of your control who can influence a positive or negative experience. If I am at Best Buy observing/talking to people and someone brings a friend with them, that friend can have a significant impact on what product they end up buying.
The first thing you want to do when you have all of this is to create an empathy map. An empathy map examines how the customer feels during each interaction. An example of this is Chick-fil-A employees saying my pleasure after serving you. Next, you want to sketch the customer's journey on a whiteboard, post-it notes, mind map, etc. This process helps create innovations that will have a considerable impact.
Think Out of the Box
This two-part series was about out of the box thinking. In part one, we discussed different thinking styles. It is crucial to understand how others think and to have people with varying styles of thinking on your team. Next, you want to think differently through all seven of the styles previously stated. In part two, we discussed getting a different perspective. Do interviews, invite prospects to dinner, do surveys, etc. Next, create a customer journey map and personas to get into the customer's shoes. Then, understand how customers interact and how they are influenced. Lastly, create a customer empathy map and sketch your customer journey to find how to make their experience better.
To know more about out of the box thinking and thinking with a new perspective, listen to this week's show: Out Of The Box Thinking – Part 2.