Soluessee: Evianna Sipilä ja Linda Kivialho
In three months of exchange in The Netherlands and ten weeks studies of artful business, we learned how to use the Frame Innovation tool for solving problems. Frame Innovation is a design-lead method and it’s created by Kees Dorst. The key focus of framing as a tool is to create permanent changes instead of temporary fixes since a lot of the times the actions or solutions are only a bandage solution.
In this essay we share the basics of how to use the Frame Innovation tool for creating the solutions. We will show a practical example what we established by using the tool and finally, give our point of a view of using the Frame Innovation in the context of Proakatemia’s 12 and 24-hour challenges. In addition to our own experience, this essay is based on book of Frame Innovation by Kees Dorst.
1. Nine steps
When you first start to familiarize yourself with the problem, you really need to dive deep into the problems history. It is essential that you do a research on the attempts of how the problem was tried to be solved earlier. What is the history of it? How everything started? Then you will be able to understand the steps that led to the problem. (Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Doorst, p. 74).
Second part of the step Archeology is to go back to the beginning and start going through all the other ways the problem could have been solved. In the beginning, avoid the word “never”, because the nonnegotiable topics will limit the creative progress. This is a very important step on the research because one of the most common mistakes in the design process is that we fall into the same trap with our thinking than people solving the problem before us. (Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Doorst, p. 74).
When we have gained understanding about the archeology of the problem, we move to the initial problem itself. We ask the question: What makes the problem hard to solve? Then we answer with a sentence that starts with “Because” statements. With these statements you try to find the key paradox or the barrier that keeps the problem owner from moving forward. Then you just put the paradox away and don’t look at it before the end of the process. This is very essential part of the process. (Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Doorst, p. 74-75).
Going to the next stage, you take a leap away of the key paradox and return to it further in the progress. Looking at the problem, investigate the people who are involved to it. In Frame Innovation progress this group is called shareholders. Shareholders can be divided into two groups, the key shareholders are the ones who have the current effect towards the problem. They can also be described as a group of inner circle. Other group in out circle, includes the shareholders who will be involved to the problem in the solution part. (Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Doorst, p. 76).
Field is a research part where you try to understand the currency of the “players” around the problem. You need to realize the stage of the person that is part of the group you are investigating by means of culture, economic, social etc. background. This is how you will be able to understand their values and decision making that is pushing the problem towards a certain kind of direction. Using a tool like service design or customer journey map could help in understanding the players. (Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Doorst, p. 76).
When you have achieved the understanding of the players the next stage is to the try to understand the deeper factors that underlines motivation of the decisions that the players are making in their lives. What they want to achieve? What they are searching for in life? The aim of finding the themes is to reach the core insight between the players and the problem. (Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Doorst, p. 77).
Themes are the basis for the frames. The framing part starts by going back to the original paradox (step 2.) and finding the definitions of the factors that were the behind the players motives. The key factors can be formulated by using the metaphor:
If the problem situation is approached as if it is … , then … (Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Doorst, p. 78).
In this part you are supposed to start thinking forward. It means you develop the solutions further. These should be only written down but not pursued. The point is to see if the path is right. It is also important to create value propositions to all parties involved. Everything is about how it sparks the ones that are involved in the solution. (Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Doorst, p. 78-79).
This part is the critical thinking part of the process. It is important to see if the solutions are viable in short- or long-term. Kill your darlings! Remove everything that is not really practical. Think about if the solutions are scalable. Explore the ideas to see if they are reasonable to put in to use from the perspective of the stakeholders. It is not enough that the idea is great, put it needs to be able to be implemented.
(Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Doorst, p. 79).
The new frames needs to fit in to the broader context. Relationships, organizations and connections needs to be integrated to the frames. There will be new things arising from the new kind of thinking.
(Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Doorst, p. 79).
2. Case: Holland National Theatre
Holland National Theatre (HNT) had a problem to attract students to come to the theatre shows. On the first meeting, the assignment provider mentioned that he would like to see HNT as “A Living Room of The Hague” where students would come and spend time together. Receiving the assignment and hearing the ground motivation of the assignment provider, we started to build the solution using the Frame Creation progress.
2.1. Steps one to five in to practice
We started the progress by investigating what previous attempts the theatre had tried to attract the target group. Doing this we used A Customer Journey Map. Entering to the theatre was a positive experience. We were wondering how the students hadn’t found the place very close by the University, Main Library, Central Station and not to mention the atmosphere inside that can be described as a fesh and urban. According to our experience, we thought the theatre should attract the average student to go there so where did the problem exist?
Next step of progress is to find out the paradoxes. In our case the question would be: “why the students won’t come to the theatre?”
Paradoxes we found, were mostly related on young millenials eagerness to get the satisfaction very fast and easy way. Hedonism is also something we pointed out while talking about the current period of time. Theatre shows challenges the audience to think and reflect what they have seen in emphatic way. That requires patience, and certain kind of maturity. Also the theatre show doesn’t always provide fun and happy feeling. The shows are not as predictable as the most romantic comedies that the cinemas are showing. The current customer demand is eager to get the satisfaction very fast and that’s why it might be the reason why films are most of the times more attractive for the students.
Moving to the rechearching part, we interviewed two groups of shareholders that we thought the most related to the problem. The groups of shareholders were:
Inner circle: The employees of the HNT and regular customers
Out circle: The average Dutch student
We started to frame the dilemma of how to get students to the theatre, by asking them four questions:
1) If you have a full day off, where would you go? (Why? x 5)
2) What is your life motto?
3) What do you expect to get from life? (Define the feeling what gives you the “life satisfaction”).
4) What do you expect to offer as a contribute? (What you can offer back, where you are good at?)
With this act we started framing the themes that are describing the root cause for the most important question “why?”. Usually the “why” question is diving as deep as knowing the target groups motivation of what is important in life for them.
Going through the answers, we find out one topic that was up on everything: happiness. Happiness itself is not useful enough to give enough value in innovation but continuing to define it by asking “what do you think that makes you happy?”, would give the useful ingredients to the next stage which leads the progress into “framing” part.
The aim of the framing is to find a definitions of the factors. Amount all of the answers, we framed four themes behind the factor of happiness that was:
Next thing is to start to think the future of the theatre: how to add the themes in to the theatre experience and change it to become more student friendly place and place to hang around? Through the discussion, we came up to the conclusion that connection is something that is remarkable part of being a human. When we think about the human in our target group (young adult) it’s also important to become accepted.
How to use these ingredients in innovation? After several ideation sessions, we found an idea that would have the factors of happiness: making a game that can be played with a large group of people in the theatre. Playing the game, whether it’s a board game or just question and answer, would make people to connect with each other and if it’s easy to participate in to the game, it would also create the feeling of becoming accepted.
2.2 Solution: Coaster Game of HNT
Finding the idea that we agreed we start to develop, our assignment provider wanted us to make a rough prototype of the game we produced, after the theatre show. We sent email for all those who had bought a ticket to the theatre show called Dark Numbers on 9th of November, were be informed that there’s a true/false game after the show and everyone is invited. To participate in to the game, it was necessary to be seen the theatre show because the questions would be related to the experience of it.
How the prototype worked step by step after the customer had seen the show? Receiving the bier after the theatre show, the client gets a coaster that includes the true and false arguments in it. The questions related on the theatre show, will be shown on the screen. By that everybody can play the game with their table company or with the whole cafeteria. Gaming will be hosted by an after show talker who gives the instructions and makes the follow-up questions. All the questions are related to the theatre experience.
The game will take approx. 20-25 minutes. After the game, the assumption is that the audience wants to continue interacting with each other and stay in the HNT cafeteria. The aim of the game is to spark a conversation and making people feeling connected. The same concept works with every theatre show. Arranging the game after each show, can indrigarte the students to come to the theatre more regularly.
2.3 Transformation and Integration
Finally, our hypothesis was that the most important thing for the target group is to feel connected and playing together in the theatre would be the solution for that. The game is designed to be easy for everyone to participate in to it. Playing the game after the theatre show and feeling the relaxed “living room” kind of atmosphere, might be something unexpected to experience in the place like National Theatre. Opening up by telling something about yourself for the others during the game, makes the feeling of acceptance. At the end the overall experience of the Friday evening in HNT might makes the impact why the target group wants to come again.
The recieve for the prototype of the coaster game, was better than we expected. Unknown people where discussing with each other and sharing the experience of the theatre show Dark Numbers which was related in to Dutch veterans stories about Bosnian war in 1995. The event that was set up in the small corner of the cafeteria was fully packed. There was approx. 35-40 participants in to the game after the show. The atmosphere in the event was very open and curious. There was laughter and interesting opinions shared.
With the prototype of the coaster game, we managed to spark a conversation and make people to spend more time in the theatre after the show as well. Did we fully accomplish to engage our target group come again to the theatre is uncertain and the change in the habits of our target group won’t happen immediately. What we did achieve, was giving a new kind of thinking for the Holland National Theatre by producing them a game.
3. Frame Innovation as a tool for 12 and 24-hour challenges
3.1 The challenges with innovation in Proakatemia
Proakatemia has a long history of innovation challenges that have been used as creating pressure with competition between teams. Most of the studies are problem based learning. The innovation challenges are providing solutions to different kind of problems.
The problem with the innovations in Proakatemia is usually “the bubble” that exists inside our unit. When we have our challenges, we usually do some kind of research in the form of random calling or fill-in forms that we then share in the social media. Hoping we get enough answers with the right kind of sampling.
Also the mapping we do to find the real needs of the project provider can be somewhat shallow. The teams usually have couple of hours to interview the project provider and then they can be in contact with them during the challenge. Usually by phone call. The problem here is also that usually the providers already have a solution in mind and they answer by already leading the interviewer’s mind in to certain things. This is of course humane but not very effective from the perspective of the assignment.
There are also some problems with the innovation tools. There are so many different kind of tools that can be used. But for some reason it is usually very hard for the teams to use them. Or at least the results are often somewhat thin. And not that new. And not necessarily fitting the needs of the client. Of course this has also something to do with the providers limited understanding on what their real problem is.
We don’t also always know when to stop pursuing one solution. It is hard to give up on an idea that one or part of the team has fallen in love with. Too many things are based on a feeling and you stop seeing the real value of the solutions since people get attached. Killing your darlings is a difficult thing, but in the innovation process pretty necessary.
3.2 How Frame Innovation tool could be used in innovation challenges?
The Frame Innovation tool creates a structure to the innovation process. It is a tool for design thinking. If you go through the steps properly, it is possible to do that in a fair amount of time. Of course you can use weeks or months to get to the result if you have the time. But the problem with the innovation challenges in Proakatemia is usually the time limit of 12 or 24 hours. That also creates a pressure and that sometimes leads to hopelessness and frustration. And losing the grip of the process.
This model offers every step through the journey. It helps to locate the real problem in a very simple, zoom in – zoom out method. This would be how you don’t lose the way during the process. Also when it’s used properly, it makes pretty sure that you will find the things that are really connected with the problem. It includes the emotions and the human perspective to the process of solving the problem.
The archeology part is the most important one. Understanding the field around the issue and the history of attempts to solve it before are essential. There are also usually so many different stakeholders connected with the problem, and usually we only look at the direct ones. When you use this model through the process, the innovation starts to look so clear when you see how everything is connected.
The challenge in this Frame creation model is that you can’t really tell to the client what the result will be. But to be honest, it is not like you can ever promise the result of an innovation process. Otherwise it wouldn’t be innovation. But with this tool we could learn to do better research and connect the complex levels of the problem in to the solution and providing better value for the customers.
Frame Innovation, 2015, Kees Dorst
Artful Business Creations -minor 27.8 – 9.11.2018, The Hague University