LEGO Serious Play, privacy, data quality, co-creation, and UX. It seems a random list of topics, yet there’s a fil rouge that links them.
The impact of technologies has had a deep effect on how people and organisations interact: old-fashioned words, which were popular only few years ago, such as ubiquitous computing, or always on, are now everyday’s reality, making interaction and communication easier, quicker, multimodal.
Technologies and the web have produced new ways to communicate and have put people closer, offering new ways to interact. In a word, we are living in a world of conversations, where everything is conversation, as predicted in 1999 by the Cluetrain Manifesto. People interact more, users interact directly with companies, the web empowers consumers to engage in conversations with people and organisations we had no idea how to reach only 15 years ago.
The increase in quantity and quality of conversations between people that traditionally had limited opportunities to interact so straightforwardly with companies and organisations, is leading a huge change in processes and dynamics for all parts and all hierarchies involved. But more opportunities to interact and to exchange information comes with new threats and new problems, because these conversations, more often than not, are not just discourses, but there’s also an underlying data collection from one part, with serious implications for people’s privacy.
Privacy related treats, also often described by the media, are a key reason of users’ mistrust; and mistrust can hijack conversations between users and organisations if there’s no respect and trust based relationship from the very beginning of the process.
Constructive dialogues are based on trust, and trust comes from transparency, mutual understanding of goals and values, and reciprocal respect.
So, privacy comes into play as an essential factor in the trust building process between people, organisations, processes, and technologies.
It’s true that communication is easy, and that having a conversation is simple. However, it is also true that technologies collect a number of data about people: these can be data collected in a transparent way, gaining explicit informed consent, or data can be collected without an explicit consent with no, or limited, information on how data collected will be used, stored and used.
So, today most data goes into that black hole known as Big Data, which is a scaring word for users who do not understand exactly what it is and its implications. At the beginning we had Big Brother, now the brother has gone, a data warehouse does the job and everything has been dehumanised, including the users.
But data by itself is harmless: as per the DIKW pyramid, data is only the first step: the usage of data to generate information and how the outcome will be applied and put in practice is not clear yet, and this generates uncertainties.
So, if users do not trust organisations they are having conversations with, they may lie and feed the big data with inconsistent and incoherent data: white lies such as age, address, gender, age, preferences, email addresses… these may seem innocent lies but they cause problems to companies data warehouses and cause companies waste of money, for instance, if they send notices and email by post to non existent addresses.
People have learnt to talk with and contribute to organisations, and organisations have opened up adopting various open innovation initiatives: community, forums, contest, crowd sourcing initiatives… This new approach has changed the traditional relationship between organisations and customers: users have become an active part of the conversation and are not anymore a passive actor, that could interact with the organisations mainly at the point of exchange – the sale.
As a fan of collective creativity and co-creation processes the link was immediate: beyond open innovation initiatives, where organisations outsource the creative process inviting users to submit ideas and needs that the organisation will eventually develop, much more can be achieved if customers would be engaged in a co-creation experience.
Co-creation does not mean asking people to create ideas for the company, but to create ideas with the organisation. Co-creation is about engaging people in a creative, social, interactive, collaborative experience where stakeholders and users work together to build an idea and to create reciprocal value.
So, here’s where LEGO Serious Play comes into play.
Co-creation benefits of facilitated workshops involving stakeholders, designers, and users to understand experiences, values and meanings to build new concepts and the next user experience. Co-creation benefits from heterogeneous team-sized groups of contributors in order to be able to let all parts involved to express their needs, values and expectations.
To make the most of co-creation, organisations can have a huge strategic advantage if they already experienced first hand and invested in customers and users experience. Understanding what are users’ experiences, pain points, frustrations, rewards and satisfaction when it comes to interact with products and services, is key information to design the whole co-creation experience. This is because, to create value to engage users, to shape the next user experience, to innovate services and products, companies need to have already engaged with users and they have to know where they stand. Such an awareness and knowledge of the user experience emerge through the conversations, and this preliminary knowledge allows the design of workshops and co-creative processes that engage users and stakeholders collaboratively and constructively.
Organisations need to create a sound, trust-based relationship and learn to involve users at the right time, with the right interaction and processes if they want to make the most of the conversations.
But innovation requires engagement that goes well beyond crowd sourcing: it requires a user centric approach, and it demands for collaborative and constructive processes where participants build ideas and concepts, negotiate meaning and engage in creative activities together to create mutual value – value for the company and for the costumers. A value that goes into the design and development of a better user experience that targets needs and values that are latent, those values that are subconscious and that LEGO Serious Play can surface. In such a perspective, LSP is the beating, engaging and revealing heart of a co-creation experience, helping organisations and users to engage in constructive conversations to build together, iteratively, the next user experience, innovating services and products together.
So, everything is now connected: privacy and transparency enhance organisations’ relationship with customers, increasing trust and setting the conditions for a constructive dialogue that also positively affects also data quality. Given these premises, a user centred approach based on the understanding of today’s user experience, is pivotal to design participative co-creative experiences that bring to light win-win concepts to innovate services and products and improve users’ experience. To exploit the collective creativity of those involved in the co-creation process, and to build ideas that lead to innovation, the support of methods like LSP are essential to make the whole process engaging, creative, social and efficient.