Creating more value by taking the time to engage

Recently I co-organised the Masterclass “Effective Implementation of Innovative Product Service Systems”. The masterclass was dedicated to share and discuss the most important insights on the development and implementation of PSS’s, from four years of research in the PSS101 project in CRISP (link).  You’d think the added value participants could get from this masterclass are all the learnings and insights after those four years of dedicated research. And of course, the programme did deliver interesting new tools, methods and frameworks, which will hopefully be used by the wider community. However to me this wasn’t the main value created in this Masterclass.

In fact, the workshop attracted a very interesting mix of business consultants, designers and people from academia who engaged in lively discussions about their experiences, successes and failures with developing and implementing innovations. The setting allowed participants to feel at ease amongst peers, and as such be very open and honest. The tools provided allowed them to share and mirror their experiences to each other. That is where the real value for the participants was created; from which I think, the participants learned most from.

This is also something I recognise in my projects as a design researcher. When we deliver projects, we don’t just deliver a report with our main insights or opportunity areas. Instead we take time with the client team to explore the data we collected and to create meaning from it together. The people who attend these co-creation workshops will take out much more than what they can get out of it from reading the report. By interacting with the data and each other they do not only learn from the research, but also from their colleagues. Taking the time to engage, discuss and share thoughts is very very important, however it seems as it isn’t always seen as such. It can be very difficult to get people to attend: Why spend 3-4 hours in a workshop if the report can be scanned for the main insights?

I think this links very well to one of the models shared in the Masterclass: about the perception vs. the reality of disruptive innovation. The visualisation we created highlights that for disruptive innovations to make it successfully to implementation a serious investment is required from the existing organisation. This investment doesn’t start when the idea is ‘ripe’ for roll-out, but starts way earlier, already during the development. Only by spending time and resources, the concept will be able to grow and eventually have a chance of success.

So even though I’m a design researcher, researching is only part of my job. I also need to make sure all the elements are in place for others to create value: making sure the right people attend a workshop, making sure they immerse themselves in the data, making sure the setting is right for them to interact with each other to make sense of the data and the insights together. In that sense I’m also an orchestrator …which happens to be one of the themes that emerged from the national CRISP innovation program as well. (Follow this link to find out more about CRISP).


Marie de Vos