On Friday October 18, YAG visited the strategy makers in Amsterdam. Upon entering, we immediately noticed that we were not at a “standard” consultancy office, but something that was much more reminiscent of a hip technology company than that of consultants. With their offices, the Strategy Makers want to stimulate the “Strategy Factory” creativity and innovation. This non-traditional is also reflected in the strategy makers’ working method, which is characterized by three phases: doing, joining and doing yourself. In this way they want to guide transitions together with the customer.
The afternoon can be roughly divided into two main topics: lean startup & design thinking.
After a short introduction of the company, we almost immediately started working in groups of 3/4. The assignment was to build the highest possible tower with a number of uncooked spaghetti strings, a piece of tape and a string in twelve minutes, in which a full marshmallow should be able to stand. The highest tower wins. Unfortunately, when the time passed, not a single tower remained. The reason for this was most likely because none of the teams had performed interim checks. Everyone was just working out a complete idea for a tower all at once, hoping the tower would hold the marshmallow in the last few seconds. This method is also called the waterfall process, in which a complete plan is mapped out and one tries to implement it all at once. The origin of this method lies with the large companies, who had enough money to make and test complete products and then shoot them off. The startups, on the other hand, do not have these resources and the lean startup method arose out of necessity. This is an iterative process where a big idea is broken down into smaller parts, each of these parts is planned, built and tested until it works and then the next part is started. In this way, an idea can be fired before serious amounts of money are wasted. If the YAGs had applied this technique to the marshmallow turrets, a lot more would probably have remained.
Now the switch from lean startup to design thinking. Although these two have some similarities, they are certainly different. Both methods are characterized by an iterative process, security and a lot of customer contact. In design thinking, however, the focus is next to developing a solution on solving a problem and taking the human factor into account, while lean startup is mainly focused on developing the solution. In this second part devoted to design thinking, the YAGs were immediately allowed to apply their newly acquired knowledge in practice. The Strategy Makers had a challenge for the YAGs to find a solution for transforming into a sustainable organization. Everyone has started working in groups again and has taken the following steps:
- Making a mind map and deducing the core question from this. All possible ideas related to the sustainability of an organization were written on a large piece of paper by each group. Then they were asked to select the most important point and write it down in a sentence.
- Create an interview set-up. After a brief explanation of how to prepare an interview and tips for conducting interviews, all YAGs put together an overall interview set-up. The idea for this was to increasingly focus questions on a very broad subject on the core question.
- Taking interviews. The actual conducting of these interviews also had to take place, this provided a bit of practical experience and provided us with ‘real’ data for solving the challenge.
- Download data. The Strategy Makers refer to the processing of the data from interviews as “Downloading data”. This means that YAGs have written down all data from the interviews in a structured manner on a large poster.
- “How can we …” ask a question. Individually, the YAGs have asked a “How can we…” question with information from the interviews. Formulating a question in this way stimulates solution-oriented and collective thinking. The aim was to write down the main problem that arose from the interviews in this format.
- Crazy 8 brainstorm. Then we brainstormed in the “Crazy 8” way for possible solutions for every problem. The “Crazy 8” method means that each person divides a paper into eight planes and links his / her problem to this paper, then draws and writes a solution in two planes with a time limit of one minute per plane. When the time is up, the paper is passed on to someone else, and this continues until all areas are filled. By combining different perspectives.
- Process and present the best solution from a group on a poster. Finally, the best ideas from each group were incorporated in a poster and presented to the entire group. Many interesting solutions have emerged. An example of a solution for successful sustainability within an organization was the implementation of an internal dashboard, which should facilitate the involvement of managers and employees.
YAG really enjoyed this afternoon and gained a lot of useful knowledge that can be applied to our own projects. For example, we were able to sharpen our interview skill set and sharpen our brainstorming skills.