Many of us have heard terms like blockchain, RFID, or IOT sensors. But we may be too embarrassed to admit (publicly at least) that we don’t know what they mean.
When the head of a beauty conglomerate started learning how to code, he was so empowered by the ability to create something. He also realized just how limited his own knowledge about emerging tech was. So he brought us in to leverage our design thinking expertise to build competency and fluency around emerging tech. In the process, he hoped the hesitancy he and his peers were feeling would evaporate. He also wanted to gain a better understanding of what the landscape and potential for impact were to better inform decisions around potential investments.
How We Did It
The first rule of leading tech-fueled innovation is being able to talk about it. Without a basic understanding of what it is or means, it’s impossible to lead it.
We started by conducting interviews with relevant stakeholders to get a sense of where their understanding was and what they wanted to accomplish. Our objective was to create an environment in which the participants would experience a moment of mastery over the technology.
The earliest prototype of our tech cards made its first appearance during the workshop. With the cards, we helped participants define various emerging tech tools and then employ combinatorics to think about how these tools could be applied to solve various challenges they faced.
We intentionally curated an accessible, mastery-oriented path. By the end of the workshop, participants would understand a range of emerging tech and how they could be applied to their work. They could then use this knowledge to come up with their own ideas and develop a plan for how to test them.
The participants readily moved past their old fears. Each of them built a test that they could execute after the workshop — either a UX/UI interface, a false store website to test interest in a product, a Facebook ad, or something of the like.
Apparently, people love being called out on their fear (at least so long as they get to learn something for admitting it). Participants liked this workshop so much that it inspired two other projects for brands under the client conglomerate umbrella.
These leaders learned that a small investment in hands-on work with technology is enough. To make sound strategic decisions they don’t need deep technical knowledge. On their own they can understand the characteristics and impacts of a technology on their own business. They don’t need to be a CFO to read their financial statements and they don’t need to be a CTO to understand the technology they use.