Week 39 – Picking the One

During the second week of this project we dived deeper into the innovation process. In summary, we

  • Met on Monday and exercised our presentation skills
  • Got together with the entire group on Thursday and spent hours with the idea making process. We used several innovation tools and also talked about our stakeholders. Lastly, we created the basic outline for the following Monday’s presentation.
  • On Friday we met with the professor and our assistant and started working with the Uncertainty Horizon Diagram.
  • During the weekend we all worked on our own with the project.

We have also established some communication tools to handle the project. The majority of our collaboration and content is in Google Drive, and we use Dropbox for hosting any images and other media. We use Telegram for day-to-day communication, and Trello as a Kanban project management tool.

Presentation workshop (Monday 25.9)

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The workshop on performing last Monday was a great session, and in my humble opinion should definitely be a more common topic weaved into university studies. If you have a great idea or product, but can’t convince anyone of it, what’s the point of having it at all? Some trademarks of a great presentation we found on Monday were:

  • Start with a bang:  do something surprising or say something provocative to make sure you have the full attention of your audience. And don’t start if the audience is not ready! We had a great exercise where performers had to wait uncomfortably long before starting their pitch, and you could really notice the difference in how the audience was interested.
  • 3 key arguments: whether your presentation is 3 minutes or an hour long, a good rule of thumb is to have 3 key points to structure your presentation around. Remember to also tell the audience how many arguments you have – that will help you keep their full attention.
  •  A solid closer: end with something that nicely ties together your 3 key points – or if you want to surprise people, suddenly turn the whole argument upside-down and end with something completely surprising that still builds upon your previous points. Make the audience aware of when it is ok to start the applause, for example by saying “thank you”. I might add, from personal experience: your presentation really ends at “thank you”, and anything you say after that will not be registered by the audience, as they are inevitably already in applause-mode.

Innovation process (Thursday 28.9)

Since the previous blog post it has become obvious that our OTOP team has quite a special opportunity on hand. We began brainstorming from a clean slate, limited only by time and available knowledge. We quickly found ourselves in a situation where we were required to have an idea worth looking into. We rushed to identify opportunities by looking for things we could do better, things our own lives were missing and new opportunities provided by changes in legislation and technological advancements.

But with opportunity you need action. For creating workable action from the surfaced opportunities, we had a session where we tried to take the side of possibly interested groups, and assessed the impact of our product. By eliminating the less impactful ideas we decided to work towards PSD2 and peer-to-peer loans.
To avoid rushing into things, we proceeded to identify pitfalls and sectors where our idea wouldn’t shine. This ended up working out by team splitting into two subgroups, and playing the why-game: the other group would question everything with a “why?” and the other group would defend the idea against these questions. Saska, with his background in Industrial Engineering and Management, proved to be superb at stepping into the shoes of the customer and taking a neutral stance.

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To see if we could do even better, we decided to host a negative brainstorming session to come up with the worst possible execution for our idea. The ultimate idea is to come up with horrible product, then by identifying the negative aspects in that product you are able to create a better product. Our session led us to a dystopian vision of a service where customers are ignored and cheated out of their money. We really hope that we have been able to identify the biggest pitfalls and turn them to work in our advantage.

Some of the cornerstones of a great P2P loan platform we identified:

  • Assess people for their ability to pay back loans. Better payback rates – lower interest.
  • Allow as much automation as possible by integrating the loan service directly to customers’ bank accounts. Easier service, reduced costs for all sides.
  • Allow creation of loan-pools with massive dispersion to bring down the risk involved in lending money.

We also began discussing about managing our team’s work. So far, we had used Telegram for daily messaging – which has served us well – and we have really used it a lot. For collaboration – for example writing this blog post – we naturally used Google Drive, as that was a tool everyone was already familiar with. But due to the intensive discussion happening in Telegram it was soon hard to find the most relevant bits of information from the thread. That is how we identified that we would also need something else to keep track of the work that we have been doing and what is up next on our todo-list. We decided to start using Trello, a Kanban project management platform. In Kanban, the idea is to create a ticket for every task that we have identified, and add it to the backlog. Every ticket has a description, an assignee and a due date, which makes tracking our work easy. As the work flows in, the backlog is groomed and filtered, and some tickets get moved to work-in-progress, while some tickets are discarded entirely. When a task has been completed, that ticket is moved to done, and everyone can open Trello to see the status of our project at any given time.

Lecture and session on Friday (29.9)

On Friday we attended the lesson and had a chance to meet our supervisor Janne Halme who challenged our view by asking important and big questions that are necessary to clarify as early as possible. That gave us some important directions for our next steps. After the lesson we also had a chance to meet our assistant Sofia, who helped us to comprehend the point of the three-horizons-tool and how that can actually be useful for us. Just like Janne did, she also helped us to broaden our view on the topic and encouraged us to consider different approaches. One of the main points there was the need to approach the problem from personal perspective so that it is easier for us to understand the validity of our solution in later phases of the project.

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Stakeholders

We identified four important stakeholder groups for our microloan platform. Our product can be seen as a two-two sided platform that facilitates borrowing and lending between the two sides. The borrowers and lenders are obviously the two most important stakeholders and the ones that actually generate our revenue. Banks are also important, since the whole business model is based on the access to their customers’ financial data through their APIs. Facilitating interactions like this requires also an approval from national finance and insurance authorities, for example the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority in Finland.

Uncertainty Horizon Diagram

Uncertainty Horizon Map

1 – Personal Accounting
2 – Cloud based database for receipts
3 – Global news
4 – Hassleplatform
5 – Eventplatform
6 – Small loan services for lenders
7 – Small loan services for borrowers

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