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Turning good ideas into great business.

Our approach to problem solving is smart and straightforward. We teach you and your team how to discover and explore the possibilities of your business.

We can bring together all of your resources to break through the challenges of your industry. We’ll help you define your goals and draw a practical map for you to reach them. We’ll motivate your team – and help them to inspire each other.

We aren’t satisfied with business as usual. We aim for business in a league of its own.

Our Services will assist you to move your business confidently forward.

Guided Workshops

  1. Business Insight – Define what you do, and gain big-picture perspective on how your business works. Bring clarity to the complex and ‘hidden’ processes that shape your day-to-day. Understand where your real value to customers resides. Know who you are and what you care about. 
  2. Opportunity Exploration – When faced with a new business opportunity or a complex business concern, never struggle with ‘Where to start?’ again. Learn a repeatable process for properly framing your business challenges, identifying barriers to overcome and exploring latent potential.
  3. Customer Insight – Identify who to speak to, how to reach them and what to ask. Use the insights you gain direct from your customers to create better ways to satisfy them. Develop real relationships with the people you exist to benefit.
  4. Co-Development – Start generating bold new ideas in a real-time co-creative group session. Learn how to prioritise the right ones. Quickly develop prototypes for testing and feedback. Learn on the fly – save time and prevent over-investment in the wrong idea. Ensure product feasibility and financial viability early on.
  5. Implementation Pathfinder – Take your ideas from the sketchbook to market. Strategically organise activities, tasks, actions and operations to illuminate a timely path to delivery.

Further Services

Graphic & Communications Design – Get your ideas across the line with clarity and power. Our award-winning communications design and brand development expertise will gain buy-in across the board.

Exploring to opportunities for interpreting the West Australian Ballet Season 2016 in partnership with The Mad Empire

Exploring to opportunities for interpreting the West Australian Ballet Season 2016 in partnership with The Mad Empire

What is your investment?

Our workshops provide both practical training for your staff and real outcomes for your business. We guide repeatable group processes best taught with five to seven people boasting diverse experience from within your organisation.  

Workshops include; Preparation Resources, Four Hours Facilitation, Working Materials (lots and lots of Post-Its!), Record Taking, Post-Workshop Outcomes Summary and Recommendations.

Need a more end-to-end approach?

Choose one or more of the five workshops outlined above or let us create a custom process just for you. Project work (e.g. a Guided Workshop series with Graphic & Communication Design components) is charged by instalment billing over an agreed upon time period to make things easier and more affordable for you. We will find the best way to accommodate your budget.

Guided Workshop
5–7 attendees | 4 hours
$2,200 + gst

Graphic & Communications Design
$140 / hour + gst

Not sure where to start? Get in touch.

We enjoy any conversation about business challenges and opportunities. If you have any questions about what we do or how it might apply to your situation then give us a call or shoot through an email.

Call +61 422 520 552 or email eb@hartblack.com

 

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Is your business learning from it’s mistakes?

We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.
— George Bernard Shaw

At times, when you look at the history books, it does seem that the human race is destined to perpetrate it's own collapse. Collectively we appear to forget what happened, why it happened (if we even took the time to understand the breakdown in the first place) and what warning signs were evident. Then, without thought, we determine to repeat the same mistakes time and again. 

Fail—Ignore—Forget—Repeat or Mistakes = Opportunities

Fail—Ignore—Forget—Repeat or Mistakes = Opportunities

Should we suffer the same fate in our businesses?

I think this depends on the learning culture of an organisation. A negative organisational stance towards failure appears to create a culture afraid to take ownership of problems and learn from them. An organisation with this attitude runs the risk that their people will just sweep failure under the rug to save face. To individuals working in such an organisation ‘survival’ is dependent on having solutions. This is not exactly a recipe for organisational excellence let alone innovation. Every small failure will builds upon the last until the system collapses.

Imagine repositioning failures as opportunities.

Giving managers and staff permission to take responsibility for failure allows them to learn rather than glossing over the problem. Providing a simple process to analyse the failure, capture why it happened and then share and store the learnings for easy access is a simple and effective plan. Incorporating this function into individual KPI's rewards the effective management of failure and encourages continuous learning and therefore improvement.

 

Prevent repeating mistakes in 5 steps:

  1. Create a simple ‘Failure to Opportunity’ Process

  2. Be open when a failure occurs

  3. Create the opportunity to question what happened and why

  4. Record what you learn and create some ‘warning flags’ for the future

  5. Share what you learn and make it permanently and readily available

 

Then with the question ‘How might we succeed by doing things differently?’ the fun really begins!

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Why use a designer to help your business innovate?

It's a fair question and one that I actually hadn't been asked until just before Christmas. I was speaking with a lovely guy who owns a national retail business here in Australia after attending the baptism of a mutual friend’s baby.

Design process: a journey mapping exercise helps group, filter, prioritise and articulate user questions upon arriving on a website.

Design process: a journey mapping exercise helps group, filter, prioritise and articulate user questions upon arriving on a website.

 

Our conversation went something like this…

Him ‘So what do you do for a living?’
Me ‘I help businesses innovate and solve problems. The area is called Design Thinking and the approach I use is called Human-Centred Design.’
Him ‘What is that?’
Me ‘Design Thinking is the use of design process to solve problems in fields other than design and Human-Centred Design is a combination of Design Thinking and a process for capturing insights from the people you are designing for. The goal is to create embraceable innovation that understands and solves root problems.’
Him ‘Sounds interesting but why would a business choose to use a designer for things like innovation or problem-solving? I mean wouldn't they be more likely to engage some kind of business consultant?’
Me ‘Great question!’

 
Creativity is not about a nice interior or a nice wardrobe or a sense of design. It’s about a very subtle way to think and to realise, if this doesn’t work, then I can solve things in another way; confidence and flexibility.
— Li Eselkoort
 

I have kept this quote printed on a piece of yellow paper on the wall next to my desk for the last three years and it occurred to me that it really answers my new friend's question.

The design process learned through a solid design education is continually honed and evolved and over time gives designers the confidence and flexibility to tackle any kind of problem. A thoughtful and well trained designer can create solutions as unique as the problems they seek to answer. While being versed in business best practise guidelines and formulas is incredibly useful they can't help differentiate a product or service in an original way. The design process by it's very nature creates opportunity for innovation.

A thoughtful and well trained designer can create solutions as unique as the problems they seek to answer.

If I were to be asked the question today ‘Why would I use a designer to help my business innovate?’ my answer would be threefold:

  1. Abstract/conceptual thinking
    The purpose of the design process is to make unseen connections and combine ideas to solve problems.
  2. Communicating complexity
    Getting conceptual ideas and innovative thinking across the line requires clarity and simplicity. The design process visualises information making new ideas accessible.
  3. Imagination
    Imagination allows the design process to look at problems from multiple perspectives finding solutions that empathise with the people you are designing for. The design process encourages imaginative, divergent thinking and dreaming to create new opportunities while also allowing designers to be comfortable with the unknown.
 

The design process, Design Thinking and Human-Centred Design are however not simply the domain of designers. They are tools that can and should be learned by everyone. IDEO.org in partnership with Acumen offer a free 6 week introduction to Human-Centred Design on the NovoEd platform which I highly recommend for you and your team. Otherwise Hart Black is due to launch workshops to do just this in the coming months. Watch this space.

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Instilling innovation into Australian business cultures.

The Federal Government has switched onto innovation cultures! It's a good day.

I am intrigued to see how this will manifest and the role that Design Thinking and Human-Centred Design will play. Having worked on numerous behavioural and culture design projects over the last couple of years I know how important organisation wide collaboration and co-creation is. I think it shows a misunderstanding of the broader scope of innovation to limit investment to “STEM” subjects as outlined in the following excerpt.

In his first major economic statement as Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull will today unveil a $1 billion plan to foster greater innovation across 11 different Government portfolios. The Government will unveil plans in the areas of tax, research infrastructure, and education in the STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and maths - in a bid to ‘kick start an innovation culture’.
— Peta Donald, ABC News

Alicia Roth describes how Human Centered Design methods are used at Amway to create innovative solutions.

Innovation is not the singular domain of a narrow group of disciplines.

Innovation can be learned by anyone and should be learned by everyone. Every business should and can benefit. Where diverse expertise is coupled with a human-centered creative process unexpected combinations of ideas result in innovation. 

Have a look at how Amway have adopted Human-Centred Design to innovate around their product and service models.

The Government plan is a great starting point and should provide a platform for discussing the future of innovation cultures in Australia despite my own misgivings. Afterall, the central premise of innovation is questioning the status quo.

If you are intrigued to know how you might instill a process for innovation within the culture of your organisation I would love to hear from you!

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Giving while living – designing your business activities to give more.

Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of Facebook) and Pricilla Chan this morning announced the arrival of their baby girl and an enormous charity initiative.

Zuckerberg with his wife, Priscilla Chan, and their new daughter Max. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Zuckerberg with his wife, Priscilla Chan, and their new daughter Max. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Having pledged to give away 99% of their $45bn fortune I was inspired to read that this is part of a growing trend amongst the young and extraordinarily wealthy who “prefer ‘giving while living’ to willing their assets to charity”. Such initiatives range from investment in education reform, new energy sources or in the case of the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation to “further the mission of advancing human potential and promoting equality, public advocacy and other activities for the public good”.

I firmly believe that it is within the power of every business to contribute in a meaningful way to the people and world around them. It can be as simple (and as difficult) as bravely questioning what impact your products, services, people and environments are having on the world.

Naming a problem and reframing it as an opportunity to design a better way is the first crucial step.

  1. Where does what we do have a negative impact on people and the planet?
  2. Why do we do things in that way?
  3. What opportunities do these problems create for us to do things differently?
  4. What if people and the planet were the priority… how then would we do things?

Just imagine if every business gave a little by rethinking any harmful activities. How might that change the world we live in? Is that not the essence of charity? How might governments encourage and empower businesses to take such steps?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Ok. Let's talk nuts and bolts. What you get when hiring Hart Black.

Hart Black is Euan Black and I am he! I am a truly passionate consultant and the work I undertake with you will be largely completed in a workshop format. Workshops last for 4 hours and tackle a specific activity or group of activities from the Human-Centred Design (HCD) process.

The main services that I offer can be viewed here.

I have experience with the following kinds of organisational challenge across a large variety of sectors, however, the beauty of HCD is that is can be applied to any kind of organisation, every kind of problem-solving challenge and it is repeatable allowing for continued innovation.

  • Product & Service Innovation
  • Behaviour & Motivation Design
  • Communications Design
  • Environmental (Spaces) Interaction Design
  • Journey Mapping
  • Empathy Mapping
  • Holistic Brand Development (Product/Behaviour/Communications/Environments)

If you are new to HCD (often referred to as Design Thinking) I can highly recommend the following introductory articles:

David Thomsen writes about 'Why Human-Centred Design Matters' on wired.com

and

Jon Kolko writes 'Human-Centred Design Comes of Age' in Harvard Business Review (Cover Story, September 2015)

or

if you prefer your information visual (like me) this video by IDEO for the ideo.org Design Kit really says it all in a beautiful and simple way.

Credit : http://www.designkit.org/

I love to meet new people and help them reframe the challenges they face to spark a new direction for progress.

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