in hacks, innovation, lean business building

Redefining the (shopping) experience #leanbusinessbuildinghacks


Below is a classic video in the Design Thinking world: The CBS show on IDEO’s process of re-inventing the shopping cart. It was published close to 20 years ago but is still worth a watch.

In the video, IDEO focused on the shopping cart itself. I assume this is because it is a cornerstone to the problem defined, and because it allowed the team to have a manageable area to focus their Design Thinking effort on.

With emerging technology rapidly playing a bigger role in users experiences we at @katapultgroup have made it our goal to combine Design Thinking with an understanding of new technology while emphasizing profit growth as an objective.

Below is a process that retailers can follow to transform the shopping experience using Lean Business Building:

  1. Observe extreme users and their challenges:
    1. The elderly and children
    2. Mothers packed with kids
    3. Fathers rushing to shop before their lunch break is over
    4. Foreigners arriving for the first time
  2. Interview users about activities performed (perceived), context, mindset, the jobs-to-done perceptions and the emotions along the way
  3. Role-playing / re-experiencing and prototyping the journey with a different set of eyes
  4. Re-imagine the experience using made up constraints (find inspiration in extreme users, identifying biggest cost drivers that could be eliminated)
    1. What if the store had to be built for “insert extreme user”
    2. What if this was a drive through
    3. What if there were no signs allowed
    4. What if no staff was present
    5. What if no checkout stands were there
    6. What if the building was 1/10th the size
    7. What if no shopping carts existed
    8. What if you had only 10 minutes
  5. Imagine scenarios along a variety of dimensions
    1. What if money was not an issue
    2. What if this was a game to be played
    3. What if Google built this
    4. What if everything was freeze dried
    5. What if there were no physical goods
  6. Find inspiration in parallel worlds
    1. What if this was a Formula 1 team
    2. What if this was a kindergarten
    3. What if this was a virtual world
    4. What if this was a digital game
    5. What if this was a board game
    6. What if this was a training experience
    7. What if this was a life threatening emergency process

The process above can start in a number of ways, certainly it isn’t linear. To aid you I’ve described how we’re conducting a project for a recent client.

First we will first define the specific deliverables, i.e. the goals. This might be defined as something like: “Help our municipality transform and improve citizen services via (emerging) technology”

We like to quantify the goal within the project team so as to achieve a number of results:

  • Make the project less academic,
  • secure motivation (increasing tangibles = increased motivation),
  • set a bar for achievement (depending on the organizational maturity to the type project we are conducting we will set the bar for achievement to be somewhat aspirational to downright safe),
  • create visibility of the project to the organization, community and leadership,
  • create the foundation for an clearly understood win / something to benchmark against for future projects.

We will then start by experiencing the journey on your own, being mindful and “curious”. We also observe and interview users, mapping their customer journeys. We seek to engage extremes and are looking for oddities and “hacks”.

We then move on to ideation and prototyping:

How might we?

We test the prototypes, observe, interview and learn, and iterate to another prototype and the journey continues.

What will often happen is that constraints and possibilities become clearer and pressure to deliver on the objective forces creative thoughts and solutions. We may discover that we are able to deliver a quantifiable clear win in one domain but due to unforeseen constraints we cannot move forward within another domain (example: privacy and regulatory issues recently shut down a track we were on within a public entity).

What matters throughout is perceived wins in the project. In other words: the perceived breakthroughs of the project towards the achievement of the objective.

Managing expectations, i.e. perceptions, is a huge piece of success in any innovation effort.

As the project progresses we like to ensure that we constantly deliver something tangible, such as a physical prototype. Shipping something tangible has the effect of motivating the team, improving odds with the sponsors, and ensuring that things stay grounded. We want to prototype to discover new facets. We want to accelerate our learning and shipping is essential to this goal.

Whether you are a business wanting to engage in a new internationalization initiative, or a Fortune 100 seeking to find new and innovative solutions to age old problems, you can use the Lean Business Building process to achieve your goals faster and with less risk.

To chat about Lean Business Building, Design Thinking, innovation, and growth please contact us via email at, or call us at +1.844.528.2785.