Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Grand Finale

For the last blog of the semester (yeah, bummer) the topic is a reflection blog about the concepts that were covered this semester along with how they tie in with the Insight/Experience Audit & Prototype group project that we have been working on.

The first topic which I feel that I understand better by as a result of working on this group project was the "Paradox of Choice" which was discussed earlier this year after listening to the Podcast by Barry Schwartz. For the project, our team was given the freedom of creating an item which would be tailored to fit the needs/insights of a segment chosen by our group members. The segment my team chose was the "Stay at Home Dads" - especially those with younger children. The dilemma then became... what product should we create in order to satisfy their underlying wants and needs?

SAHDs are, according to our findings, technologically savvy individuals who enjoy and cherish their time spent alone. These two insights provided an ENDLESS amount of possibilities when it came to attempting to design a product for them. Technology? Time alone? So many options, we just could not bare down and choose one. We could hardly even pick a direction up until about a week and a half ago. This predicament is the complete embodiment of the Paradox of Choice and its nature. After having listened to that podcast, discussed the topic in class numerous times, and blogging about it, I fully experienced the phenomenon first-hand (as if I hadn't already been experiencing it on an every day basis).

The second most important takeaway from this course in my opinion was the ability to evaluate insights from customers. Obviously, this is the entire point of the course (given by the title - Customer Insights). However, I feel that one really does not have an idea of how to really delve into insights until reading, listening, and seeing all the materials in this course. After having worked on the Stay at Home Dads segment, I began to realize how much we had to put ourselves in the shoes of a SAHD in order to come up with the most innovative, useful, and gratifying product geared towards their specific preferences. Before this course, one somewhat overlooks the phases of evaluating insights. You have got to be able to cater to the needs of a certain group or demographic, particularly that of your target segment, and prior to this course, I just did not fully understand how significant of a step this was.

Lasty, after having worked on the group project I can definitely say that there was a lot of value added to the course from the project itself as well as the updates along the way. This project was one of the most liberating and fun activities I have done since probably elementary school. I almost felt like a kid again when we were building the prototype - it was truly an experience that, as a college student, liberated me from this "grown up" world we live in and allowed me to be creative and artistic in a simple way once again.

As always, Stephen was very helpful throughout the process of coming up with this new product offering. I truly enjoy Stephen's style of teaching, I feel as if he allows for a lot more freedom than most professors do. He kind of just tells you what you need to ultimately do, and lets you run free from there. The most interesting experience was running ideas by Professor Walls, and just witnessing his reaction - I think he thought everything was a good idea when framed the right way :)

I kind of touched on it earlier, but the project really allowed for a further understanding of evaluating and attempting to cater to the insights of a customer. In trying to create a new product offering, it was extremely vital that the needs of the segment were met while at the same time keeping in mind everything we learned about the segment through web research, interviews, and surveys.

Overall, it was probably the most fun group project I've ever had to do at any level of education. I am definitely glad I had a chance to take this course while I was in college here at the McCombs school of business.

Signing out one last time,


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