Social Prototyping in NanoLabs

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” goes the line coined by Peter Drucker. Where does great culture come from and how can we have one? Scores of articles and books have undoubtedly been written on the subject, but can we experience this in a practical way? One of the core elements of culture building that we looked at in NanoLabs on Monday during the Social Prototyping workshop with Martin Ciesielski, managing director of medienMOSAIK® a “consulting and training firm for leadership in the digital age”, was trust. 

Once a degree of trust between people has been established, they can go places. Scaled up to organizations and they go places. Big places.

This is where Social Prototyping comes in: in order to stay ahead in the ever-evolving world, companies need to continually innovate. They need better, faster, more efficient means of providing their customers with the products and services they want. Therefore, fostering a culture of innovation, built on trust, should be one of the key priorities of most if not all organizations operating today.

Social Prototyping helps teams to develop a thorough understanding of how changes in behavior can lead to changes in culture, and how changes in culture can lead to breakthrough innovations. Essentially, Social Prototyping uses group activities to simulate different variables needed for developing trust. This is extremely useful for bringing awareness to the dynamics of a group, how culture influences these dynamics, and how they can be optimized to create an ideal environment for designing new business ideas.

In order for teams to work effectively towards idea generation, they need to trust each other. Trust that they listen to each other, really listen; trust they won’t be judged for voicing an idea or opinion, punished for making an attempt that fails, or risk their position by being transparent with their colleagues.

Where there’s trust, there’s culture. And where there’s culture, well, there’s a big appetite.

Game Night in NanoLabs!

Game Night in NanoLabs!

The difference between knowing how something works and actually doing it yourself is a natural process we must face if we want to acquire new skills. Just as there is a difference between reading, “How to Fly an Airplane for Dummies” and piloting an actual aircraft, there is a difference between learning about how to launch a new startup idea and actually doing it.

Last night at NanoLabs, we mixed things up and decided we would play a board game. Not just any board game, but the Lean Startup game, “Playing Lean.” As the creators put it, “Playing Lean is a flight simulator for innovation and Lean Startup.”

In effect, just as a flight simulator provides practical experience without the real-world risk, Playing Lean provides an environment for mastering the concepts of the Lean Startup without losing real money or (much) time. Quite an attractive exercise for the entrepreneur!

This approach of simulating a startup was something new for all participants and many useful lessons were derived from it. For example, the importance of investing in the long-term (in this case, roughly 90 minutes into the future) became a clear advantage in acquiring additional customer segments throughout the game which was needed to be crowned champions.

While one obviously doesn’t walk away from the game ready to launch a startup, what the game does extraordinarily well is make apparent the different ways to allocate your resources, as well as the various strategies, variables, and luck of the draw that is involved in achieving your goals.

Thanks to all of the participants! We will certainly be hosting more startup game nights in the future here at NanoLabs!

Ransomware in NanoLabs

Windows pop-up: “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!”

Me: “Ummm, what?”

This was the exchange for tens of thousands of people last month during one of the largest “ransomware” attacks of all time.

Ransomware is a malicious software that holds your system’s data “ransom” forcing one to either pay or else have their data published or deleted. So once this pop-up disables your system, you’ve got a big problem.

As of May 12th, 2017, the attack had infected over 75,000 users in 100 countries.

At NanoLabs, we strive to better understand the latest technology and business issues. That’s why last Monday, the Berlin-based innovation consultancy EDGIZE took the opportunity to lead the discussion on ransomware at our weekly NanoLabs session. The creation of Claudia Becker and Silvan Horbert, EDGIZE consults companies in a variety of digital and creative fields and help them develop solutions to the ever-changing nature of technology.

The objective of the workshop was to brainstorm other, less malignant, use cases around the ransomware model. With someone’s undivided attention, like 75,000 someones, what would you request them to do?



NanoLabs Summer Edition Underway

NanoLabs Summer Edition Underway

Week two of our NanoLabs summer event series took place last night here at InnovationLabs.Berlin. With a positive turnout of innovators from near and far, we put our heads together to address the challenge faced by e-learning. Current trends in e-learning (online learning programs) for professional purposes in Germany are not seen as a necessary tool for career development of need of implementation now. Why is this? And what actionable steps can be taken to raise awareness for the value of e-learning?

After a quick warm-up exercise, the group began to categorize all of the ways value could be conveyed to corporates. After defining each of the categories, attributes of each category were developed to include the communication channels, partners, and various means of access for the e-learning product.

The last two weeks have been great starts to our summer-long event series! Check our upcoming dates and come experience NanoLabs for yourself!

StarTUp Day a success!

StarTUp Day a success!

Thanks to Smart Data Forum and TU Berlin for hosting a very productive event! The attendees for the “Design Thinking in NanoLabs” were a diverse group, many without previous experience in Design Thinking methods, and uncovered some fantastic insights for their partners. Some highlights from the day and a video of the event will be coming soon!

Students of Waterloo University at InnovationLabs.Berlin

Students of Waterloo University at InnovationLabs.Berlin

This week, Masters students from the University of Waterloo’s Innovation program visited our site here at InnovationLabs.Berlin. We discussed innovation in Berlin, the unique startup ecosystem, and of course, put them through a Nano Labs workshop. The topics were “How to better motivate oneself?” and “How to better stay awake in the afternoon?” There were some creative solutions developed by the end of the session and the students had a lot of fun!

Chao, one of the students from the class, expressed that he “liked the problem statements and then going to the human-centric solutions.” Bernice echoed that sentiment, saying “I really liked the interactive component of the workshop. It was engaging and got us thinking on our feet. Also, thank you for the snacks!” You’re more than welcome, Bernice!

Thank you, students of Waterloo University! Looking forward to next time!

Creating VR Experiences

What’s it like to be in a group of 7 strangers and telling them what your greatest fear is?

To be frank, it was quite liberating. Personal questions like this and other small group activities were used to break the ice at VisitoRs’ virtual reality (VR) ideation workshop last Friday here at InnovationLabs.Berlin. VisitoRs is a VR startup based in Berlin and focused primarily on developing VR experiences using co-creation methods. And those 7 strangers were not so strange at all. In fact, they were a mix of designers, scientists, software engineers and business folks all working towards the same objective: develop ideas for a VR game. How we did that turned out to be good, clean, user-centric fun.

The guiding principles behind VisitoRs’ workshops are, as stated, user-centric. Rather than copy-pasting your personal beliefs and experiences into product features, put yourself in the shoes of your users: Who are they? What keeps them up at night? What are their pain points in personal and professional life? After having a firm hold on who the user is, you can begin to build a sense for what their needs are and how to address them.

Before long, we had defined multiple users for VR experiences and were channeling ideas for storylines and product features. Once this creative environment was set, it spread like wildfire. One idea led to the next which led to the next and before you know it felt like we were striking intellectual gold! Every activity we engaged in took place in groups of two or more, so we were able to quickly become acquainted and feel comfortable expressing our eccentric, sometimes outlandish, ideas out loud. These sessions also act as a special networking event where you learn about a person from different angles than you would in a more civilised setting.

In a matter of hours we went from developing general customer personas to proposing complex, immersive VR experiences. Each group presented their story boards, collected feedback, and iterated upon the leading ideas. Soon, a working prototype will be developed from one. Pretty cool, right?

If you’ve never experienced this sort of workshop before, I would urge you to attend one as soon as possible. Make it one of your goals for the month. If you live in Berlin, then check out our Nano Labs workshop series where you can learn the methodology and experience the power of co-creation for yourself.

Until then,