Design Thinking For Solving Media Scaling Problems

Applying a Growth Mindset to Innovation

I had heard about design thinking from accelerator,, which teaches media entrepreneurs this type of thinking.  The idea is to not get too attached to “your baby” or startup. The idea is to iterate, make small bets, fail, learn and above all empathize with the people who will be using or buying what you’re creating.

Darden Professor Jeanne Liedtka who teaches a course called, “Design Thinking and Innovation” said:

.. we always want to keep plenty of options and experiment and be open to disconfirming data that tells us we’re headed down the wrong path.

As a serial entrepreneur, startup mentor and now consultant helping
media companies innovate, this actionable idea generation could not be more useful.  In fact, large companies often chase huge deals to “move the needle” financially when looking at innovation, only to find they spent too many resources in one direction that often fails and destroys careers. Meanwhile, too many startups bet the farm on one idea, losing precious time before they’re forced to pivot or run out of cash.

media innovation with design thinking
Media Entrepreneurs at Matter Demo Day

Here’s an example. Take any media company, rushing to produce or acquire video so they can get high CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) in advertising revenue.  Looking at the media industry and its need to create alternative revenue from advertising, as well as the inherent problems with the need to scale and the oncoming onslaught of too many videos chasing few ad dollars, there’s a lot of ways to tackle this issue:

        • A. Acquire a large video production house, ideally serving the audience you want – which usually are the Millennials.
        • B. Partner with a production house but need to split ad revenue or license the videos.
        • C. Look at data on existing viewers or talk to the viewers you want to target and find out what they want from the video they watch. Harvard’s Clayton Christensen, who wrote “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, says to find out from your customers “what the job” of the service or product is you’re offering. What are viewers hoping to get from consuming the video content? How’s it affect their lives? What’s a key differentiator? What’s missing? What’s working?
    • D. Partner or create technology to get more video engagement and views from what already exists.

In design-thinking, we’d look at “C” first, after we adequately framed the context of the problem to be solved. Otherwise, everything spins off in the wrong direction.  It may feel slow at first but, in the end, more targeted and wiser and not a chaotic race to scale, often expensively.

Helen WhelanHelen Whelan is a serial entrepreneur and consultant. She has 15+ years experience creating strategic partnerships and designing new business ventures. She focuses on assisting start-ups and established companies innovate successfully through design-thinking and good leadership. Follow her blog at SuccessMedia or on Twitter @SuccessTV.

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