Collaborative Thinking on a Global Scale: How an online community helped boost the power of design thinking

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March 12, 2019

by Caroline Withers


Working across countries and time zones is challenging for any global business, but we’re proud to offer our clients the flexibility of ‘follow the sun’ research solutions, delivering seamless, high quality insights across our network of regional hubs. When it comes to internal initiatives, communication is just as important for generating, sharing and producing new ideas, particularly across regions; from New York to Shanghai, Durban to Mumbai, we need to be open and interactive, fostering these potential opportunities. One way we have achieved this is through the power of an online community.

A recent internal initiative, The Design Thinking Challenge, posed a new challenge in global working. Individuals across all our regions were placed together into teams, tasked with developing an innovative working research solution from scratch. The rapid sprint style of design thinking really challenged us to develop better ways to communicate and transfer ideas, particularly during the observation, brainstorming, and prototyping sprints - all of which required a high degree of collaborative thinking and working together. E-mail just wasn’t going to be enough!

An online community was the perfect solution. It offered a place to post tasks, as well as providing a central portal for communication – whether for discussion about specific tasks or more general conversations about the challenge. With easy set-up, individuals were given team access within the platform, allowing them to communicate clearly and confidentially with their fellow team members. Easy messaging between the organizers and the teams meant we could provide guidance and answer questions instantly.

The platform was customized to the feel of innovation challenge, and the breadth of tasks involved within the platform allowed all members of the teams to contribute. From simple messaging boards and quantitative survey questions, to collaborative collages and full video uploads, all aspects of the community’s functionality were put to the test to hone the creative thinking of the engaged MMR participants. Having a single virtual place to work together and share ideas across time zones wherever, whenever, provided the teams with the ultimate flexibility to develop truly innovative approaches.

The outputs from the challenge have astounded and impressed the senior MMR management team. From novel developments in effective, efficient ways to do better research, to revolutionary approaches to bring the latest technology into market research; our design thinking teams developed some fascinating future-proofing ideas that are tailorable for different global regions; none of which would have been possible without the effective communication through an online community platform, which provided a collaborative and communicative environment to really help ideas flow.

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