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Ep6. Shaping Strategy with Rich Narratives: The Multi-Ocean Strategy Framework

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In this episode, I’m talking with Daiana ZavateKrasi Bozhinkova and Kevin Richard – the strategic design trio who most recently published a new strategy framework for business and product teams and strategic professionals called Multi-Ocean Strategy Framework. In this session, we will deconstruct this framework, discuss its application and benefits and more. Make sure to check more information to familiarise and start using it here and here.

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The following transcript is automated and raw; thus will have numerous mistakes.

Hey, welcome back, and this next conversation I have, not one, but three guests, Kevin Richards, Diana Zante, Rasi, Bokova, and the three of them gathered up to come up with a new strategic design framework or a framework which actually could be used in any business setting, especially trying to understand what to do next on a very strategic.

Terms, but in this specific session, depending how you watch it or listen, you’re gonna kind of understand that I’m trying to deconstruct as much as I can as an interviewer or exactly what the framework means. And the framework is called multi ocean strategy. Framework. You can find the link in the description notes so you can follow along.

You can also watch the actual video recording because we share some of the screens and try to deconstruct the detail, but ultimately, there’s a lot in this, and you can actually learn exactly why do we need another framework, how you can apply it, who should apply it, in what specific scenarios. And exactly why it’s good as compared to, let’s say, a typical design thinking framework or frameworks, which actually is a combination of a lot of different innovation methods, which, you know, don’t have one specific way to approach things.

If you enjoy this conversation, make sure to share it with a friend and on bad note. Let’s tune in. Could you tell me a bit like how did you get together to work on this, uh, framework? Uh, maybe I can start. So, um, I’ve met Kevin now a long time ago, uh, in I think 2019 or 2020, somewhere there, because I was, uh, at that point in a crossroad and I decided to fully, uh, focus on the.

Um, design part of my career and I was looking for a strong community where I could learn and meet other designers and, uh,

We’ve been experimenting and working on different projects together. But for this particular one, um, the whole team was very passionate of, uh, bringing a new tool, uh, to anyone who is curious and, uh, committed to creating impactful strategies. And, uh, there was, um, no better person than, uh, Kevin and Diana to join and have these diverse perspectives and, uh, views.

On the subject and see what we can do together if we can break barriers and do things differently. Yeah, I think it, it comes from the, the fact that, uh, Krei and Diana are creating a lot of content and tools for, for, for themself and for others to, to play. And this is something I do, but like in less formal way on, on my side.

And, and I think it’s Diana who came with this, uh, Ocean thingy, like the, the, the discussion around oceans, and this is where, where it started. And it’s, I think it’s also like a, a continuation of the, the metaphor of the, the explorer and the, the island. So in some ways, yeah, I mean, my ambition and playground have always been at the development of these tools, strategic frameworks and methods that people can use to collaborate and see beyond this obvious and.

Kind challenge this status quo of how, you know, their initiatives and products are impacteding customer lives. So to me, the ultimate, uh, feat of collaboration was this development of tool. And, uh, yeah, I mean, I was a regular, uh, the design and critical thinking community. I always liked. Exploring things from different perspectives.

So I think it, uh, kind of matured our, our relationship matured to the point that we could actually collaborate and work together on this child project. And it’s been now, I think, almost a year or good nine, 10 months we’ve been with this project and we had the opportunity to, uh, to test it. Um, bring different challenges for it, uh, in different context, different people, various backgrounds, experienced designers, uh, more junior people from, uh, uh, not from the field, the business at all.

And, uh, we were quite, uh, encouraged by the, uh, results and, uh, the excitement of the participants working with it. With the, with the blue and I guess red ocean metaphors and, and how the businesses usually kind of take that approach. Almost every stakeholder is familiar with that. Was it kind of intentional to build off of that or like, uh, have that as a starting point?

Like what was the thinking behind that? I can say, uh, the kind of the business landscape is increasingly complex and it’s evolving to the point that the gap between existing frameworks and emerging challenges widens. I. It’s not that the duality of the red and blue ocean and the blue ocean strategy is not useful anymore.

It actually is, but it supports users with a different spec of challenges for what we think it’s essential tools. Don’t focus much on exploration of a wider range of opportunities and innovation capabilities. At least, you know, outside brainstorming sessions. And because they’re not tailored to capture the diversity, the rules to operate in them, simplify the context and the unique and possibly decisive features of the players involved.

Mm-hmm. And we also kind of frustrated because, um, yeah, to Oceans are quite familiar in the business context, but when you wanted to talk about, for example, hyperscale, you’d say, Kind of a red ocean, but not really. And then you’d have a starting point, but then try to explain of, uh, the dynamics of what’s going on differently.

And, uh, we realized that, uh, also if you talk about impact sustainability, it’s a completely different environment, which is neither blue nor red. So where do you go out of necessity? We had to find room for all of that. Also the, uh, locality, uh, globalization versus talking about, uh, specific local solutions.

It’s also, what is it? Is it, it’s neither. It could be both, but it actually, it was something else. Uh, try to stay as grounded to the real world and see if we can find metaphors that fulfill this need to be much more nuanced, but also to cater towards these diverse market conditions that exist. Mm-hmm. And, and usually like, even if, uh, blue and red ocean to me or any other framework, really it like the issue with.

With them, I found personally is that, or at least when, let’s say you work with a room or if, you know, with some sort of business organization, um, there is always that question. So what you, you categorize our businesses this or like, this is what we are today. We, this is what we wanna do next. Yeah. Like what do you do next?

O one, one of the O of the obvious issues with you can have with this kind of framework, such as the do and red. Ocean, uh, strategy is that presupposes that there’s a linear, uh, progression from an existing state, which is a non desirable state. Usually the you are in the red ocean, right? It’s already, um, uh, an obvious constitution that’s you are in a, in a domain where there’s a lot of competition and that you need to move to a, a better place.

One where you make your own, uh, space where there’s no one else and. That’s, uh, basically proposes like lack a version of the, a form of design thinking, right? With a lot of tools based on analysis of the existing things. So it, it presupposes that things already exist, right? So it, it never starts from a blank slate and you move from that to like a rational next, uh, step, right?

And this last, um, you lose the, the, the, well, some of the, the aspect of strategy, which is the creativity and, um, Narrative building, uh, type of exercise that you might find in. In pure strategy or design or strategic design that you don’t really find in such business tools because they are, they were not meant for that, right?

It, it’s more like a, a code rational, uh, analysis of existing gaps or issues and how you can realign your organization to, to, to, to benefit the, the, the future you want. This is also some of the issues that led to. Say, okay. Now, if we wanted to be more into the narrative building, what should it looks like as a framework and Yeah.

This, this was one of the many points of interest we had when starting to Yeah. Designing the, the framework. Mm-hmm. Kevin, uh, brings a really interesting point around this interconnectedness. Uh, the aspect that we were quite, uh, keen on preserving relationships and also making sure that. Um, participants or anyone who uses the tool can find this connection and explore what does it mean and how do you align, uh, towards actions and, uh, goals, which is very difficult if you have the irrational and con compar view with the two places.

These indeed, um, the two us to the route of, uh, staying with the metaphor, but making sure that. Uh, also, uh, we combine components with the rational and emotional aspects so that when you, uh, create these impactful strategies, you’ll have enough room for the unknown. Because in the, any tool that exists out there, that is a very difficult, uh, place to be.

Um, and how do you make sure that, um, the decisions are effective without un counting for a unknown factor, it’s, uh, it’s super hard. So in order to simplify the work and to oh, uh, get away from the complexity, many to stay away from this aspect, they wanna be quite deterministic and very narrow and specific.

So we wanted to. Uh, not deviate from that, but at the same time do it differently. So for us, this interconnectedness and emergent component was a very important, uh, uh, ingredient into the design that went into the, the thinking of how do we overcome such limitations and then make a tool that is a bit more fitted to, to the present challenges.

As Diana were talking about this dynamic shift that happens. You cannot sit and wait and, uh, things to settle down. They never do. They’re like one wave on top of another wave. Yeah, which also brought us to the oceans. And, uh, we start using them more and more. Would you be able to share it? I mean, I, I want to dig into it, like, uh, have a deep dive and kind of deconstruct it as well.

And I’m sure the listeners would also appreciate it and the viewers, you know, depending where we are. So we’re gonna just need to be very descriptive of what we show. But, um, I think, uh, the, the metaphors are really. Friendly in that sense because of, uh, uh, this, um, storytelling layer that Kevin was speaking about.

It allows you to immediately imagine a yellow ocean. And what does it mean? Yes. Also, we have good things in it, not just oceans, but uh, yeah. So I think for me, you know, on a personal side, so for example, I can start with the oceans, which are the most intriguing ones for me. You know, starting from oceans make up the most of earth surface, and yet we’ve explored so little of them and they’re analogous to this uncertainty, unknown and vastness.

So using them as an analogy for business space helps us because it makes, it makes us humble and, uh, we put things into, uh, perspective differently and gain this ability to zoom in and out, soro the surface, but also dive deeper when it’s, uh, necessary. So through this ocean lens, we get to approach value spaces and market conditions, uh, more aware of the kind of role we can play.

So what can you do with the oceans? Well, we can get, uh, to make better decisions, uh, on how we prioritize the types of innovations to consider, how we deploy them, depending on the type of the ocean, hopefully they are to make a difference. Uh, and to make the right decisions. Decisions. We all need this insight and clarity.

All of it if we can get it on the conditions, on how we operate in them. And so we are able to communicate throughout, uh, our teams, our company, and for stakeholders. I. So for us, you know, like you might as well know, um, we kind of felt bound by the dichotomy of the red and blue. So we added our, um, diversity bundle with yellow, green, and gray.

Remembering them is, uh, tricky initially, but we usually break it down into basic kind of advantage, disadvantage that is specific to each. So, for example, a red ocean for us offers stability. But because of the long fights with competition, uh, businesses tend to stagnate or at least never achieve a competitive breakthrough that puts them in the lead because that means risking stability.

On the other end, we have blue ocean, which is enticing for front runner and first to innovate businesses who seek opportunities beyond before everyone else gets to see the business value of what they’re trying to create. But given the conditions for exploring in the unknown, they can get really lost, uh, in the journey.

And the new additions with the yellow, yellow ocean is this departure point that is neither red nor blue could contain the blitz scale success with an innovative and creative approaches to launching and positioning products and services. So the speed of gaining market share is the only way to actually avoid syncing.

Um, then we have the green ocean, which is the special value space that, uh, the red and the blue actually are currently under serving. And so does yellow, which is moving purpose over profit to make an impact on the world by considering the long-term value coming from problems worth solving, potentially caused by players, uh, in the other oceans.

However, I think here it’s a bit difficult to gain momentum from one opportunity to, to the other. And players get stuck. Uh, sometimes they’re incapable of reaching the impact they wanna make for reasons that are outside their control. And lastly, we have that tiny stripe of gray, which is a configuration of local markets revealing the friction between global and local.

Like Krassi was mentioning, places where the unspoken rule is building trust, where radical innovation may simply be rejected because it threatens the community and their independence. So not respecting these local rules is counterproductive to, uh, new entrants. So when. One of our community workshops, we use MasterCard to kind of give you a bit of perspective.

Mm-hmm. Uh, and show a bit of an example because they’re fairly, I’m sorry, Diana is, would it like my, my burning question is immediately, and sorry to interrupt this, then we talk about players, which you mentioned. Would it be companies like MasterCard? Like how big is the organization, which fits in the framework, or like how big is the assembly of, you know, actual individuals?

So I think it can be very creative, uh, because it’s quite modular, you know, like we chose MasterCard as an example to show how uh, a big company typically has a multi ocean presence, uh, and it requires this multi ocean strategy, uh, because they have like, you know, a, we, we’ve kind of. Predict that typical big companies like at can have a very rich influence in at least three of the five oceans.

But you can actually, you know, flip to the other side and think of a smaller company that actually has products that are compatible with the other oceans. So it’s not so much about how big a company can be, but how diverse, uh, its product portfolio can be. So it’s, it’s depends on the angles that you need to develop your strategy and think whether you wanna grow as a business, you wanna scale, you wanna, uh, Evolve, transform.

Um, and I think these are, can be all taken into consideration. Because, you know, for, to, to get back to the MasterCard, uh, when we conducted the research, it was very interesting because we saw it as a typical red ocean inhabitant that grew this, you know, the banking, credit, debit, prepaid, and landing services by considering close adjacent services.

So they kind of, they didn’t. Take a nonlinear leap. They constructed gradually, and this is what we consider as, um, typical protector player. So Chrissy will talk a bit, uh, in a bit about this because it’s really interesting that the players that we brought in the ocean and how they’re behaving, but what’s interesting to see is that they had to shift their behavior every time they went into.

Uh, a different ocean. They couldn’t come with the same service and the same approach. Uh, and let’s say if they wanna have a hand to play in the blue ocean, where there the traction was about blockchain technologies, uh, or in the local oceans where there was this, uh, you know, limit or let’s say a bit more restricted on the, uh, electronic payments.

And even of course in the e-commerce where they kind of had to, uh, adapt to creating digital wallets and like even in B two B. So you see, you know, we can look at it in from many different angles and see these layers, and I think it helps us with this color code as well. Mm-hmm. Just to add perhaps, um, for the, uh, listeners.

So when we, when we talk about the oceans, think of them as like spaces that can, uh, indeed represent where the company operates, but it also can represent where different products reside. It doesn’t need to be a company’s MasterCard. Or you don’t even have to have, uh, many products for that matter. But when you think about the ecosystem economy and the whole value chain, you even if you play in one, uh, single part and your product is very limited, you usually rely on partners to deliver the full experience and, uh, enable the outcomes.

And. With this framework, this would allow you not only to understand where you fit, but also think about where are your partners and what is the relationship, uh, that and how, what are the motivations and the driving forces behind their own differentiation. That would help you, uh, foster better connections and also tell away your strategy to be a really, a good partner to anyone who is in the Blue Ocean as innovation or anyone that cares about sustainability in the Green Ocean.

The answer to your question, it can be anyone, really, anyone. Uh, and. I will soon talk about that. It doesn’t even have to be a, a company who, uh, yeah. Um, the use of, that’s this metaphor. Yeah. That’s where I was leaning towards because it’s like, it’s also depends how creative you are and maybe we’re diving already into application of, uh, Of it framework.

But even if, like, let’s say if you take something simplistic, like a double dime or, or design thinking, you know, they’re, they’re so basic in a intentionally so to be applicable to almost ev anything you could apply it to yourself, to your life, to your. Breathing or how you, you know, make, make a cup of coffee ultimately, or how do you apply to like a author?

On a side note, uh, Crassy was very enthusiastic yesterday, figured about how about we tested with children and we give it to children so they can solve challenges as well. So, uh, I guess you can go that far. Why not? I, I was going to say, um, I think it, we owe the audience at least to explain what they’re seeing on the screen if they see the screen.

Yep. Yep. And I was going to talk about this, uh, interesting center character. Which is our persona. And I hope the audience is familiar of what the persona is and how persona embodies certain behaviors. And for us, when we, we were building the framework, this is, this was a very important component because we wanted to find a different way of segmentation and different way of capturing, uh, this nuances related to, uh, emotional drive, subjectives motivations and values that are so important of building trust and connections.

Ecosystem economy, but even beyond any brand that wants to create a, uh, meaningful products and have these engaging experiences, they do care about emotional aspects more so than rational aspects. And, uh, the center figure, which has so many different hands, as you can see, represents different, um, players as we call them.

And each hand symbolizes, uh, a. Portion of the, and different example of a player that is, uh, that we, uh, chose to include in the framework. And we kind of, uh, started from the premise of the famous brand spectrum wheel, which caters towards different behavior. But to make it simple, we chose, uh, six of them.

The center pig is the protector, which secures the status quo, status quo, but also regulates the market. We also have a buyer. This is a player who, um, builds platforms. They care about, uh, offering multiple products. They care, they care about the flow and the exchange of, uh, the value exchange of, um, uh, in the.

Beyond the transactional model. We also have the secret. This is the, uh, hand with, uh, trying to make, uh, uh, circles to, to focus of what they’re seeing. This type of personality, um, uh, represents the opportunity. How do you discover unmet needs? How do you identify new possibilities for your business, uh, to grow, uh, in the market?

We have the maverick, the most interesting behavior example of somebody who wants to break the status quo and act in an expected way. We, of course, have a maker because the creation is very important part. Anyone who wants to, uh, create a brand new market or execute with an impact fits into this category.

And lastly is the connector. This type of, uh, companies or this type of people that gear towards establishing means of collaboration and relationship. And of course these personas are very easy perhaps to link to brand identities and think about different companies. How would you put them into a protector or seeker or maverick?

But what is also true is that you can take the same characters and only. Uh, and apply them in a very narrow context. For example, if you think about the specific customer segment that you want to target, and a good, uh, example to illustrate would be if you consider right now with the whole excitement around AI and bringing AI in different aspects that can help us think more, um, creatively, iteratively, move faster, make decisions.

So what is the implication to a hybrid worker and how you as a company can bring products? These hybrid workers that are bringing this capability of ai. And one way to apply the framework and use these characters is to say, okay, we have the hybrid worker, but the hybrid worker goes almost on a journey and it is experiencing this, uh, type of disruption and innovation differently.

Right now, perhaps the stage that they are is that they seek these new opportunities, but pretty, uh, pretty soon and it’s already happening with the latest development from last week. They are also in the role of a protector because having responsible, um, uh, policies and thinking much more carefully of the implication and the consequences of AI is already happening.

The next phase we believe is that this hybrid work is going to become a maker. They would think about different and better relationship between humans and ai. Then the natural progression would be. Uh, turning towards a buyer, prioritizing certain tools that make the most business impact for the productivity of their own personal objectives.

But at some point, the, uh, this hybrid work may also become a maverick, thinking about completely new value and how AI can influence, uh, and shape the future. So, as you can see, this, um, uh, persona, the player, as we call it, it’s pretty dynamic and it fits both in the corporate world, but also can be done on a personal level.

And you, you yourself can also use it. So when we’re thinking about, uh, actually the relationship between players are easier to define than in reality, you actually begin to see connections, uh, better. So for example, in the example of MasterCard, we connected it with, uh, Elon Musk’s. Twitter now X, uh, but you can’t see any connections.

But then when we gave them the personas, the MasterCard was a protector. And then, uh, X was, um, a maverick. It has this disruptor capability. So now we have a narrative that connects the two. Because what happens, uh, if now a disruptor is brought to the market and brings in, let’s say, a new credit card that competes with MasterCard, now they’re able to maybe, Pose these different new questions about how can they make a decision, how can they handle this new kind of competitive product and player?

So, you know, you, you can actually better define these different relationships like that. I was trying to show you, which are the players. So we had the protector, we had the buyer, we had the maker, seeker, and the maverick. And of course the connector. Yeah, and, and I’m, I’m hoping to pull that up as well in the session, so for people, but that’s exactly why I wanted to pull this one too, which is a guess of previous version or, or.

Why I’m pulling it up as well is less, maybe gamified in a way, but even with this, when I first saw your framework and I was walking through the oceans players and monsters, um, as a building blocks, I felt this, I dunno if it’s nostalgic feel, but like a very familiar feeling of kind of being presented with a game almost.

Or, or like a game board in a way. And I kind of wanted to almost move things around. And I think that’s what what you kind of are describing is intended to be done. I know you mentioned in the actual writeup some of the gamification. Yeah. It, it looks like a game because, um, because it, it, it is required to help people, users of the, of the framework, um, navigate the necessary ambiguity that there is in this, in this framework.

So, because unlike the double diamond, Are other frameworks you mentioned that are, as you mentioned, simple and feels like you can easily apply them? Because here we talk about complexity because we talk about connections with various elements. Um, the, the framework is, um, it contains a, a lot of ambiguity because we, we don’t know what a maverick will be.

Um, how people will define a maverick in a certain context. We, we need people to be there and actually, you know, unfold the, the, the framework in their own context to be able to say, well, the maverick in their context is whatever define it to be right. And because of that, it’s ambiguous, right? We can say, well, this, these are characteristics of, of, of a maverick.

So in ours we define like, as, as Diane said, Twitter as, uh, a maverick. Mm-hmm. Right. Uh, it’s, it’s because it makes sense to us. But maybe if we, if you go to, uh, a different organization or you go to a different community and you ask to, to find some maverick in, you know, in a market, they won’t find other one.

And maybe in this context, Twitter will be a protector or buyer, not a maverick, right? So it can change, it, it, it is bounded to the context in in which you. Unfold the, the, the framework. And because of that, you need kind of a gamification to enable people to, uh, take the, um, the, the well. The archetypes because they are own some form of archetypes and make their own, so, so it makes sense to them.

So they attribute, uh, relationships between things and so the, the framework works basically. Yeah. And, but I have a challenge to that as well. And, and this is maybe from my personal experience working with quite a few different frameworks. It’s like almost you have to have enough trust or appreciation for, um, I guess these type of ways of working from the actual business or stakeholders or decision makers?

I could, I would imagine if you take something too gamified, it might lose trust in certain scenarios, especially if there’s no, you know, trust already made. And if you would present. You know, a framework to Elon Musk, he would just flip a table by default because he’s not the person, you know, he’s infamous for non-pro and, and kind of going, going ahead with, you know, random feedback, let’s say from tweets and things of that nature to shape a product.

You know, I. Is there maybe a better question, like the right environments for it? Oh, I think the, the, the framework is pretty serious. What is, uh, gamified and I think the, the perception and image that it creates playful, it is indeed playful because the metaphors are meant to break the ice, but they almost serve like a booster to get to the difficult work because difficult work is inevitable.

This is not a framework to answer. Simple question. If it was able to, if we could put it in two boxes, we would’ve done it in two boxes. But it is any, any complex problem or creating an impactful strategy requires so much more than that. The framework and the metaphors only surface as a warmup to make sure that it is still within region.

Teams don’t feel completely overpowered and frozen by having to deal with so much. Uh, And tough questions to answer. What is also true to say is that, um, you do need to have quite strong sense of collaboration. We believe that no, uh, and no person carries all the answers. And also what we believe is that a lot of the information that, uh, reside.

It is beyond the big data, uh, and there is, uh, something to be said for this intrinsic or tacit knowledge that requires a different approach to a resurface and different approach. Also to combine ideas. How do you have, uh, conflicting ideas of different viewpoints that, uh, in quite binary environment you would’ve dismissed?

It’s not either all, but what we’re trying to do here is to do a one big end. From that perspective, um, it is not, uh, the, the output of the framework is, uh, pretty serious. And I think even Elon may be impressed, of course, if we don’t talk about monsters, but maybe this would trigger his interest if he sees the Moby Dick and the Mermaid, who knows.

Yeah. That’s a perfect, perfect segue as well, because I wanted to dive into Monsters too. And it’s also because the first time I was looking at the framework, I was like, Okay, so if you are a player who’s wearing, let’s say, Maverick hat right now, and you want to become a maker, or let’s say a seeker, you kind of have to traverse through the oceans, and that’s where the monsters s lay basically.

Which are your challenges? Like what are the monsters really like in terms of that type of transition and journey for, for business? Yeah. Yeah, that’s a really good question. And then the, we can define the, the, the monsters in, in two different ways that, that are connecting together is they are inherent risks in, in the, in the markets, right?

And so they are based on, on risk and the uncertainty that the players are facing. So where it’s a, a, a bit, um, specific to, to how we approach the monsters. All the monsters can exist in all, uh, oceans. It’s not necessarily bonded to oceans, but it’s bonded to the relationship between the player and the ocean, uh, and, uh, how they will face the uncertainty.

From the, the kind of version they are, uh, navigating in. So basically it’s a manifestation of their own perception of risk or uncertainty, right? So it’s, um, it’s really how they perceive the situation. Where lies the, the, the beats that are unclear and threatened to, to, to them, right? But I can give an example like the, the leviton in, uh, mythology, a monster that feeds an fear.

So it was quite appropriate to use, um, this, um, this visual, um, a metaphor. And basically it’s the, the own perception of the, of the users defining the, uh, relationship to a market or to a situation and to the uncertainty that’s that e that exists in this, um, in this, uh, context, I. Right. So here it’ll be specifically about fear.

Then we have Mobic that is obsession, the mermaid, which is seduction. And the kraken, which is grid. People can interpret them in different ways. So we have like a, a differentiation between fear, obsession seduction, and grits. Um, and, and we use them, for instance, in the. One of the workshops about Tesla has a question about, um, knowing that Tesla can be defined as a, as a maverick, and that it’s to try out at, at, at, at la at least they have this appeal to try to break the, the status quo about electric cars and, um, energy and, and stuff like that.

We asked the question to the, to the participants, what kind of, uh, monsters, uh, Tesla’s awakening. By being a maverick and people just, you know, uh, filled in PostIts about, on specific on one of the, of the monsters, about what do they feel that Tesla is doing that creates. I know, um, a ton or a mermaid or, you know, a metic.

Um, and this help, uh, then choose an angle to say maybe if we want to go in a strategy with Tesla or against Tesla about this specific aspect that they are doing in their context, uh, we can take the angle of wonder of the monster. As a strategic angle to, to define like new ways of doing things or, uh, a new kind of, uh, business strategy, uh, in this specific, um, market.

And presumably the, let’s say if you would run through the same exercise with the actual Tesla product team. Um, maybe hardware, maybe software, maybe. Mm-hmm. Kind of like the unified teams. They would be the one who would be pulling, um, Those monsters are defining what we are, like how thick is the monster skin, um, from their research, right?

From the insights, from the things which as much as, as is known in a way. Mm-hmm. Yeah, absolutely. And I think these monsters, even though they appear to be, um, kind of a light characters, actually, they do have a very strong connotation in business. Uh, I was going to give some examples back to the, uh, MasterCard.

Uh, what Diana was talking about this use case, when we talk about fear, it’s kind of abstract, but in this instance, fear would be entrance of a new competitor, like, uh, apple Credit card. What does this mean to, to MasterCard and how they respond? So fear is actually quite a, quite a serious challenge that any business face.

Uh, another one. If you think about MobX or what could be a Mobic in this context? Well, crypto, there is no more big obsession than what had happened in the last, uh, uh, several months with crypto coins and how they facilitate and changing the, um, the banking sphere and the sector. Then again, seduction.

What is seduction? Seduction is growth. Everyone is so consistently focused on this, uh, high stock and performance. That MasterCard, uh, doesn’t deviate from that as well. And lastly, greet. Greet with the FinTech investment and the unicorns. And this whole idea of a consistent decline of the cash payment, so you can begin to see that FinTech.

There is, of course we call it grid, but there are these business opportunities that the market is exponentially growing. So we do think of these monsters in also in business terms, but as a catch away, we, we use the, the metaphor to break the ice and at least start on a. Level one before we go into the difficult and serious questions, uh, to talk about some of these aspects.

And, and the way you define, uh, we define them here in this, in the context of MasterCard, is from the point of view of MasterCard, right? If you were one of the FinTech, potentially the greed are, the fear would be elsewhere and would be totally different, right? So this is where it’s interesting, like you then if you do the exercise with different, uh, companies, you could.

Overlap things and see some, some patterns, right? But, uh, it’s, it’s first and foremost a tool for building like multi perspectives about, uh, about situation not being stuck in a place where there’s only one single narrative. But what happens when you overlay, um, different narratives and what kind of patterns and things that are coherent or things that contradict each other, uh, try to emerge from, from that.

And, and then, Being able to make better decisions about the situation because you don’t have just one single narrative that is so, you know, precise and, and, um, well-defined that you cannot see all the o other things, that that may be a risk, a real risk, and that you’re unable to see because you’re stuck into one single narrative.

So all the weak signals that exist in how people perceive the situation then can appear. Through the, the, the different components that we created. And when would, like, let’s say, to do all of this and to, you know, to go through those risks and, and kind of all the different opportunities reflect on it.

Like when would the actual, whoever is gonna use it, basically businesses or teams, when would they need to use this? Like what, what would be the perfect cadence, I guess? Is it like, uh, like to me, the best frameworks, let’s say they’re never one off. Um, It’s kind of something you need to revisit. So, uh, because of its link to strategy we considered what are the touch points where it comes in handy?

Mm-hmm. And kind of the first application, it’s, you know, definitely at the beginning of a project for stakeholder, uh, alignment and challenge mapping to define initial strategic direction. The tools can get, the tool can help, for example, A portfolio manager responsible for several products to kind of assess the product positioning in which oceans are they or should they be?

Uh, the strategic objectives targets competing products of the other players on the market, and of course, simul these potential risks, which are these monsters, sabotaging, prioritization, and decision making. But we also thought that this actually could be a very powerful exercise, uh, and task to do as a retrospective to evaluate results and share the learnings from a project because it’s, it’s got this ability to carry a narrative.

So this may be very powerful, uh, let’s say at the end of the year. Strategic review where the team sits together to discuss and verify whether their strategic plans have brought the right outcomes or not. It may be a good way to share insights, uh, extract the differentiators to see if, uh, if and how they can be harnessed further.

Uh, and when discussing, for example, I dunno, a sales strategy, a sales team may very, very well find out that a certain accounts were more open to their approach, where others, for no obvious reasons, simply failed to strike a deal. So, connecting the reasons why, by understanding their oceanic position, uh, the type of player in the relationship and the, the, the monsters they have to face can actually prove very valuable in, in shedding some light when your methods fail and why they fail.

Uh, and when it’s not that obvious. Yeah. And of course lastly, what if you actually are in the middle of all of this? And there’s a, you know, I wouldn’t dismiss though that at a certain turning point, let’s say during a mid review of a strategy where some level of pivoting or transformation is required because it’s not quite working as predicted.

Uh, and kind of still growth still falls below expectation. So the framework could shed some light on what needs to be reprioritized, reframed. But I guess for. Our listeners, the first and the the last application would actually, actually be the easiest because the third option would require a little bit of extra work to connect, let’s say, the beginning and the end.

So, Yeah. Yeah. And, and you see from my end, um, I was immediately saying, okay, this is gonna be a tool I’m gonna use in, um, product vision, uh, setting. And especially because I think, uh, you know, myself and like, let’s say design leadership for research and design, I again and again, encounter the same issues where you work with a new product leader and you need to help them create a vision.

And, and people sometimes just go randomly and kind of just throw a dart. In a board and see where it lands. But it seems like this is more guided, more guided board ultimately where you can shift the dart. And that’s where I’m thinking, um, I’m gonna use it in a way where if there is no vision, this is like one of the tools at the minimum to kind of guide and steer the vision.

No, it’s very powerful what you say, uh, the visioning aspect. But I would also add to that the prioritization. Hmm. Don’t underestimate the power of, uh, using tool like this to help you prioritize and make sure that, uh, the focus is where it needs to be in a sense of the most, uh, impactful areas. And I think we do pretty good job when it comes to that narrowing down.

Where is the biggest impact? But that’s interesting. Would you, would you say prioritizing, like how big of the items would you prioritize? Depends of what you have in mind. It could be a certain aspects of the differentiation of the, the product, or it could be even on a more granular level is just depend on the, the starting point.

But anything to do with, uh, finding the, uh, since the framework has intrinsically built this notion of value and impact. Um, that’s what, uh, I meant when I said prioritization. Mm-hmm. You can do it on a, a strategic level as a product manager on a product level, but even perhaps more granularly if we talk about, uh, as I was, uh, giving the example with a single persona, using the players to think about the user journey.

In a way, you can begin to even find areas of prioritization on a feature level within the single product. It just depends of how would you apply and, uh, what you map at the starting point. Because the players doesn’t need to be companies. It can be, the players can embody one of your customer, target customer segment through their journey.

So it’s, uh, it can be very big, but it can be very narrow. Yeah. And on on, on that note, I feel like, you know, another, maybe not a challenge, but just a thought I had was, um, that this ultimately also, and you mentioned in a writeup as well, a bit about shifting in way from design thinking, from the systems thinking to more of.

Uh, ecosystems thinking ultimately and defining that, which we kind of covered invos, but like what was thinking be behind, like, behind all of that? So I can cover first half and then one of you can help me with the other. Mm-hmm. So I think when we developed the framework, we didn’t think of it as an alternative.

Like purely to, uh, available tools, research, you know, data analysis and collaboration practices, but as a way to better combine and enhance what, uh, strategy, strategy specialists. Uh, systems designers, strategic designers particularly ’cause we like them, innovation managers and teams, typically under pressure to differentiate and make a difference.

So, uh, the emphasis on, uh, actually strategic design is because in many ways a framework like this changes how people interact and ultimately how companies interact. And this is kind of the bigger shift towards the ecosystem economy that led us to think that this is about really building trust, uh, and co-creating on the next level is.

Kind of removing some of these boundaries because they are naturally shifting. So now operating in dynamic markets really means you are inevitably part of a, uh, an ecosystem and whether you’re doing your part well or not, I think that’s, uh, that shows, uh, and that’s kind of what differentiates companies from those who fail or slow down, uh, uh, their value chain or those who are actually very, very successful and are able to expand.

I think there’s, um, uh, an aspect of ecosystem at the term. What we really mean by that is, um, quite specific to a, a business, uh, setup, which is not just systems like in general, where the boundaries is. Wherever you, you, you, you set the, the burners are right. It’s, uh, an ecosystem is a place where value is created and, and value for the nodes in the network that composes the.

The ecosystem in question, right? So it’s quite specific to a business setup unlike, um, a general definition of what is a system and. Where you, we wanted to differentiate a bit, although it was not the first intent is that system thinking is, at least in the general public minds and the kind of tools that are disposal of designers to do system thinking or do systemic design work is still on the a pretty rational approach to what is a system.

It respond to systems dynamics, tools. So causal loop diagrams and stuff like that where systems are, uh, made of quantitative stuff with a, uh, uh, limits. But, uh, there’s a, there’s a number of transactions between, between, uh, stocks and flows and of things. You have, you know, relationship, but they are defined in a, a al way, which means that they are logical relationships.

Right with the narrative, you are not bounded to logical re relations. You can have things that, that sounds like not really, uh, causal, but still works together, right? Because you, you work with metaphors and, um, this is something. If we didn’t really intend it to, to do an on, on purpose at this, but make a distinction with, uh, traditional sys systemic design or system thinking tools.

Mm-hmm. Um, although system thinking is really broad and there’s a lot of different, you know, frameworks and tools that exist. So it would be unfair to say to limit those just to, you know, ’cause diagrams because it’s not true. Uh, but for the must of. The, the tools that are known by designers, at least they, they’re often the one that are, that are chosen because the, this seems like rational tools to use for defining a system.

So I, I would say this is where we make a distinction and the, the term ecosystem is, is specific to, uh, the notion of value creation. Mm-hmm. Yeah, and it, it kind of integrates into other bits as well, like, you know, again, uh, I’m thinking about kind of like a forward, uh, thinking activities from product style, like that vision setting, features, thinking, things of that nature.

That’s where I’m, I’m seeing a lot of our, personally speaking, but yourselves, I guess this is one of those, an extra thing to your professional lives, I imagine. Did you have to leave anything out? What didn’t make it occur? Well, I, I think we, we struggled a bit, uh, in the beginning. Because it was a matter of, we wanted to include a lot of things.

We’re very excited about the power of the metaphor, and we could tell this story from so many angles. And, uh, initially we actually had a completely different set of players and also the monsters, uh, and we had this very special key items called, Landscape. Uh, so there was some shores, uh, in our, uh, in our framework.

But then things evolved and we kept on experimenting and we saw the value of the other elements. We realized that we have to cr to, to, to get back to what Kevin was in this element of ambiguity and letting people find their own footing, their own ground in the ocean, I think it was more valuable. So as we reshuffled and refined, we realized that, that this was kind of a necessary thing.

We had to let go. We also had an idea of the, this, uh, these routes into, you know, like to, to prescribe certain routes that you could take in the ocean. But then again, we confronted ourselves and like, do we really want to control and be prescriptive? Uh, or do we actually want to let people find their own ways to simulate how they navigate the ocean?

And I think we’re not regretting it, are we? Um, no, no. Those, uh, those route was specifically linked to, to business models and we were thinking, uh, how to, how to tackle that. But we decided that, uh, Perhaps at this point is not necessary also a, a tool. It’s always, uh, good to have a focus, not a single tool can solve all challenges and no problems.

Of course, we are, uh, always, uh, testing and, uh, thinking where, where do we go next? And the more we use it and the more we apply it in all of these, uh, uh, different contexts and with different teams, we learn constantly. So I’m also curious to see what would happen, uh, in the future. One thing that, uh, it was, um, and I think I, I can talk about myself.

We are a bit nervous here is, uh, to let go and see how others are using it without us. And, uh, uh, I am, I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned, but we do plan to release, um, the framework and the template sometime. Early September and the Mirror, the collaborative platform where you find different frameworks and tools, and from this point on, we leave it in the hands, at least the public version.

Uh, yeah. Would you need, I guess, quite experienced person to, to drive this with an organization? Like, I would imagine someone has to kind of make the change and spark that, you know, new ways of working and, and kind of introduce a framework like with every tool, if no matter how decept deceptively simple it is, you need someone who knows actually how to use it.

I mean, you know, think about a tool like business Model Canvas. This looks like a very, oh, I know how to use it. But then if you are not equipped with the right level of skill and experience, you can’t use it effectively. I think that’s where the difference is. People can play with the metaphor. They might actually, you know, have an interesting collaborative session, but not having this, uh, Uh, insight into facilitating it might be a bit difficult into getting what you need for it to run effectively.

One, one, I guess one of the last big, big, uh, items, um, is the room for unknown or, you know, leaving enough room for unknown. And we kind of covered a lot of that. Typically businesses want to deal with cer, uh, uncertainty and, and get to much as much certainty and, you know, kind of forget the unknowns because we need to kind of get to the bottom line.

But what was your rationale behind that? I think it comes with the, from the reality area of what we experiencing with this exponential change and so rapid, uh, uh, acceleration of multiple trends and, uh, uh, everything that had happened in the last, uh, few years. Uh, I think businesses, uh, of course everyone likes certainty and rationality, but.

More often than not, they’re facing these unexpected turns way after wave after wave that hits them that, uh, we felt that the only way you can think about the unknown and uh, not get overwhelmed is to work with scenarios. There is, uh, uh, no other way to, to respond and, uh, anticipate how the change is going to unfold.

So for us, the, uh, aspect of the unknown was with this idea of responding to change, whether the change carries the head of a monster or the changes within the player that can shift roles or the changes in the environment itself. The ocean. All those three components are quite loaded in this aspect with components, with parts of the unknown we try to distribute so that it doesn’t feel, uh, uh, too much, uh, initially.

But, uh, these questions, I think, um, more and more frameworks I hope, uh, do appear and are created to help, uh, to help navigate the norm and make sense as, as we go, uh, so that we respond dynamically. And, uh, we have learned that, uh, the, uh, it’s a luxury to, to sit with a rationale and, uh, predictability and remove the risk, but I don’t think we have it.

So we need those ways also to, to like, to address this, uh, this friction between seeking certainty and living with the uncertainty and finding this balance, knowing that if you seek too much certainty, you’ll distort your reality. If you’re reliving with too much uncertainty, you might actually not being able to, to prioritize effectively.

So it’s, it’s no win at, you know, which side of the spectrum you are. And I think the tool can help you assess. For the most part, uh, the quality of insight that you have and just to, to acknowledge that there will always be blind spots. You cannot, unless you live in a, you know, you have an extremely super computer, quantum computer that can, you know, simulate the scenarios automatically and you have this almost extreme deterministic, uh, yeah.

Embodiment of, of the world. Then, uh, I think. It’s just a matter of getting creative. If you don’t know what the future, uh, has in store for you, you might have to take a stance and be bold and create the, the future you wanna see. I, I think something that is, uh, that we, we are mindful of in the, the framework is that we don’t, we never say it’s only uncertainty.

We, we, we know this part of it, part of whatever we experience today, which, which is, you know, in the known. And then you have things that are in the. Known, uh, unknown, but you know, you can know this part of unknown. And then there’s this, um, unknown unknowns, right? And, um, we, we are mindful of that through, through the narratives and the metaphors.

We help people make sense of. Situation, whether it’s clear, un, or unclear, right, that some pieces of it are actually clear, clearer than perhaps people expect it to, to be, and some others are less clear, and that you can still have room to for exploration. Not just being stuck in that uncertainty, but being able to approach it in a, in a, in a creative way.

Well, I dunno if it’s a a, a good analogy because. Because we said it’s serious, but much more like kids are doing when, when they are playing together, um, they invent stories, uh, and it helps them deal with the things that they don’t understand. I. And, um, in some ways we, we are doing the same thing, but seriously, um, I hope we didn’t miss anything, but in case we did, where we can direct people, um, I’m gonna leave some show notes, some links, um, uh, we are actually working on including extra resources, uh, online.

Um, and we would, uh, put of course on that outcome. Our website, a section around the framework. I know Kevin, uh, has portion on the design and critical thinking community. And soon beyond. Mirror, mirror verse of, for those curious and, um, brave enough to, to use the framework, they can download the template there.

But, uh, for now, uh, please be patient with us until we put all of these ideas and words in a concise, uh, way because there is so much to say and we are trying to make it as clear as possible, but, um, not lose the nuances so that it’s, uh, actually helpful. Whatever we provide. Awesome stuff. Thank you so much for joining and sharing your knowledge and, you know, coming up with a framework ultimately, because we do need more of the tools, just like Rasi said in the end.

Thank you. Thank you for having us. Uh, it was really awesome. I really enjoyed the conversation. Yeah, me too, me too. I do feel the option and the waste. Awesome stuff.


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