Keeping an Open Mind to New Opportunities
Mandai was able to identify blind spots to address because they kept an open mind. “If you go through the Discover phase expecting to validate your hypothesis, you will find what you want to validate,” says Lee. “But if you’re truly open, you may discover that sometimes, all your assumptions are wrong and that shapes how you reframe your problem statement.”
New insights also arose when DT was overlaid with Prof Clayton Christensen’s Jobs to be Done theory of innovation. This approach asks the question “What is the job consumers want to hire a product to do?”. For example, if the “job to be done” is to engage children beyond park visits, then the organisation may need to generate digital content (“hire a product”) to do that.
Prof Christensen’s approach is very effective in this zone, revealing blind spots and opportunities. “When you overlook this lens, you keep operating in the current paradigm, refining your offering to make it more appealing, cost effective or experiential. But when you overlay his lens, suddenly you see completely new opportunities,” says Lee, giving the example of translating online interactions to real-life interactions at their Buddy Barn and driving meaningful revisits.
By complementing DT with consumer journey mapping techniques and Prof Christensen’s Jobs to be Done approach, Mandai has customised a unique strategy that works for them.
The initial successes with My Animal Buddy’s prototypes indicate that they are going down the right path. The platform, which was planned for an official launch in October 2020, was soft-launched in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 situation. To give children a way to stay in touch with their animal buddies during the “circuit breaker” period when everyone was asked to stay home, Mandai rolled out some features of the platform, ahead of time.
Mandai’s DT journey will continue with the revamp of Rainforest KidzWorld, a more complex organisation-wide project, and there are already more DT-led projects in the pipeline such as re-imagining guest arrival experiences. It’s still a work in progress, she says, because “consumer needs and expectations are changing very fast, and we don’t operate in a vacuum; so it’s important to continuously sharpen our saw.”