Design Thinking Sprint
Essilor of Americas, Dallas, TX
Max Masure & Diana Sonis
Essilor: generating innovative R&D ideas
Essilor manufactures and sells prescription lenses for eyeglasses and sunglasses. Recently launched products never reached the expected success metrics set by management.
Essilor's Innovation Lab was tasked with a number of challenges
1. As a Paris-based international corporation, Essilor needed to understand the U.S. consumer's mindset around vision challenges
2. Market research showed that consumers are generally unaware of the lens brand in their eyeglasses, buying whatever the store recommends; something Essilor wanted to change
3. Multiple actors, like health insurance and optometrists, along the customer's journey in getting prescription eyeglasses complicated brand recognition further
4. And, most importantly, customers often gave up on the company's main product (progressive lenses), but the team didn't know how to solve for it
The cross-functional Innovation Lab team knew Design Thinking can help, but had no experience in the field. They had never interviewed customers to learn more their goals, needs, and intrinsic motivations. Nor had they ever held structured ideation and prototyping sessions the resulted in real-time customer feedback.
The team also wanted to make Design Thinking a repeatable process throughout Essilor. They all agreed that there is a huge benefit to the bottom-line if products and services were designed starting with the customer first. Thus, it was also important to show that Design Thinking methods and tools can uncover some real insights that solve concrete business challenges. They needed management buy-in.
A breakthrough collaboration
In our 5-month collaboration, we’ve designed and facilitated several weeks of in-person workshops that adapted the Design Thinking methodology and tools to the challenges facing the Essilor Innovation Lab team. Whenever the team was working the field on their own, we supplemented the in-person workshops with weekly, check-in conference calls.
The Essilor team already knew that they wanted to focus on the 45 - 65 age demographic (The Mid-Lifer). Beyond that, very little was defined. When we came in, together with the Essilor team, we:
Defined the long term goal of the organization
and their team.
Focused on the problems to solve in this specific sprint and went through empathy workshops to practice better understanding their customers.
Practiced how to rock user interviews and analyzed the data they gathered to build the product or service that will match their audience needs, goals, motivations.
Identified the pain points on the experience their customers go
or will go through.
Collaborated with the team to ideate solutions for those pain points. Some ideation sessions were attended by 7 people; others had close to 40.
Quickly prototyped and tested
with real users.
Worked with the team to gather insights
and planned for next steps.
Eye opening discoveries
Following the prototype and customer-test sessions, Essilor discovered several critical customer pain-points with the current products they sell, and several potential new services they can provide to enhance the customer experience. It was mind blowing for everyone watching the testing footage.
- The team identified and validated the need to revisit the education around how to adapt the some specific lenses in their eyeglasses.
- Disruptive solutions emerged that will involve changing the way the other actors of the customer experience are currently operating - like providing better tools for optometrists so that they can provide a pleasant and speedy experience to the customer.
- Entirely focusing on the customer journey from A to Z completely changed the way the Innovation Lab team now envisions the actions they can have on the product and service timeline.
- Bringing in close to 40 people for a cross-functional ideation session brought in a wealth of ideas that will be fed into the R&D department pipeline. A bonus: having their ideas heard and tested helped align other departments and management.
Design Thinking Methodology adopted through the company
Essilor’s initial goal was to use Design Thinking as a method to generate more ideas for their R&D innovation pipeline. An additional, secondary, goal was to adapt the methodology and tools for a repeatable process of innovation throughout the organization.
Throughout our time together, the Innovation Lab team learned how to prototype, and test, ideas and concepts in just a few days. They made progress much faster, without the cost and time of actually building and producing a full product or service, before validating the need for it.
A few months after the workshops, the Innovation Lab team continued to rapidly prototype and test a dozen more ideas that were sketched and storyboarded with us during the ideation sessions. The insights discovered and shared with upper management had a big impact on the the future pipeline of R&D department. What’s more, the marketing department got more ideas on how to improve messaging, and sales saw new ways of adding to the bottom line.
The success of the Design Thinking sprint also showed management that using real user feedback to improve products & services works.
It completely changed the way we think about innovation.
- Elodie Camaret, Director of Consumer Innovation, R&D Essilor of America
Diana and Max are phenomenal facilitators with infectious enthusiasm for designing products and services around existing human needs. They're wholistic thinkers who will help you search for improvement opportunities or blue-sky innovations - whether it be internal processes or external products/services - within your company.
We brought them in to guide our U.S. Innovation Lab through a design thinking sprint with the aim of generating product/service ideas for R&D. At the outset, Diana and Max dove right into understanding our organizational goals, helping us zero-in on the scope to be explored in this sprint. They designed informative and fun workshops that taught us empathy-based research methods and data synthesis, as well as led us through several days of ideation using human centered co-design workshops.
Diana and Max expertly guided our team through the rapid prototyping and testing phases where we were able to gather valuable insights for the company. Attending their workshops completely changed the way we think about innovation within the organization. One of our goals was to make design thinking a repeatable process across the company. Diana and Max not only taught us the methods and tools of design thinking, but also helped us get management buy-in.
Throughout their time with us, everyone got inspired with practical tools for working on any challenges using design thinking framework and tools.
- Sheila Hurley, Engineer, R&D Essilor of America
Max and Diana are rare talents who provided us with expert guidance in understanding customer behavior. We hired them to lead our Innovation Lab through a Design Thinking Sprint with the goal of making Design Thinking a repeatable process throughout our organization.
Initially, we did not know what to expect but they made us feel like we were in good hands from Day 1. Throughout the 5 months with us, Diana and Max guided us through identification of Sprint goals, conducting user research and analysis, and kept us on track through prototype testings months later. They were flexible during the whole process which resulted in a more tailored experience to meet our needs.
They also worked closely with us to get buy-in and continued to support the team beyond their contract engagement. I feel confident that we can successfully complete a future design thinking sprint as a result of the training given by Diana and Max. Hire them!
They get design teams unstuck.
- Roni Kennison, Marketing Manager, Brand Sales Group, Essilor of America
To experience a workshop with Diana and Max is to experience Design Thinking in a fun atmosphere where anything feels possible.
Our team understood that, in the Design Thinking world, workshops are a fundamental tool. They can bring business goals to the surface, align stakeholders, uncover latent customer needs, and get design teams 'unstuck'.
Our business is very complex with multiple moving parts, but no matter the objective, Diana and Max seem to have a workshop strategy and their manner of execution is an art form. They can read the room and anticipate when a pivot is necessary and their supportive nature and approachable demeanor disarms even the most introverted participant.