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The Difference Engine - An Introduction (2021)

The Difference Engine - An Introduction (2021)

Get to know our capabilities, team and track record.

The Difference Engine

September 29, 2021

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  1. 1

  2. 3 If You have to choose a direction for your

    brand or business But… We’re experts in finding solutions to business & brand problems that help companies like yours move forward with confidence & creativity. ✴ Your team can’t agree on the mission ✴ You don’t have enough of the right information, especially about your audience ✴ You have loads of data - but you don’t know what to do with it ✴ You’re worried about hidden, costly risks ✴ You’ve invested a lot of time and money in “strategy” but you still don’t have a plan ✴ And you don’t want to make the wrong decision
  3. 4 We believe in not wasting your time. We’re here

    to help you… ✴ Get quality information ✴ Make sense of it ✴ Develop great insights ✴ Share them with the whole team ✴ Chart a path forward ✴ Make better decisions OUR MISSION efficiently, effectively, and with clarity.
  4. 5 You need trust and alignment for good decisions. Everyone

    needs to be heard, even if we disagree. To do this well, we welcome diversity of experiences, viewpoints, and collaborate so we all move in the same direction, together. Everyone has an unpopular opinion that, if left unattended, will grow scarier and bigger until they undermine progress. We work to make space for them, invite them in, get acquainted with them, and learn how to live with them. We are do-ers and talkers. We believe in external processing - through sketching, discussion, co-creation, and collaboration. Ask us anything. We believe in straight talk, common definitions, and useful frameworks. We also believe presentations should stand on their own - so we make them as visual, immersive and shareable as possible. We’ve been doing and teaching these methods for a long time. We know they work. Even when it feels like nothing is happening, or there are no ’answers’ yet, it’s part of the process. We trust the process and keep working at it. We know our strengths and we work with experts who complement our skills and talents. We’re respectful of each other’s time - while we love to collaborate, we also know people need alone time, down time, family time, creative time and rest. We work fast, we’re flexible about timelines - but there are some elements of the process that simply take more time than others. You’ll see how we lay that out in our version of ‘sprints’. WE GO TOGETHER WE BEFRIEND OUR MONSTERS WE ARE NOT QUIET WE SEEK CLARITY WE TRUST THE PROCESS WE RESPECT EACH OTHER’S TALENTS & TIME WE BELIEVE GOOD WORK TAKES TIME HOW WE WORK
  5. 6 OUR TOOLKIT Whether you’re launching a new product or

    brand, refreshing an existing one, or preparing for a business-wide change, we provide: ✴ Hands-on, collaborative strategic consulting across brand, communications and experience ✴ Custom, immersive qualitative research at every stage of the planning cycle ✴ Decision-making workshops designed to enable teams to chart the path forward
  6. 7 Custom Qualitative Research & Consulting We design custom research

    tailored to your objectives so that we can gain insight into your customer and their relationship to your brand, your products, the market, and the cultural context. These methods may include: ✴ one-on-one interviews ✴ discussion groups ✴ digital diary studies ✴ service safaris ✴ ethnography ✴ in-home user testing OUR TOOLKIT
  7. 8 Custom Qualitative Research & Consulting OUR TOOLKIT We use

    this research to work with clients to develop strategic roadmaps, creative briefs, and other actionable plans for building brands and products. We also produce shareable, useful deliverables that help ‘sell’ insight, plans and ideas internally, through: ✴ in person or remote presentations ✴ templates, roadmaps or checklists ✴ audio or video content
  8. 9 Strategy & Planning Workshops We design and facilitate full-day

    or two-day workshops with cross-disciplinary client teams to scope the future. At the end of our sessions, teams know what to do next. These workshops guide participants through: ✴ Rigorous problem definition ✴ Focused sketch brainstorming ✴ Clear-eyed evaluation and prioritization ✴ Identification of OKRs, required resources, and key metrics for tracking progress and measuring success OUR TOOLKIT
  9. 10 OUR TOOLKIT We offer workshops for teams who want

    to develop, refine, or redesign the way they stimulate insight and innovation. Core workshop offerings include: ✴ The Power & Process of Great Creative Briefs - a workshop designed to reinvigorate creative briefs, redesign brief templates, and engineer a better system of briefings ✴ DIY Design Research - a workshop training cross- disciplinary teams in the basics of user research and research management Training Workshops
  10. 11 DISCOVER We get to know the problem through stakeholder

    discussions, desk research, & data dives. DEFINE We play back what we learned in Discover & co-create segment hypotheses to define questions for fieldwork. HOW WE WORK DEPLOY We engage your segments through direct & observational methods, and begin real-time analysis with regular updates provided to you. DEVELOP We go deep on analysis & synthesis — developing insights and frameworks for strategy and innovation. DECIDE We create rich deliverables, including roadmaps and workshops, in collaboration with you. 1-2 WEEKS 1-2 WEEKS 2-4 WEEKS 2-4 WEEKS 1-2 WEEKS
  11. 12 OUR TEAM Farrah Bostic Ashley Derrington Founder, Head of

    Strategy/Research Prior to founding The Difference Engine, Farrah had served in various research and strategy roles including as VP, Group Planning Director at Digitas; SVP Consumer Immersion at Ipsos/OTX; and Partner/Head of Innovation at Hall & Partners. She has a bachelors degree in journalism and communications from the University of Oregon, and a juris doctor from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She serves on the board of the Science Museum of Long Island, is an advisor to games media agency twofivesix, and a member of the part time faculty at Parsons in the Strategic Design Management masters program, where she teaches design research and leads an immersive studio for first year students. Project Manager Ashley is a veteran of award winning creative marketing agencies where she oversaw the day to day activities of the company and projects from conception to post-production. At The Difference Engine Ashley provides critical project management and oversight, as well as supporting the research itself with online moderating and analysis. In addition, she is a member of the United States Women's National Deaf Soccer team. Prior to the start of the pandemic, Ashley was a digital nomad, pursuing a passion project while traveling that entailed interacting with and learning about the deaf and hard of hearing cultures around the world. She plays a contributing role with hearinglikeme.com (Phonak) and Envoy Medical as well as serving as a face of hearing loss for the Hearing Health Foundation.
  12. 13 OUR NETWORK Michelle 
 consulting Paul Soldera,

 equation research Qualitative Research 
 Partner & Moderator Global Quantitative Research & Data Analytics Partner Dan Feld, Insights bandwidth Project Support, Quantitative Research Design & Qualitative Moderating and Analysis Erin gaetz, Director/ producer Video scripting, editing, motion graphics and production Global Capabilities In addition to our US based network of consultants and specialists, we also work with trusted partners including: n-Dynamic in China Prodialogue in Germany Sugata Research in Japan Puzzle in France Imogen Baker in the UK Third Eye in India Ndeye Aminata Dia in Senegal Manal Sadiq in Pakistan … and others! Brand & Innovation Strategist Gayle malone, wonder advisors Strategist, Researcher, Forecaster, Artist Kaitlin Maud Ethnographer, filmmaker Jon Mcneill Quantitative Research & Data Strategist dr. Ben Kim-gervey, KGR+C
  13. 14 We’ve helped global businesses understand their audiences all over

    the world. Whether you’re adapting an existing brand, campaign or product, or looking for untapped opportunities in new markets, we can help. WHERE WE’VE WORKED
  14. 16 …GET THESE KINDS OF RESULTS Identify opportunities for product

    development to help a B2B SaaS business reach new customers. Investigate the source of customer churn for a subscription-based content app and set the brand up for growth and eventual acquisition. Develop a go-to-market social and digital strategy roadmap for a book publisher that would connect authors and editors with readers. Understand the nature of fandom and how to leverage it for greater ticket and merchandise sales for a sports league. Design and develop a professional development platform for an industry association. Train innovation teams on how to conduct research and run product experiments for a textbook publisher and a digital media company. Research and develop a communications and digital product strategy for an insurance company. Value proposition and landing page testing and strategy development for start-up healthcare and DTC pharma companies. Innovation-driven ethnographic research on the future of cars for an automotive OEM.
  15. 19 We helped a dementia care company design the path

    to growth 
 as they expanded their geographic footprint. Engaged caregivers and families through observation and interviews to: ✴ Explore and observe the family’s decision-making process and experience through on-on-one and small group interviews, conducted remotely and in person at senior living communities ✴ Understand challenges and opportunities from the caregiving teams’ perspectives through ‘ride-alongs’, site visits, and on-premise interviews 
 WHAT WE DID: Conducted a quantitative survey of senior care decision-makers to: ✴ Size the market and estimate the prevalence of factors influencing their decisions - from product/service attributes to marketing/information channels to word of mouth 
  16. 20 Presentations of findings and recommendations to the senior staff.

    ✴ A clear value proposition rooted in a strong company culture and approach to care, with key marketing activities and cultural considerations that would travel well as they expanded WHAT THEY GOT: Presentation of key recommendations to the Board of Directors, who took action during the board meeting on those recommendations, including: ✴ Better feedback and incentives to retain at-home care talent ✴ Street level signage and SEO improvements to drive traffic ✴ Recommended tools and content for mentoring new families through the experience THE RESULTS: CASE STUDY: CUSTOM QUALITATIVE RESEARCH We helped a dementia care company design the path to growth 
 as they expanded their geographic footprint.
  17. 21 Building research & testing skills inside a book publisher's

  18. 22 We designed a learning workflow for a textbook publisher’s

    internal innovation team to support their prototyping and product development. We worked with a major textbook publisher to augment their existing experiment model to foster iterative learning across the team, and across initiatives. Then we worked with the team to train them on best practices for early stage customer development research, where concepts and prototypes serve as the stimulus for discussion. We engaged in an ongoing “office hours” model to serve as a sounding board for the team as they carried on with their experiments and research. CASE STUDY: TRAINING WORKSHOPS WHAT WE DID:
  19. 23 WHAT THEY GOT: THE RESULTS: We revamped their experiment

    canvas to help them synthesize their learnings from prototype tests, creating a more iterative workflow that would enable them to learn what to make. We also helped them develop a workflow model for testing, learning and tracking their experiments. And we helped them create templates for discussion guides, notes and analysis that could be shared across the team. The team continues to use this experiment model to develop early stage concepts that influence product development and acquisitions. We designed a learning workflow for a textbook publisher’s internal innovation team to support their prototyping and product development. CASE STUDY: TRAINING WORKSHOPS
  20. 25 We co-designed and facilitated a series of leadership meetings

    for a major airline in which cross-functional teams came together to make key customer experience decisions We collaborated with a core team of customer experience leaders to design tools for engaging a large group of stakeholders in cross-functional decision-making and planning across a series of workshops. ✴ Ensuring everyone was heard and could participate fully ✴ Creating ‘artifacts’ that would capture ideas and decisions ✴ Establishing useful guardrails for discussion ✴ Holding the whole team accountable to commit to decisions made in the session 
 WHAT WE DID: Key factors in our design were: CASE STUDY: STRATEGY & PLANNING
  21. 26 We co-designed and facilitated a series of leadership meetings

    for a major airline in which cross-functional teams came together to make key customer experience decisions In addition to co-designing the exercises for this series of workshops, we: ✴ Facilitated half- and full-day sessions ✴ Documented the exercises ✴ Provided summaries of each of the workshops, as well as our own observations and recommendations for next steps WHAT THEY GOT: The team continues to work the process, and planning is well underway, and the participants walked away feeling greater clarity and accountability to an actionable plan. THE RESULTS: CASE STUDY: STRATEGY & PLANNING
  22. 28 Interviewed current, former and potential subscribers to an international

    business newspaper about their media and news habits, and how this relates to their careers and personal finances. Interviews were conducted remotely in the US, UK and Asia among professional women of a variety of backgrounds, working in many different fields. CASE STUDY: STRATEGY & PLANNING We identified opportunities to increase business news subscriptions among professional women. WHAT WE DID:
  23. 29 We identified opportunities to increase business news subscriptions among

    professional women. WHAT THEY GOT: The newspaper is now actively monitoring the usage behavior of its women subscribers; introduced a very successful flagship newsletter edited by women reporters and columnists highlighting the work of other women on the paper; and alerts journalists during editing when articles fail to garner enough gender diversity in quoted sources. THE RESULTS: A detailed report outlining the state of news consumption, the influence of devices and social media, the impact of brand and awareness on source selection, and how women feel about news tailored “for them”. The report also made key recommendations about content channels, topics, and delivery methods, as well as about how tone and format preferences may influence women’s news consumption. CASE STUDY: STRATEGY & PLANNING
  24. 30 Redesigning the process of crafting & delivering creative briefs

    in an in-house agency CASE STUDY: STRATEGY & PLANNING
  25. 31 We collaboratively redesigned creative brief templates and briefing workflows

    for an entertainment company’s internal marketing team. We designed a full-day workshop for an entertainment company’s internal marketing team to train them on: WHAT WE DID: ✴ What makes a great creative brief ✴ When to use creative briefs versus other formats for creative requests ✴ How to manage the creative briefs and subsequent creative assets from initiation through approvals WHAT THEY GOT: We delivered a set of templates and roadmaps for varying types of creative requests - from a big brand initiative or launch, to the simplest change order. We also advised the team on the best communication and governance tools for improved efficiency and accountability. THE RESULTS: The CMO was so energized by this process that she invited us back when she jumped to a different company to train that team on the same principles and procedures - we have since turned this approach into our Creative Brief Training Workshop. CASE STUDY: STRATEGY & PLANNING