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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. 2
    We help business
    leaders like you make
    big decisions.




    All. The. Time.


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  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

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  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.

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  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

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  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

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  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


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  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

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  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


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  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


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  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

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  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.

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  12. 13
    OUR NETWORK


    Michelle

    Crawford

    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

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  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


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  14. 15
    WE’VE HELPED THESE BRANDS…

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  15. 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.

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  16. 17
    Case studies

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  17. 18
    Mapping the journey
    for families coping
    with dementia
    CASE STUDY: CUSTOM QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

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  18. 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

    CASE STUDY: CUSTOM QUALITATIVE RESEARCH


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  19. 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.

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  20. 21
    Building research &
    testing skills inside
    a book publisher's
    innovation team
    CASE STUDY: TRAINING WORKSHOPS

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  21. 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:

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  22. 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


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  23. 24
    Fostering an airline's
    interdisciplinary
    creativity and
    facilitating focused
    decision-making
    CASE STUDY: STRATEGY & PLANNING

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  24. 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


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  25. 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


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  26. 27
    Understanding the
    relationship between
    women, ambition and
    the news
    CASE STUDY: STRATEGY & PLANNING

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  27. 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:

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  28. 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


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  29. 30
    Redesigning the
    process of crafting &
    delivering creative
    briefs in an in-house
    agency
    CASE STUDY: STRATEGY & PLANNING

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  30. 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


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  31. 32
    Thank you.

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