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Podcast Show notes Ep 002 : “Innovation in Hong Kong – where are we heading?” with Patti Hunt & Kate Okrasinski, MAKE Studios

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” ‘Ego systems’ will get knocked over. It shouldn’t be your idea out there chasing the world. Make small calculated bets. Make decisions based on evidence rather than opinion. Help build cultures that are not opinion led but evidence led. Leaders should look at experiment results as data to make decisions on how to move forward.” – Kate Okrasinski, MAKE Studios

For those who are not from the creative industry – what is Service Design?

  • Service design is the design of services. It is to understand the customer experience and how every layer of the organisation contributes to customer experience.

  • How can businesses deliver meaningful and relevant experience that meet customer needs using a human centred approach?

  • Consider what the future needs to look like and the problems with the current system.

The process – where do you begin?

  • Start with assumption busting. Investigate and test organisation assumptions by asking: Is this what the market needs? Is it what the final users are saying? 

  • Define the problem and test with a hypothesis. Collect feedback from customers on solution prototypes and iterate until you find product market fit.

Does data play a role in Service Design Innovation?

  • Clients are usually data driven, but both qualitative and quantitative data should be taken into consideration at different stages.
  • Qualitative data is much more important when it comes to planning for the future and surfacing potential directions for the future.

  • Quantitative data is required to test, validate, size, measure opportunities once a Minimum Viable Product is validated.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) drives culture. Work with KPIs down the track to make sure they’re representative of information that’s of value.

Unique challenges and opportunities of innovating in Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong may not be perceived as innovative as other places but it is in a unique position to create its own brand of innovation. 

  • For MAKE Studios, English is the language of business whereas user research are generally run in Cantonese where it is more a language of innovation for connecting authentically with local people.

  • Chinese culture has dedication towards innovation. There is less need to be deliberate and get consensus in comparison to Europe and America, and more about the courage to act and make a difference within an organisation.

Designing for Impact

  • Design for Impact is a programme MAKE Studios launched to apply Design Thinking to social issues by partnering with NGO, corporates, other specialities to tackle hairy problems in society, and creating solutions and vision for ideal outcomes.

  • The programme is more about activation and demonstrating the power of the Design Thinking process in problem solving, while collaborating with others to achieve impact.

  • Behavioural economics is a powerful tool to understand what’s happening moment to moment, but there is a danger of leveraging it to drive stickiness and nudge behaviours in a purely superficial way.

  • MAKE’s goal is to implement deeper level service innovation that increases revenue and deliver transformative value for organisations in the long run.

Managing risks of innovation

  • MAKE Studios recommends de-risking innovation by front stacking the risks through user research and understanding to see if you have correctly interpreted the problem in the first place.

  • Prototype a series of experiments and take an incremental approach so that by the time you get to market with anything new and innovative, you already know that there is product market fit and have gained some traction in the market.

  • Risk comes from ego. If you believe you’re right, the innovation is only a business fallacy. It requires grit, dialogue with the customers, the market ecosystem and customer insight in order to remain relevant.

    Overcoming the challenges of corporate innovation

  • Having a safe environment to fail when doing experiments is important. Innovation is fundamentally about human relationship. To build psychological safe environment for people to look at challenge and interrogate that challenge

  • Benefit of inclusion is that idea sits apart from any of us. You need diverse opinions for ideas to get better. You need the voice of customers in the room, decide what needs to be prototyped and get it out into the real world to see if it works. De-risk culture by research.

Practical Tips

A few practical tips from Kate and Patti for creative entrepreneurs looking to innovate within their business:


1) From Adam Lawrence’s book ‘This is Service Design doing’
If you do one thing – do customer research.
If you can do two things – do customer research and prototyping.

2) Stop talking about ideas and speculate about what might/might not work, do the research and put your idea/prototype in front of customers to test


1) Ask better questions of yourself, your team, your ideas, the problem. Take the time to do the research to answer it.

2) De-risking innovation takes time and focused energy. Make sure you make the right choices 


MAKE Studios

Instagram: @make_studios_hcd

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