1. Converting Problems:
So my two problems from last assignment are:
*Retail stores need to pay more attentions to reduce shoplifting during holiday because there are more smaller items (ornaments, decorations) on the sales floor, and stores are busier than normal time.
*Retail stores need to find better ways to help customers find merchandise faster, because customers want to have a more efficient shopping experience during holiday season.
So I converted these two questions to the following brainstorm questions:
1. How might retail stores reduce shoplifting during holiday season?
2. How might retail stores do a better job to guide customers to different shopping sections during busy holiday schedule?
2. Gather people:
This is the hardest part. Because I only have one roommate, some of my friends already have plans and I have to work during Saturday and Sunday, so it's hard to find a perfect time to gather 4 people for like an hour. I wish we could know this assignment one week ahead, so we can have sufficient time to contact friends and plan the time. However, this situation just added more challenges to me, and I still did it!
I have never talked to my neighbors before and I decided to check with them. I mean, they are just right there and this could be a good chance to build up our friendship. I approximately knocked 8 doors, 4 of them opened the door and after I explained my project, 3 of them would like to help me (I am so LUCKY!). So I told them the brainstorm topics beforehand and let them think some ideas. I gathered 4 people on time! Even though we are all girls (maybe not that diverse on gender), we have different majors, different years in college and different culture background. So I think this group is diverse enough to me. And it's good I finally met my neighbors.
3.Warm-up! Improve: Where is Tommy?
It was very awkward. My three other neighbors were still feeling iffy about my activity at the beginning, and my roommate had never done any brainstorm sessions previously either, so I decided to lead a warm-up improve game and make every one feel more comfortable. I cleaned up the living room and created a nice open space. So this game I invented is called "Where is Tommy?" I got the inspiration from a improve game I played before called "Fortunately/Unfortunately" (2 players tell a story, taking turns. One storyteller, playing starts with some good, positive things like, "Once upon a time Mary had a beautiful little lamb." Then the other storyteller tells the next part of the story, but it is all negative, so, "Unfortunately, the lamb had a peg leg." The first storyteller, "Fortunately, Mary opened the leg and the lamb produce Skittles." Other player: "Unfortunately, Skittles were illegal in Greece, where they lived, and Mary and the lamb were sent to farmer's prison." Etc, etc. 2 other players mime out the story as it happens.)
"Where is Tommy?" is similar, it's also a "story-chain" game. "Tommy" is just a random name, and I need players stand in a circle. The first storyteller asks any player in the circle "Where is Tommy?" then the second player has to answer: "I don't know, maybe he is in...." Then the player gives the location, and points to next person. The player No.3 will have to answer "He was in... and doing... but then he left, where is Tommy?" the 3rd player needs to offer an activity about Tommy and then asks the 4th player "where is Tommy?" then they have to make up the whole story about this mysterious Tommy boy.
Here is an example:
A: "Where is Tommy?"
B: "I don't know, maybe he is in the mall." Points to C.
C: "He was in the mall and building a Lego land in a restaurant, but then he left, where is Tommy?" Points to D.
D: "I don't know, maybe he is in the national space station." Points to B.
B: "He was in the national space station painting the barrels, but then he left, where is Tommy?"...
The game went very well, and we played it for like 10 minutes. I felt kind of sorry for this poor Tommy boy (I don't know why he would eat an egg-salad sandwich in a girl's bathroom?! And I am glad he left) anyway, I felt the whole group warmed up a little bit and then I moved on to my brainstorm session!
After warm-up, I let everyone sit in a circle, and then we started the real session. I offered all different colors markers and notes, just to create a creative&free environment. For my first idea about shoplifting, it was a hard topic, and the group production is very slow. After about 5 minutes, we only had around 10 ideas. So I decided to apply some techniques we learned from the lecture: I showed them the "random word" sheet and asked them to keep one word in mind when they are trying to get more ideas. That sheet indeed speed up the process. So for my second topic about how to guide the customers more effectively, I showed them the "role list" beforehand, so they can put themselves in other people's shoes when they get stuck.
However, after one girl came up the store map idea, for like 10 minutes, basically everybody's idea is around the "map" concept, like a store map print on pamphlets, store map print on re-useable shopping bags (Actually we finally think this is a great idea). But we still need diversity, so I started drawing some other crazy ideas, and encourage them to think widely as well, and then the diverse ideas started coming back.
After around 30 minutes, we came up with a lot of ideas, and we sticked all the ideas on each side of the floor and starting sorting them quietly.
The sorting process went faster than I expected, I think that might because we had less ideas than we had in the class.We sorted 4 catagories in the first group (however we cannot name them clearly, because we just "feel" those ideas should go together); for my second question, we only sorted them into two catagories: "technology" and "map-oriented". I calculated the IPM for my team, it's 0.58, 4 of them came up 69 ideas within 30 minutes! I didn't have stickers for them, so we just pulled out the best ideas, and then did a quick discussing about them.
(these are just some highlights of funny/silly ideas )
Then we selected 5 best ideas for each question.
10 Best Ideas!
1.Hidden Secret Sensor(by Brittany): If it costs too much for the stores to attach sensors for every single small items, then they can randomly assign the sensors to small items (instead of every one of them) and therefore the stores can reduce the shoplifting rate.
2.Customer ID(By Ashley): Assign each customer an identitycal ID number electronically when they first walk into the store, and then the whole store's security cameras will reconize each customer and it will be easier to track every one.
3.Micro-Fabric Sensor(By Brittany): A new type of fabric "sensor" can be blended in clothes and textile, so the clothes themselves are naturally sensors, if the customers pay at the register, the sensor materials will be demagnetized, so they are safe to go. However if the customers steal the clothes, the alarms will ring.
4.Commercial Campaign(By Sami): Instead of adding sensors/ or high technology to the merchandise, the retail industry can start some "shoplifting" commercial campaigns and let customers know how much damage shoplifting will cause and how this behavior will influence the whole business, so they can educate people before they start any illegal behaviors.
5.Name Tag Sensor(By Myself): So basically each retail store requires employees to wear their name tags in front of their chest. Then why not build a little "detective sensor" in each name tag, so when the employee walking around the store, they can find out the shoplifters right away.
1.Floor Map(By Myself): So all the stores always focus on the signages above customers head, why not combine the floor directions with the signs together, so the customers can find different sections in both ways.
2.Map Shopping Bag (By Dongyi): A store map on the reusable shopping bags, so the customers will remember to bring their shopping bags to the stores and also they will be able to read the floor map from the bag.
3.Shopping App(By Myself): An easy app to detect the customers' locations and show the relative store's floor plans on the phone.
4.Shopping Schudulizer (By Sami): A website allows you to type all the stores you want to do holiday shopping at & all the shopping categories you want, and then click "schedule", the whole program will tell you the best itinerary and which floor should you go pick up your desired items. Just so easy!
5.Map Projection(By Brittany): An interactive floor projection system, so when people step on their current location's projector, then the system will project the floor plans and also will project the directions on the floor, so the customers will have fun and also will know their next shopping location right away.
I think this is a cool experience, and all my participants had never done any brainstorm sessions before. They enjoyed the game and the whole process, and they were surprised as well by how creative they could be. If I have time later on, I am thinking to host another session to involve more people and do more creative activities. Because it was very fun!