The start of something wonderful

19 Oct 2021 by Mike Tisdall

INSIGH1551 Mihiro BlogPost v1 hero

This week Insight Creative launched Mīharo, our new innovation lab. We caught up with Jeremy Sweetman, Insight’s Director of Digital Experiences, who is leading this initiative. He tells us more about what it is, the sorts of innovation challenges it will tackle, and what makes it so wonderful.

So Jeremy, what’s an Innovation Lab, and why have Insight launched one?

Good question. Innovation labs are a great way for businesses to explore ideas and deliver solutions in new ways. For us, it means exploring solutions to challenges not driven by a client brief, a fixed budget, or our usual process. Our lab is fuelled by a desire to stay curious, experiment, and deliver solutions that will make an impact on Insight, our clients, or the world in general.

Why have you called it Miharo?

Mīharo is the Te Reo word for ‘wonder’ as in ‘wonderful’. We’ve extended the notion further to speak to curiosity – I wonder what would happen if we…? With this double meaning of wonder, Mīharo is about looking at challenges in new and different ways and finding solutions that make things more wonderful.

What sort of innovations are you focusing on?

Given our expertise, we are naturally looking at solutions that align to solving communication and engagement challenges. We expect most of these to be digital/technology-led but we aren’t limiting good ideas to this.

What benefits will it deliver?

It’s important that Mīharo isn’t just an idea brainstorming lab. What’s important is that we take the best ideas and turn them into real solutions to real problems that make things better for us, for our clients, or for society. For the most part, we are taking a commercial approach, creating new revenue streams through the development of new products, services, or IP. But there’s also a strong social element, meaning we’ll also work on challenges that matter to us as a team and make a difference to the world we live in. 

We also see real benefit in creating a culture attuned to thinking differently that allows individuals to grow and develop new skills. Long-term this will create a better business for us and better creative outcomes for all our clients.

Is there a process you are following to uncover good ideas and take them to market?

We know a cookie-cutter process won’t deliver the best result, so instead of a step-by-step process, we have created a simple framework for our innovation teams to work within. Within the framework, teams decide both the what and the how. The framework itself is relatively simple, encompassing four key stages:

  1. Discovery: Using a defined problem statement, we hold various workshops designed to tease out a broad range of potential solutions.
  2. Ideation: A dedicated challenge team researches the opportunity further, distilling the initial ideas down to 4-6 workable solutions for further review.
  3. Design: Post review, the challenge team selects one idea to develop further as a prototype or similar. This effort culminates in a ‘dragon’s den style’ presentation to the leadership team to determine whether the business will continue to invest.
  4. Commercialisation: If successful, the solution is prepared for the market. A separate commercialisation team takes on this challenge.

What’s your role in the lab?

Along with overall responsibility for the programme of work and the budgets associated with it, I help determine the problem statements we’ll work on; run ideation workshops to generate an initial bank of ideas; support challenge teams to develop their thinking, solutions, and presentations; and also support the leadership team to make good decisions about what solutions to invest in further.

What projects are being worked on within Mīharo now?

We really wanted our first projects to have real meaning, not just to the target audience, but to the team working on it. We asked our team to tell us about the challenges they’d like us to take on. We got lots of ideas, many of which will form later challenges we tackle.

We have two initial challenges underway. The first is a commercial idea that examines a multi-channel way to reimagine physical spaces. This one is in the design phase and I’m really excited by the unique solution we’re coming up with. The second sees us inspired to find new ways to create awareness and drive change, in relation to the global water crisis. We’ve already generated lots of ideas and there are some great solutions being considered before we decide what to move forward with.