Author Archives: Andrew Zenyuch

Agency Promotional Postcard

The Design Team at Innovation Focus was looking to promote our research capabilities to current members of our database and potential new clients.  We thought a neat approach to this was create a postcard with a bold image to get the recipient’s attention, then inform them of our ethnographic research capabilities.  Unfortunately, the piece was never produced.

Click on each image to enlarge.  Names have been removed from this piece.

Postcard Front
Postcard Front
Postcard Back
Postcard Back

“Digital Love?” Published In The Hub Magazine

I recently co-authored an article taking closer look at digital adoption during the grocery shopping trip based on a study we fielded. Digital is a hot topic in shopper marketing, and we wanted to see if shoppers were actively utilizing these emerging tactics. We found that they aren’t as quick to adopt technology as we are.

Check out the full article here: Digital Love? Are Shoppers As Enamored With Technology As We Are?

Magic Hat – Under The Cap Contest

Magic Hat Brewing Company adds captions to the underside of their bottle caps, like “Life Is Sweet When It’s Complete” and “Don’t Cause A Stink When You Drink.”  Back in 2005, they ran a contest where fans could enter their sayings for a chance to “get under their cap.”  One of my sayings “She’s A Gem At 2 AM” won the contest.  It was later made a little less risque.  For my efforts, I won a Magic Hat t-shirt, which is pictured below.

Click on each image to enlarge.

Magic Hat Caption
Magic Hat Winning Shirt
Magic Hat Cap Logo

Musselman’s Healthy Picks Case Study

You can download a PDF version of this here: Musselman’s Healthy Picks Case Study

Reconnecting With A Classic
Knouse Foods Updates Apple Sauce To Meet The Needs Of Boomers

Knouse Foods, owners of the Musselman’s brand, is one of the world’s largest apple processors.

The challenge.
In January 2008, Knouse Foods approached Innovation Focus to develop a portfolio of products for their new product pipeline that included products targeted specifically at the Boomer generation. The challenge was how to update their classic products to reconnect with Boomers and meet their changing needs.

The solution.
We conducted in-home interviews with Boomers who ate apple sauce on a regular basis, and coupled them with secondary research on the Boomer demographic. We found that Boomers were looking for more unique and exotic flavors from their foods to satisfy their sophisticating palate. Our research also showed that fortified products are popular among Boomers because of growing concerns over their health as they age.

These 2 opportunity areas, along with 7 others, fueled our ideation session. Participants generated ways to use classic Knouse products to give the Boomers exciting and interesting taste options and help them be healthier through fortification.

The result.
Musselman’s Healthy Picks marries two concepts from our ideation session – Exotic Apple Sauce (#1 below) and Total Select Apple Sauce (#2 below) – into one Boomer-friendly option. Making its debut on shelves in March 2009, Healthy Picks is fortified with fiber, vitamin c, calcium and antioxidants. The fortifications are paired with exotic flavors such as Key Lime Cupuacu, Blueberry Pomegranate and Raspberry Acai to give Boomers a stimulating taste along with the supplements they need delivered through the classic food of apple sauce.

#1 Musselman"s Exotic Apple Sauce - click for a hi-res version
#1 Musselman's Exotic Apple Sauce - click for a hi-res version
#2 Musselman"s Total Select Apple Sauce - click for a hi-res version
#2 Musselman's Total Select Apple Sauce - click for a hi-res version

Enrolled in “Putting Ideas Into Action” Class At The International Center for Studies in Creativity

I’ve accepted an offer to participate in a pilot program called Putting Ideas Into Action.  It is offered by the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State University.  Needless to say – I’m thrilled!

Putting Ideas Into Action is a new, introductory level training in Creative Problem Solving delivered entirely over the internet.  Starting on June 15th, I need to watch a 10 minute training video online through their interactive portal, then complete the activities in my workbook.  I do this every day Monday through Friday for 3 weeks.

It’s non-credited, but I’ll receive a certificate after the course is complete.  Since it’s new, I’ll get to evaluate the course.  I’ll fill out an evaluation before and after to suggest changes and possibly have quotes featured in the marketing of the program.

Hopefully this will give me a creative shot-in-the-arm since I can’t make it to CPSI this year.  The course sounds really interactive and hands-on, and I’m really interested to see how they’re going to teach the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) model using the internet and video as a medium.  The program is entry-level, so it’s meant for people who don’t have experience with the CPS process.  I’ve studied the Osborn-Parnes model, the FIT and Tim Hurson’s Productive Thinking Model, so I’ve been around a decent amount of CPS.  However, I’m always looking to learn more about CPS and I am curious to see how effective the 10 minute segments are in teaching the CPS process.

I just signed up for the website, and new members are joining every day.  There’s participants from California, Ireland, Canada and Spain.  Everyone, including me, seems really excited about the course and what they’re going to be learning.  It looks like it’s shaping up to be worth-while experience.

Check back for updates on my progress through the course.  I’m hoping to put some of my work from the workbook and my thoughts on evaluating the program on here over the course of the 3 weeks.

PlayByHeart One-Pager

This is a one-page sell sheet written for PlayByHeart, a musical ensemble for hire for events. I was with the owner at an event where part of the ensemble performed. Afterward, he received a lot of inquiries about the business and its capabilities. Unfortunately, his business cards were in the process of being printed and he had nothing to hand out to his potential customers. I offered to write this sheet as a leave behind and a way to promote the company and it’s services

You can download a PDF version of this, including graphical elements, here: PlayByHeart One-Pager

Enhancing Your Events Through Music

PlayByHeart is the premier agency to fill your musical needs for your next event.  We are a collection of highly skilled, experienced musicians dedicated to making your event extra special through the music we play.  Whether you’re looking for musicians for your wedding, formal reception, funeral, concert, party, social night, assembly, informal get together or business event, we will treat your event as our own and strive to make it the best it possibly can be.

When you book an event with us, we will listen to your musical goals.  We will bring together the right ensemble and compose a custom arrangement for what you have in mind.  Our collection includes brass, woodwind, string, piano, percussion and voice musicians.  We’re confident we’ll find just the right mix to make your event one your guests will never forget.

We also host interactive musical events where you and your guests become our ensemble.  We will teach you the basics of playing.  Experience is not a pre-requisite for our events.  By the end of the night, you and your guests will be honorary members of PlayByHeart and be making beautiful music right along our side.  It’s the perfect, unique activity for business events, social club meetings, or informal get-togethers with friends.

The next time you’re looking for special music to put a memorable touch on any event, turn to PlayByHeart.  We’ll put on our expertise and years of experience to work for you to make your event the best it possibly can be through our music.

So…..What Exactly Is It You Do?

This is a question I get a lot – from friends, acquaintances, family members, people I meet at conferences, or other people I encounter throughout my personal and professional life.  I usually have trouble explaining it to those who are unfamiliar with the world of product development.  My one-line response is usually: I’m a project manager for a new product development and market research firm.  Most people have heard those words in that combination before, but don’t fully understand what it is, so it’s hard for me to go into any kind of depth.

I think I have my explanation of what I do down to under 5 minutes.  I thought I’d share it on here.

Essentially, new product development is taking an idea and turning it into a product or a service that a company sells.  There are different steps they take along the way: such as refining, prototyping, packaging, and developing a marketing plan before a company launches a product and it appears on shelves.  The process is usually a bit different each time, depending on the product or service being developed.

My company, Innovation Focus, helps before that process takes over, in what is called the “front-end” of new product development.  The “front-end” is the getting started period of product development, where a company doesn’t know what products or services they should be developing.  The company knows it needs these ideas to help drive their growth, reach their financial goals, and define their future.  This is when they call us, and we facilitate them through our process.

We use qualitative market research techniques to talk to target consumers.  We talk about their lives in general, then focus down on specific areas of interest for our clients.  We look to identify their unmet needs and ways they need help in that area.

From this research, we look for themes to emerge from the data we collected, and turn those themes into opportunity areas for our clients to create products and services to help these consumers.  We really try to bring in the voice of the customer and connect our clients to it.

We use these opportunity areas as inspiration for ideation sessions.  These sessions are targeted to generate beginning product and service ideas for our client based on the findings from our research.  We facilitate a creative problem solving technique to generate these ideas.  Typically, we end up with 100 or more new product and service concepts.

We use criteria determined before the session to identify leading concepts that best match the company’s goals.  We prioritize these leading ideas and build action plans around them.  A portfolio of these ideas is then handed off to our clients to develop using their new product development process.  Occasionally we go a little further with the concepts, such as concept writing or refinement, but typically this is where our project work stops.

I’m a project manager within this process, meaning I’m involved in pretty much every aspect of the projects we run.  I manage the recruiting companies that find the people we interview, the facilities where we hold our sessions, and the outside guests that come to our sessions.  I work with cross-functional client teams and internal project teams as well as the outside resources listed above.  I am responsible for time, travel and cost budgets and making sure the project runs smoothly without losing sight of our client’s end goal.

I am also trained in leading our creative problem solving process, and have training the Osborn-Parnes creative problem solving model.  I’m have led consumer interviews in the past and am refining those skills.  I train our other project managers in project management.  And I help with the marketing, branding, copywriting, sales and administrative aspects of the company.

Okay… it’s a little more than 5 minutes.  I need to work a bit to get it down.  I think this is the best explanation of what I do so far, and people seem to nod their head in agreement to it (if they haven’t walked away before I’m finished.)

The Creative Problem Solving Process – Step 5 – Solution Finding

This is the fifth stage in the Creative Problem Solving Process.  The complete model can be found here:

Selecting and strengthening potential solutions to the problem by judging them against success criteria and finding the best fit.

Statement Starters

  • Will it…
  • Does it…
  • Is it…

Process – Diverge

  • Write your “What I see myself doing is…” statement at the top of a new piece of paper.
  • Refer back to your problem statement and look for what you’re looking for this solution to do.
  • Be specific in your goals for this solution.

Process – Converge

  • Go through your list of goals and criteria and put a star next to the ones that you feel are the most important in solving your problem.
  • Pick the top 3-6 criteria with stars.
  • Fill in the 3-6 criteria in the top of the columns on the following page.
  • Fill in the ideas within the cluster you selected from the Idea Finding stage in the rows.
  • Give each idea a rating in the corresponding boxes based on the follow:
    • If it meets or could meet the criteria, give it a “+”
    • If it does not or will not meet the criteria, give it a “-”
    • If you are unsure, give it a “0”

Process – Strengthening

  • This matrix should give you a clear indication of which solutions will help you best solve your problem.
  • Select just one solution, multiple solutions or a combination of solutions that you feel will best solve your problem.
  • Write the solution you picked at the top of a new piece of paper.
  • For each solution, answer the following:
    • Pluses – what’s good about this solution?
    • Potentials – what could this solution turn into? (You may have to move some pluses down to this. It’s okay if there’s overlap.)
    • Concerns – what are you worried about with this solution? (Use “How to…” and “How might I…” as Statement Starters for this step.)
    • Opportunities – how can I overcome those concerns?
  • When you are finished, you should have a well-rounded understanding of the best possible solutions to solve your problem.
  • Re-write your solution using the Statement Starter: “What I see myself doing NOW is…”

CONGRATULATIONS!  You have just completed the Solution Finding Stage of the Creative Problem Solving Process.  You are now ready to complete the next stage – Action Finding.

Pay Better Attention With The Power of Science

This came up in my news feed the other day:

The article discusses some breakthroughs in the science of helping a person concentrate.  From gamma rays to hearing aids, it outlines some emerging technologies that are geared to take advantage of these breakthroughs (although I think it’d be funny and very creepy to see an office full of workers wearing the device pictured.)

Most people in business know how hard it is to concentrate in the office.  Distractions abound: from the phone ringing to unanswered emails to helping co-workers.  And that’s without naming any internet distractions.  This is why my most important learning from the article came from a low-tech tip the author makes:

“She recommends starting your work day concentrating on your most important task for 90 minutes. At that point your prefrontal cortex probably needs a rest, and you can answer e-mail, return phone calls and sip caffeine (which does help attention) before focusing again. But until that first break, don’t get distracted by anything else, because it can take the brain 20 minutes to do the equivalent of rebooting after an interruption.”

I think this tip is extremely helpful, and it fits perfectly with how I plan my work day (not to mention justifying my coffee habit.)  By only planning 6 hours out of your work day, as I suggested, you’re allowing yourself to take that break after 90 minutes to do those unexpected tasks that require a response, such as email or phone calls.  You can get complete or get a great start on your most important task right away, then refocus and complete that task or your next most important task for that day.

Even if you don’t plan 6 hours of your day, try focusing on your most important task for the first 90 minutes of your day then taking a break.  I do this already, but I’m going to make a more conscious effort of this to see if it improves my performance.