In January 2020, I kicked off the research for an innovation project at the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA). I went to NRF in New York together with 40.000 other curious practitioners and academics wanting to explore the latest trends within retail. Commerce was going online – the landscape of physical retail was changing dramatically from places of transactions to spaces for experiences. Physical experiences that called for a totally new approach to retail. The scope of my innovation project was to get insights into this trend and best practices and to develop an intuitive and easy guide on how to use the physical space as a brand channel. I was highly motivated to embark on the research project – my biggest challenge was to find time for doing all the research. My spring was jam-packed with physical lecturing and other stuff going on. Then COVID hit the world.
This paper will explore how the research was carried out in the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment beyond COVID with the help of 80 students from KEA’s programme in Entrepreneurship & Design. How new ways of distance working and new tools were implemented overnight. And how we (almost) succeeded in doing a very hands-on three-dimensional case study for six case companies.
We live in a VUCA-World. The term VUCA was first coined in 1985 by economists and university professors Waren Bennis and Burt Nannus in their book "Leaders. The Strategies For Taking Charge" and was originally used to describe conditions resulting from the Cold War. VUCA is an acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. And that was certainly the situation at KEA and in rest of the world in spring 2020.