NWG Innovation Festival 2017


NWG Innovation Festival 2017 - Non-household and stakeholder engagement 


The NWG Innovation Festival, held in July 2017, was a five day showcase of innovative thinking and new technology. The overarching objective for the event was to tackle six problems by applying design thinking techniques to try to solve them. The focus on innovation was mashed up with the feeling of a summer festival featuring a tented village and fun events every evening to engage various groups in the North East of England, with attendees from across the country. In bringing together a range of innovative minds, NWG used design ‘sprint’ thinking to explore and create new solutions to some of the biggest social and environmental challenges facing the organisation, and the wider water and wastewater sector.

The Innovation Festival presented the opportunity for NWG to engage with a range of stakeholders, non-household customers and other organisations and businesses, who are often time poor within one setting and within the target context of NWG and their company activity. Explain Market Research was commissioned by NWG, to work with Elaine Erskine, Strategic Research and Assurance Manager and Lucy Denham, Customer Research Manager to gather feedback from this audience during the five day Innovation Festival.

The need 

A significant number of household customers have already taken part in a number of targeted projects, both qualitative and quantitative in methodology, however it was also imperative to engage with wider stakeholders, non-household customers and other organisations and businesses as part of the research and engagement programme NWG are currently embarking on. This was to enable NWG to validate key findings arising from the views and insights elicited from household customers, as well as exploring some higher level themes to shape and inform business planning with the perspectives and viewpoints of this audience taken into consideration.

Prior to the Festival, a design sprint between NWG and Explain Market Research took place, to determine they key topics and areas of research it was important to engage with stakeholders and businesses on. The output of this sprint was a Customer Research Summary Magazine, produced by NWG. This provided an overview of the key research and engagement undertaken to date, with details of the key objectives for each area, and key questions it was decided to put to this audience as part of conversation

Due to the diversity of the audience at the Festival, respondents engaged were shown a list of topics available for discussion, along with a brief explanation around each, before being asked to choose which area they would most like to have a conversation about. A 10-15 minute conversation then took place with 36 Festival attendees, conducted by NWG employees and members of Explain Market Research, in accordance with Market Research Society guidelines.

The outcome

As a result of the engagement, NWG were able to gain an insight into the views of this audience on the research conducted with NWG’s household customers today. Explain produced a full written report which highlighted key themes arising from existing research where agreement was found with this audience, and where it was suggested further opportunities were possible to gain household customer viewpoints on a number of topics. Representatives of customer groups were also engaged, with their viewpoints and opinions also represented as part of the engagement.

Explain presented NWG with a series of strategic recommendations on further areas of research as identified by respondents, and also identified a number of areas where those engaged suggested opportunities for future collaborative working opportunities with either theirs organisations or others, to help shape the future delivery of services in line with customer expectations.

“It was great that Explain were able to support us with our customer and stakeholder engagement as it is important that we gather broad and far reaching customer and stakeholder insights to help us shape our business plan.”

Elaine Erskine, Strategic Research and Assurance Manager

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