What Product Doctor did in 2015

2015 Brands I worked with

Some Clients from 2015

First off – here’s to a happy, healthy and rewarding 2016!

In 2015 I worked with innovators from startups to large organisations; practising, teaching and coaching people-centred brand, proposition and product/service development. (Some call this “Customer Development”).

I have further evolved my range of “insightful and engaging” workshops, designed to reduce wasted time and money by making sure we deliver what end users and customers want throughout the product lifecycle. My next workshop is a “User Research Masterclass” – one of the CPD Certified “Short Courses for Entrepreneurs” at UCL and is on 8th March. UCL have kindly offered my contacts 50% off (reducing the price to £100) with discount code: “ProductDoctor”. You can book here: http://bit.ly/1OVeyrD. Let me know if you plan to come along – be great to see you!

To maintain diversity in my portfolio, I always leave time for new projects, so read on – I hope it will spark opportunities for us to work together:

1. Large Organisations
I have been helping Pearson, the largest education company and book publisher in the world, get lean (i.e. to become more profitable). Over the past 9 months I have established a new Product Coach programme to expedite digital innovation across the product lifecycle using lean, data driven and user-centred approaches. I have focussed on contextualising toolkits and methodologies to help product teams become more relevant to their target segments. We received Best Innovation Culture and Best Innovation Program awards at the 2015 Corporate Entrepreneur Awards in both US and UK, beating Unilever, Guardian Labs and Coca Cola.

As part of this programme, I have been running my workshops encouraging participants to admit risky assumptions they are making about how people think and behave, turn these assumptions into testable statements, design research to gather evidence to reduce those risks, choose the right research methods and practice how to have the most effective customer conversations. From these workshops, I produced a series of internal training videos which are to be watched across the global business.

While the internal challenges for large organisations to innovate has not changed over the past 10 years, there is an explosion of startup and SMEs harnessing opportunities offered by new technology, finding innovative and relevant ways to reach their target customers. If you are experiencing these challenges in your organisation and want to sharpen your approach, perhaps we can start talking…

Here I am with lovely Pearson colleagues: Shannon, Hope, Shirley, Stef (and said award!)

2. Smaller Organisations & Startups
I have had a brilliant range of hands-on research projects this past year – including a new holistic fitness app called Kiqplan from Fitbug; a service helping the visually impaired; a pay as you go music service and an innovative messaging service. I have helped them develop brand, value proposition, feature set, roadmap and usability.

So before you engage expensive agencies or decide not to do it at all (arghhh!) give me a shout – I’ll also offer to train your staff as we go through the process.

3. Industry, Community & Education
I hosted a Startup Village at Apps World (Informa) for Mobile Monday London where 12 companies had the opportunity to showcase their new products and make great connections. I was a judge at Battlehack London, Braintree’s flagship hackathon (part of PayPal) and for the IPA’s (Institute of Promotional Advertising) annual awards.

I worked with the newly awarded OBE Dr Sue Black, creating new business models for #techmums, which set her up to get a place on the Barclays Accelerator.

Through my Directorship at Azenby, I have continued to work with GSMA (the global association for the mobile telecoms industry) providing mobile industry training alongside the wonderful Bill Best – we have a great deck covering technical, regulatory, business models and ecosystem changes – industry history lessons also offered in the portfolio!

In addition to UCL, I have delivered workshops for General Assembly, Apps World Startup Launchpad (as part of a “DIY Series” with Hai Media), App Promotion Summit, London Agile Practitioners Meetup, Accelerators and finally returning to my annual stint at Over the Air Hackathon.

Presentations, insights, outcomes and testimonials are here on my website. Be great to hear your news and about any interesting ways we can work together in 2016 – feel free to also pass on the discount code to my Masterclass.

Best and thanks for reading!

Julia

Defining Experiments at OTA 2015

It was back to Over The Air last week and a new way to get people to think about reducing risks in the assumptions they make about people. I ran a very interactive workshop where people got to work on their own products. My intention is to make Product Doctor experiences INSIGHTFUL and ENTERTAINING so I was pleased to get a few laughs and the comments below:

“…a challenging but fun workshop on product development at #ota15…just a pity it wasn’t longer…I am going to use what I have learnt today at my workshop on Monday to design some research experiments”

OTA Session 2015

We were working on the honesty to admit assumptions we are making and then how to turn them in to SMART research experiments (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). I didn’t use this acronym in the workshop itself so as not to expose my 1990s corporate experiences, but frankly, it does work well as a checklist. The participants worked in groups around great real-life case studies offered up by people working on them in the room using the process you will see in slide 4 of this powerpoint.

It’s great working with examples from the room – the range always fascinates me and we got to some really tightly defined experiments. The products ranged from testing out whether reminding people on a daily basis of their achievements improves their self esteem; whether children would still use phones if they had child-lock on them; whether an online whiteboard would improve willingness to study; whether different people in a business need different security levels on their internal systems; whether there was an appetite for business to buy “speed enhancing software for their e-commerce sites and finally how to improve take up of a co-working area “oystercard”.

Key areas of discussion were:

1). How important looking in the eyes is rather than using surveys when trying to assess pain levels and whether they are great enough to pay for solutions. How can you assess real pain without doing that?!

2). How easy it can be to get face to face in the natural environment rather than sending out a survey or getting on the phone. There seems to be a natural tendency to shy away from meeting people in the flesh, which is why we do a practice session later on in the workshop. e.g. if you are researching how people behave in co-working spaces, go there to observe and question people.

3). How easy it would be to do a smoke and mirrors mock up of a product to get it in to people’s hands and test out the reactions that you think it is going provoke. e.g. set up a manual text service sending positive messages to people rather than asking them whether they might like the idea.

4). Making sure that you are using evidence already available before designing your own experiments e.g. in the realm of education, there must be a lot of research showing the positive impacts of white boards used in the right way. Massive savings on time and money.

5). How important it is to research with customers who are buying the product, as well as the people who might just be using the product e.g. in the case of parents buying products for their children – research assumptions you have made with both groups.

6). How research output can be turned into the key proposition message. e.g. using quoted e-commerce site owners description of their pain as the proposition messages to others in their position.

So that was it for another year – always delighted to be a part of the grassroots hub-bub that is OTA. Big thanks to the participants of the workshop, all of whom got involved and to Dan, Margaret and Matthew & Team for having me back.

Product Doctor offers training, workshops, consultancy and qualitative research to help innovating product owners, marketers & entrepreneurs develop meaningful propositions, brands & products. Contact: Julia@productdoctor.co.uk.