Millennials flooding the workforce has forced the redefinition of the much-loved buzzwords “work/life balance”. Instead, how about we cut the cr*p and do away with it altogether?
Perhaps this is a sign of resignation. Possibly calling for the term’s shelving altogether is the culmination of frustrations following years of trying to understand and articulate its current standing in the workplace fully. Perhaps it’s a touch of pedanticism.
Balance, fine, it’s the two words before it and dash or slash that irk me. We have a myriad of obligations and responsibilities to others and ourselves that we must prioritise and balance, not just two. Why are we making a distinction between ‘living’ and, ironically, ’making a living?’.
The assumption is that we tread a delicate (and often seemingly impossible) tightrope between two polarising worlds: what we “must do” and what we “want to do”. Work is bad; private life is good. The work/life paradigm implies we have two lives. We don’t, we have one, and if we aren’t in charge of it, then somebody else is.
I was once told, “life is our priority, but work is somebody else’s”.
Many adopt a somewhat dangerous position of defining our self-worth via our career, and I think that boils down to a particular view of “success” that we are taught. A “good job”, long hours, big money, promotions… And there’s nothing wrong if you are fulfilled, but the constant discussion over work/life balance would suggest not everybody is.
The traditional days of career trajectory are largely behind us. Long gone are the expectations of a single career – towing the line along a linear trajectory from bottom to the… well, somewhere that isn’t the bottom in return for a gold watch upon retirement. It’s a truly symbolic trading of time because let’s be clear, our finite amount of time is what we are trading.
We now live in a connected world of opportunity where people are having ten different careers (and less are treading the first rung on the corporate ladder). As people are becoming more conscious and aware of themselves, we’re beginning to question our relationship with work and how we spend our valuable time.
Well, perhaps. For some necessity and obligation to others will, of course, take priority because unfortunately, we need money to survive (I’m sure I’ll write in further detail about the utopian bartering system I’m devising at a later date). The point I’m trying to make is that there has never been a more significant window of opportunity to find meaningful work that integrates with our chosen lifestyle.
We’re seeing more freelancers, gig workers, people continuously chopping and changing to find integration rather than separation of “work” and “life”. A healthy work-life balance requires reflection on what we truly value and prioritising your whole self instead of just the needs of your work.
Loosely translating to ‘reason for being’, Ikigai is a Japanese concept representing a cross-section of our work, responsibilities and interests. It incorporates what you love, what the world needs, what you’re good at amd what you can get paid for. To have Ikigai, and a healthy life because of it, means not being burdened by any one part of living. (and there are more than two parts to choose from).
It’s time to publicly ostracise or ‘cancel’ (a word I despise so much I now instead ‘annihilate’ my Amazon Prime membership) “work-life balance”. Banish it to the graveyard of annoying and useless business vernacular and make meaningful changes that allow us to integrate and prioritise our one life as we best choose.
…A question faced by all entrepreneurs but particularly ‘non-technical’ founders that require tech solutions. Even knowing where to start can be a challenge. Having struggled with previous tech partners, Rupert Ballinger, CEO & founder of Wundar, recruited Digital Village to guide him through the process of developing their private mentorship platform.
Rupert had spent the previous 12 to 18 months conducting customer research & was sure his private mentorship platform served a real purpose. It was time to start developing a product but not coming from a tech background put him in a daunting position.
“It was challenging,” he recalls. “It was hard being a non-technical founder. I had trouble finding the right technology partner to help build Wundar & take me on that journey. I was really looking for someone to sort of hold my hand and help educate me and my team and give me the opportunity to learn about what we’re actually doing and how to do it.”
Rupert had raised a considerable amount of seed money but spent much of it with previous agencies building prototypes (too much by his own admission) that continued to fail. He felt previous tech partners were too focussed on the tech itself rather than helping him develop his initial idea into a product that solved a real-world problem.
“It’s key to find a partner like Digital Village, who can really roll up their sleeves and get into the trenches with you at that early stage and really help you on that discovery phrase. It’s the biggest challenge & I think it’s the software agencies that need to be responsible for helping startup finders find that market fit without spending too much money.”
Sprinting To Success
After an initial meeting with Digital Village, founder Jason and DV Producer Jithesh hosted a workshop with Rupert to understand Wundar, its requirements and the problem space. An end product was then mapped out & broken down into four smaller modules.
Digital Village utilises a 20-Day methodology that divides projects into 20 day iterations (or sprints). Each 20 day sprint has predetermined outcomes for a set cost. The agile methodology reduces risk and wastage & ensures the correct product is built from the start through continuous testing & feedback throughout the process. Although general outcomes are predetermined, each module is flexible and based on both the needs of the business for the month & results of the previous module.
Wundar UI on IOS
Module 1 // Proof Of Concept: Functions such as onboarding organisations, user registration, profile set up. Mod 1 allowed Wundar to get early users on board & experience the app to determine what the next module of work should include.
Module 2 // Add Social Media Features: Introduced a newsfeed, the ability to create content posts with text, image, and video. The MVP was released to both the App Store & Google Play Store.
Module 3 // Build ‘Events’ Feature & Upgrade Messaging: Real-time chatting was added with the ability to share images & documents. Improvements/ fixes were made to features developed in Modules 1 & 2.
Module 3a // Trial user feedback was gathered & improvements made based on the user experience of the new & existing features.
Module 4 // Private Groups Within A Private Network: A group chat feature was also added & further improvements made. Wundar now had a fully working product.
“I’ve heard too many stories where startups and founders run out of money, close the doors because they spent too much in the initial prototype stages. They couldn’t get into the market; they couldn’t even get it to the market… and they go back to the workforce. It’s a sad story & I almost got to that point. It’s a bit of a miracle I got through. So that’s why I feel so strongly about how important the agile methodology is that Digital Village has adopted.”
Having met all requirements, Wundar has launched as two native apps on the App Store & Google Play Store. The service is being trialled with three different groups & 50 new users are being onboarded each week. As a partner of Wundar, Digital Village are continuing to develop further iterations of the mentorship platform & share Rupert’s excitement for the future.
“We’ve got a great product and two native apps. It’s been cost-effective & we think we’ve got real market fit, so it’s really exciting,” adds Rupert.
Who is Wundar?
Wundar is a private mentoring network that allows you to connect and engage with your own community in a safe and secure environment. Communicate privately, stay up to date with community news, and search your network for mentors.
Sketched prototype utilising design sprints
Amazon Web Solution
Angular Java Script
Private Social Network (invite only)
Give us a call or stop by our door anytime, we try to answer all enquiries within 24 hours on business days.
The OKR process is centered on the principle of setting ambitious goals (Objectives) then breaking those Objectives down into Key Results (KRs) which are highly measurable. Underneath each Key Result will be a list of tasks (ToDos) which are the actual things you will do to deliver your Key Results. The results of those elements are typically graded once per quarter.
The concept was invented at the Intel Corporation and is widely used amongst the biggest technology companies in the world including Google and Zynga.
In a nutshell, your objective is what you want to accomplish. Your key results are how you get there.
For how to write OKRs, the actual formula is simple: Objectives are goals and intents, while Key Results are time-bound and measurable milestones under these goals and intents.
Benefits of OKRs
They force an organisation to be ambitious but clear with their goals.
It requires measurement and are therefore tangible.
They help employees understand how their actions help the organisation to achieve its ambitions.
They’re open and transparent, encouraging better collaboration and communication throughout the organisation.
They provide a framework for rapid failure which leads to accelerated success. (As the goals are set quarterly, you know quickly what’s achievable and what’s likely to fail, allowing you to make plans accordingly.)
Example of OKRs
Let’s say you want to focus on improving customer satisfaction. You might have a set of OKRs that looks like this:
Objective: Understand and Improve Upon our Customer Satisfaction Levels
KR1: Conduct 50 research focus groups with our customers
– ToDo: Engage a third party research agency
– ToDo: Hire a venue
– ToDo: Design focus group questions
KR2: Deliver a consistent Net Promoter Score (NPS) of above 80%
– ToDo: Implement an NPS system via email
– ToDo: Perform quality audit on current NPS responses
KR3: Reduce customer attrition due to product dissatisfaction to less than 0.5%
– ToDo: Increase attrition reporting frequency to daily
– ToDo: Reduce wait-time for contact center to less than 2 mins
You wake up in the morning, you turn off your alarm, and as you lie there in bed, you check facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, texts, emails and then the news. Then you go to the bathroom, you use the toilet, brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed and then head for the kitchen. You drink some coffee and eat breakfast. Maybe you watch the news or check your emails again. It’s the same routine you follow everyday.
Then you drive to work on the same old route, and when you get there you interact with the same coworkers you saw the day before. You spend your day performing pretty much the same duties you performed yesterday. You might even react to the same challenges at work with the same emotions; Then after work, you drive home; maybe you stop at the same grocery store and buy the food you like and always eat. You cook the same food for dinner and watch the same television show at the same time while sitting in the same place in your living room. Then you get ready for bed in the same way you always do-you brush your teeth (with your right hand starting from the upper right side of your mouth), you crawl into the same side of the bed, maybe you read a little, and then you go to sleep.
Currently working with Allianz Insurance with their organisational transformation. Jo is a creative, driven Executive Coach, Facilitator and Organisational Development specialist, helping leaders and organisations transform and achieve more through their people.
Justin is the co-founder of ‘Eighty20 Solutions’ a modern workplace transformation company specialising in Microsoft systems integration. Justin has a background in running large scale transformation programs for enterprise organizations.
NIkki Thompson (Coach & consultant – Inner Circle Work)
Nikki has a long history working in the health industry as a clinician and manager. She also brings business and life skills gained from raising a family and assisting her husband on their grain and grazing property. Nikki provides coaching and consulting to empower individuals and organisations to live and work more mindfully. This promotes health, wellbeing ,collaboration and creativity.
Dave Massage (KPMG Australia)
With over 15 years in the ICT, Banking & Finance and Professional Services industries, Dave specialises in data analytics and strategy development and is passionate about growing and developing dynamic, high performing teams, delivering large scale strategic and transformational programs. Dave is currently the Director of data and analytics at KPMG.
With over 15 years in the ICT, Banking & Finance and Professional Services industries, Dave specialises in data analytics and strategy development and is passionate about growing and developing dynamic, high performing teams, delivering large scale strategic and transformational programs. Dave is currently the Director of data and analytics at KPMG.
We spoke about working from home (WFH) and what this might mean for us as people in terms of work and life balance. We also explored the impact on business and how organisations are navigating this change and how they will need to adapt to remain relevant into the unknown future.
How are we dealing with the change?
Around the 29 minute mark on the video Rachel describes a change curve model. The Change Curve is a popular and powerful model used to understand the stages of personal transition and organisational change.
Rachel’s observation was that companies went from being in denial or panic mode to then jumping to focusing on what is going to happen in the future. Possibly avoiding the reality of now.
Jo suggests that this coping mechanism is where employers need to be focusing on to support their people. Being a crucial point in this journey of change. It is an especially important point in time where there is a need for authentic care and support for people before business implications are considered.
Adapting to change means being flexible.
In the ‘old-normal’ world there was often a clear distinction between work life and home life. Now that everyone is working from home, co-workers are seeing a new side of their co-workers that is more real as they get to meet their kids in the background trashing the house or the pet dog joining the conference call. Or as a listener shared on Youtube chat on the call, her friend sharing more than expected with her husband’s company.
But what this ‘rawness’ or ‘exposure’ of vulnerability is doing for people and companies, is bringing them closer together in a more personal and meaningful way. There is empathy between co-workers and also client relations because we are now no-longer displaying a different version of ourselves. The benefits of this authenticity is trust, better communication, culture, camaraderie and togetherness.
Parents having to cope with a very hectic home life are obviously finding it very difficult, but at the same time coworkers are aware of their challenges because they have a window view into the lives of their co-workers. The team now has a greater appreciation and understanding of the lives of the coworkers and the blend between life and work is more balanced. Dave shared his experiences of this and Rachel suggests how organisations should be supporting their staff at about the 47min mark (here).
Will companies want to go back to the ‘old-normal’?
Justin raised a good point about why WFH is working now and what the challenge might be when the lockdown is lifted. Suggesting that WFH is working for many organisations now because everyone is in the same circumstances. The real challenge comes when we go back to the office and there are say 80% of people working from the office and the other 20% remotely. Do those people who are working from home feel that they can contribute and are being heard by the rest of the team? Taking into account non verbal communications such as body language and the effects of physical presence.
Some people thrive in the office environment and feel a need to be around other people. While others enjoy the solace of their own space and actually would prefer to WFH from now on. We might see a more equal split between those working from home and those from the office. If that is the case, workplace environments and communication technology will need to be re-imagined. (if you are a large organisation interested in exploring what that might look like, I recommend speaking with Justin or someone from Eighty20 Solutions about that).
Jo described a very interesting scenario; now that people are not needing to go into the office anymore, but they will still be wanting the connection and community that comes with the workplace. So the office environment we are accustomed to, could be more about social hubs for people to congregate and work. Which opens up a range of working environment designs that are more functional, enjoyable, productive and innovative.
Reliance and Adoption of Digital
The Industrial Revolution accelerated growth through mass production and huge efficiencies. It was throughout this period that organisational structures were formed and systems and processes were prescribed to form the blueprint of business, employment and trade that we still live our lives by today (including school systems).
This attachment to a Marxist view that value is determined by time of labor input, has developed an expectation overtime that employees need to be in the office, at their desk and sitting there from 9-5. And this is how a company can be sure that things are getting done. This is of course an extreme example of ‘command and control’, but it highlights where we have come from and how things can change.
When asked about the impacts on business, Dave shared that one of the lasting legacies of this scenario will be a faster and more extensive digitisation of Australian businesses. He expressed the general resistance that organisations have to digitisation and some examples of how much more effective teams can be when truly adopting digital into their organisation. (Thanks Dave for the reference to this great article about such adoption of digitisation in the Australian business community.)
Digital technology provides an opportunity for businesses to quickly create new customer value propositions. By better understanding the customer, creating more meaningful services and products, and providing an enhanced customer experience through new digital offerings. As more people are online now, there are new opportunities everywhere for organisations to try new things and remain relevant into the new world.
Digital Business Design – Digital transformation challenges and what solutions researchers have learned
Digital business design: ‘The holistic organisational configuration of people (roles, accountabilities, structures, skills), processes (workflows, routines, procedures), and technology (infrastructure, applications) to define value propositions and deliver offerings made possible by the capabilities of digital technologies.
(Ross et al., 2019)
For mid-large businesses, becoming digital is a competitive necessity. Ubiquitous data, unlimited connectivity and massive automation provides organisations with an opportunity to reinvent themselves, adapt to new markets and evolve for the future of business and the way people work. Reinventing themselves for the future requires stepping into the unknown, and I have great respect for the leaders of these companies who are steering these highly challenging transformations. There is no right way up the mountain and there is no pre-existing cut path guiding the way.
Experimentation and flexibility are characteristics that typically are not associated with large organisations, but ironically this is what it is going to take to navigate the digital mountain.
In September 2019, the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research Press published the findings of 4 years of research into a book; Designed for Digital. How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success. Within it, defining 5 organisational capabilities that companies must develop to succeed at digital. These 5 building blocks of an organisation are:
Shared Insights about what digital solutions the company can develop that customers will pay for. (building the intersection between what the business can do and what customers desire.)
An Operational Backbone that captures the company’s requirements for integration and standardisation of core operational processes. (This building block enforces reliability in the execution of foundational processes and integrity of company data).
A digital platform of reusable digital components making up digital offerings (this building block provides access to repositories of business, data, and infrastructure components.
An accountability framework that allocates decision making rights to ensure both autonomy and alignment (this building block defines roles, decision rights, and processes to support speed and alignment in development and use of the digital platform.
An external developer platform that exposes digital components of external partners (this building block provides the technology, processes and roles enabling digital partner relationships.
(from “Designed for Digital: How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success (Management on the Cutting Edge)” by Jeanne W. Ross, Cynthia M. Beath, Martin Mocker)
What got me into tech, was the fascination with the fact that with technology, almost anything is possible, you are only limited by your imagination. What I love about innovation, is that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ideas. There’s only things that work and things that do not.
So what new designs of businesses are we going to see in the future? What innovative configurations of people, processes and technology will form throughout the evolution of the digital age? What new services, products and offerings are we going to see? And what could this mean for employees and their livelihoods?
Finding Balance: Giving power to the people
Centralised organisational structures have most of the decisions and responsibility at the top of the organisation, while decentralised organisations allow decision-making and authority at lower levels of the organisation.
By breaking down silos and verticals into small cross-functioning teams, it can provide the business with greater and faster innovation because of the diverse knowledge and expertise within the one team. There is no skill or knowledge waste and people are learning from one another. Ultimately each team has their own culture. A team culture created by empowering individuals and teams to take ownership and responsibility for what they are working on. Where it is a choice to work, not a requirement.
Funnily enough, the flexibility that companies need is the flexibility that people now need for a healthy WFH and work:life balance. Companies that are adopting ways of engaging people that provide a flexible balance between work and personal life will no doubt attract and retain the talent they want and need.
An example of this is a small team of people dedicated to a specific digital product where they are responsible for its design, delivery and success like a startup within an organisation. The cross functioning team can quickly innovate, test and make decisions without getting approval from further up the org chart. There is ownership and purpose in this way of working that is empowering and enjoyable. And it gets results. (learn more about DV teams here)
Transformation of work life
In Nikki’s words;
‘COVID to me is giving us a beautiful global tap on the back to say change how you do business, because if you don’t your grandkids are not going to be impressed.’
We are being forced to look at the world in a different way. The way we work, the way we live, the way organisations operate, serve their customers and engage their people in employment.
Like the movie Finding Joe, we are all on a journey of transformation where if we break from the shackles of the past, we are sure to come out better than how we went in. But we need to make choices and take risks and be willing to let go of the way things were.
Whether that be the shackles of legacy organisational structures or personal baggage we hold onto, we have the choice for a more balanced work life.
You wake up in the morning, you turn off your alarm, and as you lie there in bed, you have a choice. How will you choose to live your life?
The flexibility people want, is the flexibility organisations need to stay relevant and competitive.
7% of Australians find work through the gig economy. This way of working is expanding around the world as people look for flexibility, choice and autonomy in their work;life balance. Global Consulting Firm, Deloitte, summarised in a recent research paper;
“The composition of the workforce is changing dramatically. As alternative work arrangements become more common, how can organizations appeal to, engage with, and drive value through workers of all different types?”
Within their research they found that 42 percent of the survey respondents said that their organizations are primarily made up of salaried employees, and employers expect to dramatically increase their dependence on contract, freelance, and gig workers over the next few years.
Essentially, companies are moving away from established work forces and moving to the more flexible engagement options to both be more competitive but also to attract the talent they need.
What a beautiful opportunity for the world
Here we have an opportunity to empower people to enjoy their work and work in such away that is inline with who they are and how they want to live their life, and at the same time provide organisations with the flexibility, agility and expertise they need to stay relevant and competitive.
The raising of consciousness
As technology has been evolving, so have people.
People are searching for more in life. More meaningful work, more contribution, favourable life experiences, more happiness in their day-to-day and ultimately searching for answers to the fundamental questions of life.
This can be seen by the ever-growing self-help industry and the expanding interest in alternative spiritual practices. Meditation is now near normality and yoga studios are brimming with those in search of inner peace and understanding.
You’ve heard it before; the common story of a professional climbing the ladder well into their 40’s, finally reaching the top only to throw it all away in search of something more meaningful. This realisation of ‘time and purpose’ seems to be discovered earlier in careers than ever before.
Professionals are looking for alternative ways to have both a successful career and live the life they want to live. Traditionally, it was one or the other, impossible to have both within the confounds of organisational structures and corporate hierarchy. That is no longer the case.
The project economy
As people are valuing their time more and taking steps to find more meaningful work, many are looking to contracting, freelancing and project-based work for more choice and flexibility.
However, this can often mean losing out on the benefits of employment, such as friendship among co-workers, training and development, culture and belongingness.
The importance of human connection
It is an innate human need for people to be together and to feel connected to others. It has been at the core of our survival for thousands of years and although we as people love our tech and being online, ‘the 3rd screen’ has crept in between the relationship of people which as a result left people feeling lonely. (ironic when there are more people in the world than ever before). Studies carried out in Australia suggest that loneliness is so pervasive that it may be highlighted as the next public health crisis.
So how can we have independence and connection at the same time?
Throughout 2019, Digital Village has been exploring the concept of “freelancing cross functioning teams” working on a project basis. Projects are defined by business outcomes with clear metrics to measure the level of success.
We have found this way of working to be more enjoyable, more rewarding and more effective for the client. Because, there is more accountability, more responsibility, more dependance and reliance on the professional to get the job done. The team structure is important because the responsibility is shared among the small team and people are eager to work together and be supported by each other. There is no option to hide behind the large curtains of the corporate brand and pass responsibilities to others.
The end. Or not…
It’s a crazy world out there, things can happen incredibly fast and anything is possible. Both good and bad. The beautiful thing is that we have a choice and have the power to create the future we want for ourselves and for the planet.
Life is too short to not enjoy our work, and the world needs our work to contribute in a positive way. What you do matters.
What about you?
Are you a professional in IT or digital? Are you interested in learning more about joining a Digital Village team and working on projects?
What causes IT projects to fail & what does a successful project take?
Since the 1950’s, when humans started writing software and programming machines to do things, failure was common. It was also very expensive, but it was necessary. Most of the proceeding years were focused on improving the technology and it is a testament to humans of our capability, intelligence and dedication. I feel it is important to take a moment to stop and look at what humanity has achieved in terms of technology advancement. ?
Jump to the present and the technology we have at our fingertips enables us to build amazing products and services and solve some serious problems as well as open up amazing opportunities for people and business. But now that we have the technology, the demand and expectation from markets (people) is pushing us to innovate more, build faster, be more efficient. Makes you wonder where it ends or if it ever does.
However, now that we have the most advanced technology, this has not necessarily reflected in more successful projects. So makes you wonder, If technology is not the problem, then why do IT projects fail?
This month, at a Digital Village Meetup, we explored this question as a group.
At Digital Village Meetups, we sometimes play a card game. The card game is simple; 6 decks of cards. Each deck representing a category, each card has a question or statement on it. A player rolls a dice, and picks up a card from the respective deck, reads it out, has a go at answering it and then the group discusses it.
In this session, we decided to focus on only one card from one deck and go deep on it as a group.
The original plan of the game was for each group to pick up a card from the deck without knowing what each other group selected. We did this to avoid group think, but we had rigged it so that each person would pick up a card with the same question on it (so we are all answering the same question without knowing).
BUT as each group came to select their card, they would dig into the deck so not to choose the card from the top (as we had planned to happen). The unpredictable nature of people set the tone for what was to come.
Once we broke into groups, each group spent 30 minutes coming up with a summary of their thoughts and ideas about the card they pulled from the deck. Below are the finding for each group:
Question Discussed: Why do IT Projects Fail?
Question Discussed: When running a project, what can you do to improve the feedback loop?
Question Discussed: Why do IT Projects Fail?
Question Discussed: Waterfall vs Agile?
As a collective group we discussed each groups findings and went deeper into peoples reasoning and experiences and explored what makes a successful project happen? The high-level results were:
Empathy & Attitude towards ‘right and wrong’
Of course culture is central to success but having a team culture and attitude and belief that “it is OK to fail, so Im not scared of experimenting and trying something new” is crucial for people to feel comfortable to be relaxed and be intuitive. However, there is a difference between it being OK to fail and and just being incompetent. The difference is in the learning. Were lessons learned and will that happen again?
One thing that was obvious is that there needs to be one person holding the torch and keeping everyone aligned and heading in the right direction. This person is crucial to resolving issues and making sure that everybody understands each other. This person is a listener and a communicator and doesn’t necessarily have to be the most liked person in the team.
Having a process in place makes things easier for everyone. So people know what to expect and they don’t ever feel lost about what is supposed to happen next. It gives a structure to something that is very peopley and soft.
Flexibility & Balance
An interesting observation was that there is not necessarily a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to run a project. Agile vs Waterfall; it doesn’t matter and it is unhelpful to argue. It comes down to what is the best process and design for the project at hand.
However a proven structure of running teams is small, cross functioning teams. With complimentary skill sets and knowledge. The formation of the team is that of a group of 3-5 with one project leader. An example of a successful team structure is 3Wks, a software development firm which was acquired by GrowthOps in 2017. Project teams like this are well balanced in their individual capability and this gives a flexibility to solve most problems that are faced within a software project.
It was a lot of fun, but the general gist was humbling. The theme that kept being raised was PEOPLE.
#Peoplearecrazy. They are unpredictable. Everyone is unique and we cannot expect people to behave or think in a particular way.
The silver lining here, is that although the communication and difference between people is the cause, if we combine these differences in a unified, harmonious and collaborative way, the outcomes are amazing.
This is why Design Thinking and related methods work so well. Because they extract and present each persons thoughts for others to see and understand.
What makes a successful IT Project?
Creating a common ground and shared understanding for all people around the same problem, solution, goal and outcome.
3wks, practiced a relatively unique project management method they designed to include all project stake holders in the development process. With a focus on outcomes that all people (tech and non-tech can understand, it is easier to keep people aligned on track and engaged in the project and the goal.
If you are interested in this process I highly recommend reading this book written by the 2 founders of 3wks; Beyond Agile.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you around the Village sometime soon.
There are many kinds of informal user research methods. Examples are focus groups, contextual inquiries, coffee shop intercepts, and the like. These informal qualitative methods of user research have proved popular among UX practitioners for their simplicity, low cost, and reduction of the intimidation barrier. But we are experimented with a slightly sideways method of informal user research—drunk user testing (DUT).
Your website should be so simple, a drunk person could use it.
watch 3 intoxicated people to attempt to navigate a website and narrate and commentate their thoughts and experience. The purpose being to gain authentic and unfiltered opinions and feedback about the user experience of the website or app.
Technology creeps into all parts of our lives and it be can be all consuming and paralyzing.
But the purpose of technology is to make our lives easier. Where did we go wrong and what can we do about it to turn it around and have technology work for us.
In September 2019, a valued member of the Digital Village, Charlotte Rose-Mellis lead a workshop highlighting 3 ways to improve your work:life balance and have technology work for you by actually using it less!
With a Bachelor of Science (Psychology & Business Management) and a Graduate Diploma in Psychological Science, Charlotte’s work is influenced by a passion for human-centred design and a decade of experience integrating tech, business and impact as a self-taught web engineer, to create lucrative solutions that regenerate natural environments and grow revenue simultaneously.
Recent career highlights include Speaking at TEDx Tahiti, Finalist for the Young Sustainability Champion NSW and Winner of FYA Pitch the Future (Tech for Good).
The weekend before this event I spent the weekend camping and bush walking through a National Park. I observed the similarities between navigating through the Jungle of technology and that of find ing our way through the jungle of technology in business.
My friends and I spent quite some time at the campsite beforehand, planning our route up the mountain to where the rivers form a Y and the mountains get high and beautiful.
Looking on the map, seemed simple enough. Looking from the top of the ranges, the treelines and river direction seemed easy to understand. A-B.
Technology in business is similar to this. Often it can seem simple enough, but it is easy to get lost.
We started our decent into the rainforest to find the bottom of the gorge with a plan to simply follow the river upstream.
However, the further we went and the deeper we got into the vines, our view of our goal and destination along with how we planned to get there had to change. Navigating our way through the jungle required responding to unforeseen circumstances and constant course correction. There were some paths that led to dead ends. There were some sections that were just not crossable, and we had to find another way round.
It is the same when running a business. The deeper you get into projects (in-particular technology based projects), your view of your goal and destination along with how you planned to get there changes. Business and technology is an uncertain environment that is constantly changing. Things happen, and you need to be flexible enough to adapt. There are some experiments that lead to dead ends. There are some milestones that don’t get met or features that were just not doable and you have to find another way round.
The perspective changes because there is too much happening right in front of you. Getting distracted by smaller problems and obstacles. There is a million ways up the river but how do you know which one is the best? There is so much else to attend to, that it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.
A business owner has a jungle in every part of the business. There is a lot to take into consideration and it is a challenge to keep up with it all. For example, it would be wise for a business to adopt a CRM and related marketing technologies to more effectively communicate with their customers and manage other important business metrics. But, how is the average business owner expected to know which technology is best suited to their business? Here are their options:
And that is only marketing technology!
There is technology for every part of the business and it is highly important that the right technologies are chosen with a clear vision for the future.
The beautiful thing about technology is that almost anything is possible. It can change your business and your personal life as well. But in many cases I’ve seen, it has the opposite effect. Driving people to the brink of breakdown out of frustration, stress and inefficiency.
The core of any business is its people. The people who serve the customers and the customers who you’re serving. Technology should be looked upon as an enabler of this. To facilitate value being provided or related transactions, communications etc. Anything more is likely getting in the road.
Until next time
P.S. we made it to our destination even though it took us longer than expected and we took a completely different track. We got to where we wanted to go and the journey was great.
What would have made it easier, is to have a local who knew the terrain and the obstacles to help guide us through the jungle.
Where are you going with your business? What role does technology play? How do you plan to choose your adventure and who would you like to embark on it with?
You have an idea for an app. But how do you explain what you want to a development team?
User Story Mapping is a tool to visualise an end-to-end flow of the user experience of a service off a product.
This is useful if you’re a startup or business wanting to build a piece of technology. It helps you communicate what you need in a way that allows both technical and non-technical people to come together and speak the same language.
8 simple Steps of User Story Mapping
how do you translate your vision of a digital product into a collection of user stories to populate a product backlog?
Creating a Story Map: Start with the Backbone
Step 1: Individually describe tasks needed to complete an activity.
Specify individual tasks on each Post-it note.
As a group, write these down individually in silence.
Think about the entire user journey from start to end and what actions the user is taking , what decisions their making and what they need to do for them to reach their goal.
Step 2: Combine common tasks and remove duplicates.
Come together as a group now and combine the common tasks. So there is unique tasks for each step in the user journey process.
Working in groups reduces the chance of missing things. Coming together to collaborate is like a giant bran of collective intelligence. The benefits of collective thinking.
Step 3: Order tasks from left to right in a narrative flow.
Order the tasks from left to right in a sequence from start to finish.
Step 4: Identify group and define activities.
Once you have your story line you can look at the relation of each step and group them into categories so you can see the fully functioning process at a high-level.
Step 5: Test for gaps and update flow if needed.
Review the process to see if there is any gaps. Is there anything missing from a business case or user perspective.
Creating a Story Map: Build Out Map with Prioritised Stories
Step 6: Map stories to expand out each user task.
Now that you have your high level user journey, you can start digging into what the user needed to do within each of those steps. Now, create user stories for each of these steps.
As a…. I want to…. So I can……
Each User story should meet. Criteria using the INVEST principle.
Independant: stand lone
Small, enough to be developed in 1 iteration (20 day sprint)
Testable; can it be measured, is there an acceptance criteria.
Now, everyone generates as many user stories as the can, against the move INVEST. And places them under their most suitable task lists and activities.
There is no limit to the number of user stories.
Creating a Story Map: Build Out Map with Prioritised Stories
Step 7: Prioritise the stories under a task.
Now, you need to go through each user story and start to categories each one against a MOSCOW rule so you end up with a prioritised list of user stories.
The result of this will be a list of Must have user stories that will make up the backlog of the next development sprint.
Creating a Story Map: Create Outcome-based Release Slices
Step 8: Create Outcome-Based Release Slices.
You now have a clear backlog of user stories that can be handed to the dev team for the first sprint.
How many times this week has someone asked, what you do? How do you usually answer?
At this months Meetup we walked through the Gaddie Pitch. The Gaddie pitch provides a structure to easily convey what problem you solve in the world and how you do it in 2-3 sentences. Super helpful when your prospective customer or potential investor has landed in front of you.
Antony Gaddie is a marketing expert based in Melbourne, Australia. Gaddie breaks down his pitch into three sentences:
You know how…? – Target market + their key problems
Well what we do is…
Listen to the recording as Dondon Bales walks us through the process using examples.
1) my old introduction use a lot of jargons that people outside of my industry peer group will not have any clue
2) my old introduction was all about me, my position, my responsibility, what I do…and nothing about the other person
“To be brutally honest, no one really cares about my position or what I do.
What people really care about is how I can actually help them or what’s the value I can give them to solve their problem.
3) my old introduction was not clear; too broad; not enticing; there was no differentiator that makes me stand out as it was a very generic introduction
Use Gaddie Pitch technique to stand-out
Blue post it note: Who is your target audience? Who are the specific people who you want to talk to/to pitch/to sell? Then right down what is their most common pressing problem or challenge that they continuously complain about (pain point)
Pink post it note: Divide into 3 columns – (1) What you do (2) Benefits (3) Feelings. Pick top 2 things that you do (what you offer, what you sell) and place under the “What you do” column. Then imagine what the benefit that others get by what you do and write in the “Benefits” column. Then imagine what the feelings they will experience once they have the benefit of what you have offered them and write in the “Feelings” column (are they happy? satisfied? excited?) Choose a powerful, energetic, emotionally charged feeling word.
Note: You only use the statements in the 1st column (What you do) when you talk with people in your industry and peer group. For everybody else, use the “Benefits” and the “Feelings” again.
People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Green post it note: Reminisce the biggest accomplishment or a specific case study of which you have delivered an outcome by what you do. Make sure this is the story that supports your claim on the Benefit and Feeling written in the “Pink Post it note”.
Gaddie Pitch: (3 sentences, no more than 30 seconds)
You know how < Blue post it Note with focus on pain point by target market >
Well what we do is < Pink Post it Note – with focus on Benefits and Feelings >
In fact < Green post it note with focus on testimonial success story that supports the previous statement >
Example Gaddie Pitch by Digital Village
You know how small medium enterprises and start-up companies struggle to understand and use technology, and find the right tech savvy people to help them with their business?
Well what we do is help them connect with trusted I.T. advisors and expert teams around the world who are affordable and right for them, who reassuringly hold their hand, walk with them in their journey, and deliver the right technical solution to help grow their business, leaving them highly satisfied.
In fact, we’ve helped one of our start-up client, IExpeditions, by forming a team of experts who created their online platform and help them reach $1 million dollars in sales in their 1st 6 months of trading, and we continue to support their systems from 2 years ago up until this day.
That’s the basic formula. But there’s a little more to it than that.
Have you identified the aim of your gaddie pitch? Is it clear, concise and wrapped up in the first one to two sentences?
Have you explained your role in your business?
Have you communicated your ‘uniqueness’?
Have you followed up with a question to engage your audience?
Have you practiced your pitch? Does it flow? Is it 20-30 seconds?