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Agile Digital Transformation Insights

How to go from problem to solution faster than ever before!

Whether you’re a start-up, small business or established enterprise, the need to move fast, fail faster and adapt in today’s market is crucial. Design Sprints allow you to solve complex problems in just five (or even four) days and unlock the benefits of Agile.

Agile methodology is an iterative, incremental response to the inadequacies of traditional software development and allows companies to move faster and meet the requirements of customers. The principles of Agile and the wider application of organisational agility (there is a distinction) have swept throughout Silicon Valley as businesses continue to race from idea to market.

Although I wholeheartedly think if you’re not adopting the methodology (at least somewhere in your innovation process) something is wrong, Agile is not a “silver bullet” solution… nothing is. Testing and cooperation are integral to the customer-centric principles of Agile and validating an idea can be, well, time-consuming.

Cue Design Sprints.

Developed by Jake Knapp out of Google’s Venture division, The Design Sprint is a pressure cooker, collaborative process that can take you from idea to tested solution inside of five days. Yes, really. In fact, organisations like AJ&Smart have released a 2.0 version that streamlines the process to just four days.

By the end of the Sprint, you have a tangible, tested prototype that you built together. Think of it as a crystal ball into the future: you’re able to gain valuable customer insight without committing the time and capital of building a real product. With a little bit of experience, you can also utilise the process to develop everything from complex marketing strategies to kickstarting a new business.

So what does a Design Sprint look like?

First things first, you need somebody dedicated to driving his new way of thinking. You need a facilitator. Regardless of their involvement in the business, they are able to provide an outside perspective and guide you through the discovery process. The ideas are in there, they just need to be extracted and ordered.

Next, you need the commitment of your team for the intensive (but short) process. Dedicating time can be one of the biggest challenges for any business, big or small, but consider the potential wasted months developing the wrong product.

Day 1 // Definition

Kick off the first day by unpacking the problem space and validating the idea. These structured conversations are the foundation of the Sprint as we define your “North Star”. This unwavering definition of purpose will be a constant point of focus to ensure you’re solving the problem.

Who are your customers? What do they need and what drives this need? Begin to build out a simplified customer journey and kickstart the magic of the sprint process. Using a simple “how might we…” process you can begin to source opportunities and create the basis of your new idea. Through voting and a process of elimination you’ll decide which ideas to take to the next stage.

Ideating, utilising post-it notes

Having considered your customer segments, now is the time to start organising your 4-6 test subjects for the final day. Remember, the aim of the Sprint is to have a tested prototype so subjects are crucial to the process!

Day 2 // Sketch & Decide

Firstly, we want to make sure we’re happy with the idea we’ve chosen. Validation throughout the whole process is crucial to success so key decision makers must be in the room (or can drop in and out as the days progress.

We all see things differently. In fact, the collaborative effort and combined creativity of Design Sprints make it such a powerful tool when building new ideas. Lightning demos are a great way of inspiring creativity and gaining the most from the ideation stage. Take time to find things relevant to the idea that inspires you and share with the group.

It’s time to bring the idea to life. Utilising the process of Crazy Eights, everyone in the room will begin to turn their ideas into written (or drawn) product pieces and share them via a personal two-pager storyboard. Another round of voting begins…

Design Sprint - sketching
Design Sprint – sketching

The team reviews all the ideas and ultimately votes on which one to take to prototype. Make sure the ‘decision maker’ is in the room as unsurprisingly they have the final say. Decision made.

Now start to visualise the solution and transform the personal storyboards into blueprints on the wall. A facilitator will begin to draw out the idea, frame by frame, as everybody discusses how it should look.

Day 3 // Prototyping

With the blueprint complete, it’s time to create something tangible that can be tested with real customers. It doesn’t need to be a complete solution, just enough to take the potential customers on a journey and communicate the idea. The team can utilise pieces of paper to develop the prototype, or if possible, translate it using tools like Miro and Figma.

Figma prototype example

Day 4 // Test & Learn

Your customer was defined at the start of the process and should now be in the room with you. It’s the moment of the truth. Present your idea with the prototype and gather feedback. Was the feedback positive? If so, great! You can start developing the project utilising the agile methodology previously mentioned. Was the feedback average? Is there a way to pivot the idea and refine the solution? Hopefully so.

Running a test with potential customers

Was the feedback, let’s say, less than average? Maybe it’s time to scrap the idea and try something different. Trust me, it happens. But at least you didn’t invest months into R&D to discover it wasn’t what the customer needed!

Chris Sinclair is a Digital Experience Designer & Strategist responsible for working with start-ups and organisations to develop products and go to market strategies utilising agile & design sprint methodologies.

Connect with Chris.

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Insights Lean Startup library meetups

How to apply the Business Model Canvas

What is the Business Model Canvas for & how do I use it?

Who are your customers? How do you create value for them and how do you make money?

The business model canvas is a framework to compartmentalise the various aspects that bring a business together to create value for its customers. 

The BMC is a incredibly useful tool that provides a visual representation of your business. It lays out how the different operations within your business function in relation to each other and quickly highlights the areas that have not been getting the attention they require. 

In this Meetup session we walk through each of the 9 segments discuss what they are and give some examples and then we applied them to some of our members businesses right then and there!

Some Snapshots of the evening

Some Next Steps

  1. Download your own BCM
  2. If you would like help with your business model canvas email Jason
  3. If you would like help with your business technology go here to create an account and submit a brief.  Sign Up
  4. See upcoming events
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library meetups

Meetup 6: Value Based Pricing for professional services. A Design Thinking Workshop

Exploring Value Based Pricing- a Design Thinking Workshop

On the 7th of March 2019 we held our 6th Digital Village Monthly Meetup. 

Value Pricing is a process of pricing a project based on its value to the customer as opposed to using traditional time and materials pricing method. Value pricing is still very early in its adoption within the software development profession. So we ran a workshop style Meetup using Design Thinking methods for us to collectively explore our concerns, considerations, possibilities and opportunities around value pricing. We then broke things down and agreed collectively on solutions to those problems raised.

This article documents the process and the steps we took throughout the design thinking process and summarises key problems and potential solutions.

Step 1: Territory Mapping

The first thing we did, was have everyone write down their assumptions, concerns, considerations and anything they know or understand about value pricing. Everyone is provided a pen and sticky notes and are asked to describe their understanding of Value Pricing.

Dondon Bales (Digital Village COO) introducing the session
The group sticks their thoughts and concerns on the topic to the wall

Step 2: Affinity Cluster

Categorise or group the inputs of everyone into common or similar themes to categorise patterns based on everyones’ input. It was interesting seeing the diversity in thinking and opinions of people and it was quite a challenge to then group the thinking into 3-4 clusters.

We determined 3 key clusters from the collected inputs and they were:

  1. Cons and Resistance
  2. Benefits
  3. Value Process & Value Determination
Communicating and determining Value
Cons and Benefits
Determining Value

Step 3: Define a Problem Statement

We broke everyone into 3 groups and each group was allocated a cluster and given the task of defining a problem statement that best represents that cluster.

A problem statement is structured by completing the following sentence:

How might we…”

The 3 groups discussing their cluster of ideas and coming to a summarising problem statement

The problem statements that were developed were:

  1. How might we address the needs and expectations of the customer in a collaborative and efficient way?
  2. How might we understand the core value proposition? How might we assess/evaluate the commercial value proposition?
  3. How might we measure and communicate value?

Step 4: Creative Matrix

Creative Matrix

Once the 3 groups had completed their problem statement for their allocated cluster, we were ready to create a matrix to explore possible solutions to each problem statement using enablers such as technology, process and policy, and anything else that may assist in enabling the possible solution to the problem.

We then did another round exploring what would you do if you were an… airline.

The 3 groups present their problem statements and Dondon adds them to the creative matrix

Observation:

The collective intelligence of the group was fascinating. The ideas that come from each person being inspired by in-person communication and collaboration were original, dynamic and progressive. The emergence of new thinking from the amalgamation of thoughts and experience blew me away.

Everyone coming up with individual ideas for solutions
 

Step 5: Visualise the Vote

Once we had exhausted ourselves coming up with potential solutions to the problems, we individually voted on our favourite solution for each problem. This activity is carried out in one instance where everyone is to post their voting sticker on the idea that they believe to be the best. We do it at the same time to avoid people being influenced by others.  You can see the respective votes from the green dots.

Visualise to Vote: the group voting on their favourite solution
Completed Creative Matrix
How might we understand the core value proposition? How might we assess/evaluate the commercial value proposition?
How might we address the needs and expectations of the customer in a collaborative and efficient way?
How might we measure and communicate value?

Summary

From the session we discovered that the most popular solutions to all 3 problem statements all included a common thread of transparency, collaboration between stakeholders, feedback, data collection and measurement. The collective findings show that the key elements of successfully implementing value pricing would entail engaging in open questions to determine what’s valuable to the customer, co-creating solutions with the customer to address their true needs, conducting qualitative research and determining ways to quantify and measure the value of the outcomes.

Value Pricing has great potential for both buyers and suppliers to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. The better the communication, the more likely the result to be satisfactory.

The biggest take away in this for me was the way in which such completely different ideas can come to work together and produce totally unique outcomes. Most of all, it was fun.

Feedback: Rose, Thorn, Bud

In the spirit of design thinking, we took 1 minute for everyone’s feedback on the event and on their experience of Digital Village in general. There was some lovely notes, and there was some valuable lessons that can be learned for us to improve what we do and what is important for people.

Rose: All the positive things a person like about it.

Thorn: Things they didn’t like.  

Bud: Opportunities and suggestions for the future.

Rose

Thorn

Bud