Categories
Insights meetups Organisational Change

How to see more to fill the gaps in our perception

The ability to see more is always an advantage. 

Hence telescopes and microscopes, x-rays and satellites and so on – a massive amount of our energy goes into seeing more of the world.

But our ability to perceive the world isn’t just limited to physical sensing.

No matter how many details I perceive, they’re no use to me unless I can understand them.

This of course is where my mind is the limiting factor on my ability to perceive the world. So we all go to school to hopefully learn things that’ll help us understand the world.

(Or at least give us the tools to widen our perception in the future – like reading and mathematics).

This is great, because now I don’t have to be smart enough to work out everything by myself – if I want to calculate the perimeter of a circle I can do that because a teacher told me how.

(Often repeatedly)

But there’s a third kind of limitation on perception – or understanding – though.

Luckily, at Digital Village’s March Meetup, the good people at This Thing of Ours introduced us to a way of addressing that limitation.

 

But before we get into what that is – why make a big deal about perception anyway?

This is how I think about perception: if I were alive 50,000 years ago, what would improved perception mean to me?

  • Physical senses: they’d allow me to see, hear or smell food (and anything that wanted to eat me)
  • Understanding: it’d allow me to avoid dangerous things to eat, or to know how to prepare them properly

(And hey, if this COVID thing goes on long enough, this might become relevant again!!)

But what about now?

Our society is full of signals: we get them from the news, from talking to people, social media, and our own observations too.

But they amount to the same thing that the ‘me’ from 50,000 years ago cared about: some of these signals represent opportunities, and some of them are threats.

So it’s good to be able to see more, and understand more of what we see.

So getting back to that limitation I mentioned earlier.

This comes back to the natural frame we use to understand the world.

Everyone has their own, unique way of evaluating, and understanding the world:

  • Sometimes it’s in terms of understanding who’s winning, and who’s losing.
  • Or it may be a matter of understanding what people are afraid of, and what they’re greedy for.
  • Or seeing the systems that people operate in, and how those systems affect peoples behaviour.

Whatever your natural way of understanding the world is, wouldn’t it be good to step into someone else’s shoes and see the world the way they see it?

So what happened in our March Meetup is that Phil, Rachel and Chris from This Thing of Ours introduced us to a technique for doing exactly this.

 

 

The technique comes from Integral Theory and is a very straight-forward way of understanding any kind of situation the world throws up.

It’s pretty simple. I won’t go into to a lot of detail (The This Thing of Ours gang are the subject matter experts for that) but basically we create something that looks like this

So we end up with these four sections: 

  • Behaviour 
  • Systems
  • Culture
  • Mindset

And the amazing thing is, there’s not a single human endeavour that can’t be completely described by those four categories.

Let’s imagine we’re targeting a new customer, and we wanted to use this system to understand our customer better.

We’d go through each of those four sections one at a time – Behaviour, Systems, Culture and Mindset – and write down everything we could think about that particular aspect of the customer.

If I do this, what it forces me to do is step outside my normal habits of thinking and consider the world from new perspectives, and to do it systematically.

If I were doing this to understand a new customer, I’d end up with a quadrant covered in notes which I could then analyse for themes that cut across each quadrant and can become the source of powerful insights.

If you’d like to know more about analysing your own organisation, customers or anything else using the quadrant model, contact This Thing of Ours.

To learn more useful techniques for analysing and understanding the world of business, technology and people, be sure to come to Digital Village’s next Meetup!

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Categories
Insights library meetups

Why IT Projects Fail

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. 

Session Outline

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:

Group 1:

Question Discussed: Why do IT Projects Fail?

Group 2:

Question Discussed: When running a project, what can you do to improve the feedback loop?

Group 3:

Question Discussed: Why do IT Projects Fail?

Group 4:

Question Discussed: Waterfall vs Agile?

Findings

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?

Leadership

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.

Process

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.

Project Teams

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.

Conclusion

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.

Jason Hardie

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Categories
Insights library meetups Work Life Balance

Drunk User Testing (DUT)

Drunk User Testing

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.

.

Categories
Digital Transformation Insights library meetups Organisational Change Work Life Balance

Navigating through the Jungle of Technology

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). 

Enjoy!

(Scroll to video)

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:

martech

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

Jason

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?

Categories
Insights Lean Startup library meetups

User Story Mapping

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

Negotiable.

Valuable

Estimable

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.

Must have

Should have

Could have

Won’t have

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. 

Categories
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