Sprinting Towards Innovation at #LeanBoston

Recently I had the honor to give a talk about the Design Sprint methodology I use at work. The fine folks over at Lean Startup Circle invited me to present an interactive session on Thursday October 24th. The video and accompanying slideshare are below. Video shot and edited by Paul Michaels at http://manmountain.com/ (and it was all done on an iPhone. Amazing, eh?)
[youtube url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFozABnSREI"]


Four Things from the 2013 Mass TLC UnCon

The Mass TLC UnConference is probably the one event where Boston’s tech and entrepreneurial who’s-who are all in the same place. Here are four things I took away from the day’s experience.

1) Facilitator style: Josh Kauffman has a fantastic style. As someone who facilitates groups often, I want to watch this guy more and learn from him. His ability to catalogue nearly 100 session proposals in his head on-the-fly and combine those which may be similar was a feat. Additionally his humble soft-yet-strong style made it ok for anyone who’s proposal did not get its own session, who may initially be disappointed, but then encouraged to join forces with another.

2) Egos at the door. Since this is a “flat” conference, you can chat with anyone at nearly anytime whether you know them or not, or whether you are accomplished and experienced or not. This reminded me of my TED experience where you could chat with anyone you talk up to. Sometime that person could be famous, accomplished, or some other rock-star status. No one was considered “elite” here, at least not today.

3) Government and the tech community have work to do. I co-facilitated a session with Ethan Bagley and Jill Starret on our design sprint methodology and the topic we used to work through the process was inspired by Ethan’s experience in a session that was run by Senator Karen Spilka entitled “Innovators and Lawmakers Working Together for Growth.” The people engaged in the session co-created a number of ideas for solving this problem. Easy? No. But those who stuck through it certainly came out the other side having seen the power of the methodology.

Sprinting Towards Innovation

4) Don’t fight it. I attended a session entitled: Brains and Bliss which talked about recent research in neuroscience and how to use this to be more productive in your work (and life). The equation Pain = Suffering * Resistance was presented. If you reduce the resistance, which is what you can control more than the suffering, you can reduce the pain. I need to apply this to bike races, though that’s another topic.

Brains and Bliss

The Power of Design

Discovering Insights to Improving User Experience with Service Design Tools

We hear plenty of talk about the power of design. It is a very pragmatic discipline. Look around you, nearly everything you touch has been designed. Design attempts to ask (and answer) questions such as: what should the customer experience be like? What should the employee experience be like? How does a company maintain a consistent brand essence and stay relevant to its customers?
How might we take the principles of design and stretch them to examine the intangibles?

Download the full article at Web and PHP Magazine


Designing Levels of Interaction

Stop for a minute and think about a product you rarely think about, but interact with daily: your toothbush. Now ask yourself a few questions: Does it work? Can you use it? When it was new, could you use it without any instructions? Does the toothbrush draw you in and give you unexpected delight? Most likely the answer to the first three questions are yes, though the last one has you scratching your head to how a toothbrush (not the toothpaste or related product) can be “delightful.”

This is the challenge of a designer. Designing delight into a product. Designers need to make things that follow an interaction hierarchy:

Functional – Does the product accomplish the job? This must be met at a minimum. Otherwise, why should the product exist?
Usable – Is the product usable by a user? Or does it need some assistance to accomplish the task?
Intuitive – Taking the usability to the next level, can the product be used without significant instruction? will they use it the way the product is intended to be used? Does the product just “make sense?”
Engaging – Does the product draw you in and give you unexpected delight?

If you don’t think a toothbrush can be engaging, take a look at this: http://www.dfraggd.com/2012/06/the-rinser-toothbrush-helps-you-rinse-after-brushing/

The designers started with a functional aspect, rinsing after brushing, and then figured out a way to incorporate it into the design of the brush in an engaging manner. While many other companies are changing shapes, colors, and bristles, theses designers found a way to subtly delight with added functionality. In the process they removed a pet peeve of mine: that plastic handle which could be re-used for a longer life than the bristles last.

Want to take your designs to the next level of interaction? Take a look at these resources:

I make things. Mostly, I make things better.