It’s not a lecture, it’s a workshop @DevWeek


A big thank you to Dev Week 2014 organisers for letting me to run my rapid ideation workshop.

The challenge?

Create a connected digital experience that

better entertains people where they want,

when they want, on any device they want.

36 attendees split into 5 teams of 6 to take on a mammoth digital entertainment challenge. Using design methodologies, I coached each group to rapidly brainstorm, create and validate digital Television 2.0 design concepts and compete to win a prize at the end of the day. The agenda went as follows:

  •  Why design fast?
  •  Is there a secret formula?
  •  Form teams
  • The Challenge
  • Analyse the data
  • Solve the right problem
  • Make a connection
  • Define success
  • Present early thinking
  • Physical vs Digital
  • Prototype
  • Embrace chaos
  • Business Model
  • Presentation Prep
  • Pitch Ideas!

My first design challenge however was a more physical one!

It took me about 3 seconds to realise that the original room set up was not going to be conducive to workshop activities but instead was set up for me to lecture. If you know me, I can’t sit still when I teach and that means my students (no matter how qualified) also need to work in teams and stand up to keep the creative juices going.

From a regimented one-sided seating layout…

photo 1 (3)

To a new seating layout to improve team work and collaboration…

photo 2 (3)

To storming as teams that huddle and stand up; increasing engagement , creativity and productivity

photo 3

A big Thanks to my workshop attendees.

Awesome ideas

Awesome energy guys!


4D Service Design is the future of UX Design through time and space

Balancing digital and physical experiences is key to the overall customer experience

Balancing digital and physical experiences is key to the overall customer experience.

I guest lecture at Kingston University Business School a few times a year.

One of these lectures is a workshop that kick starts the new academic year with a “Design Challenge” similar to the hack-a-thons, Design Jams and other workshops I have run in the past at UK and other international conferences. Keys to success include speed and the ability to put together a business case, often supported by  a very tangible prototype.

Usually  the challenge is framed round creating the experience and interface for a smartphone device (iPhone or Android handset). Doing this at the start of an academic year gives students an important overview of business project considerations as well as a framework solve problems they can revisit when preparing their final year businesses projects.

Students attending my workshop include MBA, MS, MA, PHD students and teachers in film, project management, business studies, creative economy, sculpture, art history, user experience, media design and design management. This year I was asked to open up the challenge and make it a service design one instead, where the solution isn’t just a mobile app (but where mobile can play one part of the solution) and where levels of digital engagement and physical experience both need to be entertained.

I have always considered emotion (feelings), space (in a physical place or culture) and time (at a specific moment) to be part of the user’s experience but attending CHI this year in Paris made me realise that there are still gaps and disconnections between hard core academics in HCI (Human Computer Interaction) design, business strategy, behavioural psychology and more traditional experimental/startup and tactical UX practices in the real world.

This is especially true with companies who want to incorporate lean startup into their organisations but don’t fully understand the mindset shifts, under appreciate the value to strategic UX and how important having clear roles and responsibilities together with an shared approach to improving existing and new processes needed for success.

The challenge I issued this year was to tackle the decline in museum visits to the Tate Modern by ‘reinventing’ the museum experience. I asked students to factor in real needs (business and customer), real spaces, real technology and real trends and deliver a solution that covers the full spectrum of non-digital and digital experiences. The added challenge being that they had less than 11 hours over the course of 2 days to do it.

In order to remember that not all user experiences are in front of a digital only interface, I asked students to think about previous and future museum experiences where digital may play a smaller part or no part at all: How can this help them to gain truly more useful context to better design the digital parts of the experience and vice versa. The value of design in this case is finding the correct balance of physical and digital needs and making them work together. This workshop; touched upon the varying degrees of digital and real world interactions necessary to ensure success; highlighting the power of applying a holistic UX Design approach that encompasses digital and non-digital experiences.

It was a fun experience where I had to adapt strategies and mentoring approaches on the fly. In the end, it proved to be a very interesting and successful experiment; one that has equipped me and the students who took part to better challenge, adapt and back up design solutions to a far greater depth than if purely considering a digital experience on its own.

The success of any new idea, therefore, starts when all relevant factors are considered (including culture, intent and expectation) before rapidly creating that MVP experiment  to validate assumptions; the value of which can be clearly seen across the entire customer journey.


Risk Getting Fired

This ingredient and many more can be found in my book, 101 Design Ingredients To Solve Big Tech Problems:

You see most clearly when you’ve got nothing to lose.

Teams who fear making mistakes will never try anything different to change the world.

Stand up for something you believe in, and back it up by taking risks that show your conviction. Become an innovation subversive.

  • Prove it works first
    Set up a crack team to create a proof of concept that demonstrates your way is a better way. This puts you in a far more powerful position than before, when your ideas were just opinions. If you decide to quit, at least you will have left on a high note.
  • Change the scenery
    See if you can move into a more interesting role, even if it doesn’t exist yet. Come up with a business proposition that covers all the benefits, and pitch it to your boss and potential new boss. Get a mentor to advise you. If it will make you happier and the business gains something valuable, it should be a win-win situation.
  • Start your own company
    If you’re ready, quit and let those who can support your new venture know what you plan to do so you can hit the ground running. Understand the consequences of your decision, though, so you don’t go into it blindly. With the right expectations, preparation, expertise, and clients, there’s no reason you can’t be successful.

If you’re interested in buying my book please have a read and let me know what you think :-)