Kingston University Lean Startup Design Challenge

September 21-22, 2012

Kingston University invited me to kickstart their Design Thinking & Entrepreneurship Masters course with a 2 day hack-a-thon. I jumped at the chance to influence and guide the minds of clever business, design, film and fashion school students; injecting them early on with some Lean Startup techniques and introducing to the latest concepts that Large corporations and Startups are using right now to define their products and services.

My wish is that they keep referring back to what they will have “endured” whilst having “fun” and re-apply it to their final end of year projects; where they have to setup a real-world business with a business plan, business model, MVP etc. Thank you Catherine Morel, Janja Song and Mike for letting me disrupt and teach!


  • Work as a cross functional team
  • Spot opportunities and identify trends
  • Define, understand and incorporate user behaviours and needs
  • Prioritise ideas
  • Write assumptions
  • Assign business value to ideas (output, outcome, impact)
  • Outline a business model canvas
  • Create a Minimum Viable Prototype to validate assumptions
  • Build, Measure, Learn feedback loop
  • Sum up the value proposition
  • Pitch a business successfully
  • Have awesome fun doing all of the above!

I took them through the following over 2 days: Intro to Lean Startup, ice breaker games, the challenge, the problem, writing assumptions, validating of assumption, “Get out of the building, Lightweight persona, Empathy map, Value Map, 6 Up, creating an MVP, Paper prototyping, Business model canvas, Elevator Pitch, writing a Press Release, How to pitch to an investor, Presentation Prep.

Slides can be found here: Day 1, Day 2

Advancing the state of the art @Agile2012

Interested in defining the future of UX?

Adrian Howard (@adrianh) & I, Eewei Chen (@ultraman), invite you to submit sessions to the User Experience Stage of the Agile 2012 conference (Dallas, Texas, Aug 13-17 2012). The 2012 conference theme is “advancing the state of the art“.

User Experience practices have always helped agile teams discover, build and deliver the right product: putting the customer at the heart of every decision. The User Experience Stage at Agile 2012 is for anybody passionate about building products that truly delight their customers.

We are especially keen to demonstrate some of the ways Agile and User Experience practices are being combined in the Lean Startup and Lean UX communities: driving the iterative discovery and development of new products in new and exciting ways.

Questions this stage will attempt to answer:

  • What is the future role of UX?
  • How do you discover what users really want?
  • How can you better iterative to discover new product ideas?
  • How can generative user research be integrated with agile projects?
  • How can an agile team sustain a long-term product vision?
  • How do UX practices help agile teams build better products?
  • How do you put practical UX skills into the hands of the whole team?
  • How do you deal with the challenges of UX work on your agile team?
  • What are UX practitioners doing to enhance real world agile projects?

The stage aims to bring together practical and theoretical sessions from the best practitioners in the field. We want to see and hear about ways UX is evolving and improving to create awesome customer experiences. Please submit a session if you feel you have something important to share. And please, don’t hold back!

How do I submit a session proposal?

To submit sessions and find out more about speaker compensation, please visit:

NOTE: Please submit all UX related sessions to the User Experience Stage.

To encourage early submissions there are two submission rounds:
* January 15, 2012 – Early-bird submissions deadline
* Febuary 19, 2012 – Final submissions deadline

The earlier you submit, the more potential feedback you will get from our review team – helping you improve your proposal and making it much more likely to be accepted!

Anything you want to see or hear about specifically?

Don’t hesitate to let us know what you also want to see on the User Experience stage. Is there a tutorial you would like to see or a subject you would like to hear discussed? Is there someone from the agile or user experience world you would like us to invite? If you have a topic or presenter in mind, please let us know.

Thank you for your interest. We’re looking forward to meeting you in Dallas next August.


Adrian Howard (@adrianh) & Eewei Chen (@ultraman), Agile 2012 – User Experience Stage producers


Play, strategy and improv. UX Cambridge 2011

Teams in my workshop present back to each other (UX Cambridge 2011)


UX has never been more relevant. As UX practitioners, we are being respected by absolutely EVERYONE. Here are a few reasons why…

We play well with everyone

Only a fifth of participants at my UX Cambridge workshop “Idea to prototype in just 180 minutes“, were UX designers, front end dev or usability researchers. The rest were made up of developers, graphic designers, business analysts, scientists, marketeers and business owners. People showed up to better understand how to embrace and work better with UX in order to create better experiences for their customers.

My design workshops are about having fun whilst tackling a very real problem a specific industry sector is facing. Not only do participants have to solve a surprise design challenge each time but they have to do it in newly formed teams with complete strangers. Team members have to quickly form rapport and trust quickly. There is no time for silly power plays. #JFID. Effective facilitation and pulling together cross functional, poly-skilled people to leverage strengths and surface ideas are the key to success. The person doing this (me in this case) needs to be well versed in all things awesome about UX.

Ryan Haney, Redgate Software also ran an amazing workshop, “Game on. Getting your organisation from game-zero to gaming in no time. “again around ways to think about solving problems using innovation game and play techniques. He had a Nerf gun that he used liberally if you were the last one to post up an idea. Dare I say we could run a whole day workshop together where creativity is a must and speed is of essence. Wouldn’t that be awesome!


UX strategy = Business strategy = success for everyone

We have the power and talent, so it is our responsibility now to better champion the customer. This means being sought after naturally to define what it is that businesses need to create at a strategic level. Over the last 2 years, my role as a Idea facilitator means getting together with business owners both external and internal to define the next generation of ideas to help them remain more than relevant and competitive in today’s fast-paced customer centric world.We are working collaboratively to suggest strategies that directly map to business KPIs, Value and their business model.

Business strategy is UX Strategy. Peter Drucker summed it up quite nicely when he wrote:

“What the customer thinks he or she is buying, what he or she considers value is decisive – it determines what a business is, what it produces, and whether it will prosper and what the customer buys and considers value is never a product. It is always a utility– that is , what a product or service does for him or her and what is value for the customer is anything but obvious.”

In the UX Cambridge Panel discussion I, Eewei Chen, also mention the role of the UX advocate:

“There are loads of advocates doing the work for us. We can see the resurgence of the power of design at a higher level. I mean, look at Apple’s Jonathan Ives- he’s a God! It’s about being strong and passionate, otherwise what’s the point?”

We need to start planting seeds everywhere and get other people to do the PR work for us. That way everything we design and build has a reason we had a hand in deciding makes sense from a business perspective which makes it sooooooooooooooo much easier to then deliver with a smile on our faces whilst making the smile on our customers and business owners faces even bigger.

Thank you Leisa Reichelt and her presentation on Strategic UX that really highlighted how relevant and well placed people like myself are now. Spiderman said it best:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Everyone likes a good story – but make sure they get it!

As a leader and workshop facilitator, I have to be able to make sense of the world and it’s problems. I also need to be able to engage our audience and participants. Improv as an art form, when done well, allows the story teller or stand up comic to frame events and issues that surround us in a way that it connects to their very soul. As a designer I curate experiences that allow customers to achieve their goals effectively, having learned or experienced something they enjoyed.

When brainstorming in a collaborative environment I make sure partipants understand why they are doing things each step of the way. Often the goal is good enough but to keep them truly engaged I outline the entire set of exercises at the start and clearly state why how each step allows us to progress closer to the end goal.

We take participants on a journey of discovery and help them see value by joining the dots. These step by step creative techniques help form the basis of good user centered idea generation that map to real business benefit.

Thank you Ian Fenn for his presentation “Love all the People: What UX practioners can learn from Bill Hicks” where he talks about Dieter Rams, Jonathan Ives and re-introduced me to the amazing Bill Hicks!