Defining a Minimally Viable Experiment

Using Maslow to define need states, there is a hypothetical starter set of desirable features or services that, over time, are supported by learning. The mandatories – functional and usable – are built first. The topmost sections of the pyramid would not exist without the foundational work. The emphasis, however, is always on the learning.


The Monkey Mind


Thoughts being those random things that jet around our heads. Attachment being the tension/reaction when becoming aware of the thought. Awareness being the “self” or emotional state that is defined by the attachment to that thought. Letting go is becoming aware of the attachment and reaction to that thought.

Story Mapping


This time with a financial services client. Always fun to do with clients whose product or service impacts our everyday lives so directly. We spent several months developing very robust personas – based on data and analytics from a wide range of sources. It’s the best way to go and makes the workshop flow more easily as people get a real feel for the customer.

Learning Loops

Learning Loops


What data wants – creating learning loops to bring the customer closer. Top diagram represents a typical state – bottom diagram represents an optimal state. The more you learn – the closer you bring your customer – and the more you affect your own business model. And the more you learn.

Cultures of Learning


building a culture of learning


Where the opportunity presents itself and the stakeholders/community/company respond with a whole bunch of ideas in response.  Develop a governance system that begins to build and expand learning while narrowing down to a single solution. The output is not only a solution to the opportunity but also establishing a culture of learning. For it is only with a culture of learning that all can extract more meaningful relationships within organizations and with those solutions that have real resonance and tenure.

Story Mapping in Singapore


Spoke to a large gathering of our Asia Pacific team in Singapore this past week. Took them through story mapping and did a quick Jeff Patton style warm up exercise with them. If you look closely enough at the photo you’ll see the yellow stickies. I spoke for nearly two hours and answered a ton of questions. Clearly there is a real hunger for a different way to do things in our world. We are expert at narrative but not so expert at experience – yet. The audience was made up of people from our offices in Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Bangkok and Jakarta, Delhi and Seoul. It was a real pleasure to be met with such enthusiasm. They were super well informed and eager to learn. With a mobile first economy in all these places they are leapfrogging the rest of us. It’s all about delivering an experience of real value. The future of our industry relies upon it. And, more significantly, the future of companies and organizations who are looking for sustainable growth. It’s an exciting time for us and I am eager to come back for another workshop soon to help drive change. In turn I am very keen on seeing how regional sensibilities will affect what I do and teach. Watching locals interact with mobile in Singapore and now Tokyo has been eye opening to say the least. So good to be out here and get mental flossed. A big thank you to all who helped set up the workshop and to those who participated. We are definitely on the way to creating the agency of the future and radically differentiating our service offering.

Adventures in Storymapping


Story mapping is a facilitated group activity that empowers teams to think empathically and uncover opportunities to create valued products or services. It is visual, it is active and it is meant to inform the development of a testable hypothesis that can further drive innovative ways of thinking and better solutions to opportunities that may have, at first, been hidden.

Originally developed by Jeff Patton for Agile software development I saw the possibility to apply the technique to brands – and startups. I try to plot a variant of a customer journey from awareness to advocacy as the spine of the story and have the session participants write stories – or tasks – that a person would need to complete in order to achieve a goal. A goal might be the purchase of an airline ticket or the social sharing of geolocated content via a mobile app.

I’ve done this for a number of clients over the course of my career. It is a very useful way to develop consensus amongst stakeholders and create a shared “understanding”, as Jeff Patton says, of tasks that a person might encounter along their path to completing a goal. More importantly however – it is a fantastic method to help facilitate creativity. Once tasks are identified solutions to those tasks become the jumping off points for ideation and creative problem solving. Acknowledging that everyone in the room wants to make a better product or service and identifying those opportunity points can be a very powerful force for building a better product or service and drive organizational creativity.

There are plenty of techniques to use to help facilitate and encourage participation. No single session that I’ve lead is exactly the same. Each is different and each is filled – large group or small – with individuals who may themselves, have different goals.  My objective as the facilitator is to see each in the group and draw them in to collaborate and solve what sometimes might be very complicated goals.

The most successful sessions have been those where, at the end of a productive day, I can step back and point out to the group larger themes that emerge that help simplify the prioritization of  tasks and help identify the solutions to those tasks that might be useful to develop as a prototype.

The Saw Mill Sasquatch – an intro


This is the story of the Saw Mill Sasquatch. May he rest in peace. He was the last of his kind in these parts. As far as I can tell.

Folks said his constant stomping around and scaring the chickens was a welcome relief from the hard scrabble life we had back in those days. A bit of entertainment at the expense of the chickens. It got us out the door to do some ruminating under the stars as we held our torches over his footprints. He never took any chickens. And we never saw him. Just heard the squawking.

We’d scramble out of our houses expecting a fox or worse. And end up seeing a cloud of feathers in the moonlight. And his footprints of course. They were massive. We could never figure out why he did it. Maybe because he kept testing to see if the birds had learned to fly yet. Birds that don’t fly don’t really make that much sense I guess. So we’d stand there staring at those footprints of his as the feathers settled. And wonder where’d he be off to next.

We live up in the farthest reaches of the Saw Mill river. Jammed between the Saw Mill and the Hudson river about a days travel from the northernmost edges of Yonkers, that godforsaken excuse of a village. A bunch of stick-to-your-gin scrod fishing dutchman if you ask me. I’d prefer to think that we’re just a day away from the least civilized edges of Manhattan – except that Yonkers gets in the way and sticks in my craw when I try to say it like that. And I know the Sasquatch felt the same. It stuck in his craw too. A little too deeply in the end.