Let me tell you a story. It’s one that I’m not proud of but if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have learned a very valuable lesson.

Spoiler alert: you may never build roadmaps the same way again.

I’d been on the job for two months. I was brought in to lead the Product and Technology Departments of a medium-sized company. It was a big job, but I felt prepared for the challenge. What I wasn’t prepared for was the CEO’s unexpected question when we sat down to walk through my vision for the product roadmap.

Weeks earlier, I’d joined the…

A meeting without a plan…

Meetings are the lifeblood of many organizations. Want to know the health of your organization? Examine your meetings. Conducting surveys and interviewing staff members are tactics that might give you some smoke signals. But, if you want to find the fires, take a hard look at your meetings.

While many organizations do examine their meetings, it’s often reactionary and rarely results in meaningful change. Such reactionary examinations are usually conducted after something bad has happened, like a missed deadline. Or, they may be sparked by a fist-waving leader who has had enough of bad meetings! Ironically, a meeting may be…

I walked into the meeting and spotted an open seat. It was just about to begin. I didn’t recognize anyone, but that wasn’t a surprise. The subject line of the meeting read “Project Kickoff” and I hadn’t recognized the names in the invite. I nodded a polite hello to the person next to me. The meeting leader suggested we “go around the room and introduce ourselves,” adding “I’m not sure if everyone in the meeting knows each other, so…”.

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. Intros always give me anxiety. Also, aside from the subject line in the meeting invite…

Remote meetings merge all sorts of worlds

It wasn’t until the 60 seconds of breaktime shadow boxing to the Rocky theme that I realized how different this was from all the other remote workshops I’d led in the past. People’s kids, pets and roommates were shadow boxing on camera. Someone’s wife walked in on him shadow boxing in the middle of the workday and broke out in laughter. We were halfway through day 2 of our fully remote workshop in the middle of a pandemic and we’d broken through to something new.

For some quick context, my team and I design and facilitate workshops to help teams…

*This article may be used as a reference tool and does not necessarily need to be read from start to finish. Some points are repeated throughout different sections intentionally.

Given the current situation around the globe, you may be reading many articles about remote working. Many of them have great insights. In this article, I will share my own personal experiences and attempt to share some very practical advice, which you may not see in those articles.

In 2015, I began a new job at a new company. Along with the usual challenges of starting a new job, I had…

Someone has an idea for a new product, a new feature, a new service. It sounds promising. Maybe there’s even research that supports the need for it. Then someone decides to ask that killer question way too soon. “How will this scale?” This question is often the poisoned dart that brings innovation crashing to its knees.

Scaling a new idea is probably important, but that discussion should only enter the picture after the need and the idea have been validated. This means keeping the scale question in your back pocket until you’ve completed other critical tasks.

  1. Before talking scale, the…

I felt mildly confident as my name was announced. I’d practiced my material. I had some decent transitions between segments. And if nothing else, I knew it would all be over in about 5 minutes. I passed through the curtain onto the stage, squinted through the bright lights and grabbed hold of the mic. No turning back.

The team looks at each other, considers how to approach the upcoming project. Someone shouts, “We should get the users involved!” Everyone agrees. It seems so simple. But it’s more nuanced than that. How and when you involve users matters. What you do next can make or break your project. Here are some of the keys.

Problem finding

What you ask matters. Why not just ask users what they want? The reason is that they may not know what they want, but they do know how they feel about their past experiences. And even if they know what they want, they usually…

User research is like the ingredients in a sauce. If you start with bad ingredients, there’s only so much salt, sugar or seasoning you can add to cover things up and salvage your sauce. If you skimp on user research, you may never be able to salvage your project. (For a deep dive into user research, check out this article.)

But the research is just one step. Usually after conducting user research there’s a feeling of overwhelm. Now what? You have all this great information, but how do you begin to make sense of it? Never fear. …

That pivotal moment when you must decide whether or not to commit.

Learning a new skill can be hard. The process can be derailed in so many ways. Whatever the skill, whatever you are trying to get better at, the following conditions must be true for you to be successful.

  1. You have to have a reason to get good at it.
  2. You need a moment that forces you to make a decision whether to commit or not.
  3. You need some little wins along the way.

I see this all the time in my work, where I help others learn and apply Design Thinking. Some people experience amazing breakthroughs while others struggle and…

Joe Lalley

Design Thinking, User Experience, Design Sprints, Remote Working

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