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How “When I…” Reasoning Poisons a Team

Earlier this year I had a client who hired me to redesign the first step in their 3-step process. The page was getting loads of customer complaints and the last three iterations on the design hadn’t helped. As always, I started the project by interviewing key stakeholders: the product manager, the product owner, the head [Keep Reading…]

Designing the Company, Not the Product

In April, I posted a tweet that became one of my most retweeted of all time. Designing the product is all for naught if you don’t first take the time to design the organization. — Whitney Hess (@whitneyhess) April 20, 2012 It was a single statement that was the culmination of 9 months of identity [Keep Reading…]

The Most Valuable Thing They Teach at Harvard Business School

It all comes down to one word: empathy. At Harvard Business School, renowned professor Clay Christensen helps his students see that the role of a business is to solve someone’s problem -– and therefore, by their very nature, all businesses are an exercise in empathy. James Allworth, a fellow at Harvard Business School’s Forum for [Keep Reading…]

The Purpose of a Business is to Create a Customer

A customer is defined as a person who pays a business for goods and services. If a person does not pay, they are not a customer. The nebulous term of “user” is assigned when a person is accessing goods and services without directly paying for them. Call them a visitor, a prospect, a constituent, whatever you want. Until they pay you, they’re no customer of yours — and you have not fulfilled upon your purpose as a business.

User Research War Stories: “Taking empathy to a whole new level”

My friend Steve Portigal, an esteemed customer research consultant in the Bay Area, has a series on his blog titled “War Stories” — anecdotes from ethnographic researchers about the craziest things that have happened to them in the field. One entry from Priya Sohoni is particularly striking. Titled “Taking empathy to a whole new level,” [Keep Reading…]

Hugs in the workplace lead to greater empathy

How often do you get hugged at work? How often do you give them? Paul Zak, a professor of economics and director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA, is conducting a study that shows that Oxytocin, the chemical released by hugs and many other positive interpersonal interactions, increases [Keep Reading…]

If Seth Godin were me…

Is Seth Godin reading my blog? His piece last week titled “If I were you…” is a booming echo of my mantra “The user is not like me“: “If I were you…” But of course, you’re not. And this is the most important component of strategic marketing: we’re not our customer. Godin has written a [Keep Reading…]