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War Stories: Stories of War

[Originally published in the series War Stories on Steve Portigal's All This Chittah Chattah] I interviewed Holocaust survivors. Four words that still send shivers down my spine. Their stories were meant to shape my research; they ended up shaping me. It was the project of a lifetime. I was asked to conduct user research for [Keep Reading...]

Customers First

Choose Your Customers First, said Seth Godin in his post yesterday. “First figure out who you’d like to do business with, then go make something just for them.” It’s a message I’ve been evangelizing for the past year: define the problem before devising the solution. Research > Strategy > Design. If you don’t know why [Keep Reading...]

The truth about the presentation process

Having the opportunity to speak to an audience who cares what you have to say and believes they can learn something new from you is a totally surreal experience. Especially when you consider that months of work pours out of you in under an hour. I’ve been speaking at conferences since the fall of 2008. [Keep Reading...]

How to Conduct Yourself While Conducting Interviews

I spend most of my time these days coaching senior leaders and product teams on how to build empathy for their customers and colleagues. This is what my consulting business has evolved into over time. One of the tools we use are one-on-one interviews with stakeholders and customers. The goal is to discover the behaviors, [Keep Reading...]

What’s Your Problem? Putting Purpose Back into Your Projects

[This is the written form of my presentation What's Your Problem? Putting Purpose Back into Your Projects] Our story begins in the 1980s at Procter & Gamble, the largest consumer goods company in the world. They make Bounty, and Mister Clean, and Dawn and lots of other brands you know and love. P&G was raking [Keep Reading...]

The Empathy Belly at Ford Motor Company

Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” Despite the lack of hard evidence that Ford actually uttered those words, the phrase is wielded by lots of designers and business owners who want to justify basing decisions on their instincts rather than engage [Keep Reading...]

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...]