stakeholder centered design

Stakeholder Centered Design—Innovation Beyond Your Primary User

Product design focuses too heavily on the primary user. Discover how other stakeholders impact your product's ultimate success to unlock innovation.

Hosted By | John Bernero and Sam Moon

​User centered design is a thing of the past.

It’s not that we’re anti-user. User centered design is critical to the success of most—if not all—products. As product designers we obsess over user experience every day.

But the primary user is a single link of a chain, and if any single link fails, so will your product. The reality is that many stakeholders contribute to your product’s ultimate success and many are overlooked. You need to know who those stakeholders are and what they expect from your product.

You need stakeholder-centered design to deliver your next innovative product.

In this webinar, you will learn a simple 5-step Stakeholder Centered Design process that you can use to:

  • Identify unmet stakeholder needs
  • Map out every step of the product journey
  • Identify opportunities for innovation


Watch Now:


Casey Branson:

Hi, everybody. Welcome to today’s podcast on stakeholder centered design, innovation beyond your end user. My name is Casey Branson. I am the director of business development here at M3 Design and I’ll be moderating today’s session.

Joining me are our presenters, John Bernero. He is our COO and director of engineering. And Sam Moon who is who’s a senior industrial designer here at M3 Design. Today’s presentation will last 30 to 35 minutes, with time at the end for questions. You can type your questions at any point, and we’ll be sure to answer as many as we can following the presentation. Without further ado, I’m going to turn this over to John.

John Bernero:

Thanks Casey. So let’s go ahead and get started.

We’ll begin with talking about the difference between user and stakeholder centered design. Some of you may be familiar with user centered design, and be wondering what is this thing we’re talking about here today, stakeholder centered design. We’ll go through that first. We’ll then go through the five steps that we take for stakeholder centered design. Sam was actually going to go through one of these examples that on a past project of ours, so that you can kind of see how you can apply this within your business. And then we’ll have a short Q&A at the end. This recording, this webinar, is being recorded so if you want to view it at a later time you will be able to do so.

Let’s go ahead and jump in.

So first, what is user centered design, and what is stakeholder centered design. Some of you may have a product like this, I’m sure all of you do, but essentially in the case of a direct to consumer market product, like a cell phone, user centered design is actually a very appropriate method to inform your product development efforts. And this pays out a product like this.

There’s really very few users, different types of users, out there who engage with the product. The person who has the product is usually also the person who purchases it, takes it out of the box, sets it up, puts in their family pictures on the background screen, and sets up different apps, and configures all the settings for their daily use. Then they start using it on a day to day basis.

They’re also responsible for doing system updates down the road, whether it be software updates or otherwise. And when the product comes to its end of life, when a new version comes out, this person is also the one who’s responsible for either trading it in, or giving it to a family member, or giving it away for a donation.

So if you look at a product like this and number of users is very few. Then they’re involved in many of the steps that this product must take or to A, get to market and, B, in use for it to be successful.

Well, when you look at a product like this, an MRI machine, you ask yourself, who is the user? Is it the patient who sits in there, laying, that needs to be still in order to get a good image? Is it the technician here that is responsible for operating the machine and ensuring a good image happens before it gets sent to a radiologist? Oh, and by the way, that radiologist is usually not in the room. They tend to be somewhere else offsite that they get this data file after the fact and they’re expected to provide a diagnostic diagnosis, and send it on over to the physician, who was the one who requested this scan that happened in the first place.

So we look at that, there are many different types of users, and each one of them have different needs. It’s critical to understand what their needs are in order for this product to be successful be used in the marketplace.

So, the process we use initially to kind of lay this all out as we go through what’s called a journey map, where you understand all the steps that the product goes through, and we’ll often begin with the end use environment. So when the product is actually being used.

In the case for an MRI machine, a technician usually comes in in the morning, sets up, starts the MRI machine, goes through the diagnostic, and makes sure that it’s ready for the first patient to go through it. In there, in the imaging step, there’s maybe lots of different patients that come in throughout the day, that I have to go through and get scanned. Then of course there’s the image review by the radiologist that happens after the fact.

But when you look at the overall pathway that this product actually took to even get to being used in the first place, there’s lots of different steps. It starts off with who decides to purchase it, and what’s important to them. How do they acquire it? How do they install it? And how it gets deployed into the field. And of course it’s being used and everything else. But then afterwards, how do you deal with maintenance? How do you deal with servicing? And then the product actually gets obsoleted. How do you do with the end of life of this?

So by using stakeholder centered design, it kind of forces your team to look at the big picture, the holistic view of this product, to help identify product opportunities. Because that’s all we’re here for, right? It’s how to make, differentiate, your product from someone else. And by understanding all the steps involved, it’s pretty critical to understand how your product is going to be deployed and used in markets so it can be successful. This is very important for many B2B products and some B to C products as well.

Again, looking at the difference between a cell phone and a MRI machine, there’s lots of different stakeholders involved. Each of these stakeholders contribute to your product’s ultimate success. Yet, in many product development efforts, most of them, or a lot of them, get overlooked. And this is where you can differentiate your business from someone else by really taking a deep dive and understanding the different needs from these different stakeholders and what’s important.

So, we showed a journey map, we showed the different stakeholders, and Sam will go into this a little bit more, but what we like to do is overlay the stakeholders with the different steps that they’re involved with. What this will help illuminate is who is important, where’s the critical stakeholder at each step? Then you can go ahead and understand, it’s not just a single primary user, but there’s lots of different stakeholder. Unfortunately in many of these products, single link in this chain fails, so will your product.

All right, so let’s go ahead and talk about the five steps of stakeholder centered design.

The first step, as I’ve mentioned before, is you want to map out your product journey. You want to understand all the different steps that are used to get this product out in the field. This can go into the purchasing decision making process, the installation, the how it’s being used, and as well as how it’s being serviced, to start with.

Next you want to use that information to help identify stakeholders. As you map out your journey, you’re going to start to identify people who are involved in here. Now the list of stakeholders should also include internal company stakeholders, people such as your internal customer service and field maintenance, because they may actually have pretty key insights in terms of what’s happening in the field.

And third, you want to then to overlay this information together into that stakeholder and journey map, to help identify who’s involved and what step. What this will help you do is identify the key unknowns. It’s quite common that you actually will go into a project starting this process and not realize that you know a lot about what happens when people are using the product, but not so much about some of these ancillary steps.

And so what this might do is help help uncover areas of things that you need to kind of understand. With that you can then fill those gaps of knowledge with different types of target research, whether it be phone interviews or otherwise, or in person observation.

So I’d like to go ahead and hand it over to Sam here, who’s going to walk through an example of how this is applied behind the scenes in a project example.

Sam Moon:

Thanks John.

So what we want to do, is talk about that process in a context that maybe would be a little bit more relatable to folks then the MRI machine.

That would be refueling your vehicle. It’s something that we’ve all done. It’s something that I’m sure people could identify issues with. And it’s a good example of showing that you can take something where you think there’s only one end user, the customer, and really expand that to improve the overall product.

So I want to start with a quote here from BCG. They did a great report called, Is there a future for service stations? They have an excellent quote in there that states, “Service stations need to move from a vehicle-centric business model to a customer-centric one in order to capture new product and service opportunities.”

So what do they mean by that? Really, it’s kind of addressing the fact that EVs and alternative fuels are going to become more prevalent over time. That’s going to create some new business challenges for a station owners.

So what we want to show here today, is illustrate this process that John just described, as if we were going to design a new fuel dispenser, and help those other stakeholders really work within the existing framework of what they have architecturally, and adapt to this changing market.

So since we don’t have time to really go through and break this down all the way from scratch, we’re going to kind of work within the existing architecture of a service station.

Just some quick terminology here. So forecourt, that’s going to be really anything that’s kind of underneath that awning where you park your car, where you walk back and forth. Then we’ve also got our dispenser that lives within there, as well as our convenience store.

We’re going to focus mostly on the dispenser, like I said, because I think it’s a really good example of showing again how you can think there’s only one user, but when you really zoom out, you can see that there are a lot more users involved in that, or a lot more stakeholders.

Even though we’re illustrating this on a single aspect of the refilling experience, there’s nothing stopping you from really blowing the entire thing up, starting from scratch. If you really want to redefine the entire experience, you could still use the same exact process. We’re just going to show it a little bit abbreviated here so that we can get through it within our time.

So I’m sure we’ve all been there. What we’re seeing in this image here, where you’re in a hurry, you really would just want to get in and get out of the gas station. The next thing you know you’re being bombarded with prompts, when all you want to do is start pumping and get back on the road.

So the big question here is, why is the experience like that? Wouldn’t it just be a better concept if you eliminated all of these prompts, created a really nice streamlined customer experience? And the answer is yes, that would be a nice customer experience. But we would also pose the question, if it’s really that easy, then why hasn’t anybody done it already? Getting rid of all those things, it’s just going to make everything smooth for everybody. But there must be something that we’re missing, otherwise wouldn’t somebody have jumped on this opportunity already?

So in order to address that, we can start off by using what we would class as traditional user centered design, focusing on the customer. You could start off by breaking this down into various personas. So we’ve got three sample ones here. It’ll help us evaluate what their tendencies are and their needs are at the dispenser.

So we’ve got the regular, and this would be somebody who tends to go to the station that’s close to their house or close to their office. They’ve pretty got a pretty average likelihood of going in the store, making a purchase, and they’re more likely than some of the other personas here to have some kind of rewards program.

Next up we’ve got our procrastinator. They’re going to wait till the last second and go to whatever station is available. They probably don’t care what that station is, as long as the price is good. The likelihood of them going in the store is probably pretty low.

And then lastly, we’ve got our road tripper. These folks, they may or may not pick a station by preference. I mean, if they’re in the middle of the desert and the nearest one is 60 miles away, they’re probably not going to be too picky. But really what they’re looking for is some kind of temporary oasis, where they can get out of the car, stretch their legs. They’re definitely going to be more likely to go in store and make a purchase there.

So we can start off by looking at each of these personas to evaluate what their tendencies and wants and needs may be. And then what we would likely do is kind of map this into a customer workflow. So we didn’t really break these out by persona, but if you want to look at the upper level, somebody might go in store and prepay with cash, versus the lower level, which would be paid at the pump, with either your phone or a card.

So just going through this really quickly, you’re obviously going to arrive at the station. If you’re going to prepay with cash, you got to go in the store first, where you might use the restroom, do a little shopping, before you come back out to your car.

Next, if you’re going to pay at the pump, there’s opportunity to input your rewards. You’re going to prepay with either your card or your phone, enter your information to validate that payment, might ask you if you want a carwash. At that point, the paths kind of join back up and we’re just actively fueling.

So select what kind of fuel you want, put the nozzle in, wait while it fuels, and then you’ll be prompted when you’re done to whether or not you want a receipt. Once you finish fueling, if you prepaid at the pump, that’s probably when you’re going to go in the store, again to use the restroom, shop, pay for whatever you purchased in the store before you head out.

So what is wrong with this? There’s nothing wrong with this information. There’s still good information there. It highlights what we illustrated earlier, which is that you’re hit with a lot of prompts. There’s a lot of distractions in what would seemingly be a pretty mindless task.

There are definitely areas of opportunity that you can identify here. The main issue is we still haven’t addressed what we asked in the previous slide, which is why are all these prompts present? Why is this have to be the most common fueling experience when it could be much smoother and simpler?

So to answer that, we’re going to zoom out a little bit and look at the rest of the product journey, and evaluate some of the other stakeholder needs, in the hopes that maybe that could explain what’s going on here when you’re at the pump.

So we’ve looked at the workflow from just the customer’s perspective. So now let’s step back and look at all the steps that the fuel dispenser would take during its product journey. So as you can see, and as John mentioned earlier, the actual time when the traditional user AKA the customer, is pretty limited within the product’s journey. There’s quite a number of steps before it can even get in service. And then a couple of steps afterward. And you may be asking, “I don’t necessarily have the ability to influence some of the purchase and search aspects of this.”

And to that we would say, “It’s still important to look at these things because whether or not it’s in the scope of your project to actually influence these things, having information about those journey steps is still critical, because you’re able to provide worthwhile information that you then you can work off of when you’re making concepts.” And you can’t truly make an impactful solution for the entire group of stakeholders if you’re really only focusing on the one aspect. So again, whether or not it’s in scope for you to redesign how people go about purchasing a fuel dispenser, it’s relevant, but it also is really just information that you need, to reduce risk, once you get to that final concept because you’ve at least considered the needs of everybody along the way.

So the next question is, okay, who are all the stakeholders that are going to be involved during that product journey? So we’ll start off with the customer. We’ve already discussed them at length. There are a couple of different personas that live within that stakeholder. Next, we’ve got our direct accounts and our manufacturers. So by direct accounts what I’m talking about is the BPs, the shells, any grocery store or gas stations that you might go to. They’re really big players in the market. They are buying a lot of dispensers and other components, and they’re going to tend to work more directly with their manufacturers, just because they have enough scale to do that.

On the other side of that, we’ve got our owners and operators and that’s going to be more a mom-and-pop shops. So one off gas stations. And they’re going to be more likely to work with a distributor. Those distributors are going to act as go betweens, working with the manufacturer to have stock on hand, and then they can sell a lower volume to these owner and operators. And they’re also making a lot of revenue doing some of these service aspects as well, which is where the service techs come in. So, we’ve got these grouped up, and you can see, again, there are a lot more people involved in this process than the customer only.

So what you’re looking at here is a cleaned up version of what may be an output from a kickoff meeting. Generally, we’d build these with post it notes and so on and so forth. But, we’ve cleaned this up, and what you can see immediately again, is that the customer is really only involved in a pretty narrow space within that product journey. Now, is that a really important space? Yes it is. You can prioritize these as you go. But, if we’re just looking at the distribution of where these stakeholders live within our little matrix that we’ve created, you can see that a lot of the other stakeholders have concerns across the entire life of the product as opposed to just during its operation.

So without going into too much detail, you see a lot of similarities between the direct accounts and the owner operators, as well as the manufacturers and distributors. They’re going to play different roles, they’re just going to work with each other in a bit of a different way. Again, this is a great way to visualize where everybody’s landing, but as John mentioned earlier in the presentation, just because you know somebody’s involved … The manufacturers involved during the acquisition state, okay, great. What does that actually mean?

So we’ve got some information dead zones here, and this is where you’re going to go back and identify what you don’t know, and go and do some additional research to fill in those gaps.

John Bernero:

So now that you have a preliminary stakeholder map created, this is when you start to identify gaps of information. And I think part of this is as a team, you need to start asking yourself, which parts of this journey are unknown or are we unfamiliar with? Do you have anyone that is been there during the installation? Is there been anyone there that’s been part of the servicing part of the product or even the acquisition and what’s important for them? So I think that’s what big number one is. What parts of the steps are unknown to you? And the next one is, which stakeholders might you be under-serving today?

Each stakeholder involved here is pretty critical. And there may be some nuances or some new product ideas or innovations that are opportunities out there that these stakeholders really like to see what could change the whole market dynamics. But if you’re not talking to them, you wouldn’t know that. And so with that information and where you know that you don’t have much information on, this is where you can go ahead and create a targeted market research plan.

We do this through, depending on your budget and depending on the level of information you’re gathering, you could do something as simple as talking to internal personnel, it could be through phone interviews, setting up with outside people, you can be doing some field research or having some other ethnographic research activities. But the key thing here is, making sure that your research method, fills in the gap of information or answers the question that you’re trying to ask. And then when you go through this research, it’s not uncommon to identify new stakeholders or even steps through the process.

What you want to do is go ahead and map that over to the journey map, and making sure that you have that documented somewhere so you can understand user needs across the different stakeholders.

Sam Moon:

All right. So after we’ve filled all of our gaps through that targeted research, the idea here would be that we’d have a much better understanding of what’s going on, within each little segment of that journey map, overlaid with our stakeholder interests. So in this process, through doing that additional research, we’ve finally got an answer to why that experience at the pump is so cumbersome. And the answer would be that you need to just look at the money and where the money’s going. So, I challenge you to look at two gas stations that are across the street from each other.

And I’d wager that more than likely, they’re not more than a few cents off from each other in terms of their gas price. And that’s their main draw when you’re just driving past. Unfortunately, that means that you’ve made gas a commodity, and they’re not actually making money selling it because it’s so aggressive in terms of competition. So the only way that they can make money is to try to influence you to go into the store to make a purchase in there, or upsell you by adding a car wash. And that’s the reason that those prompts haven’t disappeared over time. And the reason that it’s potentially could remain that way.

At least now that you’re aware of that, that’s a challenge that you can address through whatever concepts you want to make. So just diving in a little bit more in detail, we’ve already covered the customer. We didn’t really learn that much new that we didn’t know coming in. So there’s some unstructured downtime while you’re fueling your car, and then going into the convenience store. Isn’t that convenient? If you look at the journey map that we laid out previously, you’re either leaving your car at the pump while you go in to prepay, or you’re leaving your car at the pump after you’ve paid to go into the store, or you’re going to move your car.

So all three of those things don’t necessarily make it super convenient, even though the store is only about 10, 15 feet away. So that’s something we were able to identify by talking to customers and from our own personal experience. Next group here we’re going to tie the direct accounts and owner operators together, just because they’re so similar. And the main takeaway here, which we’ve already mentioned, is that the majority of the revenue is coming from in store purchases. And the current set up at the dispenser is not really optimized to do that. I mean, they’re doing their best with all these prompts, but is there a better way?

So I’ll take a quick pause here. I know we’re in the weeds in terms of talking about direct accounts and owners operators. I encourage you to think about this and from a process standpoint, this could be true of any industry. This process is applicable, not just within fueling, we’re looking at a market that’s got multiple fragmented sales and distribution channels that need to be addressed. So, it’s really just to illustrate how you can go about tackling a complex problem with a lot of different stakeholders. And our last group here, we’ve got our manufacturers, distributors and service techs.

So for the manufacturers and distributors, it takes a long time and a lot of money to develop a new dispenser. And once it’s out in the field, it’s going to be there for quite a while. So, they’re looking to design something that’s going to have longevity or at least flexibility moving forward because they don’t necessarily have the resources to redesign a new one of these every five or 10 years. And from a distributor standpoint, actually going paperless is something that might actually hurt their revenue stream. Which is again, something that seems to the customer to be a huge positive.

I get my receipt emailed to me, I pay with my phone. I don’t have to touch the pump at all, other than to put the nozzle in the car. However, the more you get rid of some of these things, the more you’re actually hurting a key stakeholder within the process. So again, new learnings that come from doing that targeted research. And the last with the service tech obviously, they’re going to be more boots on the ground, opening up the dispenser to replace some of those high wear items, troubleshooting things that are wrong. So, nothing too crazy there. But again, identifying the different needs and desires of each stakeholder across the entire product life cycle.

So, this is basically just a rougher version of what we showed you previously. It’s a little more built out. You can see we’ve got our stakeholders on the left, our product journey going across the top. And within each of those zones we’ve built out with some potential opportunity areas, whether they’re just thoughts, whether they’re ideas for a concept, we’ve built this out a little bit more. And I want to point out again, you can see that white zone up in the top section here, where this is our customer journey, and just look outside of that, there are a lot of other insights a lot more.

And again, like I said earlier, you can prioritize, operate the operation phase is huge because it’s probably going to be the longest phase. It’s maybe not to scale in the product journey, you can prioritize that because that’s where you’re actually making money. However, if you don’t consider all those post its that are to the left and to the right, it may never even make it to the operation stage, where you can actually generate revenue.

So, to use our current example, if we had only designed this new dispenser, based on the needs of the end customer, which would be that streamlined experience, you’re not necessarily going to get buy in from your direct accounts from your owner operators because, you’ve eliminated a key revenue or potential revenue stream, which is encouraging people to go in the store or to upsell to a car wash. The point here being if it only does one thing well for one group, it doesn’t actually solve the high level problems that exist around this. And even though you designed a great experience, if it doesn’t really make it into operation stage, is it really that great?

So, I’m not going to dive into too much detail on these but, I just wanted to illustrate where some of these opportunity areas are. So again, we’ve got installation. It’s a high dollar item for both direct accounts and owner operators that they don’t want to purchase too often, they’re trying to device something that’s going to help them be flexible and push people in the store to generate revenue. They’ve got limited footprint, especially if they’re got an existing station, that they’re trying to retrofit pumps into. This is what I was alluding to earlier about yeah, there’s opportunities for customers to go into the store, but are they actually as convenient as we really think they are?

And then there’s this downtime at the pump that is not addressed or you’ve got loud, annoying advertisements that people tend to mute. We’ve also got some opportunities here where you could incorporate some flexibility in terms of promotions, whether that be in store items or fuel additives, things of that nature. Again, trying to work toward addressing some of the needs of the owner operators. And then lastly, we’ve got our actual service items. So, none of these in and of themselves is a defined solution. What I think the point here is that, if you look at where these areas of opportunity are distributed across this stakeholder and journey map, they’re spread relatively evenly across our different stakeholders and across the product journey.

And when you’re able to address those needs at that level as opposed to just looking at the one stakeholder, you have the opportunity to create a solution that is a lot more impactful overall. And again, this isn’t going to necessarily design the product for you, but if you can get yourself at least in the right sandbox, and have a right starting point for where you do start ideating, you’re going to have a much better chance of creating a solution that addresses a much higher level system issues, as opposed to addressing just one specific stakeholder.

John Bernero:

That was great, Sam. So, to go ahead and sum it all up, the first thing you want to do is you want to take inventory of all the stakeholders who are involved and you’re going to learn how they are actually interacting with your product and some of the pain points that they’re addressing through that effort. Help identify gaps of knowledge that your team is, so that you can make sure that you’re taking good idea of everyone and everything that your product touches, and then executing on the appropriate ethnographic research techniques to fill those gaps.

Then fill, update the product journey map. That also means that you’re going to be updating your product requirements document or other things. And this all establishes a great framework for your constant development effort-

And this all establishes a great framework for your concept development efforts. And the whole reason we do this for is because we want to identify new product or system opportunities. You need it to figure out how do you add more value in your product to the customers. And if you just keep on looking at how people are using it and not at the big picture, you’re going to miss some opportunities there.

Again, the five steps that we went through was you’re mapping the product journey, stakeholder lists, mapping those together, and then identifying what’s important by filling in those gaps of knowledge.

Casey Branson:

Okay. Thanks, guys. So that concludes the presentation portion of today’s webinar. As folks are typing in their questions, I wanted to point you all to the insight section of our website, Under the insights tab up here, you can find information about upcoming web webinars like this one as well as articles that we regularly publish on our area of expertise.

Okay. It looks like we have some questions coming in. The first one is how do you handle conflicting needs and requirements from different stakeholders involved in the process?

John Bernero:

Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think the main thing you need to realize is with any product you’re designing, there’s always going to be some concessions. And in this case, what we really promote that you do is you need to understand how to prioritize the needs of the different users. For instance, if you’re device designing a medical product to be used by a surgeon, you outweigh the needs of the surgeon who has a mission critical thing that they’re trying to do versus the [inaudible 00:34:00] nurse in the room who may or may not want all these extra pieces of equipment in the room.

So I think part of that is just understanding what are the different unique needs of the different stakeholders and then understanding how critical they are to either the function or more importantly, the overall success of the product from a revenue and from a user experience perspective.

Sam Moon:

Yeah, and just from this specific example, which we just went through, we kind of touched on it, but again, you’ve got kind of conflicting needs where the customer doesn’t want to be hassled with a lot of things asking them, “Do you want this? Do you want that? Do you want to upgrade? Do you want your receipt?” It’s not ideal. However, you’ve got a conflicting need from the station owner who’s trying to generate revenue and they can’t do that through gas alone. So you’ve got these conflicting requirements that you need to take a look at them. And again, as John said, it’s really just placing priority on those and seeing kind of what makes the most sense. And at that point, if you’ve got a concept in hand, you can go out and test those types of things and see what works and what doesn’t for the different types of stakeholders.

Casey Branson:

Good perspective. Next question is how do you interpret the full stakeholder and product journey map to identify areas of opportunity?

Sam Moon:

So this one comes with a bit of training. It takes practice. I guess the easiest analogy would kind of be those things you see in cop shows where they’ve got photos and they’re pinned up with strings connecting them, things like that. Really once you get that journey map laid out, like we had it later on some of those later slides where you’ve got a lot of opportunity areas, once you get everything laid out, it’s much easier to identify some of those inefficiencies that exist within the process. You can start to really step back and challenge what’s going on, again, within reason to what the scope of your project is. But it just kind of helps you make those visual connections that then you can kind of tie those together and use those as the basis for a concept. So it comes with time, but really it’s just kind of looking at the needs and seeing where do things match, where are things conflicting. And as long as you can identify that stuff visually, that’s kind of where it’s easiest to make those connections.

Casey Branson:

This next question I think Sam, you somewhat touched on in the presentation, but it says, “Why should I be concerned with parts of the product journey that I have no control over, such as search, purchase, end of life, et cetera?”

Sam Moon:

Yep. Again, great question and I think the answer really is risk. the more you can de-risk your concepts at an earlier stage, the better off you’re going to be. You’re not going to be surprised by something down the line, something unexpected from a stakeholder who you maybe didn’t identify or didn’t consider their needs. That becomes a glaring issue that could kind of bring the whole project to a halt. So risk is kind of the number one thing.

The other element to that, it’s always valuable to have more information than you need. Well, maybe not always, but it’s good to have that information because it helps you know what you can and can’t control and it helps you to identify … You may identify a completely new market need that nobody had seen before. And in that case, whether or not it’s applicable to your current project, you’re still providing valuable input to your team. You’re identifying opportunity areas. And you can address some of those opportunity areas through your concept regardless of whether you have the ability to totally redefine how people buy gas pumps, you can design something that people will want to buy and it’s a flexible system that maybe facilitates buying things piecemeal so people can upgrade over time. There’s lots of different ways that you can use that information. But if you don’t have it, obviously you can’t do anything with it.

Casey Branson:

Okay. What if the project is not scoped for this level of upfront definition? It’s a good question, one that we might have seen before.

John Bernero:

Yeah, I mean usually you go on projects and you think you know everything, but the reality is you may not. So I think the key thing here is just making sure you have a good cross functional team alignment. So bring in people outside of your core team, people in your sales and customer service and other areas and bring them part of to help us develop this initial product journey map that you have and enlist the stakeholders. So now the next thing is okay, we’ve identified all these gaps in knowledge and now we got to do all this research. That takes time and money, right? And so I think you just need to find creative ways to do that within your project schedule and budget. And I think by aligning with all these different stakeholders, what you’ll find out is you’ll get some more team alignment within your team itself.

And for management, I think anyone would be willing to hit pause on a project for a month to go do some research versus going down a path and realizing six months later that you had the wrong product and no one’s going to buy it. So again, I think just trying to find creative ways to fill in gaps in knowledge, and at the same time, making sure you understand what project risks you’re taking if you ignore it. So there is also the whole point of diminishing returns. So you can be stuck into doing too much research. So finding a creative way to make sure you have good information, a good sample size to get the information that you need.

Casey Branson:

Yeah, that’s very true. It seems like the more research you do … I mean you can research for a year and there’s definitely a point when I think enough is enough also.

John Bernero:


Casey Branson:

Okay. Next question is where do you translate the needs to specifications or target requirements during the process?

Sam Moon:

So I think the first step to that is just identifying what those opportunity areas are. And you can go through each of those with your team or your client or whoever that may be. Look at them in details, see, okay, do we actually have the ability to influence this area of opportunity with the current effort that we’re doing. And then I think something else we probably read a lot about on the insights page is we talk about success drivers a lot. So you can turn those areas of opportunity, we will probably start with a huge bucket of them. And then as you evaluate each one, you can start to look at, okay, is this really achieving the goal that we want? Do we have the ability to even implement this? And you can start to prioritize them down into kind of a short list. And at that point you’ve maybe got hopefully five or six success drivers that can act as sort of a target requirement that you can use to evaluate concepts and make sure that they’re staying true to what you discovered during those early phases.

John Bernero:

Yeah, you probably already have some product requirements you’re created at the very beginning when the project got scoped to begin with or the idea came up. So kind of like the product journey map where you have a initial stab and then you go off and find some information and you update. I think that’s the same way for product requirements, market requirements, user needs, whatever you call it at your organization. But the main thing is you want to lay all the requirements for what the product needs to be. And then when you go out, you may find out that there’s some new ones that need to be added. And then you also have to prioritize those. So we also use a process called success drivers in order to do that. Kind of similar to the how we manage different stakeholder needs and how to prioritize that. But at the end of the day is what’s going to make the most successful product for you when it hits the market based upon your current business objective and where you’re at with the organization.

Casey Branson:

That might be a good topic to cover maybe in a future webinar. Thank you for that question. So we’ve got one more. It says, “Can you walk through the process of your initial journey map? What disciplines are involved, what stakeholders, how many iterations are typically worked through, et cetera?”

John Bernero:

Yeah, I kind of alluded on a prior question about just making sure you have a good cross functional team at the very beginning with your internal team members and then bring in people who have direct contact with your customer base and those different stakeholders. So that’s where you start. And then when you start filling information you want to fill the gaps of knowledge in there and build out your journey and stakeholder map as well. Anything else you want to add, Sam?

Sam Moon:

Yeah, as far as the iterations go, I think it’s … I look at it as more of a living document. You’re never quite done with it. You start off kind of zoomed out, looking at okay, who’s involved where? Go do your research. You start to see how they’re involved during those specific steps. And then you can keep zooming in as much as you want, as much as is necessary to help you generate quality concepts. As iterations, there’s kind of I guess like three high level ones. You create the basic one. You go into detail and then if you want to go as far as doing what we did with the customer stakeholder where we mapped out a specific workflow, you can get to that level of granularity within each zone of that little matrix there.

So it’s kind of up to you how many iterations you want to go through. As John mentioned, you’re going to start to get to a point where you’re getting so specific, you’re maybe not getting the benefit of it. But yeah, I think the high level point here is it’s just a living document that you can keep going on as long as you want or as long as you’re still getting benefit out of it.

John Bernero:

Yeah. You mentioned about workflows and I think that’s an important piece there is mapping out the workflow like you showed here for the customer, but doing it for lots of different steps. And part of the reason for doing that is you look at that and you’re like, “Man, why are things done this way?” And I think part of that’s an important thing is identify, if you take a step back and just because it’s done that way now, it may not be the best way. So this is how you identify product opportunities and then you can go ahead and go out and talk to people and voice or show them concepts that address those needs and really get their reaction on it. But yeah, I think mapping out the workflow, not just during the end use but all these other steps is also pretty critical.

Casey Branson:

All right. I think those are all the questions that we had for today. Thanks everyone for tuning in and for taking part in today’s webinar. Again, if you’re interested in checking out future events that we have going on, yeah, go to the insight section of our website. And if you fill out a form on the right side, you can receive updates on articles and webcasts and other things that we have coming up here in the near future.

Casey Branson:

Thanks everybody. Talk to you again next time.