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User-centred digital strategy: what it is, why it matters, how to do it well

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The word ’strategic’ is often met with scepticism. But service design is at its most valuable when shaping organisational strategy. Peter Drucker once observed: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all”.

Strategy is how you avoid this. A sound strategy tells you where you are going, and sets out a high-level, achievable plan to get there. And strategy combined with service design ensures the destination delivers maximum value to both users and the organisation. A clear strategy, underpinned by service design, is how you make sure anyone can decide what the most valuable things are to work on.

Yet bad strategy documents abound: massive tomes, years in the making (during which the organisation has continued to do what it perhaps should not have been doing at all), full of platitudes, unattainable visions or uninspiring lists of mundane tactical objectives. Service blueprints gathering dust in drawers, or slowly fading on a forgotten wall. It makes it easy to pooh-pooh strategy, dismissing it with another Drucker aphorism, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, or the mantras of “strategy is easy, tactics are hard” and “the strategy is delivery”.

Using real-world examples of successful discovery and strategy projects, we’ll explore a simple framework for understanding what makes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ strategy, and discuss how we can reclaim strategy, do it well, and get the support we need to translate it into action.

This will be an interactive session, so come prepared to share your strategy challenges. Topics we’ll aim to explore together are:

• the difference between vision, strategy and tactics
• how to hit the ‘goldilocks point’ with strategy: not so visionary you fail the “yeah right” test, not so mundane you fail the “so what?” test
• the benefits of ‘good strategy’ and why its essential to becoming “agile”
• how and when to engage with stakeholders, avoiding big surprises to get the support and buy-in you need to turn good ideas into action
• how to present findings and recommendations for maximum stakeholder impact

You should be able to apply what you learn whether you’re developing the overarching strategy for a whole company, for a particular product or service, or delivering a brand, content or user experience strategy. Culture may still eat strategy for breakfast, and implementation may still be the really hard part, but with a good strategy behind you you’ll have a lot more chance of succeeding.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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User-centred digital strategy: what it is, why it matters, how to do it well

  1. 1. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Let’s talk about strategy… 
 slides: slideshare.net/sophiedennis Sophie Dennis
 service design and product strategy
 @sophiedennis The short version
  2. 2. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis From Org Design for Design Orgs by Peter Merholz and Kristin Skinner (O’Reilly, 2016). Informed by the levels of Strategy, Structure, and Surface described in Jesse James Garrett’s classic The Elements of User Experience (New Riders, 2010)
  3. 3. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis On post-its write 1. one thing that bugs you about “strategy” 2. one thing you hope to get out of this session 3. one question you’d like answered Write each one on a separate post-it
 Share them with your neighbour
  4. 4. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis It’s all b******ks
  5. 5. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Why even bother?
  6. 6. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Culture eats strategy for breakfast — probably not Peter Drucker
  7. 7. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Strategy is easy
  8. 8. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis It’s implementation that’s the hard part
  9. 9. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis The strategy is delivery — Mike Bracken
 Government Digital Service
  10. 10. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis JFDI
  11. 11. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis [shortest talk ever]
  12. 12. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis What is strategy?
 ...and why does it matter?
  13. 13. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all” — Peter Drucker
  14. 14. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Strategy tells us Where are we going? What will be different when we get there? Where are we now? How are we going to get from here to there? What might stop us and how will we overcome that?
  15. 15. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Good strategy helps make decisions
  16. 16. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Good strategy gives us purpose
  17. 17. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Good strategy enables us to delegate control and decision making
  18. 18. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Good strategy makes us more agile
  19. 19. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Bad strategy
  20. 20. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis The “yeah, right” test 
 The “so what?” test 
 The “yes! and…?” test
  21. 21. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis The “yeah, right” test
  22. 22. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Cornwall is going to be the next silicon valley Insert your city or region here
  23. 23. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis The “so what?” test
  24. 24. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis apps
 
 
 
 Not a strategy
  25. 25. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis apps, digital transformation
 
 
 
 Not a strategy
  26. 26. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis apps, digital transformation
 
 
 
 Seriously Not. A. Strategy , wearables, chatbots,, AI,, personalisation,, a new logo, a rebrand,, content marketing,, agile,, Agile, user experience,, lean UX,, service design, innovation… …
  27. 27. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis The “yes! and…?” test
  28. 28. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis The “yes! and…?” test
  29. 29. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis The “yeah, right” test 
 The “so what?” test 
 The “yes! and…?” test
  30. 30. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis So what makes a good strategy?
  31. 31. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Strategy is a coherent plan to achieve a goal that will lead to significant positive change
  32. 32. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Strategy is a coherent plan to achieve a goal that will lead to significant positive change Strategy is about changing something
  33. 33. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Strategy is a coherent plan to achieve a goal that will lead to significant positive change Strategy should achieve a goal
  34. 34. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Strategy is a coherent plan to achieve a goal that will lead to significant positive change Strategy should be coherent
  35. 35. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis coherent kə(ʊ)ˈhɪər(ə)nt/
 
 adjective
 
 1. (of an argument, theory, or policy) logical and consistent
 ‘they failed to develop a coherent economic strategy’ 2. Forming a unified whole
 ‘the arts could be systematized into one coherent body of knowledge’ 
 https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/coherent
  36. 36. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Moon Shotshttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aldrin_Apollo_11_original.jpg
  37. 37. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Exercise Read through Kennedy’s moonshot speech In your group discuss: 1. What is the concrete, tangible goal? 2. What is the significant positive change Kennedy hopes achieving it will bring? 3. What leads Kennedy to believe 
 the goal is achievable? 4. What are the most significant 
 barriers to success?
  38. 38. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Strategy is a coherent plan to achieve a goal that will lead to significant positive change What was the concrete, tangible goal?
  39. 39. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis “before this decade is out [to] land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth”
  40. 40. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Strategy is a coherent plan to achieve a goal that will lead to significant positive change What significant, positive change is it trying to bring about?
  41. 41. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Strategy is a coherent plan to achieve a goal that will lead to significant positive change How does he show the goal is achievable?
  42. 42. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis “we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not…we possess all the resources and talents necessary”
  43. 43. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft… develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters… additional funds for unmanned explorations… 531 million dollars in fiscal ’62… 
 7 to 9 billion dollars additional over the next five years
  44. 44. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis many years… heavy costs … a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our efforts… we cannot afford inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or high turnover of key personnel
  45. 45. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.
  46. 46. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis coherent kə(ʊ)ˈhɪər(ə)nt/
 
 adjective
 
 1. (of an argument, theory, or policy) logical and consistent
 ‘they failed to develop a coherent economic strategy’ 2. Forming a unified whole
 ‘the arts could be systematized into one coherent body of knowledge’ 
 https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/coherent
  47. 47. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Focus and leverage
  48. 48. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis start enduser journey pain points
  49. 49. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis start enduser journey tactical solution pain points
  50. 50. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis start enduser journey pain points strategic solution
  51. 51. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis 1. Diagnose the problem
 what is the true nature and extent of the problem? what are we really trying to achieve? what’s really going on here? 2. Find the unifying idea
 what overall approach will enable us to cope with and overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis? what is the common thread in the problems we’ve found? where can we focus in order to apply leverage? 3. Craft a plan of attack
 what is the co-ordinated set of actions or steps we should take that will work together to accomplish our goal?
  52. 52. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis 1. Denial - our thing is not broken 2. Anger - we hate you for telling us 3. Acceptance - holy crap our thing is broken Dan Hon, ‘Stages of Transformation’, 11 April 2011 
 tinyletter.com/danhon/letters/s4e10-stages-of-transformation
  53. 53. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis “A good diagnosis simplifies the often overwhelming complexity of reality by identifying certain aspects of the situation as critical.” Richard Rumelt
 Good Strategy/Bad Strategy
  54. 54. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Fog
  55. 55. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis 1. problem statement 2. opportunity/objective 3. situation/constraints/context 4. recommendation: Big Idea 5. recommendation: smaller ideas/ releasing early value/validation 6. principles, models Diagnosis Unifying idea Coherent plan of attack I wrote about this a bit more at 
 medium.com/@sophiedennis/weeknotes-s01e01-what-a-difference-a-day-makes-from-dwp-to-nhs-digital-d1fe54ff0cb0
  56. 56. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis One last thing
  57. 57. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis DANGER!
 Problem Definition Escalation
  58. 58. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis The client asks you to design a business card 
 You respond that the problem is really the client’s logo Michael Beirut, ‘You’re So Intelligent’, Design Observer, 9 May 2007 
 designobserver.com/feature/youre-so-intelligent/5917/ The client asks you to design a logo
 You say the problem is the 
 entire identity system The client asks you to design the identity
 You say that the problem is the 
 client’s business plan
  59. 59. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis The problem isn’t making something look pretty, you fool, it’s world hunger! Michael Beirut, ‘You’re So Intelligent’, Design Observer, 9 May 2007 
 designobserver.com/feature/youre-so-intelligent/5917/
  60. 60. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Why?
 So more people get their flu jabs Why?
 So fewer people end up in hospital with severe, life-threatening flu Why?
 To reduce pressure on the health service Why?
 ONLY WE CAN SAVE THE NHS! What are you doing? 
 Making it easier to book an appointment for a flu jab
  61. 61. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis “the nature of these challenges are emblematic of deeply entrenched flaws in our institutional structures, our underlying theories, definitions of success, and ultimately how we have constructed our civilization.” Christian Bason The frontiers of design for policy
  62. 62. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis People still don’t have their flu jabs
  63. 63. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Why?
 So more people get their flu jabs Why?
 So fewer people end up in hospital with severe, life-threatening flu Why?
 To reduce pressure on the health service Why?
 ONLY WE CAN SAVE THE NHS! What are you doing? 
 Making it easier to book an appointment for a flu jab
  64. 64. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis “It’s just a website We’re not going to the moon” Mikey Dickerson on fixing healthcare.gov
 
 Photo by Matt Jukes @jukesie from the Office for National Statistics Alpha/ Beta team
  65. 65. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Q&A
  66. 66. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Further reading Richard Rumelt, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy Lots more examples and advice on good vs bad strategy Jared Spool, Beyond the UX Tipping Point https://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2016/05/26/jared-spool-beyond-the- ux-tipping-point-live/ Becoming a user-centred organisation Sophie Dennis, The Art of Things Not Done, NUX5
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jh-hvPtqN54 Product strategy with story-mapping and the Kano model Megan Casey, The Content Strategy Toolkit Advice, templates and methods for getting buy-in and working with stakeholders. Useful for any kind of design or UX project. Dan Brown, Documenting Design Discovery medium.com/eightshapes-llc/documenting-design-discovery- db14da1b0627#.24ud09pj0 More on structuring findings. He’s also written a book about it.
  67. 67. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis User-Centred Digital Strategy 
 Sophie Dennis
 service design and product strategy
 @sophiedennis slides: slideshare.net/sophiedennis
  68. 68. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis 1. problem statement 2. opportunity/objective 3. situation/constraints/context 4. recommendation: Big Idea 5. recommendation: smaller ideas/ releasing early value/validation 6. principles, models Diagnosis Unifying idea Coherent plan of attack I wrote about this a bit more at 
 medium.com/@sophiedennis/weeknotes-s01e01-what-a-difference-a-day-makes-from-dwp-to-nhs-digital-d1fe54ff0cb0
  69. 69. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Problem statement (What’s the problem?) This should be made up of: • the specific problem the team is addressing • the result of the problem • the change of situation which means the problem becomes a higher risk • the risk that’s a result of the problem and change of situation Melanie Cannon, Lead Content Designer, DWP
 Helping teams define their focus 
 dwpdigital.blog.gov.uk/2017/02/28/helping-teams-define-their-focus
  70. 70. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Short form creative brief
 articles.uie.com/short_form_creative_brief
  71. 71. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Design Principles
 cxpartners.co.uk/our-thinking/design-principles
  72. 72. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Dan Brown
 Documenting Design Discovery
 
 medium.com/eightshapes-llc/documenting-design-discovery-db14da1b0627#.24ud09pj0
  73. 73. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis 1. Denial - our thing is not broken 2. Anger - we hate you for telling us 3. Acceptance - holy crap our thing is broken Dan Hon, ‘Stages of Transformation’, 11 April 2011 
 tinyletter.com/danhon/letters/s4e10-stages-of-transformation
  74. 74. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis 1. Stakeholders know what’s really going on
  75. 75. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis 2. Stakeholders can derail the whole process
  76. 76. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis 1. People support what they help to create 2. No big surprises 3. They don’t have to like it 
 - but they do need to buy-it
  77. 77. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis start enduser journey pain points
  78. 78. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis
  79. 79. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Making the map is as valuable as having the map
  80. 80. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis 1. problem statement 2. opportunity/objective 3. situation/constraints/context 4. recommendation: Big Idea 5. recommendation: smaller ideas/ releasing early value 6. principles, models Diagnosis Unifying idea Coherent plan of attack I wrote about this a bit more at 
 medium.com/@sophiedennis/weeknotes-s01e01-what-a-difference-a-day-makes-from-dwp-to-nhs-digital-d1fe54ff0cb0
  81. 81. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Problem statement (What’s the problem?) This should be made up of: • the specific problem the team is addressing • the result of the problem • the change of situation which means the problem becomes a higher risk • the risk that’s a result of the problem and change of situation Melanie Cannon, Lead Content Designer, DWP
 Helping teams define their focus 
 dwpdigital.blog.gov.uk/2017/02/28/helping-teams-define-their-focus
  82. 82. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis Working with stakeholders
  83. 83. slideshare.net/sophiedennis @sophiedennis 1. People support what they help to create 2. No big surprises 3. They don’t have to like it 
 - but they do need to buy-it

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