The Better Work Project: Creating Solutions Customers Love

17 February

How do we go from ideation to the creation of products or services that make someone’s life better in some way? In this podcast, we're joined by Product Futurist, Dr. Anna Harrison to discuss creating solutions customers love. We cover design, user experience, innovation, and how we can bring ideas to market in a way that resonates with our customers.



  • One of the biggest differences between large organisations and startups is the attitude towards uncertainty and risk.
  • There are explorers, there are settlers, and there are town planners. They are different activities and they require really different mindsets to achieve them.
  • When we look at the major large companies today, Tesla was not the first electric car maker. iPhone was not the very first mobile phone. Uber was not the first ride-sharing app. Many businesses are fast-followers.
  • When you're working on a problem, just figuring out what the right question is, will take you towards the solution.
  • As an example, in 2017, Juicero a brand new Silicon Valley startup raised $120 million and designed a juicing machine with a business model of subscription-based juice pouches. The machine was brought to market at about $700. The biggest competitor to them was a pair of scissors which became evident during user testing.
  • Another example is Clippy, introduced in 1996 by Microsoft. The very first use of testing revealed that uses found Clippy arrogant and creepy. The project went ahead anyway.
  • When it comes to ensuring that we're solving the right problem, user testing is crucial.
  • Feature bloat over time can take us away from solving the right problem. As an example, Microsoft Word had 2,246 buttons in 2014. The average person uses about eight buttons, so they're carrying the load for 2,246 buttons worth of legacy code. Along comes Google docs and really lightweight editors and these other companies start solving the needs that people have and disrupt them.
  • It's very unusual for a company to delete features.  People don't ship a new release with less functionality. But it is necessary to recalibrate by testing with users that things you're releasing and the features that you're adding are still relevant.
  • There are a lot of useful techniques to understand how people think and behave such as observation, interviews, market research and survey data. We've got the benefit of AI and machine learning technologies.
  • There is a broad field of behavioral economics that is combining with psychology and technology.
  • Google venture sprints and design thinking processes are techniques that have real value in terms of developing strong product culture.
  • Experimentation is important. As an example, when Netflix started out they were selling DVDs. They set up the smallest, most efficient and cost-effective way to test a hypothesis, that for the price of a postage stamp, you could send someone a DVD.
  • About 93% of start-up successes have come from pivots, which if you take that in a different way, it's 93% of start-ups, successes have come from failed experiments.
  • McKinsey has done a study comparing organisations that excel at design versus those that don't. They have a very clear ROI, in that the revenue growth is double.
  • A number of large established companies have recognised that they're better off acquiring a company that specialises in that front end, settler, phase of innovation rather than hiring in the people and putting them in-house and growing their existing team.
  • One of the tensions with growth is that companies don't often look at all of their customers to figure out who are the high-value customers, who are the mid-value customers, and who are the low-value customers.
  • It's really important that both the culture and the reward systems within the organisation are very supportive and embrace experimentation and iteration.
  • Metrics matter hugely because if it's not measured, it's not real.


To discover more from Dr Anna Harrison, visit:



Project Management Institute (PMI)® accredited webinar: This webinar offers 1 strategic Professional Development Unit (PDU) to put towards your chosen certification. Use the PDU Claim Code: 4102N35DJX.


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