How I Can Use the Apprentice

Processing the Results

As you prepare to process your findings, keep in mind that playing The Apprentice game doesn't always turn up the need for new features or changes to your product; sometimes you will find your product is just fine the way it is. With that as a preamble, here is a means for processing the results from this game.

We'll Just Keep Going Until You Actually Care About Your Customer

This game is especially effective when you suspect that the product team doesn't care enough about the people using the product. To illustrate, many years ago I was asked to lead a group of software developers who were charged with creating a new data entry system. Unfortunately, this particular group of developers exhibited some of the most blatant negative stereotypes we associate with "geeks"insensitive, surly, and downright rude to the data entry personnel who they felt were "beneath them." To reset their thinking, I asked them to play this game by performing the jobs of the data entry operators (the developers would probably tell you I forced them to play the game).

During the first few days, the bulk of their complaints were muttered profanities referencing my draconian management practices. After a few more days, the bulk of their complaints were directed toward the genuinely poorly designed existing system. After a few more days, when the bulk of their complaints became grumblings for me to allow them to "fix the terrible problems that aren't letting those poor data entry operators do a good job," I knew that they had finally developed some genuine empathy for the customer and were ready to begin working on the new system.

I've since learned that great product managers just about always use their productsno matter what industry they work in.

Schedule a meeting of everyone who played the game. Ask people who are coming to the meeting to review their experience notebook and bring their most important observations and learnings to the meeting. Then, using a process similar to that described in Me and My Shadow, give each person a stack of 5"x8" note cards and ask them to transcribe their observations onto these cards, one per card. When finished, ask them to tape each card to the wall. Review each observation, grouping them into meaningful patterns. Discuss the patterns, capturing any meta-observations (observations about the patterns and/or the observations) as new observations.

After the meeting, do the following:

  1. Transcribe all observations into a spreadsheet, with one observation in each row.

  2. Assess each observation along the following dimensions:

    • Performance gap The degree to which the observation indicates a performance gap between desired and actual performance. Large gaps mean large problems.

    • New opportunity The degree to which the observation indicates a new opportunity for solving a customer problem.

    • Product Is Fine But... The degree to which the observation indicates a problem in another component of your total solution. Be vigilant for observations that indicate problems with training materials, configuration of the system, and so forth.

    • Solution It is inevitable that some of the observations will actually be solutions to problems encountered in the team. That's okay, just record them as such.

Innovation Games(c) Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play
Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play
ISBN: 0321437292
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 144
Authors: Luke Hohmann

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