Tom Downing and Rohini Chohan from the digital product studio Freestyle, talk about their experience with the N2D Method.

Transcript

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Phil Dearson

Hello. Today we're doing a practitioner interview with a couple of guys from freestyle Tom and Rohini but we'll hand it over to those in just a second. First off, my name is Phil Dearson, I'm one of the partners at sub sector, and we're probably best known for the N2D Method. So why would you be watching this, if you knew nothing at all about the Method.

Jessica Gregson

Yes, I am Jessica Gregson for my sins I am the business partner of Phil Dearson sector. As we said were the originators of the N2D Method, we are joined today by two astonishingly brilliant practitioners who've been using the method locks recently, and quite recent actually to join the practitioner network. And we just thought we'd take a few minutes to ask you how you're using it. And that will just give other practitioners, a little idea of the sorts of problems they might solve with it, and people who might be new to it will give them an idea of how other practitioners are solving problems and decision making with it so what what sort of things that we actually sorry. Why don't you introduce yourselves, and freestyle.

Let you go first of all. Oh.

Tom Downing

So yeah Hi I'm Tom, I'm the director of freestyle. And we are a digital product studio and primarily focusing in customer experience. And we, I think just as you described, I think we've only been practitioners for a few months now. But it's a real sort of appropriate time I suppose with where we're at with the business in terms of our launch of our proposition, which was over a year ago now wasn't a new thing, half ago, which we can explain a little bit more. And also as well just to sort of evolvement of what we're trying to do with more with clients it's fitting really well in in us, enabling us to have this sort of types of conversations and and find higher needs I suppose with clients. So yeah, I'll let me just briefly introduce herself first.

Rohini Chohan

Yeah, so I'm Rohini, I am an account director at freestyle. So I've naturally been using the tool to initiate and had some really good conversations with clients across, you know, multiple portfolio. And, and I might as well go into it as well.

Phil Dearson

Yeah.

Interesting. Quite often it's people who are got more of a, like a strategy hat on or a product management hat or something like that so having someone who's on the direct interface with the client, using it that's quite interesting. So can you tell us a bit more about that.

Rohini Chohan

Yeah, so me and Tom have a have our own sort of thoughts on how it's been beneficial as well. So from my perspective, a it's come at a good time it doesn't necessarily have to have to be this way but we've started using it at the start of q1. So, January, typically, I usually have conversations with clients. End of q4 sort of start of q1. Anyway, to kind of get an idea of you know their strategy what were their thoughts are that whole roadmap conversation, had those conversations for years, and they're fine that they're good, but the way that we've been doing it this time round has been super valuable. It's been really positive actually on both ends so a it's been a really good way to facilitate those conversations I'd be usually having typically would be like an hour with a client will have a normally face to face meeting, and they will come, kind of, whether they're there, but you know they're almost like regurgitating something that's already been circulated internally on their strategy, you know like, you know, this is kind of our objective This is and it's just sort of handed over to us. I don't think they necessarily get a lot out of that session with us, but they're sort of giving us something. And we're walking away with that and like I say, you know, it's good it's face to face contact we love that. But that's sort of where it ends. This time around, naturally and those people that know the tool, or have at least had that demo form you will understand that you know you've got different stages. And it's been really good in facilitating those conversations, getting getting that two way dialogue as well it's not just them, bringing a, bringing a presentation to the meeting, they're actually engaging in conversation and there's that level of intrigue as well. They're talking to you and they're like where's this going like, you know, in a good way. And, and, and that's been really positive as well. And the other thing that's been really good and people will do it very differently. We've done it over a series of, like, two to three sessions depending on the time, naturally at the moment, everything's on share screen right so it's a lot to ask to do a whole day so we split into. Yeah. So let's get into like two or three, and it's a really good way of, of having those like check in points with the client again so you know before. Let's say I was doing that one hour meeting and there would not necessarily be an incentive to follow up on their end. And whereas, whereas now there's that value of, oh I want to come back I want to see what that second scorecard is or where is this going. And so yeah it's it's been really valuable I think to clients and, and to us, and we've had different scenarios across, I think we've done, we've done for Tom before.

yes, it's actually really different you know with some clients. I mean with one client we we used it as a onboarding session because we had a new client contact. That was a good way into their mindset and their business, or another one the client was very much there already internally hot on all this stuff, and you know that it's very clear, but there was still that level of intrigue of like is it going to validate what we already know. And that's still good. And in other ways you know it's helped prioritize roadmaps and plan scoping sessions and things like that so it's we we've kind of. It's been really good to have so many in a short space of time as well because we've been able to adapt and work out how to do things a bit differently but also that that variety of client types as well

Phil Dearson

Awesome. So is it like I mean you mentioned that you were talking through things at scorecards with them. I mean I've I have encountered other practitioners who have been doing, but from a new business development point of view, they've been doing things like just kind of speculatively coming up with a needs matrix you know that the scatter graph. And then using that as a discussion point to have with it with a new business prospect or something like that. This sounds like it's much much more. I don't know much more about relationship building really, but you like going through, through elements of the needs matrix tool to start with with them and sort of do things like clarifying business objectives or you sort of start, starting with the other tools and then working backwards or is it a bit of a mixture.

Rohini Chohan

so we've, we've done it slightly differently with different clients and that's as a result of you know having one session and kind of improving the way we do things. And, but it's usually followed that same sort of sequence of like needs matrix, then some lists. And then the initiatives one kind of comes last but we've also sort of used my whiteboard to gather that information in a different way. And then we'll go away we'll either have a break, within the session, or like a 1015 minute break where they'll learn have a coffee and we'll sort of input everything can and then they come back, or we'll just do it in our own time, which has worked really well and Tom can talk more about that because that was something he initiated when, when we did once we'd done one already

Phil Dearson

a bit about that until because that's it sounds like a good tip for other people.

Tom Downing

Yeah, I think it was, I think it's highlighted, mainly because of everyone working from home so from a screen fatigue point of view, it's even worse just sat staring at the same thing all the time. We are like, I think what really sad, which is what we've learned quite quickly is. I think we've learned very quickly on what can work best for us and the client. But I still don't think that there is a one size fits all. And it's so different from. I suppose both the business that you're trying to help in terms of see where, where the where customer needs are important and business objectives, but also the personalities I suppose of the, of the, of the clients and Rohini mentioned, like one extreme example, was one of our clients we've got a really good relationship with and he's taken a few other or a few new responsibilities within the business that we think we can help with. And this just fitted perfectly like his personality and way of thinking so this literally we, I think it was like three hours, we'd literally just run through it so fast,

Rohini Chohan

and it was less than three hours.

Tom Downing

Yeah, it was just a download straightaway of like of of his knowledge of the business I suppose it still added lots of value. And we know it's now opened up further discussions around, customer service specifically. And on the flip side of that there's been situations where either a business I suppose already has quite a solid roadmap and also a decision making, protocol internally between them and the board, and we've gone into say like we don't want to like massively challenge that and we're not saying we're disagreeing with it but it would be helpful to release put it through this process, and again going on the, on the intrigue and curiosity side that we're hearing you said. And just as just a validate and see and see if it see what it comes out like so again we've used that to like we've gone through all the all the matrix, but then from the initiatives we've put in there was like 30 projects that they've got mapped out for the next three to three years. We then added other metrics around, time, time cost and return investment. And the number one thing that's come up, was what they are doing currently, but very interestingly, there's some quite things for things right down the bottom but they're like, why they talk about. We've got this plan, next week in a way. So, it's, it's been, I think you have to adapt it to the individual that you're working with in terms of the outcome that they want and what motivates them in their position in their business like what are they looking to do within that, but I think clients have found it so far, very very interesting, because it's all in the customers eyes It's all about what's important to the customer. First, rather than what's important to us as a business first in a way. And that sounds like such an obvious thing to do. Any businesses just don't do they, and

Rohini Chohan

they'll say it, we've had a client where they've said yeah you know it, customer is very much our focus. Then we'll have it on the flip side of like,

Phil Dearson

And we've had this over and over again, it's about people saying you know customer centricity is so important Lalalalala, you know, even if they don't actually have any customers but you know the needs of the other people that they that they are working with or associated with. And, and it's very easy to say, but actually to, practically, then say, Actually no, we are going to prioritize the needs of these people. What does that then what's the kind of the knock on effect to all these unaccepted sections of our of our organization, even the smaller micro actions that we take. That's great. First of all, it's fantastic to hear, that sort of thing.

Tom Downing

So there's the two of the things because we were just talking yesterday about this. Yeah, because we're quite new to this, and it's working really well with us facilitating these conversations with clients, and then we're talking about the way in which you go about setting up a profile, and in terms of like the context of the business that you're going in on in terms of, like, let's go through a session. And to date, pretty much we've gone in on the whole business. So we've gotten in on like like what's the whole business's objectives, what's all of that customers wants all of their jobs to be done. And, and there's We've had great value in that as you've just, just talked about that yesterday we were saying some instances when there's a very complex business or large business. It's almost too big a topic to talk about and even though you end up with at the end in terms of opportunities that either customer needs are underserved or over served and we can, that is still valuable to us and the client but still it's still could be a little bit too vague, because your talk, you're trying to talk about a such a huge topic with the business so what we found almost is that is valuable as like an onboarding, but then we then want to then find the focus points that it says that the business needs to focus on. I do another session specifically just on that, and that's what we haven't quite done yet and what we're looking to try to do next. Really good idea, mission.

Phil Dearson

Yeah, I've seen that done once with a big insurance company. And it started off as, you know, the big you know the macro goals of this huge global enterprise which is just as much as you say you're trying to boil the ocean. And then very quickly devolved devolved into these different sort of departmental agendas and goals. And one of the things that worked really quite well is they had different groups of people who were called the special needs.

Jessica Gregson

priority owners, that was a strategic priority

Phil Dearson

Oh, nice. Yeah, and they were you know groups of people from a kind of multidisciplinary sort of background, who were focused with leading these different sorts of initiatives inside the business I think that about seven or eight of these different groups, and what they ended up doing was taking like the initiative scorecard and chunking it up into these different kind of responsibility areas and then because you had a common evaluation scale, because you're using the same, the same way of scoring everything they sort of set each of these different teams off to go and do the initiative, scorecard themselves. And then brought it all back together to merge it into a great big list of these are the priorities regardless of which of the strategic priorities we have, regardless of which team, it is, and it would just put them all in a ranked order, so that works really quite well, getting more people inside the business. Getting hands on the tools,

Jessica Gregson

and it just one thing to add to that, I mean quite often this is, this seems to be a thing for whatever reason that I'm involved in, maybe a bit more than Phil at the minute is quite often, which would be relevant to you guys is. I'm working on projects where you're just looking at a specific product or service you're not necessarily looking at the whole business. Quite often, I'll then die and you almost treat that new product or service like its own little startup, and then we'll just use the objectives of that particular new product or service. And, and focus it really focused a method so we can get to that very very specific kind of prioritization of functions and features. So that's the other thing that might be really good for you guys. Obviously you are you do get to a point where you're looking at a very specific project, and having that kind of macro view going down to quite a specific project view I found super useful actually. Okay. You said there were two of the things was there one more thing or was the other thing, but that was that the two things.

Tom Downing

The two ways in which we want to try to use it. Yeah, so the first one is like let's just talk about the whole company. It gives us a great excuse to try to speak to the clients and get them to open up, essentially, around, so we can try to help them find what's most important to the business and feel like you said, we can then go away once we've both agreed and seen it on paper. We can then go away and it's and it's it's it's invaluable then for us as a business to be more productive and put proposals to those needs. If we know that we both identified them. Yeah, that's sort of going quite well. The other the other interesting one actually is. We talk about businesses always being, you know customer centric and customer first. There is still a strong need. And it's one of our clients actually that the relationship we have with them is that their outputs I suppose is business cases to the board to be signed off. And we don't have access to the board so our, our relationship is helping and empowering. This team, to be able to, for what we can contribute to their business case to help get these initiatives signed off and get these going. And what's interesting is the board obviously have a, an agenda and they will have certain priorities in which they want to see within these initiatives in terms of whether its results or anything else. So what we've done also as well and looked at is okay so if there was a project that or using leaders, that's focused. What are rather than the needs of the business from a business objectives, what's the needs of the board so what are the things that are most the top five things that they see as very very important and want to see at least be considered. And then we then we then gone through the same thing to say we want to make sure that what we're putting forward, it's framed in the right way.

Phil Dearson

Yeah, that's fantastic. Yeah. Um, that I think we could probably just go on all day but that's really useful should probably wrap wrap things up. It's absolutely, That's just really great. That's really great. Thanks. Thanks ever so much. If you're already an entity practitioner. The guys you'll probably find them in discord if you wanted to have a bit of a chat with them. Failing that, what's the best way for people to get in contact with you could probably find you on LinkedIn, I

Tom Downing

guess, yeah. Easiest yet LinkedIn.

Phil Dearson

Okay. All right, thanks ever so much. We'll wrap things up now hope you have fun, or a bit of time to go and play in the snow, and very much again for your time.

Tom Downing

Thank you.

Jessica Gregson

Thanks. Thank you.

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