Here are a few things worth considering before starting an N2D Method project. You don't have to have answers for all of these questions but thinking about them before you get started will give you a higher quality outcome.

Which organisation is the project for?

Being clear about who you're determining priorities for helps you avoid uncertainty at later stages of the project. Are you working on priorities for your team, a department of a larger organisation or the organisation as a whole? Sometimes the organisation might be a working/steering group composed of stakeholders from several organisations.

Who are the stakeholders?

You'll need to confirm which specific individuals are going to be part of the stakeholder group. The fewer there are, the easier the project is to manage. Having said that, the Method can cope with lots of differing opinions. As a general rule, the stakeholders should be people that can speak confidently on behalf of the organisation.

How will you discover the business objectives?

You might already know what the organisation is trying to achieve. Even if you do, it's usually a good idea to validate these with the stakeholders. Many practitioners find it useful to run a working session with that group, in order to make sure you're working with high-level objectives and that people agree on their relative priority. The Why-By Ladder can help to set high-level objectives, and if the group struggle to determine relative priorities, try using paired comparison analysis.

How will you discover who the organisation cares about most?

As with business objectives, this is generally best handled in a stakeholder working session. You may find that the group suggests a long list of "customer" types whose needs they care about. If you find that you have more than 10 segments, you'll probably find it useful to do a clustering exercise with that group. Group the different segments into buckets differentiated by the needs of that group: if two customer types have the same set of needs, then they can be grouped together and the segment given a name that reflects that. You can use paired comparison analysis again if the group are struggling to determine the relative importance of these segments.

How will you discover the jobs-to-be-done?

Your stakeholder group should be able to suggest some JTBD that the "customers" have. However, it's always best to validate these by conducting some research. it doesn't take long and there are some tips here.

How will you schedule the project?

This is, of course, entirely up to you. However, at the very least, you'll want to schedule a stakeholder working session as one of the first events. If you can confirm objectives, customers and some sample jobs-to-be-done at that session, the rest of the project will run smoothly.

The Method is flexible enough to be used in a variety of ways from this point, you could:

  • Extend the stakeholder session and work through the tools together. This will give you the first draft of the results quite rapidly but everyone should be aware that some assumptions may be baked in and should be validated with customer research

  • Schedule some interviews with representatives from each "customer" segment in order to validate the suggested JTBD

  • Run an online survey to gather more data on customer needs (template and tips here)

Where will initiatives or ideas come from?

Organisations are not short of ideas, so a good starting point is to gather them together. It can be interesting to include initiatives that are already in progress, or that are scheduled to start soon.

Then you'll want new ideas from somewhere. You can do this yourself, involve the stakeholder group in idea generation, work with any external agencies or even set a competition amongst staff and/or customers. The Needs Matrix can be a very useful tool for setting the brief for any idea generation because it clearly shows the most important needs.

How will you score the initiatives?

You can probably do the first pass yourself fairly quickly, then review this with the stakeholder group. There may be some scores you don't have an answer to. For example, on a technical project, you might have a dimension like "time to deliver" and you can't score that on your own. In such cases, having specialist input on the scoring from a subject-matter expert can help enormously. Just export the Initiative Scorecard and ask someone else to score that specific column.

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