Bad ideas workshop

The plan for this workshop was to design an awesome dashboard for our users. We invited one of our most experienced users and printed a lot of examples to discuss.

Awesome dashboard1
Ready for the workshop!

Somehow, nobody really knew where to start. It is pretty obvious what a dashboard is, but what is an awesome dashboard?

Start with bad ideas

People might get paralysed when it’s expected from them to say perfect things. They might think of something good, but then they quickly think it was not good enough and all you get is silence… Ask people for bad ideas and they will deliver!

And this is how we started this workshop – by generating bad ideas or describing experiences with bad dashboards.

Awesome dashboard 2
Starting from bad ideas

Revert bad to good

All you need to do next is to revert the bad ideas to good ones. It might seem pretty obvious in our example of a dashboard – of course a dashboard should be ‘simple’, ‘well organised’, ‘self explanatory’ etc. Doing it this way, however, the good ideas get much deeper meaning and we understand why they are good ideas.

Awesome dashboard 3
Bad ideas reverted

A/B testing included

Thanks to our debate about bad ideas, our team paid a lot of attention to details. Probably too much, because we couldn’t agree to one solution. The team split to two groups and they both generated a good design each.

Awesome dashboard 4
Two great designs

As a Product Owner, I struggled to decide which way to go, so we decided to ask other users for opinion. For the next few days, my team paired up and interviewed a group of users – every pair had to explain both designs to a random user, making sure we ask different users every time. This was an excellent exercise – our users felt that they had influence on the product development and we learnt a lot about the users. Win-win!

Key benefits

  • Very easy to start generating ideas, no silence!
  • Deeper understanding of good ideas.
  • Better discussion with users, as examples are often involved.
  • You might discover current issues that nobody mentioned before.
  • It’s more fun doing it this way!

Role reversal

We started our research from shadowing users. All team members spent a whole day working with the people who are using our product – internal users – delivery drivers. It wasn’t training, we were actually helping the drivers deliver shopping to real customers.

We learnt a lot that day – about the users themselves, about the delivery process and how it is really handled by the system we provide, and a bit about the customers. We felt like experts for a while, even though it was very limited qualitative research.

We decided to put it into test however and invited an experienced user to a workshop with us. Our first task was to… reverse our roles (kind of).

So, this is your job:

We asked Mike-the-user to pretend that it’s his first day at this job, even though he’d spent the last 10 years doing it. All he was supposed to know is that the role involves delivering goods to customers.

Next, we asked the dev team to pretend they are his line managers and they need to explain the job to him – step by step. Mike was a curious student, so he was allowed as many detailed questions as possible.

It started well, but very soon we got corrected: nope, it’s not how it works…

We were missing details, got some procedures mixed up and couldn’t answer some of the questions, even about our own system! We also discovered how our system can be misleading if things go wrong.

We are not on the same page

giphy -shaking head

We now know that even by shadowing users, we can still misunderstand things. Especially if things go well during the day – we can’t see the whole range of issues our users face. Also, we are more likely to believe that problems that occurred during our experience are happening more often, when in fact, they might be statistically rare.

So we are not on the same page. And we will never be. But that’s ok – we are very different people and have different skill sets – that’s why we have different jobs. What we should do is to work towards minimising this gap by educating ourselves about the users, and also educating our users about our job when possible.

Key benefits

  • The meeting is more engaging for everyone.
  • We actively think about the process (as opposed to passively listening about their job).
  • Misunderstandings are spotted quickly.
  • We build a relationship with users.

Try it yourself – explain to your users what their job is. You will discover a lot of surprises.