The Pitch

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Polish your elevator pitch because it is more needed today than ever before.

How often do you talk to peers who just can’t tell you what their project exists to do. They can only tell you what they do on the project.

A friend of mine took on a new role at a finance company. When he started there were 40,000 defects in Jira.

When he left 2 years later….there were 40,000 defects in Jira..

He couldn’t tell what his project actually did.

So what was their team actually meant to do?

If you don’t know the Pitch then why is your company funding your project?

A good pitch is a way of telling your story that rolls together:

  • Problem statements
  • Solution Statements
  • A Hypothesis
  • Future state/vision

It does this in a No-Nonsense, Plain English manner.

So how do I create this magical Pitch you speak of

There are lots of ways to create a Pitch, but one that has never failed me in workshops is the Pixar Pitch. This is the structure that ALL Pixar movies use and to date they have raked in over 15 BILLION DOLLARS. So obviously not a bad approach to story telling.

The key elements are:

  • Once upon a time (This is the context)
  • Every Day (This is the problem)
  • One Day (This is the solution)
  • Because of that (This is the outcome)
  • Until Finally (This is the future state)

I use a fun Pitch Canvas that looks like this:

Pitch Canvas
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10 things that staff consistently tell us

Reading Time: 4 minutes
  • When we do user research with businesses about our Services, we also talk to our staff that are delivering them.
  • Just like customers, we often hear the same things from staff, over and over again, regardless of which design, platform or web page we’re testing.
  • These issues are not aimed upwards at management, but represent the lived reality of everyone in the organisation, and are there for all of us to fix
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Surface Pro 4 – Tablet Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have a circa 3 year old Surface Pro 4 to review. It is 64 bit with 8GB memory and a Core i5-6300cpu @2.4GHz.

So here goes…


  • It is thin, fairly fast, and better than any other Windows 10 laptop I have ever tried. 
  • The touchscreen feels like a gimmick at first, until you start to miss it, on laptops that don’t have it. 
    I actually tried to “Pinch to Zoom” a magazine photo. (MacBook trackpads also drive this behaviour)
  • Windows 10 works well on it, and the screen is rather good, but it reflects everything
    I never got to try the Surface Pen, as that did not get delivered with it. 
  • It is easy to switch between Desktop and Tablet mode, but it is a really annoying tablet. 
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Love the problem and not the solution

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have all sorts of training and qualifications that help me to design and build awesome solutions. It excites me. I love my job. Which means that I have to sit on the impulse to jump straight to solutions and remember to concentrate on the problem every single day.

The moment you start to design a solution, you are heading down a road that is harder to get off  every day that passes. It is human nature. You invest time, effort and your personal awesomeness in a solution and before long you love it. It can be emotionally painful to ditch it even if it is obviously not the right solution.  (I promise not to start talking about any of my ex’s). Even if you don’t like the solution, it is still hard to throw away the time and money invested in it. It is all too easy to roll out a solution that does not really solve the problem any more. 

The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a tourist icon, but that is just a benefit. The problem it was built to solve was to get across the Golden Gate strait, thus saving the hours it would take to drive round the bay.

If an earthquake knocks the bridge down, the new one might be very different. The solution is variable but the problem is the same.

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Service Design – How we work

Reading Time: 2 minutesEverybody has a methodology for how teams should work. Some of them are great but most of them are complicated. Here is how Service Design works at Scottish Enterprise.

I am showing three diagrams but the middle one is the one I love best.

Let’s begin:

1. Super simple

We are not a software house. What we do is design and deliver services. We try to be a bit lean & agile and that involves iterating constantly. This means that a traditional discovery, alpha, beta, Live flow is a bit too waterfally for us (I may have just invented a word there).

What we really do in  Service Design is:

  • Find value
  • Develop value
  • Deliver value

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We are all one big team, right?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

How often are you told "we are all one big team"?

What does it mean to you?

I suggest that you stop reading for a couple of minutes and digest this statement.

Sentiment or Structure

I think it is a very positive sentiment but quite dangerous when taken as a statement of fact regarding actual teams.

Please read to the bottom before exploding 🙂

The sentiment is very positive and suggests that we are all working towards a common goal. And who would argue with that?

We will all:

  • stop working in silos
  • stop pulling in different directions
  • stop hoarding information as a source of power or protection
  • stop doing things that don't further our common goals

These are all great, but does it not make you wonder why we are doing all these things in the first place?

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Trust the Force, Luke

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A young Luke Skywalker was told to

Trust the Force.

It was difficult for him until he eventually started to see results. This blog is about a similar leap of faith.

Think about these two statements…

  • If you are truly committed to building customer value, then you will be building what the customer wants (needs) and the customer will be delighted. Because of this they will buy the product or even buy more of the product, while increasing the likelihood of remaining loyal to you.
  • If you are truly committed to empowering your employees, then you will provide a work environment where they feel ownership of their work and can make their own decisions, and they will be more motivated to activate their brainpower, improving morale and increasing the likelihood that they will go the extra mile to create a quality product. *

These are mutually inclusive (and recursive) sentiments, and the answer to how they are done can be summarised as:

  1. Teams need to step up
  2. Managers needs to step back

Easily summarised, but not always easily done.

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It’s good to talk

It's good to talk

Reading Time: 4 minutesNo this is not a phone commercial. Yesterday was great. On the train in to work I had a chat with a friend who does similar work to myself. A couple of things he said struck a chord and I am going to implement them at work.

In work we had a director come out and chat with us about future plans, limitations and opportunities and generally make us feel involved. We then had a large group of managers out to Paisley and had a really good chat. We talked about how we were doing things, and what lessons could be applied across the business.

At lunch I called my sister and we caught up about family stuff.

All of these positive experiences would have been destroyed by doing them as word documents. A nice word document is good for audit but it would have been time consuming, scope limiting and ultimately never read by anyone. In others words “Waste”. It would have slowed down sharing of info and ideas and also supported behaviours such as people disengaging if they were not the ones writing the document.

Future Diagnostic Workshop

In the afternoon I tried in vain to finish a document on Future Online Diagnostics Options. I have been finding excuses to not finish this document for days. That is pretty unusual for us at Paisley but it does happen. It usually means that subconsciously we are rejecting something as being waste or at least sub-optimal. I had done all the research and I am passionate about the subject but I still couldn’t get the document finished. In the end David and I grabbed a few whiteboards and drew out the various options on them…….and then we had a chat about them. In truth the chat we had fleshed out at least as many ideas as I had gathered in my research. It also highlighted new areas that up till now had been “nagging doubts” which we had not fully explored.

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Loan me your phone. I am off to China.

Reading Time: 3 minutesThe question?

What would your response be if a colleague told you, they were going to China for a week on business, and then asked for a loan of your phone.

For me it would fall into 2 camps:

  • Camp 1: If it was my phone I might suggest, (strenuously), that they seek a phone elsewhere
  • Camp2: If it was a work phone I would suck my teeth for a bit, take out the “strenuously” and still suggest that they look elsewhere for a phone.

Why the unkind response?

The simple reason for this rather unkind response is that most of us eat sleep and breath our phones. They have become integral to most of our daily activities and they also store a lot of personal data on them. I would probably loan you my car rather than hand over my phone.

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Mindmap Packages

Reading Time: < 1 minuteI have probably used north of 20 mindmap packages across various operating systems in recent years. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and none are perfect.

My ultimate choice was to use Mindomo. It does everything I need it to and works well across all platforms that I use.

Here is why I chose it:

My choice for the ipad filtered down to 3 packages

  1. MindJet
  2. iMindMap by Tony Buzan
  3. Mindomo

Mindjet (Mindmanager now branded just as Mindjet)

This is a great package and works well on the ipad.
We use it within our organisation for on Desktops and Laptops
It does not work without a network connection (show stopping fail)
The online version is very “Laggy” and frustratingly slow.

iMindMap by Tony Buzan

Tony Buzan “is” mindmaps and the package reflects that. It does amazing tactile genuine mindmaps
Visually rich
Uses colour well
Ipad version is quite tricky with normal sized fingers.
The mindmaps can sometimes look too tactile and do not plug into formal documents well.


Generally good at most things
Online version is fast
Ipad version is fast
Works offline on Ipad
Syncs with cloud version easily
Nothing much.
It lacks some features of the others and can be a little bossy about layout but none of these are large issues at all.

Opening the box – on new Ipad

Reading Time: < 1 minuteThe long wait begins whilst the IPad charges for the first time.

I set up a new iTunes account using work email address. This needs a credit card to complete.  Using personal one at present. Now to load up basic apps for adding business functionality.

  • Dropbox and Google Drive for file sharing. (Google Drive is also an entry point to Google Docs which gives a good spreadsheet and word processor amongst other tools)
  • Evernote for note taking and bookmarking useful websites.
  • Adobe Reader for PDF files.
  • Flipboard for research and Media awareness.
  • Pocket for clipping websites to read later.
  • Grafio Lite (To explore graphing flowcharts etc)
  • Skype, Vibr, Teamviewer, Webex, Logmein & GoToMeeting for Online Conferencing and messenging
  • National Rail and Easyjet  apps for travel.
  • Bump for sharing Business Cards/Contacts
  • Scan, DocScan HD & ScanBiz lite for QR and Business card scanning.
  • Mindjet & Mindomo for MindMapping
  • YouTube and all the various TV apps for media access
  • Print Agent as Text Editor
  • Roambi (To investigate rich presentations built from PDF’s).
  • AudioMemo and Quick Voice for voice recording.
  • Print Agent (to explore WiFi printing)

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