Transcript: Ask the UXperts: Why Strategy an UX are Inseparable — with Amanda Stockwell

Transcript: Ask the UXperts: Why Strategy an UX are Inseparable — with Amanda Stockwell

Amanda Stockwell ATU

Yesterday we were fortunate enough to be graced a second time by the presence of Amanda Stockwell in our Slack channel. This time she was helping us to unpack that confusing and elusive (some would even say non-existent) subject – UX strategy.

To put things into perspective, when we talk ‘strategy’ we’re talking about product strategy.

Amanda’s session was about the importance of having a solid strategy and why it plays such a crucial role in a good user (or customer, or human) experience.

If you didn’t make the session because you didn’t know about it, make sure you join our community to get updates of upcoming sessions. If you have follow up questions for Amanda, you can ask them here.

If you’re interested in seeing what we discussed, or you want to revisit your own questions, here is a full transcript of the chat.

Transcript

 

hawk
2016-11-15 23:59
OK, let’s get rolling

 

hawk
2016-11-15 23:59
A quick overview for those of you that are new to these sessions

 

hawk
2016-11-15 23:59
First up, I’ll introduce @amandastockwell who will in turn introduce the subject

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:00
Then I’ll throw it open to you for questions

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:00
If things get busy, I’ll queue questions in another channel for Amanda, so don’t worry – we’ll get to you

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:00
And I’ll post a full transcript up on http://uxmastery.com tomorrow

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:01
If you want to keep the conversation going afterwards (or need other support), join us at http://community.uxmastery.com

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:01
So… first up, a huge thanks to you for your time today Amanda – we’re fortunate to have you back for a second time!

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:01
Thanks so much for having me!

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:02
And thanks everyone who joined! Hello from the US

 

lynne
2016-11-16 00:02
Hi from Vancouver

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:02
For the formal intro:
Amanda is President of Stockwell Strategy, a UX research practice focused on lean research methods and integrating user knowledge with business goals to create holistic product strategies for businesses large and small.

 

holliedoar
2016-11-16 00:02
Hi from Melbourne :smile:

 

danielle
2016-11-16 00:02
@hawk a picture frame, same pantry items and lost some water from the toilet cistern. Could’ve been worse!

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:02
She has spent most of the last decade focused on finding innovative ways to understand end users and embed that knowledge into overall process. She’s lead teams that provide research, design, and UX strategy services and frequently writes and speaks about her experience.

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:03
You can find her on Twitter at @MandaLaceyS or on our forums

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:03
I asked her to join us today to talk strategy, because it’s a topic that can be pretty confusing when it comes to UX

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:03
People often ask us how they should go about ‘putting together a UX strategy’ but I’m not convinced that such a thing exists

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:04
So Amanda is here to help us unpack that, and talk about how UX and product strategy inform each other

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:04
So @amandastockwell – over to you for a better intro to the topic than mine :wink:

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:05
Ha alright, thanks @hawk and all! To begin, I’d actually like to take a step WAY back and define what I mean when I say UX

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:05
Some people think that means wireframes or IA structures or visuals

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:05
has joined #ask-amanda-s

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:05
But when I say UX, I mean every experience that a person has interacting with a company/brand/service

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:05
From the first time they hear an ad about it to the first time they visit a website to interactions they have with staff if they return something

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:07
So in my mind, in order to help design for a great experience, you have to understand all varying goals the people you’re serving have at different points in time and how to best serve them

 

ashleamckay
2016-11-16 00:07
@hawk @bec7 it’s sunny in Canberra but that pollen is killing me! Haha

 

matthewkast
2016-11-16 00:07
So would you consider UX and CX one in the same?

 

melissa_eggleston
2016-11-16 00:07
has joined #ask-amanda-s

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:08
yes and no. I think they are inextricably linked

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:08
So is UX only limited to Users of the product / service or even the internal stakeholders, employees of the organisation?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:08
People traditionally think of CX as the portion of interactions that have to do with service interactions, like if someone helps you at a physical store, or if you need to call with an issue

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:09
and I think part of having a great overall experience means that those experiences need to be good

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:09
but I think CX is defined too narrowly to encompass all of what I mean by UX

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:09
Also to be fair – “user” is really open to interpretation. I’ve recently been joking that I’m going to say HX – human experience

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:09
any single person who interacts

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:11
“users” typically means the people who use your product or service but I think when I’m talking about creating a good experience, I don’t stop there

 

philsmithson
2016-11-16 00:11
agree on the HX thing, that’s what I’ve been saying! I try to avoid this discussion around definitions of UX vs CX completely :slightly_smiling_face:

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:11
I also think about the people who will be providing service, setting things up, etc.

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:11
ha glad I’m not the only one @philsmithson!

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:12
So in that case, even a CEO or an auditor of the company is UX focused resource/designer? I would not want to call a term ‘UX Designer’ no one can design User’s Experience one can only measure it.

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:12
sorry, can you clarify the question?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:13
I *think* what you mean is should every single person be focused on creating a good experience

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:14
You meant UX is about everything that one experiences while interacting with a Co/brand/service so in that case even a CEO or anyone in the company is a designer?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:15
So I wouldn’t say everyone is a designer, but I would say that creating a good experience should be the focus of everyone at a company – devs need to make sure things load quickly, customer support reps need to answer questions quickly, competently, and in a friendly way, sales people need to make sure they are reaching out to people in a meangingful way

 

melissa_eggleston
2016-11-16 00:15
UX is everyone’s job to some degree!

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:15
I would say everyone who is focused at creating a ‘good exp’ is a designer

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:16
Think about something like this – have you ever lost a bag while traveling and then thought, “gah, I HATE airline x”? Maybe the bag got lost because a baggage loader slacked off, or maybe it got lost because the tracking software was broken

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:16
Designer is not just the one who uses tools, they encompass larger role, being a strategist

 

philsmithson
2016-11-16 00:16
I think we’re all designers to some extent, whether we’re creating an interface, providing a service or sending a report to the boss. We have to empathise with the person on the receiving end and make sure what we deliver matches (or surpasses…) their expectations.

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:16
do you care? I don’t. All I know is that my experience was bad

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:16
@philsmithson: :+1::skin-tone-3:

 

holliedoar
2016-11-16 00:16
How does UX, CX, HX work in with service design?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:17
I guess you could say everyone is a designer but I think that has messy implications. The baggage handler could “design” how well they pay attention but they may not have much say in crafting how the system works

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:18
So, CX is usually focused on interactions between paying customers and service providers (i.e. you call an airline to rebook a flight)

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:18
UX is typically thought of as how well the interface works when you go on to a website to book a flight

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:18
If they improvise on their task, make sure they don’t loose any baggage and ensure they are effective, they are designers/ strategist

 

desertcoder
2016-11-16 00:19
@amandastockwell : Question – my UX team is given a roadmap from product management with objectives over the next 6 months, 3 years, etc. There’s a struggle between UX and product management in determining when user research can start before features are “baked” enough to begin writing user stories and developing the prototype. It seems the UX leads are always “strategizing” about what can be built, when and how it intersects with other products – but it’s difficult to make decisions when management is passive about what should be included in a release. Is this what product strategy means?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:19
There’s a piece of it that we haven’t discussed as much, which is the employee experience. Extending the airline example, this would be the interactions say a gate attendant has with the reservation system at their desk

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:20
Service design usually encompasses CX and employee experience – very similar to what I’ve dubbed Human experience

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:21
@desertcoder great question!

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:21
There you go… this is the most important. Let’s not forget employees are equally responsible in creating positive experiences ,:+1::skin-tone-3:

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:22
first I want to say I hear you on those struggles and there is not one easy answer. When I say product strategy, I don’t think there should/has to be a separate set of managers defining this

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:23
I know this doesn’t always happen, but I think product strategy is most successful when people who are closest to the people interacting (whether that’s ux researchers, ux designers, etc.) work closely with more business-minded folks to come up with the plans for how to best serve people

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:24
I think the most successful product strategies are often born out of UXers because we’re often the ones who get to actually talk to and observe people and we see problems to solve

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:24
Sorry Amanda, but there is no such thing called ‘UX Designer’

 

RELATED:  Transcript: Ask the UXperts — Information Architecture with Donna Spencer

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:24
which I find is at the core of creating a successful product strategy – how do you solve a problem or fill a gap for someone

 

lynne
2016-11-16 00:25
I love the concept of the employee experience – this is important and too often overlooked. But who is responsible for it? The company that produces the reservation system the gate attendant is using, or the airline?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:26
that’s why I think you can’t separate product strategy from UX or CX or HX or really any of the experiences ha

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:26
ah that’s where it gets tricky

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:26
To be totally honest, a lot of times employee experiences get overlooked because of that exact problem and because some companies don’t see it as a worthy investment

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:27
I think it’s up to the airline to ensure that the employees have tools that they need to work efficiently

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:27
But unless they build it themselves, it becomes the responsibility of the software provider to make the reservation system a good experience

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:28
And they aren’t always in sync

 

melissa_eggleston
2016-11-16 00:28
But ultimately it falls back on the airline who hires the software provider. It’s their employees.

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:28
Yep, fair enough. also, hey melissa!

 

melissa_eggleston
2016-11-16 00:29
hey friend!

 

desertcoder
2016-11-16 00:29
@amandastockwell : Question – do you follow a tried-and-true Strategic Plan when working with your clients?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:29
That scenario I just described isn’t ideal, but often the overall company feels they can wash their hands of it if they hire an outside firm

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:29
On the strategic plan – it totally depends! A lot of my clients are interested in my experience with Agile and Lean

 

matthewkast
2016-11-16 00:29

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:30
which means that built into any and all plans are plans to iterate ha

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:30
I’m not dogmatic about plans though. I find that flexibility serves me and my clients better

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:30
When they wash hands of.., And that’s where the CEO or decision makers play the role of designer or strategist

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:31
@desertcoder did that answer your question?

 

desertcoder
2016-11-16 00:32
@amandastockwell : I’m trying to understand what steps are used to help clients strategize on a new product.

 

holliedoar
2016-11-16 00:32
Do you have any advice for breaking companies out of a cycle/thinking about engaging with their customers mainly through campaigns? (I work in a creative/advertising agency so getting people to look at a bigger picture can be a bit of a challenge)

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:33
ah ok. So, I do have a suggestion for that. I like to use a handful of tools that come from Lean Startup and Lean UX movements – I have a template that I use to help new product definition that includes doing proto-personas, assumption mapping, and hypthesis forming

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:34
But I still never make much of a long term plan because the whole think about lean startup thinking is that you define your biggest, riskiest assumption, figure out a way to test it, and then reassess

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:35
In terms of the the creative/advertising – that’s a tough nut to crack. Do you have ability to talk to the people working on the products/services you represent?

 

holliedoar
2016-11-16 00:35
most of the time, yes we do

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:37
Ok, so in that case, I’d recommend doing regular check-ins or design jams to make sure that the work you’re doing is in sync. I used to do this with an internal team of marketers, UI minded people, product responsible people, and researchers – every week or so we’d review what we were all working on, what personas each effort was serving, how it mapped to our overall business goals, and what we could share with each other that may be helpful

 

desertcoder
2016-11-16 00:37
Thanks, Amanda! That makes a lot of sense.

 

holliedoar
2016-11-16 00:38
We are doing that with a client currently and it’s proving quite successful. I think looking at larger business goals is a good suggestion, as I think our scope is currently seen as limited to our immediate task.

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:38
sure thing! there’s tons more reading on Lean Startup thinking if you’re interested. David Bland, Melissa Peri, and Laura Klein are the awesome ones off the top of my head

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:39
@holliedoar Yah it can definitely be hard, but one thing you could try is tracking your specific tasks to overall goals and proving out ROI when you can

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:39
when someone realizes that what you do makes/saves lots of money they usually start to include you on more and more :slightly_smiling_face:

 

holliedoar
2016-11-16 00:40
fingers crossed! thanks :slightly_smiling_face:

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:40
sure thing!

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:40
Now might be a good opening if someone else has a question!

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:41
Can you please specify some of the ‘strategies’ you have suggested in your real projects.

 

holliedoar
2016-11-16 00:41
I’d be interested in hearing more about your strategic approach as well :slightly_smiling_face:

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:42
sure – so as I mentioned, I always begin with an intro that is based on learning what my client is trying to do, what they know about their people already, and what their biggest issues/assumptions are

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:44
I typically use the following conversations/tools in those discussions; Vision statements, Headline workshops, Proto-persona workshop, User outcome assumption and business outcome assumptions mapping

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:44
the sailboat exercise

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:45
the pre mortem

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:45
Depending on where my clients are, we may leave that conversation in vastly different states

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:45
If they aren’t sure who is or could use/be involved with their systems, then I start with user research

 

jellybean
2016-11-16 00:46
What are headline workshops and the sail boat exercise?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:46
If they feel like they understand the people involved and their issues, we typically design an experiment to test those hypotheses

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:48
The headline workshop/exercise is an exercise to get all the stakeholders aligned on direction and overall impact – it’s super simple. You basically ask everyone to imagine that the product/service has launched and they need to write a newspaper headline for what they hope to accomplish

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:48
but sometimes it’s a bit easier for people to wrap their brain around rather than just “tell me your vision”

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:50
the sailboat exercise is similarly simple – you ask people to imagine that your product is a boat and you want to imagine the things that would help move you along in the right direction

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:50
that is the “wind in your sails”

 

bkesshav
2016-11-16 00:50
So is strategy limited only to understanding business goals, objectives and understanding User personas, needs? As a strategist can we recommend technologies and suggest to simplify the function and not just experiement with the form?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:50
and then you imagine the things that would slow you down, the currents

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:51
and the thing that would drown you – icebergs

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:51
It’s again, a way to visualize what success and failure look like

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:53
Good question – I think that strategy can definitely involve suggestions to function. Like maybe there doesn’t need to be an app for that. I think it can involve discussions on technology but in my mind, strategy is about defining the problems to solve and approaches to solve/figure it out, not necessarily about what the solution should look like

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:53
at least not at first

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:54
@jellybean i’m looking for a link with a good description of some of these tools – one sec

 

jellybean
2016-11-16 00:54
Thanks :slightly_smiling_face:

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:55

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:55
sure!

 

hawk
2016-11-16 00:55
Heads up that we have 5 mins left in this session everyone. If you have question, here is your chance…

 

canuckinluck
2016-11-16 00:56
Hi Amanda thanks for sharing with all of us today I’m a bit late to the party so I missed earlier posts but if this hasn’t come up yet can you share your top 5 reads for leading strategic innovation within an org/for our clients?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:57
no worries! so I didn’t give specific reads but I’ll tell you some people I like to follow – Melissa Peri, Laura Klein, and David Bland – I also love “validating product ideas’ by Tomer Sharon

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:57
each of the people I mentioned has vast amounts of awesome resources

 

canuckinluck
2016-11-16 00:57
brilliant, thanks heaps

 

rob
2016-11-16 00:58
Piggy backing on @canuckinluck if you could pick one book on leading strategy workshops, which would it be?

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 00:59
hmm.. i don’t know that there are any books I love specifically on that topic, but Laura Klein’s UX for Lean Startups discusses a lot of the tactics I use and is a great read

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 01:00
it’s not specifically about strategy workshops though. If I think of any that are particularly good I”ll pass on!

 

hawk
2016-11-16 01:01
Thanks Amanda. Perhaps if something comes to mind later you could post it in your follow up topic here http://community.uxmastery.com/t/why-ux-and-strategy-are-inseparable-with-amanda-stockwell/2365

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 01:01
Sure!

 

hawk
2016-11-16 01:01
And on that note, I think we’ll call that a wrap!

 

desertcoder
2016-11-16 01:01
Thanks, Hawk and Amanda!

 

hawk
2016-11-16 01:01
Thanks so much for your time Amanda – and to those of you that joined us. :slightly_smiling_face:

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 01:01
Thanks everyone!

 

melissa_eggleston
2016-11-16 01:01
Thank you, Amanda!

 

philsmithson
2016-11-16 01:01
Thank you!

 

lynne
2016-11-16 01:02
Thanks Amanda and Hawk!

 

hawk
2016-11-16 01:02
I’ll post a transcript up on our site tomorrow in case you want to check back over what went down

 

holliedoar
2016-11-16 01:02
tahnks!

 

canuckinluck
2016-11-16 01:02
Cheers Amanda and thanks as always Hawk for organising

 

amandastockwell
2016-11-16 01:02
Feel free to follow up if more questions arise!

 

 

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Sarah Hawk
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