6 tips to Create a Minimum Valuable service

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Ogunte CIC, the organisation for Women in Social Enterprise organised a think-do session in collaboration with Digital Science with an audience of women activists, social and tech-for-good entrepreneurs, to explore the ways we could put humans back into tech and create services that people really want and love to use.

To do so, we learned from a fab social tech entrepreneur and used a few tasters from the Design Sprint methodology.

Discover 6 learning insights from the session:

1. Listening is a golden skill

Participants organised themselves in small groups of up to 5 people. They first introduced themselves briefly by introducing the impact they were making or intended to make. They also identified the key hurdle they were facing, moving away from “power introductions” and creating a space of trust and empathy. It can prove difficult at time to provide exquisite listening to our peers. We think we know the topics. We’ve heard it all before. We filter event the quickest introductions.

To mitigate this, we encouraged people to sit with people outside their industry or at the fringe of their network, and be ready to challenge their perception.

2. Moving from product to service means acquiring a new mindset

Our guest Zoe Peden is someone who has always thought of business as being designed around humans rather than around technology.

She has won over 10 awards nationally and internationally for her work growing a speech and language product, MyChoicePad over the last 7 years. MyChoicePad uses Makaton symbols and signs to help people develop their communication skills, express themselves and make independent choices. Her current business, Iris Speaks, is in digital speech and language therapy, and is moving the delivery of certain areas of speech and language therapy towards utilising machine learning to make interventions more effective, shorter, but also cheaper to deliver, and therefore focusing on a bigger social impact.

When Zoe first launched her previous business MyChoicePad, she took a suitcase of iPads around schools in 2011. There were not many iPads around at the time! So she ended up selling the iPads and provided training to get people comfortable using touch screens. And they hadn’t even started using the product itself. Zoe says: “I had to become a service to sell my product.”

3. Demonstrate the change you are creating

“When we’d go out to sell MyChoicePad, we were able to talk about the number of downloads and active users to demonstrate to our stakeholders we were doing well,” says Zoe, “but it felt empty - we were not demonstrating how much change we were creating. So we went back to the drawing board and our Chief Speech and Language Therapist designed a way initially manually that enabled us to measure, from a baseline, the increase in language development we could make over a period of time. After gathering enough data we then baked this into the technology in order to measure the impact we were having. This was really valuable when it came to selling the service as we could actually explain the difference we would make to people, and how our customers could tell if it was working. We were able to measure our social impact digitally.

4. Your participants will teach you a thing or two

“Early on with MyChoicePad I was filming at a special college for a case study and I saw one of the students taking ownership of the iPad and showing one of the teaching assistants how it worked. When we designed the app we generally thought it was going to be the other way around. But then I saw a student teaching a teaching assistant how to do certain signs using MyChoicePad. This was brilliant and so empowering to see but we had not designed the trigger for someone with dexterity issues. So after seeing such a great thing, we went back to the drawing board and changed the trigger so it would be easier for other students to teach people?

5. Yes you can find treasure in the past

Back to their drawing board, participants delved into a quick “time machine” exercise around their “hurdles”, discussing how people in and outside organisations dealt with them, in the past, present and the future. The exercises forced them to look at systems bigger than they own, and move away from looking at just people and behaviours, but also keeping track of social, cultural, even religious trends, habits and beliefs, policies, environment, etc. The shift from silo to system was palpable.

6. There’s a wealth of good in reluctant users

Our final experiment focused on role playing and the teams got to interview one particular “user” on each table. We had moaners, risk-averse, politically abject and heavily stereotyped characters! The exercise challenged the participants to expect the unexpected and see their own projects in a totally new light. We never get enough of negative feedback in real life from kind-hearted users, do we?  

Finally Zoe Peden gave us her top 3 tips related to creating a minimum valuable service.

  1. Have a great copy - the way you can make people think and feel is so powerful. Be a great communicator
  2. Have a service that is easy to evaluate - design so you can demonstrate short-term impact. So get goals, whether it’s technology or non-tech services and demonstrate how those goals have been achieved. If a person can see the change early on, they are more likely to go back and try again.
  3. Build in a feedback mechanism. Whether it’s surveys, phone calls or widgets built into your tech like live chat, chat bots, you need to keep learning from your customers and helping them with what they need. Then they will become your champions and referrers.

Now, how do YOU create a minimum valuable service?

Discover more #ImpactWomen Interviews on our platform Ogunte.com

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WHAT IF YOU DESIGNED FOR HUMANS?

During our latest Ogunte brainy breakfast with the fabulous Futureheads Recruitment team, our guest speaker Clare Munday, and a lively group of Women in Social Enterprises and Technology, we explored practical ways to “design for humans, and we went away with valuable commitments.

This session was hosted and animated by

Why is it best to talk to humans before you design that app, or start to include technology in your service/product?

Here’s what people said about their issues:

Clare gave us a practical overview of the things to think about:

Next steps

As you continue to design further

It is not just about your service

Here are some useful additional resources:

Useit.com - Jacob Neilsen

UX archive - http://uxarchive.com/  

Design pattern libraries - Global Visual languages

http://www.bbc.co.uk/gel/

https://material.io/guidelines/

https://boagworld.com/design/pattern-library/

http://ui-patterns.com/

Everything UX

http://www.uxbooth.com/

https://www.webcredible.com/

http://52weeksofux.com/

http://uxmovement.com/

Universities and Business

http://www.ncub.co.uk/

Starting an e-commerce business

https://www.shopify.co.uk/blog/14459769-ecommerce-business-blueprint-how-to-build-launch-and-grow-a-profitable-online-store

Validating UX & ROI

https://usabilitymatters.com/10-stats-demonstrate-roi-ux/

https://www.experiencedynamics.com/blog/2014/07/making-strong-business-case-roi-ux-infographic

Lean research

https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/5-ideas-to-help-bring-lean-ux-into-your-research

http://www.leanresearch.co/

Find more useful articles for and by women in social enterprises on our regular blog.

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Steps to grow your sense of connectedness

Another year has passed and we still hear about the obstacles that we face, those we create, our fears, doubts, our unexpected successes…

And yes, sometimes, new pieces of work, successful tenders, collaborations, force us to let go of habits that made us comfortable…

Some of you also transition into new positions, new responsibilities.

Sometimes these transitions never really come or come unexpectedly.

And there are days, we find ourselves guilty of thinking we could drop it all, as the context seems to be more and more complex, difficult, and the news nasty.

At Ogunte, we encourage people to learn, practice and measure their efforts through 5 pillars:

Throughout a series of webinars with ImpactWomen, we are working through each of these pillars to co-design the triggers, ask ourselves the challenging questions, that enable us to make progress. Find the steps we followed below:

CONNECTEDNESS

In today’s session, our goal was to experiment growing a sense of connectedness, help participants gain some certainty in one particular domain, encourage them to do a tiny step forward, and commit to it.

Connectedness is not just networking or cold calling.

When you work on your sense of connectedness, you are able to:

Explore the following steps and create specific, succinct and bold answers.

1. Who are you in one tweet/sentence?

You can add your twitter handle and 1 sentence (140 characters max):

2. What does connectedness mean to you and how does it show up in your life? Give a couple of specific examples.

3. If you put yourself in 2030 (or a future date), and you turn back to the work you have accomplished these past years (between now and 2030), where and how have you been most suited to create change?

Tell a brief story of your accomplishment; add places, numbers, profiles, to paint a more specific “story”.

4. In an ideal world, - it might or might not be related to that particular vision - if you had 100% more of a sense of connectedness, what would be top 3 actions you feel you should set in motion?

For instance: If you are working on a movement of socially conscious retailers in a particular location, and you would like to develop your business supporting these people… Being connected would mean that you could:

a) organise meetups, working groups

b) understand / research how these retailers think

c) design a prototype service for these people, that they would test.

Now come up with 3 separate actions (not goals!)


PROCESS AND CONTENT

Sometimes, we are pretty clear on the long term end goal or vision, but the steps to take are quite fuzzy. What we found out is that fuzziness comes generally because we mix up content (what) and process (how).

Are your actions related to processes, or are they related to content?

Can your actions be broken down in separate processes and content?

THE BLOCKS

What has been getting in the way recently? (It could be something that you keep NOT DOING.)

For instance: if you feel that you have tendencies to be perfectionist, it might mean that the work doesn’t get finished, or completed or delivered, or shipped. So in this context the issue that gets in the way is: the work doesn’t get shipped or delivered. You are preventing the work to get out to a place where it is out of your control!

THE GRID

Test your behaviour or your objective using the grid:

This questioning process is about stretching your brain to explore all the reasons why you do or don’t complete the tasks; and what happens or not along the way.

You can also use the grid to test a small-size objective (don’t make it too big!) to capture ideas or feeling that would have been otherwise discarded…

Purpose: Doing so helps you connect your thinking with your actions.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Finally, now that you have articulated an objective, committed to a couple of actions, and tested your readiness to complete them, who would you like to hold you accountable for this?

One trick: it cannot be yourself!

CASE-STUDY

One of our participants is a digital communications consultant who works specifically for ethical entrepreneurs, helping them to amplify their work.

What’s in the way?

She has not yet decided in which direction she wants to develop her business now that she has more time to dedicate to it.

Her unique action forward

She thinks she could expand her connections with ethical entrepreneurs and better understand their digital communications needs, capacities and budgets.

This action can be broken down into 2 steps: process and content.

In the “process” section, our consultant will explore all the way to get in touch and start talking with ethical entrepreneurs.

In the “content” section, she will look into mapping then turning the information collected into an interesting offer.

Her follow up actions could be:

Designing ahead with the follow-up actions in mind

When you have a specific objective, start jotting some actions, and connected steps, on a timeline.

Be clear about how each action leads to the following: action 4 leads to action 5 and action 5 leads to action 6, etc…

Play that timeline in reverse, like a film…

If you want xyz type of results in action 4, what needs to have happened in action 3?

For our digital communications consultant, whilst having the conversations about needs, budgets, she should figure out HOW she wants to collect the information and WHAT she will want to do with it.

A specific statement/question will help her design better steps. For instance:

“Assuming I can get valuable budget and needs and objectives of my prospective clients, how can I design the survey/conversation so that I can get people thinking about their purpose, but importantly about co-designing and testing a prototype with me, amplifying their work?”

Doing so will help our consultant SHAPE the conversation in a way that is useful to her, and connected to her objective.

BUT … all of the above is not going to be helpful if she hasn’t first asked herself some questions about the kind of business she wants and how she wants to help her participants!

She will need to test her original vision and her own personal feeling about it, using the grid.

If she happens to have various ideas on how to amplify ethical entrepreneurs, the insights generated during the exercises will help her prioritize, merge or discard some of these ideas. It might be that she will get insights about the type of entrepreneurs she wants to help as well.

If she has some doubts on the nature of that business itself, it will emerge during the grid.

FIND OTHER COACHING EXERCISES:

Use 5 pillars coaching sheets 

GET INDIVIDUAL COACHING SESSIONS:

Grab one here

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African Diaspora Women pushing boundaries in Tech For Good

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By Katharina Neureiter

Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. Yet, women are often ‘invisible’ in mainstream tech conversations, for instance eight out of ten companies profiled on the FT Tech Founder podcast are started by men. The fact that only 2.19% of global venture capital goes to women-led startups, and only 0.1% of that goes to startups led by black female founders, show how dire the situation in the global tech space is. Yet, there are plenty of women who beat the odds and are building incredible companies out of a desire to use technology to solve fundamental problems.

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Eunice Baguma-Ball has set out to do something about this. As a tech founder herself, she has experienced many of the institutional barriers that female entrepreneurs face around the world.

Her latest project is the Founding Women project, a book that interviews female trailblazers to inspire the next generation of female tech founders. Below are three examples of CEOs profiled in the book that are pushing the boundaries on how technology can change lives for the better:

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Temie Giwa-Tubosun - Connecting hospitals with blood donors

The idea to start a business in the healthcare sector came to Temie after she gave birth to a baby girl in a hospital in the US. Her daughter came seven weeks early and the birth was difficult. Originally hailing from Nigeria, Temie realised that chances would have been very high that neither she nor her daughter would have survived the delivery in Nigeria. The country has a high maternal mortality rate— 814 deaths per 100,000 live births. The need for blood is urgent - not just for mothers. Only 43 percent of the 185,000 pints of blood required each year are collected; this shortage means that efficiently getting the available plasma from blood banks to needy patients is crucial. To address this need, Giwa-Tubosun launched LifeBank, an e-health app connecting blood banks with hospitals in Nigeria in December 2015. So far, the company has moved more than 800 pints between blood banks and hospitals. Giwa-Tubosun says LifeBank aims to move 9,000 pints in 2017 - this also impressed Mark Zuckerberg who met with Temie last year during his Nigeria trip.

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Jessica Matthews - A light-generating soccer ball

Whilst still in college, Jessica Matthews and co-founder Julia Silverman started Uncharted Play as part of a class assignment. The assignment grew into a multi-million dollar business. Unchartered Play is a solution to produce clean energy through toys. The flagship product, Soccket, is a soccer ball that powers a small, attachable LED light for three hours after only 30 minutes of playing soccer, providing children a reading light with which to do their homework after dark. In 2016, Matthews raised $7 million in Series A funding with the company valued at $57 million. TechCrunch reported that this made Matthews the 13th black female founder to have raised more than $1 million in funding.

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Lilian Makoi - Providing health insurance for low income patients

For the 50 million Tanzanians with no health insurance a doctor’s bill of as little as $25 dollars can mean financial ruin. This often prevents families from seeking treatment with sometimes fatal consequences. Lilian Makoi set out to change this situation and started a mobile health insurance business where the cheapest policy is available for a minimum of $1dollar per day and works cashless on a smart-phone. Her start-up has taken off after she was admitted to the Barclay’s/Techstars Accelerator programme and able to expand with $750,000 seed funding raised. She says: “The Barclays Accelerator equipped us with the required business design, management and growth skills we badly needed. Through the program we gained amazing connections and introductions that become investors and mentors.

These stories show that if technology is to truly fulfil its potential as a catalyst, then women must be included at the forefront of developing the solutions. Eunice Baguma-Ball has therefore launched #HerFutureAfrica, an entrepreneurship skills accelerator for African female entrepreneurs in Accra, Ghana.

The Founding Women book supports the next accelerator and helps to build a pipeline of tech talent to solve the world’s big and small problems. Head to the crowdfunding page to support the #HerFutureAfrica accelerator and secure one of the books with inspiring stories of founders that ‘made it’ and their tips on how to get there.

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Why We All Need a Sense of Connectedness

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By Servane Mouazan 

“There is nothing more negligent than attempting to address a problem one finds on a branch than by censoring the leaves.” 

Saul Williams

I was asked one day: why do you talk about a “sense of connectedness”? Isn’t it about your networking skills? Get good contacts for your business, know when and where to show up, and grow your business with all the knowledge, the wisdom and the opportunities you have gathered?

There’s that… and much more.

In 2008, a talk I attended in London during International Women’s Rights Day totally shifted my views. The guest was Angela Davis, the human rights and political activist, a professor in philosophy, and the founder of Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex.

Back in the 70s, as a leader of Communist Party in the USA and the Black Panthers Party, she was branded a terrorist and was sent to jail, for being allegedly associated with a crime. Her friends and supporters did manage to keep her campaign in the limelight, and worked tirelessly through hundreds of committees in the US and abroad to get her released. This fight became an important milestone in the fight against racism, which is sadly still largely unresolved.  

Why did she touch me?

Something in particular caught my attention. When Diane Abbott MP, who interviewed her, asked her: “What kept you going all this time?” She said: “Remember I wasn’t the one demonstrating on the streets, I was behind bars. What kept me going is knowing that I was connected. What kept me going, is that our message was out there. What kept me going is that sense of connectedness”.

The penny dropped. Despite all the tireless Angela Davises in the world, we still have to fight so many campaigns today, injustices, the regression of civil liberties, the mis-distribution of wealth, the persistent racism, sexism, the consistent pillage of resources and the list goes on… But I understand that if you combat these issues separately, without understanding systems and connections, you end up like King Sisyphus endlessly rolling a huge boulder up a steep hill, letting it roll down, and start all over again. Not worth the back pain.

What do you learn from this and why is it important in your day-to-day practice?

Growing a sense of connectedness is an act of bravery, humility, and generosity.

Growing a sense of connectedness is about letting go of your intentions to fix things straight away.

I am hearing: “How do you measure connectedness?”

Make a rough start by defining the way you interact with people and how you build relationships to achieve mutual goals.

But don’t go yet. That was the easy part.

Here’s what I learned from Dr Davis:

  1. When you work to solve a social issue, you have to understand the complexity of that ecosystem.  Remember that you are often seeing an issue through your own internal filters. And as good willed as we might be, we are all heavily biased.
  2. The minute your campaign gets out there, any people involved closely or remotely, will carry the message based on how it resonates with them. The campaign, the cause, doesn’t belong to you anymore. (A bit like an art work, when it is out there, you have to accept that its meaning, and interpretation, is not locked and cast in stone.)
  3. Immerse yourself: invest some time in exploring the problem you are trying to resolve. Start by shadowing as many people in their environment as you can. Listen to them, read about their issue. Investigate the issue without interfering, without judging, without blaming. And if you are touched by the problem, seek support to deconstruct and articulate the circumstances you are in. It can be a non-judgmental friend, a coach, a mentor or a therapist if you can afford/access one.
  4. Practice great questioning: open questions, non-judgmental questions, silence! This is where your coaching skills can be very valuable!
  5. At every step of the way, you have to accept that your biases and your background are heavily filtering your understanding of the situation. You will NEVER know how it feels to be homeless, unless you have been homeless. You will never know how it feels to be attacked, until you have been attacked. You will never know how humiliating it can be to be given charity, until you have been in a situation of mental or physical deprivation. And these are only a few examples.
  6. Growing a sense of connectedness is accepting that you don’t know and being in a perpetual mode of searching, challenging black and white solutions, or half-baked study headlines. It is about accepting that solutions are never perfect and the closest they can be to perfect is limited by time and space. However growing your empathy is a key to reach better connectedness. Listen to Brene Brown explaining her definition of empathy.
  7. A sense of connectedness is seeing patterns and relationships before they even take place or where they might have been “misplaced”. It’s being pulled by the final desired outcomes and capturing the tiniest details that can trigger the wildest change! Cassi Robinson, co founder of The Point People, explains it beautifully here in an article about the “networked mindset”.
  8. It is about opening yourself to your deepest vulnerabilities and starting from ground zero. (Read how I did it here, page 26-27) Can you look into the mirror and say: how about I start doing what I am preaching? How about I practice self-care in a way that will make me less of a jerk with others, less misaligned, less fed up, or less overwhelmed? How about I start to be more like the person I want people to enjoy being with and learning from. How about I get things done in a way that is good enough and inclusive enough, and totally connected with the rest (including me)?

And finally, how about knocking on your neighbours’ door?

How Ogunte can work with you around connectedness

We help women in social enterprises map and understand the complexity of their ecosystem, form quality and relevant knowledge, and power networks, and address personal sense of connectedness along the way.

For more support

Follow our series on 5 pillars of support to equip social entrepreneurs for tough times. Have a look at our articles on growth of confidence , sense of learning, sustainability, and leadership.

Contact us to trial a Thinking Booster or team coaching to explore how to grow your sense of connectedness.

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