What strategy, products and services would grow the economy of shared services?
Good Local is a startup determined to make it easier for people to share and trade locally. It’s run passionately by Ben Pecotich who also runs UX & startup consultancy Dynamic4.
Ben had thoroughly researched this philosophically complex project but did not know what products and services his startup could offer consumers to grow the adoption of shared services into a movement.
What are shared services?
Shared services are ones like Uber and libraries that reduce the footprint on the environment by increasing our access to goods and services as an alternative to owning things, like cars and books.
Team & Client Relationship
Together with the awesome UX & Graphic Designer Ngaire West, I identified the problem, growth strategies, designed 6 concept services and designed 2 MVP’s. All in a space of 2.5 weeks, meeting Ben to reflect and test our riskiest assumptions every 2nd day.
- Identified personas to interview, in autobiographies.
- Surveys to find users and perceptions.
- Journey maps to find service touchpoints.
- Hook model to discover customer retention.
- Contextual enquiries and interviews.
- Prototyping to test barriers, messaging and traction.
MVP’s to test traction
A strategy for creating an online aggregator of business partners that captured customers during life-changing moments and conveniently supported their journey of learning new lifestyle skills, with each of their own cross-channel experiences.
Discovery of 6 key industry areas that showed signs of strong traction from engaging parents in children's homework to triggering lifestyle changes when people begin moving house.
- Defining the meaning of "convenience" produces a series of hooks to gain traction with the resistant majority.
- Because this project required us to understand the public’s thinking and how to shift it en masse, getting semantics right was sometimes half the battle and key to clarifying the domain and our strategy.
- At the beginning of most projects you just want to collect as much data as fast as possible so that you have something to pivot from and begin asking what the real question and approach is for the remainder of the project or sprint. For that reason it’s best to stick with tried and tested ethnographic research tools. Inventing new research methods and design philosophies and tools is easiest done after you have reached the point of asking good questions and pivoting.
Our Research Question
Ben didn’t know what would motivate people to adopt share services. So we agreed to research what the barriers and scalable motivators were to increasing the awareness and adoption and shared services.
How & Why We Collected Specific Information
- Exploring the wide landscape of sharing services to identify value propositions in the marketplace that would help us spot who we needed to interview.
- Secondary research of blogs, and particularly autobiographical how-to-guide books to understand the thinking and personal growth of experts, the different personas they grew to become along their journey, and the Dream they pursued.
- Surveys to understand possible misconceptions about the vague field of “shared services” and find out where to locate people we could interview in the field (in their natural surroundings of enjoying a minimalist lifestyle).
- We discovered that most people we could interview were shopping at farmers markets where they accessed the widest range of other shared services, but that many people weren't aware they engaged "shared services" because it was a misleading term. (See the graphs and our reasoning in detail.)
- Interviews to validate and develop personas and their needs, their Dreams (the value propositions) and their Dream Continuum.
- Contextual enquiries to experience firsthand the motivators and barriers from the most obstinate and resistant potential customers’ own perspective. Ngaire ordered online and consumed with test subjects a meal prepared by a home cook that arrived cold, something the resistant majority in the room attested they would never have tried.
As Ngaire and I affinity mapped behavioural patterns from our data, what stood out most was:
How We Spotted Opportunities Worth Addressing.
Expanding the definition of "convenience helped us see how important it was that a solution be context sensitive to effectively curate which types of convenience the customer wanted to experience in the moment. (See the complete list in depth in this sketch.) Refocusing on our agreed brief, we also parsed all insights into specific "motivators" and "barriers".
In the process, it was clear to me how motivators and barriers are both states of great flux and rigidity to work with and circumvent, but also opportunities and problems worth seizing and solving. I recognised that in reflecting on the Frame Innovation process used by the Design Innovation Centre at University of Technology, Sydney.
So we translated the most valuable motivators and barriers we could transform into a solution and movement with, into "How Might We" questions.
Mapping the Customer's Journey & Personas
Our interviews proved the autobiographies and how-to blogs on minimalist living to be right about what the journey (The Dream Continuum) was for the person who we called The Expert because they had made the full lifestyle transformation enough to reengage the community with their expertise.
I drew this simplified graph of their experience and played around with labeling the axis differently till it became clear they had evolved to become 3 personas that we were able to target separately.
The Expert's Dream
To (re)gain more independence from learning new skills that lead to becoming ever more self-reliant to the point that they can exhibit their abilities and express it in their own unique way, and feel proud of their lifestyle and even an identity as one who defies the mainstream system.
The Dream is that elusive picture of "what life will be like once I begin experimenting and I have mastered that new skill / ability."
The Expert's Dream Continuum
Always adapting to situations by choosing to consider alternatives that enable them to learn a new skill. As always in the Dream Continuum, the discovery process of learning something new is vital to planing the next exercise and editing the dream to keep it elusive. Often friends and their community triggered the desire to try something new.
Because we lacked the data to identify the Dream and the Dream Continuum for the remaining two personas, we used The Hook Model's stages of development to discover and map their journey alongside the expert's Dream continuum.
The point was also to show Ben how he could truncate the process of what could take many years or decades, into 9 months. The gaps in the journey map also showed which psychological triggers still needed to be found.
To build the 2 personas' experiences complete with highlights and pain points, we mapped the How Might We questions across the stages. This also helped to further validate the Expert's Dream Continuum.
They were the most resistant to change, and in the absence of change being forced upon them, it was their more open minded friends who provided the trigger for them to experience sharing an alternative experience to their usual (which we learned most from our contextual inquiry). Because convenience appealed to them most, offering them useful alternatives at the exact moment of choosing products and services, was essential to appealing to those Doubters who were less risk averse.
They enjoyed learning new skills that increased their quality of life and reduced cost of living. Dabblers also enjoyed discovering new experiences that temporarily enriched their lifestyle. They relied on several triggers to reappear in their life to keep coming back to a lifestyle involving shared services. They often stated being 50% into buying second hand. Personalisation and diversity of local experiences to tempt them was key. A powerful motivator was leveraging involving parents in seemingly effortless ways in their children's homework.
They exclaimed being 100% into buying 2nd hand, and were proud of all that they learned and how they expressed their way of living minimalist in their own unique way. Experts in what they did, they were giving back to the community through their services and products they learned to make by hand. Their journey had often begun with the shock of re-evaluating their financial position, often either due to retirement or moving house and looking at all the stuff they accumulated and deciding to drastically reduce their belongings, or moving out for the first time with little money. Offering them access to means of living well with less is by partnering up with services they are traditional likely to reach out for at the pivotal moment of change is key to achieving traction.
Example: The "Bike Guy"
The first time he moved out of home, is when he realised he could not afford his mother's lifestyle of accumulating new furnishings. With very little money, he turned to start buying 2nd hand clothes. He grew to become a connoisseur of 2nd hand, to the point of only buying 2nd hand and pointing out proudly how he selectively where he made holes in his pants to match the shirt. Typical of an Expert's Dream Continuum involving discovery of a self-guided learning opportunity, he also proudly bought a 2nd hand bike for $60 that was once worth $1000 and used that as an opportunity to learn how to restore it to an excellent condition. He gave back to the community selling his own bikes and knowledge at farmers markets.
Ngaire and I then responded to each How Might We question (time-boxed to 5min / question) to come up 151 concepts. (See closeups of these 151 ideas.) We then tested the ideas by grouping them into ecosystems of products and services that aimed to support the personas in their moment of changing their lifestyle or simply being offered an alternative experience.
The most successful of these ecosystems grew into a type of "choose your own adventure" epic stories to test their effectiveness in driving traction with customers and their retention through a slow, incremental process of converting them to a new lifestyle.
Through a last round of interviews to test the ecosystems and their stories, we shared with Ben our strategies for how to get started and grow with 6 of the ecosystems and stories most likely to drive traction and help customers improve & convert their lifestyles. (See all the ecosystem concepts.)
And because our interviews with preschool directors showed there was a near 100% success rate possible with triggering lifestyle changes by involving parents in their children's homework (if done in a certain way), we prepared two MVP's (in the form of educational programs) as an A&B test to run in partnership with a local preschool we established. Test A being the change agent and B being the normal, to help Ben measure the impact.
We then brought to life the new world of each persona and how they engaged the products and services in:
- Habit changes at home: The making of an Expert.
- Retail experiences for Dabblers.
- Personal recommendations for Doubters.
Habit changes at home: The making of an Expert.
Leveraging the insight that moving house commonly triggered people to reflect on all the stuff they accumulated and to re-evaluate their future finances and lifestyle, Good Local could gain traction by partnering with companies who are present and able to provide alternative services:
- A door knocking service, offering you labels to rate your emotional attachment to objects prior to considering moving.
- A mortgage lender that shows what you how much more you can get done for same renovation budget if you bought 2nd hand, and then show you access to the stores.
- A “life coach” that connects you to a wider network of services that support your life transition.
- A removalist who charges less, the less furnishings you keep, and drops the remaining items off for 2nd hand sales.
- An opportunity to rent & trial living a minimalist lifestyle for minimum 3 months in an eco—friendly house with the newest design, before you buy your new house. This lets you experience how living sustainably and with less increases your quality of life.
- And if you’re convinced and converted, the purchase of a tiny house.
Retail experiences for Dabblers.
- An accreditation for business that support customers with skills and knowledge training, products and services to the customers.
- A customer loyalty program leveraging personalisation and reuse, such as a whisky bar that keeps your glass or refills your bottle.
- Mobile grower, maker, repairer districts known for their skills and educational demonstrations like medieval times.
Personal recommendations for Doubters.
An online aggregator of products and services curates alternatives to your normal choices, and then remembers your experiences to fine tune your offerings each time thereafter.
When we think of Shared Services, most jump to the conclusion of it involving an online aggregator. In order for Good Local to be an aggregator, it needed the support of an ecosystem of products and services that supported people:
- At times of great change by offering access to alternative experiences that were educational and more sustainable ways of consuming.
- By supporting their journey of making incremental improvements and letting people experience that living sustainably can increase their quality of life.