Roger Swannell

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How businesses deliver value to customers

Business 1

Customer: I’d like to buy a spade please.

Business: Ok, here’s a spade.

Customer: Thanks, bye.


Business 2

Customer: I’d like to buy a spade please.

Business: Why do you want a spade?

Customer: To dig a hole.

Business: Why do you want to dig a hole?

Customer: To set a post for a fence.

Business: Why do you want a fence.

Customer: To make my garden more secure.

Business: Why do you want your garden to be more secure?

Customer: So I can feel safer when I’m at home and protect my property.

Business: These are the products and services we provide: Spades, fencing panels, fence building service, tree planting service, CCTV installation, security patrols.

Customer: Wow, I’ll have…

Rory Sutherland: External Wisdom session

Advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception, rather than the product itself. Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value — and his conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.

Change behaviour by telling a story, make people perceive something differently.

Economics makes decisions based on fact. Works under the impression that people buy things they haven’t used because they know exactly what it is and what they will pay for it. Not true. We don’t have perfect information or perfect trust.

Today we see marketing as simply ”bought media” but that is just one arm of marketing. You have to look at it through a psychological lens.

Rory is a huge video call advocate. “If people delivered meetings at the speed they typed it would be a very long meeting”. Huge importance of face to face or Skype.

Brilliant efficiency doesn’t always need marketing budget – see TED talk for Eurostar case study.


Kings Cross Champagne bar example – “longest champagne bar in Europe” – moved a transport hub into a destination. Created value.

Virgin case study – first airline to introduce films in Economy and handed out choc ices at the start of the film – emotional efficiency.

BT case study – they knew from research people were annoyed about waiting in all day for an engineer but what were they really annoyed about. They had to take a day off work? No, the uncertainty of when someone was going to arrive. So BT text them when they were 40 mins away.

Christian Aid Week – 4 direct mail tests:

  1. Flap at the end of the envelope to return easier.
  2. Mentioned that it was dropped in by hand.
  3. Higher quality paper.
  4. Mentioned gift aid.

The first 3 all increased the response rate by 40%. The mention of Gift aid reduced the response rate by 35%. Learning – test everything.

KFC case study – one of their new products wasn’t selling well, so suggested they put the price up. It worked. Perceived value. Taste has a different psychological advocate, need to be able to perceive the trade off or they don’t trust it.

Weekly Update #138

What happened this week…

  • Set our roadmap for 19/20 and set Objectives and Key Results.
  • Answered defibrillator enquiries.
  • Met with the new CRO specialist to discuss visual testing on the Online Shop.
  • Chatted about making a chatbot for volunteers.
  • Finished document upload functionality on the Central Ordering site.
  • Received stock of our new leisure clothing.
  • Began thinking about how to build a ‘Defibrillator Advice Centre’.
  • Discussed how the Central Ordering Site will help with continuous improvements at CSC.
  • Discussed taking payments for House Clearance’s on the Online Shop.
  • Attended the Overherd talk on digital in charities.

Read this week…

Doing next week…

  • Training with CSC on the Central Ordering site.
  • Scoping the defibrillator buyers user journey with the content experience team.
  • Discussing the Ecommerce roadmap for the first quarter of 19/20.
  • Attending the Internet Retailing Expo.
  • Arranging for photography of the new clothing.
  • Writing marketing briefs for new products.
  • Setting up bundle products for defibrillators.
  • Collecting feedback from the Events teams to improve Tickets.
  • Updating our Terms & Conditions to include recommendations for defibrillators.

Interesting stat of the week…

  • Throughout March, 73% of users visited the site on mobile or tablet devices, and although spending less time than desktop users (1 min 17 secs for mobile against 2 min 06 secs for desktop), the bounce rate was considerable lower (30% for mobile against 44% for desktop). Desktop converts better (3.1% on desktop against 1.6% on mobile) and accounts for 59% or revenue.

In the not too distant future…

  • Reviewing our plan for selling furniture online.

Overherd: Making digital work for the not for profit sector

Notes from talks about digital from Samaritans, Water:Charity UK, War Child, and Crowe UK.


Sometimes digital happens by accident.

Always ask ‘why’ before starting a new project.

Should be using digital to make people’s lives better.

Not everything has to be done the way it’s always been done.

Challenges of achieving brand consistency on website and across social channels.

Rebuilding the website was undertaken in two phases. Phase one got the technical base in place, and phase two was design and content.

Content strategy evolved by accident but involved auditing the current content, learning about the audience, identifying measures of success, and creating toolkits and workflows.

Creating ‘toolkits’ helped people learn as they understood what the phrase meant and how it matched their expectations.

When creating the Toolkits, be aware that:

  • You are not the expert
  • You are not the user
  • You need to connect the two
  • It’s going to require some work
  • But it’ll be worth it

Toolkits involved:

  • Audience research
  • Key messaging
  • Writing for users & analytics guidance
  • Social media guidelines
  • Photography and image guidelines
  • Training sessions
  • Workflows
  • And lots of support


Mission is to reinvent charity.

Use digital to tell stories and solve problems.

Not talking about the charity but about the people who are helped.

Aim to do everything with excellence, we owe it to our supporters.

100% of donations go towards front-line services. Overheads are funded by a small number of high-value individuals and families.

Work with influencers and provide downloadable assets for them to use.

Challenges for digital is how to take what Charity:Water does and do it online.

First to do Birthday Pledges to ask people to make donations rather than buy gifts.

Add all projects to Google Maps to increase transparency.

Received a grant from Google to add sensors to pumps to monitor flow to show when and how pumps are being used, and detect and predict faults.

Digital brings the supporter closer to the impact their money has, it connects them to ‘someone like you’.

Just keep trying new things.

War Child

Digital at Warchild is made up of a Digital and Content Team,  a dedicated Gaming Team, digital skills in other teams, and a cross-organisational digital maturity team.

Challenges around showing beneficiaries: Accessibility, Representation, Complexity.

Constraints force you to think creatively.

When you can’t talk to service users you have to think differently about how to show the impact, e.g. Graphic novel and #EscapeRobot video.

Use longform content to digitise large pdf reports.

Sometimes people think that because something is digital that it needs to be new and cool.

Explore new spaces and opportunities.

Crowe UK

Cyber Fraud accounts for 54% of all crimes.

Crime has transitioned to online.

43% of organisations have suffered a breach. The others either haven’t found it yet or it’s happening this year.

There’s a strong relationship between online fraud and the dark web.

Online fraud isn’t about ripping off individuals, it’s about using individuals details to rip of businesses.

Most online fraud isn’t investigated because police forces don’t know how to handle crime that doesn’t occur in a single geographic region.


GiftBot – Our Product Management Training Project

As part of the Product Management training at General Assembly I worked with two other Product Managers to go through the product process of identifying a problem, doing user research to understand and define the problem, identify our riskiest assumptions and run an experiment to test it, create an MVP to test whether we can solve the customers problem, and iterate upon the feedback.

The Problem

Busy people forget or run out of time to buy gifts for friends and family.

Lean canvas

We used a Lean canvas to record our assumptions to help us identify the riskiest for validation.

GiftBot Lean Canvas


After undertaking research with 18 people we grouped their responses together to allow us to create personas.

GiftBot Personas


The first version of GiftBot:

This version received an NPS score of 5.9.

GiftBot after user testing received feedback that it wasn’t very friendly and returned too many results. This version scored 7.2.

GiftBot MVP


Final presentation

GiftBot Presentation

Weekly Update #137

What happened this week…

  • Answered defibrillator enquiries and processed orders.
  • Met with our defibrillator supplier and received product training.
  • Worked through changes and tested Central Ordering site.
  • Attended AX training.
  • Set up Blood Pressure Monitors in Magento.
  • Attended Product Management training.

Read this week…

Doing next week…

  • Team roadmapping for the next financial year.
  • Setting up Freshdesk for the Heart Helpline.
  • Discussing facilitating House Clearance payments.
  • Meeting with the new Conversion Rate Optimisation specialist.
  • Reviewing our data protection processes.
  • Discussing chatbots for volunteering.
  • Setting up London to Brighton clothing.
  • Reviewing samples for premium wedding place cards.
  • Testing bundle and grouped products in Magento.
  • Making changes to DefibBot to get ready to make it live.
  • Attending a talk on making digital work in the non-profit sector.

Interesting stat of the week…

  • Comparing defibrillator pages traffic for the last two weeks to the two weeks before that, PageViews increased 3.2%, Unique Visitors increased 5.6%, and Page value increased 99.5%

In the not too distant future…

  • Marketing for blood pressure monitors.

Variability and uniformity in designing systems for resilience

“Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, the ability to spring back into shape”

If this is the accepted definition of resilience then it’s not surprising that most resilience thinking is around getting things back to the steady state it was in before whatever shake-up occurred. It’s easy to see how traditional management techniques from a mechanistic worldview would assume that resilience in systems is best achieved by uniformity throughout the system, just as manufacturing ball bearings is improved by removing variation and the tolerance for variability.

I wonder if maybe we don’t want to ‘spring back into shape’ but instead form a different shape, evolve based on our response to the difficulties. From this idea I visualise five layers to a system that are organised by how much variability and uniformity is required to ensure the system is able to adapt to difficulties.

The top layer is for Individuals, it has the most variability and least uniformity, and allows the people in the system to be flexible, creative and solve complex problems in innovative ways.

The second layer is the Team. This is where we start to see some uniformity applied to things like roles and responsibilities but still have more variability to empower the team to change the ways they work with ease.

The third and middle layer is Process. Here there are equal amounts of variability and uniformity. There are standardised approaches to completing step-by-step processes but those processes are open to inspection and adaption. Given that there is an equal intersection of variability and uniformity, Process is where changes that affect the whole system can be made most easily.

The fourth layer is the Applications layer. This has greater uniformity with some variability expressed as fixed functionality in the application that can be used in a variety of ways.

The fifth and final layer is Data. This should be as uniform as possible with minimum variability, using a fixed architecture to . Variability down here prevents reliability and so should be avoided.

Thinking of system design from this intersecting scales of variability and uniformity helps to inform how we can build systems that are resilient to difficulties through being able to adapt to change rather than always seeking to return to a previous steady state, which doesn’t prepare the system for facing future difficulties.

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