A story of user centric mindset

In my last blog, I discussed the importance of mindset. Here I want to share an anecdote from one of our recent projects. It demonstrates much of this mindset and illustrates the importance of many of the aspects I outlined.

Nick and Adrian are Cameramen (Directors of Photography to give them their official titles!). They work in film and TV from drama to film to reality TV and have won awards for their productions. The film industry is quite unusual. The crew of a production are a group of freelancers who come together for filming before going their separate ways. So it is an industry of individuals that have to quickly become a high functioning team that delivers the creative vision of the writer and director. This causes significant challenges, and the key that Nick and Adrian spotted was the lack of modern tech.

A particular bugbear of Adrian and Nick was the outdated software they use to plan their shots. Where will the actors be, how will they move, where can the cameras go etc. The solution they had was old, clunky, buggy and difficult to use. A SaaS solution seemed an obvious antidote. Modern design and technology could provide a better service to the industry.

The people in Adrian and Nick circle agreed; they wanted a modern solution. Something easy to use, and they were getting supportive noises coming from their friends.

When Oxogen came on board, there was a clear picture of the product, but we were less sure. Not because we doubted Adrian and Nick, but instead, we saw no significant evidence yet. We were outsiders to the industry, and so had a fresh perspective that needed more proof. What is more, it was solution first, a direct replacement to something that had come before. Was this going to solve problems for the users? So rather than forge ahead anyway, we set out to validate the concept.

In an ideal world, we would have undertaken observations and in-person interviews, but with the realities of a lockdown etc., this was not possible. Instead, we collected evidence through diary and remote interviews. We had the advantage of being impartial, taking a structured best practice approach and having fresh eyes on the sector. The key to this was looking at the broader context than Adrian and Nick had done previously. If we had focused purely on the concept, we would not have had such a beneficial insight, one that changed the course of the venture. We set out to understand the broader context of the targeted users, and this unlocked new, exciting opportunities.

Throughout our research, we heard, again and again, people say the same thing.

"I would like a better shot planner" - that's great, hardly a ringing endorsement, though. We could see why Adrian and Nick had considered this a good idea. There was a genuine interest but not backed with emotion or conviction. It was nice to have. Something that would make their lives a little better but not fundamentally change them. Would that be enough for a business?

We looked again at the evidence we gathered, and something jumped out at us. Every single person was f'ing and blinding about the same thing (we, unfortunately, cannot tell you what yet! you will have to watch this space.) There was a huge frustration, so much aggravation that this was something they had to put up within their job. What is more, it is something that can be solved.

That is where the journey is now taking Adrian and Nick - they are solving a real need in the film industry. Something that can revolutionise the lives of crew across the UK and the world. It is really exciting, and I cannot wait to see it develop and become a reality.

A tremendous amount of credit must go to Nick and Adrian. They have not fixated on their original idea. They have let new information lead them. Focusing on solving people's problems and having an agile mindset has allowed them to progress in a very positive direction. Had they remained fixed in their idea, I fear they would have sunk a large amount of money into a white elephant, a product that would have gone nowhere. As it was, we have identified and followed a new route that has a more robust business case, more impact on the audience and is easier to implement. What a win!

woman using loud hailer

do you agree?