Context is King when it comes to designing a Product, Service and Business that people love.

Let me put my content into the right context first!  So many people want to start their own business, innovate and achieve a sense of purpose in their life. It’s evident from not only the number of people who want to start a startup but also the big cheque companies which want to behave like a startup.

A bit more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four years and a record 80 companies were born every hour in The UK in 2016.

Performing pattern analysis over the success and the failure of these startups, one would find that it has always been the tactics deployed that lead to success rather than the strategy and religion of entrepreneurship or innovation. In a dynamic changing market of changing user needs and demands, the right tactics and business strategy always win over the religion.

Now, explaining context could be an easy thing to do in content creation, politics and foreign affairs etc but the same cannot be said when it comes to starting your own business and designing products and services that people love.

But what is CONTEXT  here?

It’s a critical part of understanding your customer and the market in general. The right context can hugely influence how you build your product or business.

Speaking of content in the right context: this is how an e-commerce company Shopify provides customer experience just after customers log out. In the end of the article, you would also find a process which will help you find the right context and the time to apply it.shopify

There is a hype that content is king and I too believe that content creation is the best way to market a product these days but content put in the wrong context is ineffective and vague. No amount of paid media or promotion can change a bad product or service into a good one. Hence, developing products and services that people love is even more important.

With the ever changing dynamics of the market, no matter the industry, Context has shifted its intent to the creation of meaning, leading to value creation for the customers. Nevertheless, every new product or business brings along a new set of problems and challenges in the lives of the people, creating a never ending vicious circle of customer expectations. Just observe the level of rising expectation of the customers around you as people use more and more of the products and services provided by Google, and AirBnb etc and then try to imagine whether whatever said above makes sense.

At the forefront this never ending vicious circle is the reason for the advent of new products and businesses, however, in the hindsight, it poses a big confusion for new entrepreneurs and big cheque companies in gauging customer demand and finding the right product market fit.

The confusion might creep in right at the starting of designing the product or at the time of the product launch as the dynamics of the market might have moved over to a new set of trends. Of course, there is an Agile way to product development and service creation, but my point here is that many entrepreneurs and even big cheque companies ultimately find that their product has failed.

When it comes to business and strategy the context can be found out by performing SWOT or PESTLE analysis or by more sophisticated models deployed by big consulting firms and taught in Business Schools. Some other forms of context in marketing and advertisements are the Intent context, the situational context and behavioural context. However, using them is not the means to an end.

The above methods lack the power of involving the “human factor” in the equation and thus most of the analysis’ results are almost a fluff.  If you remember a dreadful real-life case in the history US aviation, in which the pilot was accused of a flawed decision for landing his damaged plane in the Hudson river as depicted successfully by the movie SULLY”,  is a great example of an accusation based on flawed computer analysis that pressed upon the importance of the “human factor” in all future cases. Tom Hanks, I believe would do a better job than me in explaining you his exact experience.

Well, now what? A great way to find the right context and the human factor is Design Thinking. It is the key to finding the right context and real problems of the customer for your business’s and product’s success. I’m not selling the process just for the sake of it: Design thinking mixed with Agile and Lean Startup principles adds the means to the end; for the success of new products and services it is an important method for finding out the context – or in business context the “outside-in view” of the business. The right jargon: customer centricity.

Consider the example of Apple which has a refresh rate of 18 months for iPhones. You might think that Apple almost lags behind its competitors in terms of technology and innovation. However, they have evolved their business strategy by adapting their thinking along the lines of ecosystem design—which is basically designing and thinking about the integration of each innovation and change on the broader systems for an enriched and smooth customer experience. That must solidify the case for having a context to your solution building and business designing. Putting the context of competitive advantage to the same business strategy must have validated the rationale that Apple wants to make their customer dependent on their services and increase switching costs.

The main context here is what customer problem are you trying to solve but that too is not enough.

The Process:


Follow these key questions to find and understand the right Context:

  • In your particular field of interest, what are the key ideas/thinking the target segment/person has?
  • In your particular field of interest, what are the observations/highlights your target segment/person is making?
  • Regarding your particular field of interest, how do the target segment/person really feel? What underlying emotions are the drivers of their point of view and behavior?
  • What triggers activity in your field of interest? How often? For how long? How much money would be involved?

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Twitter: @samdarshnarang and Business Design Collective

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How to give your Service Design Projects more visibility: 5 Steps Measurement Mindset and Process-Part 1

Service Design, even though, being a valuable addition to the competitive strategy for the growth of an organisation, has struggled its way to prove its value in the business world; it has always been a challenge to define and justify the results of any service design solution to the stockholders in business.

Having attended several Service Design talks and meetups on the significance of Service Design in business, I have always witnessed a sad end when it comes to the evaluation of service design work. No efficient steps or framework for measurement have been devised which could then be applied by others.

Customer Experience has been a key area where service designing is really important. I would argue that both are different concepts, but that’s for some other time.

Keeping these challenges in mind and being a service creator, I have designed a process, which could help any organization device a framework for their service or business design efforts or solutions.

The process consists of a five step method to measure your service design efforts. This hopefully would serve as the key mindset for the companies to measure their design efforts output. The process has been well accepted by my colleagues who serve at leadership positions at various prestigious organisations and has been applied on projects in my previous experience: some modifications have been done keeping Service Design and Business Processes in mind.

Perform these steps in no specific order but it does makes sense to start from the first step.

Step 1: Ask the right questions:

Ask the questions that you want to measure on and achieve for your organisation as well as customer experience. (Think about matching value proposition of the company to the customer feedback that makes sense).

Step 2:Judge the usability of data: (Context is king here) as well as time relevance.

Think on the Business Goals to meet and the message that you want to convey to the end user. Make a mental note to keep the macro factors to impact in mind for e.g. the customer satisfaction rate, the social impact indicators: no of cancer patients who showed health improvement etc.

Step 3:  Categorise KPIs into buckets:

Form 3 buckets to list your measurement framework: value proposition perspective: business perspective: and impact perspective.

Value Perspective:

Off-course every other indicator plays an important part in providing value, however, the value proposition of the company can be termed into service as well as brand effectiveness. Factors to consider:Brand personality, Brand Value etc.

Business Perspective:

Qualitative: Behavioral Change Indicators: Emotions mapping etc.


  • Financial perspective: Financial rate of return(FROI) etc.
  • Marketing perspective: customer acquisition costs, market growth rate, Marketing rate of return(MROI), The 4 E’s of marketing (Experience, Everyplace, Exchange, & Evangelism).
    • Digital Impact(Marketing): No of Twitter posts, social media likes on Facebook, page visits, bounce rates, Customer Engagement,
  • Operational perspective: delivery in full on time rate, order fulfillment cycle time, Product quality score etc.
  • Customer perspective KPIs: Customer Acquisition, retention, and efficiency, Customer Satisfaction etc.

Impact Perspective:

This includes the bigger picture alignment. It is imperative to align measurement indicators with the bigger vision of the service or the customer experience and not just sales number and profit margin growth. Macro KPIs: Social Impact, Sustainability: Carbon footprint, Supply Chain Miles score etc.


Step 4: Measure on the designed framework for your project:

Tip: Don’t ask the customer what they want, they will never know exactly! Collect data based on the use of the service and measure.

Step 5:Re-iterate according to the customer feedback, business drivers and strategic goals to be achieved.

Visualise and match the KPIs as well as the result of the KPI measurement again on the value proposition (Step 1-Questions) and re-iterate the process and the KPI formulation in Step 2 & 3.




The tools are important in Service Designing but the mindset is equally important. Read what the Head of policy lab uk Andrea Siodmok has to say about it in her post “Why labs are as much about mindset as about tools” .

Data has played an important role in Service Designing previously in IT and there is an even greater need to include it in Service Design now. Something interesting running at policy labs on bringing data into policy making” – “Designing Data”.

If you noticed carefully that the term “Design” wasn’t anywhere in the measurement buckets and I reckon that to be a fair doubt. However, as somebody has said that design cannot be measured on one parameter; essentially, design is in the business case: its a form of strategy which can take any shape relevant to the context of the situation.

“Context is King” not Content and “Consistency” is the deity!

Finally,remember the five steps: Ask the right questions: Judge the usability of data: Categorize KPIs into buckets: Measure: Validate, and re-align.

How do you measure service design efforts output in your projects or company and what parts would you apply from the above process?

Corporate Cookie: Design Strategy

Design can help create corporate strategy. According to Gary Hamel, some 90 percent of strategy fails due to poor execution.” Excerpt From: Thomas Lockwood, Thomas Walton. “Building Design Strategy.”


A cup of Strategy with a pinch of Design!

A cup of Strategy with a pinch of Design!

I feel that Strategy is really about Design; Designing a set of responses to a given set of Opportunities.


[image from JISC InfoNet]

Continue reading “A cup of Strategy with a pinch of Design!”

The creative confidence in presentation | how much would you pay for this?


Normal ingredients, but great presentation. The market and the businesses dwells upon such creativity for both to grow, period. Seems synonymous with Apple’s selling strategy! Isn’t it? So how much would you pay for it?