Isaac Perez Moncho was at the National DevOps Conference 2021 at the British Museum two weeks ago and gave a talk on how to design thinking tools to boost your DevOps journey. Here is the first part of this conference:
The following is the story of William Blacksmith, a medieval toolmaker.
Will works to make tools for the kingdom’s shoemakers. You may think that making tools for shoemakers is not worth describing; however, in this realm shoes are a sure way to influence the royal court. The king loves his sneakers.
As a kingdom’s influential sector enabler, Will wants to improve his tools to increase the impact of his clients. He is very curious and loves to try new things all the time. When he hears complaints from shoemakers about the age of their tools, Will begins to think about how to create a new generation of tools for his customers.
What if I ask the shoemakers about the tools we make for them?
No one in the kingdom has ever asked a customer what they think of the tools they are using. Will isn’t quite sure the shoemakers will be very collaborative. He begins to think about the questions to ask the shoemakers, and after a while he suggests the following three:
Would you recommend our tools to the shoemakers in our neighboring kingdom?
What would you keep of our tools?
What would you change?
Will thinks these three questions are a good start because they give him feedback, while not taking the shoemakers much time. This should translate into a good response rate. He still has a problem.
Dance season is about to begin, and he and the shoemakers are very busy. He can’t spend two days visiting each of his clients in person. What can he do? He has a double chance; not only has a printing house opened next door, but he and all his customers can read and write! Unlikely at this time, but very convenient for me and my story.
He decides to print the three questions, send his apprentice to deliver them to all his clients, and tell them that he will come back a week later to collect the answers. Will is amazed at the answers and suggestions for improving the tools. Some are very simple, but they hadn’t been thought of before. Something unexpected also happened; some shoemakers left comments on the sides of the pages thanking him for giving them a way to voice their concerns.
Encouraged by the responses, he looks forward to getting better feedback and building a better relationship with the shoemakers.
What if I went in person to watch the shoemakers use their tools?
Will’s head is spinning trying to find better ways to improve his tools. With his experience, direct observation and dialogue with users, the quality of feedback would increase considerably.
Now he has a problem, who is he going to visit to do that? He has too many clients and it will take too long to visit them all. He decides to start with the shoemakers who left thanks in the previous questions and with whom he has a better relationship. Will settles for three clients, sending his apprentice to ask these clients for a good time to spend an hour observing some of their processes.
The visits are revealing:
“Why are you using this tool like that?” It is meant to be used that way.
“We know, Will. But if you use it as intended, it takes too long to cut the leather.
“What? Did you install it three hours ago?”
“Yes, Will, the tool and the sole have to sit for three hours before they can be assembled. “
Will is mind blowing – if he knew about emojis, he would use one now. Many of his preconceptions about how tools were used were rendered unnecessary. He’s back in his workshop, full of ideas to improve his tools.
After successfully getting ideas from others, Will decides that before he starts taking on some of the bigger challenges, he is going to work with his clients.
What if I invite a few shoemakers here to my workshop and we discuss together how to overcome a challenge?
He prepares food, wine and a few small square pieces of parchment. When everyone arrives, Will presents them with a problem that some shoemakers have encountered and asks everyone for ideas.
After several ideas have been discarded, a few promising ones emerge. Will tells the shoemakers that he will start making prototype tools for this challenge, and he will send them out so they can try out the prototypes. Everyone is so excited that they keep on drinking, eating and talking about tools and ways to solve future problems.
We’re not blacksmiths, we don’t make tools for shoemakers, and most of the time we’re not in the Middle Ages. However, we create tools and systems for expensive engineers, and we want to be proud of the tools we create for them.
In Part 2, we’ll learn how and when to use Will’s techniques, along with their modern names!
Article written by Isaac Perez Moncho, Head of Infrastructure at Lending Works