Tools and approaches

Same problems - different tools

We use a range of tools and approaches in our work with clients. This growing library contains some of them that we find particularly helpful and have used on multiple occasions. As ever, we build on the work of others, crediting them when we do so!

Big Reveal example

Big Reveal

Sometimes, when you’re working on things together online, you want to be able to write things down in a shared space without everyone else being able to see what you’re doing. We’ve learned a trick from our friends at Outlandish to help with this, whether you’re doing a project retrospective, or trying to come up with some ideas for a new initiative.

Illustrations of personas

Defining the Cast

Too often we do things to our users and people our organisations exist to serve. Instead, we should be doing things with them or on their behalf. One way of ensuring that this is the case is to try, as much as is possible to ‘step into the shoes’ of each kind of user or participant, and think about things from their point of view.

What we’re actually doing with this activity are very basic personas, which your team/organisation can develop over time.

Eisenhower Matrix (populated)

Eisenhower Matrix

Dwight D. Eisenhower was not only a five-star general in the US Army during WWII, but subsequently served two terms as 34th President of the United States. He was a man who knew time pressure! A quote attributed to Eisenhower is “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

Based on this is what’s come to be called the ‘Eisenhower Decision Matrix’ (or just ‘Eisenhower Matrix’ for short). This can be a particularly useful tool for figuring out what to do next when things seem a bit overwhelming.

Fast 5's example

Fast 5’s

We’re big fans of what some call Crazy Eights, an approach core to design sprints when developing new products and services. However, we’re not huge fans of the name (‘crazy’ isn’t very neurodiverse-friendly) and coming up with eight ideas is hard. So we’ve coined the term Fast 5’s to refer to this slight tweak on the classic activity.

The purpose of this approach is to allow a group of people to quickly generate ideas in a short space of time. These can then be shared and discussed. Nobody needs to be an expert at drawing — you haven’t got time!

Must / Should / Could

Must / Should / Could

Prioritisation is hard. Thankfully, there are lots of simple ways of thinking through how important something is to the next version of a product or service. One of these ways is the MoSCoW method. However, we always forget to capitalise the correct letters in that acronym, so we just call it Must / Should / Could.

NOISE model

NOISE model

The chances are that most people reading this had heard of SWOT analysis. You may have even done one yourself. While it is useful to identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of a project or situation, sometimes a bit more nuance is needed.

This is where the NOISE model comes in. Initially thought-up by Mike Cardus, we have used this together with Google Jamboard to help clients think through next steps with their projects.



We all know what a post-mortem is, right? It’s something that you do after something or someone has died, and is an important learning process. But what about a pre-mortem?

The point of a pre-mortem is to create a ‘safe space’ to take a look at project risks. All you do is imagine it’s six months / a year / however long into the future and the project has failed. The job of the pre-mortem is to identify in advance why that might happen.

Traffic light categorisation

Traffic light categorisation

Getting feedback, whether through user interviews, surveys, or some other means is an integral part of developing good products. But how do you make sense of the jumble of comments, quotations, and insights?

This Traffic light categorisation Jamboard template is a super-simple way of dividing the feedback you get into three areas.

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