Posts tagged as strategy

  • I’ve begun a small piece of ongoing consultancy with Promising Trouble on their Community Connectivity project. It’s a good example of the strategy and consulting work I do in my practice, alongside more hands-on technology making.

    Promising Trouble is working with Impact on Urban Health on a multi-year partnership to explore how access to the internet impacts health and wellbeing. I’ve been working in an advisory capacity on a pilot project that will test the impact of free - or extremely affordable - home internet access.

    Our early work has together has narrowing down how to make that happen from all the possibilities discovered early on in the project. That’s included a workshop and several discussions this summer, and we’ve now published a blogpost about our some of that work.

    We’ve made some valuable progress; as I write in the post,

    A good workshop doesn’t just rearrange ideas you already have; it should also be able to confront and challenge the assumptions it’s built upon.

    Our early ideas were rooted in early 21st-century usage of ‘broadband’, a cable in the ground to domestic property - and that same concept underpins current policy and leglisation. But in 2023, there are other ways we perhaps should be thinking about this topic.

    The post explores that change in perspective, as well as the discrepancy between the way “broadband” provision and mobile internet (increasingly significant as a primary source of access for many people) are billed and provided.

    I hope that we’ve managed to communicate a little how we’re shifting our perspectives around, whilst staying focused on the overall outcome.

    My role is very much advice and consultation as a technologist - I’m not acting as a networking expert. I’m sitting between or alongside other technology experts, acting as a translator and trusted guide. I help synthesise what we’re discovering into material we can share (either internally or externally), and use that to make decisions. Processing, thinking, writing.

    When Rachel Coldicutt, Executive Director at Promising Trouble, first wrote to me about the project, she said:

    “I thought about who I’d talk to when I didn’t know what to do, and I thought of you.”

    One again, a project about moving from the unknown to the unknown.

    The team is making good progress, on that journey from the unknown to the known, and I’ll be doing a few more days of work through the rest of the year with them; I hope to have more to share in the future. In the meantime: here’s the link to the post again.

  • In the past couple of years I mentioned working on an early-stage startup project I codenamed Wrekin (see relevant blogposts) - in part because it hadn’t launched out of stealth. Since then lots has moved on, not least the launch of the product as Castrooms.

    Castrooms brings the energy of a crowd to music livestreaming. It’s a streaming platform designed first and foremost for music - for both performers and fans. Audience members watch streams with their camera on: performers have a crowd to perform and react to, and fans can go to shows and performances with their friends, the live music experience of “small groups as part of a bigger group”.

    The product has taken off since I worked on those early prototypes. Back in 2021, I built just enough to help them validate the idea, work out what was feasible with available technology, and understand what would need to come next.

    Since then, they’ve fleshed out the offering, developed the branding, greatly expanded the technical platform, run many test parties, forged relationships with DJs and musicians, and raised more funding. Since I last wrote there’s been a little more advisory and consulting work with them. It’s been exciting to see the product take off, and hear the team tell me about their growth and successes.

    I spent some time this between 2022 and 2023 working with a very early-stage health startup, delivering a few strategy workshops.

    This consultancy work began with a request for a single day’s workshop. I immediately suggested this would better be spent as two half days. Anyone who’s workshopped knows the “4pm lull” well - but I also believe that a break between the workshops leads to more effective outcomes. Yes, participants get a break, and can come back refreshed - but it also forms a neat point to do any ‘homework’ required. Sometimes, doing some independent research, confirming some facts, or thinking through ideas with other people outside the process, is what’s needed to make any decisions or move things forward. That’s better done outside the workshop space. We returned to the second half of the workshop much more focused, and with ideas that emerged in the first half already fleshed-out and ready for deeper discussion.

    A follow-up workshop some time after the initial engagement was similarly productive. It was also rewarding - it was great to see how much the product had developed in the months that had passed, how many ideas born in the first workshop were being validated or developed in the world, with customers, and how the offering was being focused.