At the end of last year our good friend David Lowe published his second book called The Innovation Revelation, a story about how to satisfy customer needs. In this interview David tells us all about his new book including what inspired him to write The Innovation Revelation, his writing process and his favourite characters, and why you need to read it!
Hi David – for those of us who don’t know you yet please tell me who you are and what you like to do?
Hi. I am a business coach, trainer and author. I’ve worked with a variety of individuals and companies (ranging from start-ups to traditional organisations) over a range of industries (including wine, travel, health, fashion, government, automotive and finance).
I’m heavily involved in the lean and agile communities. I founded one of London’s oldest agile groups (the London Agile Discussion Group) and co-founded both Agile on the Bench and London Lean Coffee.
I also like coming up with weird and wonderful events, products and services. These include Dial-a-Mariachi (on-demand Mexican musicians), a Kanban board to get kids ready for school, a workshop game called Iterative, Incremental, Big Bang and a conference in a campsite.
What do you most enjoy about the agile world?
The people. If you reach out to people, someone will offer to help you. I think this is wonderful and I try to do what I can to help people.
You have recently published your second book called the “Innovation Revelation” – what inspired you to write this book?
Initially it was going to be a short story to explain agile and Scrum to my friends who kept asking me what I did for a job. But I realised that just describing the build phase didn’t make sense, and that I had to add in the benefits of human-centred design and service design. Once I did that, I found that lots of people wanted to read it.
The book doesn’t go into detail on all of this, but it gives a good entry-level introduction. The aim is that this will ignite the reader’s interest to want to find out more.
What did you learn by writing this book?
That there is a symbiotic relationship between service design and agile. Both are essential to achieve a positive outcome. We need to be understanding the needs of both the organisation and its customers, then applying our agile mindset on top of this. One without the other doesn’t make sense.
What is your favorite moment in the book and why?
The first chapter where Charlie explains all the dysfunctions he is facing was fun to write: choosing the key issues I’ve seen over the years.
But I’m also fond of the part where the kids spark his revelation. In fact, readers have said they want to know more about what happened to their lemonade stall, so I’m going to close that loop with a mini-adventure which I’m aiming to publish later this year.
My favourite character has to be Barry, the villain. He keeps popping up and adding a bit of colour and humour to the story.
What can the reader hope to learn from reading this book?
That building a product or service shouldn’t be our goal; we should be finding out what real people are struggling with and try to solve those problems. Also, we don’t know the best solutions; they will only emerge when we engage our customers.
The book gives examples of how to go about doing this, along with a load of tools and techniques that might help that be achieved.
What other books have inspired you?
The Goal, by Eli Goldratt, was the initial inspiration. It took a complex concept — the theory of constraints — and made it relatively easy to understand, and memorable, by telling it as a story.
The catalyst to actually put pen to paper was when Gene Kim [author of The Phoenix Project] came into the Ministry of Justice in 2017.
Other inspiring books are Jake Knapp’s Sprint, LeanUX and TISDT.
What can you tell me about your writing process? Do you do this in an agile way?
I started out by drawing little cartoons to make a storyboard, with a brief explanation for each. This enabled me to talk to a load of experts, including many service designers, to get the order of the story right. I then fleshed out each chapter and put that out for feedback, which gave me a lot of interesting, and sometimes conflicting, feedback.
But then, after about a year of writing, I decided to switch the setting from a guy who had won a hack day within a hotel company to a guy who was frustrated and about to quit his IT job at a department store. So the whole process started again! I’m happy I did though as it’s a lot more relevant to most people.
It took about two years to write (spending an average of 15 hours a week) — with the odd break. Luckily, I have some great friends who spent many hours helping me mould the story into something realistic, useful and engaging.
Where can our readers get a copy of the Innovation Revelation?
If you weren’t working in the agile space what would you be doing instead?
Assuming that I hadn’t found coaching (because I was only introduced to that through the agile space), then I’d probably be working in the wine industry. That’s been a hobby of mine for over 10 years, which I’ve blogged about and travelled around speaking at conferences. I once went on a 12-day trip around Italy as a guest of the Italian wine tourist board. It was very tough 🙂
Learn more from David on our Agile Team Coach course running in London and all over Europe. See the Agile Team Coach course page for more details.