Learning Out Loud: Reflections from a Product Design Studio

At ZoCo, we're all about constant improvement, regularly reflecting on our work to refine our processes and produce better work. After each project, we conduct a retro amongst the project team, documenting our successes and where we have room for improvement.

Here's a peek into our Q1 2024 learnings: one standout strength, a crucial collaboration quandary we’re ruminating on, and a process tweak we're considering.

Strength: Seeing the forest for the trees.

How Might We: Work more iteratively with clients?

Process Tweak: Discovery workshops.



Strength: Seeing the forest for the trees.

One of the benefits of working with us is that we’re great at being the objective third party in the room—this is especially helpful when working with a client to reimagine their brand story. There’s something about being critical of your own brand that is hard to master, but with no skin in the game, we’re able to see how to cut the fluff, what to emphasize, etc. better than your own team sometimes.

This was especially true in a recent brand storytelling project we completed wherein we were able to make sense of a messy existing brand story.

But what makes us so good at this? We ask challenging questions that make them rethink how they want to organize and articulate their story. What is actually valuable about your story to your customers? What just confuses the story?

In some ways, the conversations we facilitate with clients help them more than the deliverables we create—though the deliverables give longevity and finality to our ideas in a way that is scalable across teams.

How Might We: Work more iteratively with our clients?

Our challenge is two-fold: Clients come to us, amongst other reasons, because they are short on internal resources, like time or headcount. However, the outputs of our work is always better when we can work collaboratively with our clients and frequently check in to review progress.

This poses a challenge for obvious reasons. Because we know that clients are busy and can’t spend as much time collaborating with us as we’d like, how might we be more experimental in our approach to collaboration?

Process Tweak: Discovery workshops.

If you’ve never worked with us before, it’s important to know that we pride ourselves on a robust discovery process, one that gets into all the details of your work so that we’re able to act as pseudo-employees while on your project.

Maybe it was the pandemic, or simply loving Miro too much, but we’ve been reflecting on if we’re over-engineering our kick-off workshops. On one hand, these big workshops are valuable for our team to get on board, and often for our client’s team to align with each other—it’s rare that their whole team is ever in the room at the same time.

Our workshops offer time to sort through everything and talk it out. However, are there ways we can shorten them? Are we over-engineering the activities, would a list of questions and space for curiosity suffice?

Do we need to go back to basics and simplify our discovery process?


What's next?

What challenges is your team facing? How do you reflect on them and implement changes into your processes? We’d love to hear if any of these reflections resonate with you!

Have a project you’re working on and need some support? Reach out to us.

Do you just want to chat about product, UX, research, process, and methodologies? We’re down for that too. Let's chat.

Do you want to avoid talking to another human being right now? We get it. Sign up for our Curious Communications newsletter to stay up to date on all things UX and other curiosities. We’ll hit your inbox every few weeks.  

Sara Riedel, Associate Director of Research

Sara Riedel, Associate Director of Research

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