Stories of Services I offer based on my skill-set : Product Discovery

Product Discovery

I have worked with hundreds of teams to separate business model hypotheses from client-validated facts. Cars that change color, round-the-world air cruises for millionaires, AI apps that book your travel arrangements from your profile and a date, do-it yourself serial-events that go viral …

But, here, I would like to tell you about an ongoing a customer discovery journey that though identical in terms of methodology has unusually high stakes – it is about arming primary school teachers to deal with the growing number of classes in challenged areas in which 15 to 50 % of children have quietly given up on learning.

Objective: give teachers of 7 to 11-year old schoolchildren the tools to jumpstart a class when too many students have quietly giving up on learning.

Means: create series of workshops over one or two quarters terms, e.g. 12 weekly workshops of one and a half hours per theme (e.g. geometry) to give meaning to each topic by applying the theory to a tangible real life applications ex: Pythagoras to calculate the dorsal tailfin of an airplane through a carpentry project.

Learnings from 25 Design Thinking interviews, mostly with teachers and headmasters Problems encountered by national education staff and the president of the association:

  • No anchoring of school learning in reality or in the child’s daily life
  • Social and linguistic difficulties that prevent some parents from helping their children
  • Lever of the child’s potentials and desires generally untapped: they are still little identified or used to set him in motion
  • School teachers have the feeling of “always doing more and that it works less well”
  • “The number of children who cannot return to their learning continues to increase”
  • School teachers “have theoretical but not didactic resources”

Assumptions to be de-risked (see risk mitigation section below)

The main project risks are:

  1. That the workshops do not deliver the convincing progress that you have set for the beneficiary students, otherwise the interested teachers will not adopt your solution
  2. That the volunteer teacher and director do not have the time to create the educational content to facilitate one workshop per week (each workshop will work on the practical application in carpentry of a geometry problem / problem solving)
  3. That the material, logistical and administrative-financial methods adopted are not sufficiently easy to deploy, becoming a fatal obstacle to the adoption of workshops by school teachers.


  • A class of 24 students divided into 2 groups:

    – A control group of 12 students who will receive the standard course
    – A group of 12 students who will benefit from the application workshops based on carpentry

Objectives and KPIs

To be determined 1. IN WRITING 2. BEFORE the start of the workshops

Risk mitigation

How to reduce or eliminate the main risks (those that will defeat the project if they materialize):

  1. Risk 1 – That the workshops do not deliver the convincing progress that the team will have set for the beneficiary students

    Examples of possible preventive measures:

    o Make sure right away – from the 1st workshop – that the proportion of students planned manage to master the subject (or at least that we see progress that we think we can develop sufficiently to achieve the objective)

    o If this is not the case, immediately analyze the probable/possible causes and modify the course for the next workshop, and so on, until the desired trend is obtained
  2. Risk 2 – That the volunteer school teacher and director do not have the time to create the educational content to keep up with the rhythm of one workshop per week (each workshop will work on the practical application in carpentry of a problem geometry / problem solving)

    Examples of possible preventive measures:

    o Limit the number of subjects to be covered in order to carry out the smallest number of workshops possible, which will make it possible to say that the method is clearly convincing in the eyes of other teachers.

    Example: do fewer workshops per theme or do only one theme (geometry but not problem solving)
  3. Produce a paper and/or video template of the 1st workshop that shows how to design
  4. Prepare and lead a workshop and recruit a few motivated school teachers to design
  5. Application workshops in the list to be rolled out to children.

o Plan the simplest possible onboarding and validation process between the master Lead of the Raoul school who will create the 1st workshop and lead them all on one side, and the masters to whom we will subcontract a part additional courses, on the other.

Example: 2 Visios, one launch and one reception + emails between the 2

o Upload the basic video (not pretty but effective) of making the first 2 workshops with members of the En Vie team from the IS department to brief the additional master content creators who will feed the content pipeline workshops with the master of Paul Raoul school.

  1. Risk 3 – That the material, logistical and administrative-financial methods adopted are not easy enough to deploy, becoming an obstacle to the adoption of the workshops by a master (he will consider that “the game is not worth the candle “)

    Examples of possible preventive measures:

    Design workshops that are efficient because they are frugal.

    Example: always work on the same creation during all the workshops, such as a balsa plane (as for the boat used in the Art Therapy workshops), which the child would create in stages between the 1st and the last workshop devoted to geometry ( workshop n°1: apply the Pythagorean theory to calculate the dimensions of its tail, etc.).

    Minimize materials and tools

    Example: each child has a wood saw, a tape measure, ruler and compass + a light mobile workbench for two. The workshops would then be designed to operate with these elements alone.

The importance of Mindset

The state of mind in which you approach with your team and the stakeholders the measurement of the impact of the project and the experimentation in particular, is the factor that most decides its success – by far (80%?)

The examples given above stem from the same entrepreneurial philosophy:

  • Make it frugal so simple to make it effective (“Less is more”)
  • Collaborate to distribute the workload by betting on the collective intelligence of a small number of teachers driven by the same objective of effectively countering passive dropout. Start with the “Early Adopters” that you know in your entourage who will want to create content for the experimentation of the Paul Raoul school because he sees an interest in applying these workshops in turn in their school
  • Learn quickly together to improve the creative process and the quality of the workshops (“test and learn”) by learning from the failures and obstacles you encounter to guide you towards the solution (“hot-cold” adaptation).
1 Response
  1. Interesting article … when will you edit it to make it as insightful as the challenge approach you have taken deserve ? Please do this quickly : this problem is only going to get worse.