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WRITINGS

Ideas, thoughts, stories, chronicles, book reviews and social media summaries, from MezcalDigital with .

  • About Dr Eduardo Calvillo

    Dr. Eduardo Calvillo Gamez

    Eduardo Calvillo Gamez is the founder and chief facilitator of MezcalDigital, a consultancy based in Berlin, Germany, that helps startups, F500 and governments develop and improve their Product and UX Strategy.

    You can check Eduardo's full CV on LinkedIn. Eduardo's likes to talk in the third person or "we" when referring to his work on MezcalDigital. But since this post is about the person, he will write about it in the first person. I wanted to add a bit of flavour here about who I am.

    I studied Electronics Engineer because I wanted to be involved in the music industry. I don't play any instrument, but I figured out that I could work in the recording or live concert business. However, after I started, I realised I did not like the physics of acoustics that much. Also, the professor in charge of the acoustics engineering program was completely irresponsible and he would not go to class or actually teach or help you learn.

    With what I know now, I would say I was not motivated enough. If acoustics or recording were really my true calling, I would have pushed through all that.

    But more than anything, I wanted to pursue a graduate degree outside of Mexico. One day I sat down and reviewed the curricula, and I realised I could finish my degree in 3 years instead of the 4-4.5 that were needed by most people. That meant I would need to focus on digital systems, which I had no problem because I enjoyed them. 

    One of the main complaints during my undergraduate years was that I was not able to have the big picture of electronics. I could do all the class exercises and if you give me a circuit to analyze or design, I could do it. But I was always missing that aspect.

    I managed to finish my undergraduate degree in 3 years and I got accepted to pursue a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Tufts University. During the last year of my bachelor, I had started reading on microcircuit design and I enjoyed the subject. So I applied to Tufts because they had a strong and upcoming VLSI CAD program.

    In the middle of my master's, which included simulations of different circuits to analyze capacitance effects on deep-submicron circuits. Working on my master's project I was focusing on the small interaction between two transmission lines, I was missing the overall view of the circuit. I pursued then an internship at Avici System (no longer existing).  I was working on the I/O port of one chip, and it was there that I discover the role of the Product Manager: the engineer who had the overall view of how all the pieces fit together. About Avici, I joined just before their IPO and I should be a millionaire now, but I am also quite stupid on business, so I am not one.

    After finishing my internship I realised two things: I wanted to do a PhD, I wanted to focus on the overall project, not on small interactions.

    On the last year of my masters, I started discovering articles on the visualization of VLSI. And it was there that I decided I want to focus on the human side. 

    I got accepted to the PhD Program at Tufts to work on CAD for VLSI, but I changed to what is called Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). It was then that I became really motivated about my work. Before that, I would get things done because I am professional, but after HCI I did them because I was truly motivated.

    I worked at first on Tangible User Interface and I got two papers published really fast on that subject. One of them actually became one of the most cited papers in the subject.

    It was then I decided to focus on UX and HCI. I pursued my PhD at UCL working at UCLIC, a research centre right in the middle of psychology and computer science. I did my PhD on User Experience and Videogames.

    I moved back to Mexico because then I got a scholarship from the Mexican government, where I was a Professor on User Experience and Innovation. I got some grants to get started on my research, but eventually, I left academia to become the Director of Technological Innovation (CIO) at the City Administration of San Luis Potosi.

    Afterwards, I moved the Germany, where I have been working on the intersection of UX Research and Product Management.

    I have been founding startups in Mexico and Germany and since April 2019 I have been consulting.




  • The Mural of UX Therapy


    The Mural of the UX Therapy Session

    TLDR: Link to the Mural Template is at the bottom of this post.

    UX Therapy helps you improve your UX and Product Strategies. The objective of the therapy is to motivate you to reflect and to make decisions about the need that your product is solving. I created a Workbook with the right questions to ask to get you there, you can download it completely free from here.

    Besides the Workbook, I offer a paid workshop to do a UX Therapy session (if you are interested you can book it here). The workshop guides you and your team to complete the information of the Workbook... and it forces you to make decisions right away.  Why? Because when we are starting up, we want to save the world with our product. We are trying to address so many things at once, that eventually, it becomes not sustainable. The faster you decide the exact need you are solving and validate it with user feedback, the better for your startup. As Eric Ries says in the "Lean Startup" book: (paraphrasing) "Startups do not starve in the desert, they drown at sea".

    I want to share the Mural Template I use for the UX Therapy Session.  You can just click on the embedded picture below and you are transported directly to start using it.. if you have a Mural Account.

    First, what is Mural? It is a whiteboard that allows real-time remote collaboration to run workshops. I don't work for them, so if you are curious about it, go and check it out. All I can tell you, it is because I find it valuable for my work, I do recommend it.

    The template has the instructions to run your own workshop. The workbook plus the template can help you run your own UX Therapy.

    Why do I give it for free?

    1. Times are though due to the Corona / COVID19 crisis. I want to help with what I can.
    2. I think it is valuable for you. My interest is to help you improve your UX Strategy. 
    3. Something I can not pass on the free material is my expertise. The ability to think on my feet or adapt according to the circumstances is not there; granted, yours might be also great, and even better, but it is not mine.
    4. It might inspire you to create something amazing, and who am I to stop it just to expect a few bucks?
     #productstrategy #uxstrategy #servicedesign #uxresearch #designsprint #ux #uxresearcher #productmanagement #uxdesign #userexperience #productmanager #uxdesign #uxtherapy


    UX Therapy Template Template by MURAL

    Open to create a mural from this template in your workspace. Powered by MURAL
  • What is UX?

    What is UX?

    I know it is 2020 and we see that term everywhere, but it still baffles me that several professionals still think that UX is just a coat of paint applied at the end of the development process.

    UX is "User eXperience". It is about understanding the user, the task at hand and the context of use. It is at the core of any product you are building. It is not a coat of paint you apply at the end.

    UX starts when you are defining what you are going to build. Who is going to use? What is that person going to do? How is that person doing that? Where is the person using your product? Which values do you want to transmit? Which emotions do you want to elicit?

    Those are the key question when you are dealing with UX, not the colour of your screens.




    What is really UX? Check the explanation below ­čĹç, where I talk about UX, plus you get to see a picture of a chicken with a wearable computer ­čÉö. I know it is 2020 and we see that term everywhere, but it still baffles me that several professionals still think that UX is just a coat of paint applied at the end of the development process. I want to take the excuse of the new year to create a series of post to explain UX, User-Centred Design and other terms. So stay tuned for future posts. ✍ Find it useful? Share it, like it or hit me up with any comments. Are you developing or improving your Apps and need help improving your UX processes? Get in touch for a free consultation. #userexperience #productdesign #userexperiencedesign #uxdesign #chickens #apps #pet #designthinking #ux #designsprint #innovation #uxresearch #berlin #berlinstartup #startup
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  • What is UX Therapy?


    What is a UX Therapy session?

    A UX Therapy session is a 3-hours workshop were we work with your team on aligning their vision, understanding the needs of your users, and plan your next steps towards deploying a full UX Strategy.

    Like any good therapy, in this session, we help you reflect on your UX Strategy and understand your current situation. We give you a recommendation on what to do next, but the future is up to you.




  • Design Sprint?


    Have you heard of Design Sprints?

    The Design Sprint framework was developed by Jake Knapp whilst at Google Ventures, and it was used to create great products (and companies) like Uber, Medium, Nest and many more.

    It is a workshop that lasts 3, 4 or 5 days focused on finding and testing a solution to a complex problem fast!

    With the following presentation, I want to complement all the information freely available on the web (Design Sprint book, website, youtube videos, etc). I want also to emphasize the importance of Day 0. Who attends the Design Sprint, who facilitates and which problem is addressed are key to ensure that it will be a success for everyone. ✍ Need help on improving your products or creating a product strategy? Get in touch!

    #ux #uxresearch #uxdesign #userexperience #userexperiencedesign #productdesign #designthinking #designsprint #berlinstartup #berlin #startupberlin #designteam #productstrategy #designsprints #innovation #startup #servicedesign #day0



    View this post on Instagram

    Have you heard of Design Sprints? The Design Sprint framework was developed by Jake Knapp whilst at Google Ventures, and it was used to create great products (and companies) like Uber, Medium, Nest and many more. It is a workshop that lasts 3, 4 or 5 days focused on finding and testing a solution to a complex problem fast! With the following presentation, I want to complement all the information freely available on the web (Design Sprint book, website, youtube videos, etc). I want also to emphasize the importance of Day 0. Who attends the Design Sprint, who facilitates and which problem is addressed are key to ensure that it will be a success for everyone. ✍ Need help on improving your products or creating a product strategy? Get in touch! #ux #uxresearch #uxdesign #userexperience #userexperiencedesign #productdesign #designthinking #designsprint #berlinstartup #berlin #startupberlin #designteam #productstrategy #designsprints #innovation #startup #servicedesign #day0
    A post shared by MezcalDigital (@mezcaldigital) on
  • Day 1 of the Design Sprint part 1.






    Example of HMW created during day 1.

    Part of the Series: “Creating Sam the Guide”. A series of stories to chronicle the experience of going from idea to app by MezcalDigital.
    Chapter 4: Starting at the End

    Also available on Medium

    After all the delays, we were finally ready to start sprinting. It was good that we were going to meet after many months of working remotely. It was a big discussion of whether we do the sprint remotely or in person. We decided to do it in person because the public health recommendations allowed for the meeting to happen. Plus, everyone was eager to start meeting again.
    We had to take extra precautions in the planning, thankfully Sam owned several meeting rooms. So Maria and I had the luxury of choosing one big enough to host all of us while giving us plenty of space. Each participant would have their own desk to work on. Maria was a bit unsure if that would create a lot of shouting among participants so they could talk to each other. But since one of the mantras of the design sprint is working together alone, I told her that his might be actually a good thing.
    The experts were meeting via remote though. They were not so convinced about making the trip, so we needed to adjust the set-up to allow for fun videoconferencing. Again, we need to adjust the rules because when you are the only one connecting remotely to a team that is on the same location, it can be a bit cumbersome to the person on a remote location.
    Maria was willing to go and buy or rent the top of the line video conferencing software and equipment available. I told her that I did not think it was necessary. We already had access to videoconferencing software, which we had been using during the virtual meetings. People were already familiar with it and there was no point on reinventing the wheel.
    The day before we sent all team participants an email with a brief description of what was going to happen:
    “To: Members Project Curie
    Subject: Welcome to the Design Sprint in Times of COVID
    Dear members of Project Curie,
    First all, I am sure you are wondering what is Project Curie. We needed a name for the project, Sam the Guide will be the name of the app, but right now to keep things internally easier to talk, we are going to call it in honour of Marie Curie. If you don’t know who she is or the name just rings a bell, I highly recommend that you start with her Nobel Prize autobiography. She won the Nobel prize twice, once in physics and once in chemistry, the only person to win them on those two categories, and one of four who have won the prize twice.
    Tomorrow we will start with the Design Sprint. It will be fun, exciting but also a lot of work. There will be snacks, coffee and water to be consumed during the event, so don’t worry, you won’t be hungry. You don’t need to bring oThe way the Design Sprint is conducted is a bit different than other meetings or workshops you’ve attended. First, there is a “NO PHONE/COMPUTERS” rule. There will be breaks to check them, but please plan ahead that you won’t be able to respond right away to your email and your messages. Second, discussions are kept at a minimum. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of exchange of ideas, we just rely on other methods to make sure every voice is heard.
    We will have the presence of experts during the meeting, they will connect via videoconference. Please make them feel as if they were present in the room with us. Please no side talking or openly doing other things while they are talking. Their input is important to move the sprint forward.
    Finally, we are still in the middle of a public health crisis. The space is big enough for everyone and we each will have our own space, but please remember to take care and follow the official recommendations: bring your facemask, keep a minimum distance, stay home if you don’t feel well.
    Looking forward to tomorrow!”




    Maria and I arrived before anyone else to prepare everything. As we were dividing sticky-notes on each desk Sam arrived. It was still a good half an hour before it started.
    “Project Curie, uh?, oh well, I guess being the boss means I get no vote on naming things any more… or having my name removed from the project. If it wasn’t because I think Madam Curie and her daughter are the great role models I would kick some ass.” — She said instead of a simple good morning. She looked sternly at us. Maria had told me she had informed her mom before we sent the email, I couldn’t just push Maria under the bus as we both had sent the email. I was a bit speechless, but then Sam started laughing her head off.
    “Project Curie is a great name.” She said looking at us — “I am half relief that I don’t need to use my phone today. I already told people that today and tomorrow I’d unavailable. Hopefully, people can clean their ass without consulting with me.” She said as she sat on her table and started drinking her coffee.
    Everyone else arrived 10 minutes earlier to the meeting room. I think it was the first that the participants were together with each other on a while. As it was recommended, there was no buffet style. We told everyone to go to their desks right away and each of them had a coffee, a croissant and a bottle of water there. Maria, who helped me organize everything, was also a participant. I was the only facilitator.
    Abraham came with a helper, the helper was going to be checking emails and phone calls and have everything ready for the breaks.
    “I need to authorize payments. There is a process on which I can transfer that to other users, but it is not worth doing it only for two days. So on each break, I will go quickly to the system and authorize whatever is needed. Or ask why is it so much.”
    I decided to give everyone about 20 minutes to catch-up before I started. They have not seen each other in a while, I did not want to dent the energy of the group. I just reminded everyone to stay on their desk, they were properly measured to make sure distance was observed.
    Because of the extra 10 minutes I gave the team, I cut my introduction short. The first expert was starting soon and I just wanted to get everyone on sync.
    “Hello, members of project Curie! All of you have a block of sticky-notes in front of you and a sharpie. These are our tools for this week, whenever we need something else, we are going to provide it to you, so don’t worry about anything but engaging with the content.
    We are going to be working for the next 90 minutes and then we will have a break. So if you need to check your messages or anything, do it during the break.
    We have three experts participating today, they will talk to us about empowering businesswomen to start their businesses. Everything will be recorded for the future, I want you to take notes but differently that you’d do. You are going to be writing challenges. All challenges start with the phrase: How might we, or HMW. Make sure every note has HMW written on it, it will help frame your challenge. Please only write one HMW per note. It is a numbers game, so the more you have the better, don’t worry if it is too clever or too dumb. You are here because we believe you bring value to this project, we want you as you are, so please, just enjoy it.
    The types of challenges we wanted to be addressable, do not focus on something so broad that it is not possible to tackle or so specific that there is no point of addressing it in a meeting. I know the balance is hard to tell, but I prefer that you produce as many challenges as possible, rather than restricting you because your challenge is too narrow or too broad. Please write your challenges based on what you know at this moment about the project, plus what the experts are saying, write it down. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, just raise your hand and I will give you a chance to ask a question.
    The experts are connecting using videoconference, so there will be a small delay, so please wait until I the expert acknowledges that there is a question coming.
    We have each expert for 20 minutes individually, and then at the end, we will have the three of them together for 30 minutes. They all will listen to each other and any question you may have.
    Finally, remember the objective of the app is to coach businesswomen.”
    The session went really well, I, with my facemask, was moderating the session and waking behind each desk just to check if they were writing challenges and if they were doing it. I was afraid of silence or a bad connection. Fortunately, besides a few hiccups when the three experts were together, as because of the delay sometimes they would talk over each other, everything else went OK.
    On average, they created about 30 HWMs each. So we had about 240 HMWs in total, a huge number!
    I gave the group a 15-minute break. I saw Sam and Abraham running to their phones to catch with calls and messages. The rest of the team also checked their emails except for Maria, who took notes on what the experts had said.
    During this time I arranged the post-its according to themes and patterns. I identified some that were too broad: e.g. HMW fight sexism. But in general, they looked like a good starting point. I arrange them in columns and then I added a title/topic to each of them.
    I had warned Sam that I would start sharply each session, so about 3 minutes before the starting came, I gave her a signal to hang-up. She obliged, and then everyone followed suit.
    The next stage was to ask them to vote for the challenges that they thought were the best ones to address. I told them they are free to rearrange the post-its if they feel it would fit better on a different category. Each of them got 7 votes, in the form of a sticker, and they could vote for 7 or 1 challenge that they believe would yield most potential. There were a total of 56 votes to distribute.
    After I started the clock, I started playing some music and got out of the way to let them concentrate.
    At the end of the 7 minutes, all votes were cast. We had some clear winners and many many without any votes at all.
    “We are going to use them later today, but for the moment, we need to focus on something else, we need to define our goals for the sprint.” — I said.
    — — Continues on part 2.
  • Creating Sam the Guide

    A series of stories to chronicle the experience of going from idea to app.

    Preamble

    <<Creating “Sam the Guide” (StG)>> narrates the experience of going from an idea to an app. It showcases how different product management frameworks and methods are used in the curse of app development.

    StG is not a real app and the chronicles are fictional, but the experience is real and based on my own life and expertise as a Product Strategist and Researcher. I have had the experience of developing several products taking them from an idea into a published digital product. Before that, I had the experience of conducting academic research on User Experience and Innovation. The chronicles will showcase the challenges when you go from theory to practise, as it was my case when I left the academic world to take into “real world” responsibilities.

    I don’t want to write a stand-alone article explaining different methods or just summarizing the whole experience. Rather, I want to share the experience and making it as fun to read as my abilities will allow me.

    Let me know if you enjoy it in the comments.

    I will add a new chapter approximately every 2 weeks once a month.

    PS. 8.6.2020: I am delayed releasing the new chapter of StG, but adding a new chapter every 2 weeks just proved to be too ambitious given my workload. Chapter 5 is almost done, and it will be released this week.

    Index

    (last updated: 8.06.2020)

    1. Chapter 1: An Intriguing Call (15.03.2020)
    2. Chapter 2: Step 1: Deciding what to do (30.03.2020)
    3. Chapter 3: Step 2: Starting from the beginning(23.04.2020)
    4. Chapter 4: Starting at the End (11.5.2020)
    5. Chapter 5: Day 1 of the Design Sprint — Part 1 (12.6.2020)