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book-tiltedSerendipity. It’s great when things come together right under your nose.

My company Fresh ID did the branding, book design and site for the recently published book Building Dragons. I read bits and pieces while proofing graphics and the book layout, and wrote the marketing copy by going a little deeper into the text, but I had not actually had time to read the book. When I finally picked it up one day and started really reading it without the distractions of getting it ready, I felt really awed and inspired. There are wonderful messages here about user experience, creating comprehensive customer experiences and how that can change your whole organization and bring greater meaning to your work, all of which is dear to my heart. I still haven’t completely finished the book, so haven’t left an Amazon review yet, but a concept really jumped out at me that I wanted to share with you as I think it will bring greater ROI to your user experience activities.

“Building a dragon” is such a great distinction, but you really need the book to learn more about what that means. You want to continually be asking and answering two key questions:

  • How can our company remain competitive and survive? (Defense)
  • How can our company gain and maintain an advantage over its competitors? (Offense)


In Chapter 14, on page 140, the authors talk about doing Direct and Indirect Impact Audits. This is probably something you do with your teams naturally as part of brainstorming a new product or product features, but I like the idea of making it more of a dedicated exercise and really pushing yourselves to come up with meaningful and realistic answers.

The Direct Impact Audit

I am going to paraphrase the questions from the book to make them work for our purposes, but you should ask things like:

  • How will our users leverage this product/feature to solve a problem for (themselves, their clients, their sales agents… fill in the blank.)
  • How might we leverage this product/feature to solve problems for our customers?
  • How might we leverage this product/feature to improve a broken or imperfect system?
  • How might we leverage this product/feature be used to create a new service?
  • How might we leverage this product/feature to penetrate a new market?
  • How might we leverage this product/feature to add value for our customers?

While asking these questions, you should enlarge upon them, by asking for example:

  • How can we use this product/feature to completely redefine a product category?
  • How can we use this product/feature to become the only relevant player in this category?
  • How can we use this product/feature to make all our competitors obsolete in this category by this time next year?

“This is the right mindset, and from this mindset emerges the process itself: a constant search for new technologies and trends that could help you change the game for a product, service or industry, then leveraging it as fast and aggressively as possible to make the most of that advantage.”

The Indirect Impact Audit

For the indirect impact audit, your team should think about any ripple effects of change that introducing your new product/feature could cause. For example, if you offer a CRM solution that adds social media analytics that could reduce the application burden on your clients if you have a large marketshare, possibly putting some of them out of business if you go after that business aggressively enough.

This is not a one-time conversation prior to developing something. It is a mindset of continual observation, analysis, and discussion, the authors point out. This is how you become a “predictor of the future” – your lucky guesses become more accurate because you recognize patterns and emerging trends when you are constantly asking questions like these.

I am excited to read the rest of the book. Given all the suggestions and out of the box thinking for elevating your customers experiences to near-magical levels, I’m sure I will refer to it a few more times.

You can thank Daniel Newman and Olivier Blanchard for the insights, and do go learn more at buildingdragons.com and buy the book at Amazon.

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