• Steve Junion, Ph.D.

The King of the SFD - Sh***y First Draft*

The King of anything sounds excellent, but The King of Sh***y First Drafts? Yeah, well that happened thanks to a recent client. The nameplate above arrived and helped bring closure following 18 months with a fantastic client working to transform their organizations to be more consumer-focused. Let me explain why the concept of the SFD means so much to me and the work we do on behalf of the consumer.

Corporations are generally horrible at GSD (Getting Stuff Done) quickly. I struggle the most waiting for organizations to make decisions that could be wins for their consumers and their business. Many times, the delay is their business’ desire for perfection, surrounded by inflexible processes that rarely include early and ongoing steps for consumer feedback until the product or service is ready for launch. I cannot count the number of times people and companies are unable to get over their desire for perfection. My job is to be the disruptor in the room to challenge and teach organizations how to be comfortable testing SFD concepts (prototypes) with consumers.

One way we do this is by running immersion sessions to help organizations become familiar with the concepts, frameworks, and tools of Human-Centered Design. As part of the experience, employees hit the streets to have conversations with consumers. After identifying a relevant "How Might We" statements, draft problem statements, creating rough concepts, and developing 3-4 questions to test whether we have detected a genuine problem worthy of solving from the consumer's perspective, participants go outside of their four walls to have consumer conversations. There are always several employees terrified. To compensate, we put them in teams of three with others more comfortable and confident with the unknown.

The shift following the activity is seismic. All participants, even those terrified in the beginning, come back excited, full of energy, and have this incredible sense that they have accomplished something meaningful. Testing SFDs is one of the steps in creating a compassionate and consumer-focused culture capable of breaking down cultural and process walls.

One of the unintended consequences of hiring HCH is that we accelerate and facilitate change at the speed of the consumer. The SFD is one method we use to unfreeze the culture and internal processes. The result is employees and organizations feel like they can experiment early with ways to gain consumer feedback.

To learn more about how we can help you accelerate change as part of your work with consumers, please reach out to me via LinkedIn. We are happy to share our story and provide our thoughts on any challenges you may be having at no cost to you - our passion is sharing our learning and paying it forward. We look forward to hearing from you!


Thanks to Anne Lamott, the renowned author who helped articulate my career so succinctly. For background on the Shitty First Draft (pdf format), click here. Check Ms. Lamott's work on Amazon or follow Anne on Twitter @ANNELAMOTT.

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