#33 - Simplicity Playbook for Innovators - Jin Kang Møller

 

 

“Simplicity is an experience that makes things easy for users that leaves positive emotions."

Jin Kang Møller is an award-winning customer experience strategist, design practitioner, and the author of “The Simplicity Playbook for Innovators“. She was the driving force behind FRANK by OCBC and OCBC OneWealth app that won her a Singapore Good Design Mark Gold award in 2017.

In this episode, Jin shared with me her insightful perspectives on simplicity and how simplicity naturally leads to innovation. She shared with me in-detail her powerful framework, “Simplicity Diamond“, that is extremely powerful to help us embrace simplicity in dealing with different aspects of business practices, products and services. She also shared her point of view on agile and design thinking, and how we can combine both methodologies together in order to solve the right problems for our customers and users. And don’t miss her fun sharing on “pain sponge” that provides a great mindset analogy for delivering better customer experience!  

Listen out for:

  • Career Journey - [00:06:08]
  • Challenges Introducing Customer Experience - [00:11:38]
  • Simplicity - [00:16:24]
  • Simplicity Drives Innovation - [00:18:31]
  • Simplicity Diamond - [00:23:04]
  • Get Fueled by Empathy - [00:29:01]
  • Dancing with Complexity - [00:35:20]
  • Focus - [00:38:33]
  • Speak Human - [00:43:12]
  • Designing Lovable Experience - [00:46:54]
  • How to Embark on Simplicity Journey - [00:52:01]
  • Personal Simplicity - [00:54:00]
  • Agile and Design Thinking - [00:55:42]
  • 3 Tech Lead Wisdom - [00:59:12]

_____

Jin Kang Møller’s Bio
Jin Kang Møller is an award-winning customer experience strategist, design practitioner and highly-acclaimed executive trainer. She held design leadership positions to creative value and bottom-line impact for twenty years in the large financial services firms such as OCBC Bank in Singapore and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, and has led user experience consulting services for pharmaceutical companies.

Her design methodologies have helped wealth management, private & retail banking and insurance businesses to drive successful customer experience and digital transformation initiatives. She was the driving force behind FRANK by OCBC, an award-winning millennial banking concept that positioned the bank as the market leader in the segment. She defined the new digital wealth management concept (launched as the OCBC OneWealth app), which drove successful digital sales and won her a Singapore Good Design Mark Gold award in 2017.

In the training space, Jin has developed and delivered successful programs in executive education. She is currently Affiliate Faculty at Singapore Management University Academy , teaching executive programs – ‘Innovating through Design Thinking’, ‘Designing Exceptional Customer Experience’, and ‘Design Leadership and Facilitation’ – she has developed. Her programs have been among the most sought-after courses in SMU Academy (with an average rating 4.92 out of 5.0) since their inception in 2018. She also works with National University of Singapore, Hyper Island and INSEAD as a guest lecturer. She has shared her ideas and principles across various platforms, and is a top-rated keynote speaker in banking and customer experience conferences globally, including TEDx.

She is the author of The Simplicity Playbook for Innovators – creating lovable experiences in a complicated world, a battle-tested strategy and the collection of tools to drive innovation, humanise digital transformation and to win customers’ hearts.

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Quotes

Career Journey

  • How do we really use the customer centricity to design the experience? So that the reason why people bank with us, it’s not because we offer slightly better interest rate. It’s not because the brand happened to be just nearby. It’s because the experience is way better.

Challenges Introducing Customer Experience

  • There are maybe three challenges
    • One is the idea of customer centric. A lot of companies say it, but how do we really walk the talk?

      • In order to do something that is useful and easy and pleasurable for customers. We have to understand who they are, what they do, how they behave. But the research practice has been very much based on the quantitative. The idea that we can really stay humble, try to go out there, see people. It was a big mindset shift for many project members. Why do we need to spend time in really talking to real user when we have a data?

      • The way me and my team members overcame with it was to involve them in the research process. When we involve them, our stakeholders, who’s the owner of the product or process or channel in the research process as observer, it’s more like giving our stakeholders opportunity to see how users are behaving and thinking and saying directly. So that was very interesting process because the moment people see, something changes in them. So I call it the power of empathy.

      • Empathy is not a personal trait. It’s really more of having that opportunity to meet people directly, see people directly, then something changes in someone. I believe that there is a direct connection between being able to empathize and being able to see the problem differently. So when stakeholders experienced it, they wanted more. They see the need for why time spent understanding customers’ behavior at a greater depth, that really pays off.

    • Another challenge was the idea that, “Oh, design thinking takes too long. We have to deliver this by yesterday. My boss wanted it like now.” “Oh, let’s not do design thinking. Let’s do agile.” They look at the method as if agile will make us faster, design thinking makes us go deeper and soul searching kind of thing.

      • One of the things I learned is that it’s not about what methods we adopt. It’s about the proficiency. When people are master at something, then the speed comes naturally.

      • It’s not about agile or design thinking. Actually, there’s a huge overlap between those two things. And showing the impact by timeboxing it. When we are able to focus, even though we spend time with the customers and we spend time in prototyping many options, if you are good at it, you can be actually very fast.

    • Third thing might be the importance of storytelling.

      • People find it hard to change because they don’t see the need for it. In order to inspire people, why we need to go that direction? Why we need to shift our thinking? The best way to do it is not through building very smart PowerPoint. It’s really to tell stories. Those stories can move our stakeholders, so that they see the need for change.

Simplicity

  • My initial definition was simplicity is a lens through innovation. But then it doesn’t really answer to what really is simple.

  • I boiled down to two essential things.

    • One is things have to be easy, less effort. Oxford dictionary defines simplicity as something that makes things easy to do. I felt that is not enough. It doesn’t really differentiate your brand. There are a lot of things that you can do easy, but why certain brand or certain apps stick with you? Why certain products don’t?

    • The seconds one lies with the emotional part of simplicity.

    • The way I define simplicity is the act of doing something easy, combined with positive, emotional effect. So in one sentence, simplicity is an experience that makes things easy for users and that leaves positive emotions. Because that emotion makes you feel great. That emotions make you want to do more business with some product or brands. So usability part and the emotional part combined together.

Simplicity Drives Innovation

  • Simplicity leads to innovation. When we look for opportunities to simplify, the innovation kind of comes naturally.

  • When I say simplicity, it’s different from being minimalistic. Because minimalistic and simplicity have a lot of overlap, but the goal is different. The minimalism, the goal is to reduce. But simplicity’s goal is to create that emotional effect of being simply lovable, simply confident.

  • My message to a lot of companies who deal with the complex issues will be, why don’t you find innovation opportunity in designing experiences, better experiences? Rather than let’s innovate because technology is out there, or because our competitors are doing this.

  • Designing a better experience would lead us to innovate.

Simplicity Diamond

  • These are the five principles that can help us start and also to mature in the journey.
    • First principle is “Get fueled by empathy”. How empathy is a strategic asset, not just nice to do in shaping our perspectives, but also in looking at interesting innovation opportunities.

    • The second principle is “Dance with complexity”. It refers to a lot to do with the way we collaborate.

      • In order to solve a complex problem, your own ability expertise is never enough. Because we need to understand the different facets of the subject matter. How do we bring those people together and really understand the subject matter and simplify it? Anything can be simplified if you bring the right people, if you enable them to solve the problem.
    • The third principle is “Focus”.

      • Now that we understood what customers really want, we were charged by empathy, we wear the new lens to look at problems, we know how to work with other people. Now, where to focus? What is that one or two things that we can do really well? As opposed to try to do everything.

      • The topic of focus is a lot to do with the value proposition, crafting that value, the overlap between your customers’ why and your business’ why, understanding customers’ true jobs to be done.

    • The fourth principle, which a lot of people love, is “Speak human”. This is about the practice of communications.

      • When we say design, people typically think about layout and the color, typography, buttons, images, etc. But the way we write is actually a design. Especially these days, things are getting more conversational, chatbots, voice command.

      • I often see the way we write on touchpoint, whether it’s on the website or on an app or brochure, it is often a blind spot. People spend so much time in making it right, in terms of layout and interaction and whatnot, but then the copywriting, it’s just so business centric.

      • Just by writing humanly, we not only bring our personality, but also it can really help people to connect with you.

      • The plus point of this principle that a lot of people love about is that it can be a quick fix. Imagine you don’t change anything about your website, but you change the copy, the way you write. You can immediately see the impact. So, this can become very powerful tool to start, if you cannot change the rest.

    • The fifth principle is “Design lovable experiences”. This is kind of bringing it all together.

      • Emotions matter, because human beings are emotional beings. And in order to make that work, we need to take the aesthetic part of the design very seriously.

      • Don’t end at functionally good product. The end goal is to leave the positive emotion that is materialized through amazing look and feel.

Get Fueled by Empathy

  • Simplicity starts with empathy.

  • Definition of empathy is the ability to understand how other people think and feel, and our ability to see the world through their eyes. It involves more than your head. It involves your eyes and your heart, because you need to feel what they’re feeling.

  • When people are given opportunity to empathize, something changes in us to see the problem differently.

  • The research practice has to change. We should forget about building really nice presentation deck. What we found out, the better time spent, would be really bringing the stakeholders closer to the users.

  • What if we capture those customers’ behavior or what they are saying or their feeling in a more rich storytelling form so that your stakeholders, who will need to solve the problem with you, can really feel the way you feel.

  • By looking at people’s behavior and also talking to people, those things will help you to find a way to solve their problem, and also to deliver the better experience. I think the way the simplicity and empathy are connected is because the source of ideas lies in people. By understanding them as a whole person will help us come up with those ideas where to simplify and how to simplify.

  • The idea comes from observing their behavior. Why they struggle? I think one of the mistakes that a lot of companies make is asking their users, what do you want?

  • Some consumers may tell you what they want, which may be the right problem to solve. But I think first of all, it’s not customers’ job to tell us what will be the next big idea. And they cannot tell us. So we need to take the ownership. It is our job. What consumers can do for us is to share their behaviors, share their need. And it’s our job to interpret, to come up with the innovation opportunities.

  • The idea of a survey or asking people, “If there’s one thing we could do, what would that be?”, those typical research questions, it really hinders organization from going deeper to look for interesting yet obvious innovation opportunities. That’s why I insist a lot on the research method has to be much more experiential, and we need to go deeper rather than increasing the sample size. Because the goal here is to get inspired and identify opportunities that other people didn’t see.

Dancing with Complexity

  • Pain sponge is more like a mindset.

  • Simplicity actually is quite hard. To make things simple is not easy. The work of simplicity requires a lot of energy and passion and discipline.

  • What if our mindset is like, we’re sponge, the spilled milk is the pain? The more pain we absorb, the less pain left for customers.

  • You cannot remove or reduce pain. Amount of pain will be always there. Are you going to leave that pain for your customer to soak it up? Or are you going to do it? So there’s an inverse relation between the amount of pain you’re going to suck up and then the better customer experience it’s going to be.

Focus

  • The idea of focus, of course, will be materialized into fewer. But I think it’s a lot about finding the right thing to do.

  • Not that we are asking business to reduce whatever it is doing. If we know what people are trying to do, the true jobs to be done, then we can optimize our resources to bring our value proposition powerful, and that resonates with our consumers. So while fewer things will come as a result, but really knowing the true jobs to be done, to me that is the key concept. That can guide us like the North Star when we are so distracted by this temptation, wanting to offer more things. Cause a job won’t change.

  • If you focus on those true jobs, to me that’s real focus. Rather than are we going to reduce certain things down to fewer things? That’s why I suggest the shift from doing more to less, but a fewer but better. So that fewer actually meant more on the knowing that fewer jobs, the really important jobs that consumers trying to get done.

Speak Human

  • Go for clarity, not conciseness.

    • When it comes to simplifying, especially designing digital touchpoint, people think that the shorter, the better. What word could be most efficient in communicating that meaning? But then, the key here is how can we sound more human?

    • The benefits are twofold. One is it sounds friendly. Second thing is it makes it clear in many situations.

    • When you try to reduce it into fewer sentences, the meaning is sometimes lost. As a consumer, it’s very hard to understand what it means. So we need to put a little bit effort. Maybe internally we say that way, we understand, but do consumers really understand?

  • The whole idea of the 10 commandments was inspired by how can we speak like a human.

Designing Lovable Experience

  • MVP is a great concept. But then I noticed that in the organization this word was badly abused, to justify it is okay to launch product that may not work very well, because we are very interested in learning fast and failing fast. The true meaning of MVP was misunderstood. The true meaning of a Minimum Viable Product is the minimal version that will allow us to maximize the learning about the customer. The maximize learning is completely ignored, and then people will just launch some things just for the sake of launching it, saying that we’re going to improve it in phase two. But as you know, phase two never comes. Phase two becomes like a bucket list or a parking lot.

  • Not that MVP is wrong. By releasing something, if you can maximize your learning, if you use it to your true intent, it is a great concept. It’s just that we are abusing this word by justifying not great product being able to launch in the marketplace.

  • I introduced the term Minimum Lovable Product. Lovable means that users will love it. Maybe there’s a one thing or one reason why people will be emotionally engaged with us.

  • Even though the product is not perfect, yet, is there anything that can make people love our product or services?

  • Human beings are emotional being. We love beautiful things. And it has very strong connection to the idea of simplicity.

  • When things are looking great, you are drawn to it. It simplifies people’s decision. Decision-making process becomes simpler. That intuitive connection with your customers can be realized through aesthetics. We cannot leave it to just branding guidelines. Of course we need to follow the branding guidelines, but being consistent is not enough.

How to Embark on Simplicity Journey

  • The idea of simplicity, whether you are designing something for your customers as a startup or as a legacy company, it’s same. The idea is to focus on your customers.

  • Where to start? I typically suggest, ideally we look at how do we do research? How do we work with our team and stakeholders? How do we create value proposition? And how do we then create the lovable experience? Ideally, it has to be done in sequence. But it doesn’t have to be. We can really start from whichever principles that speak to us most. Starting somewhere and measuring impact will be the best way to start.

Personal Simplicity

  • Based on the book concept, I try to reframe every day. Whenever the situation comes in, whenever things go out of the way that I hoped that didn’t happen, I try to reframe from the situation, and then learn from it.

  • Another thing I try to adapt to simplify in life is some sort of idea of prototyping. I gain clarity through the act of prototyping.

Agile and Design Thinking

  • Between design thinking and agile, there’s a huge overlap in terms of empowering people, self-organizing, quickly iterating and learning, and putting customer at the center of the process.

  • The idea of the design thinking can be very powerful before we get to the product backlog to identify all the things we want to do. Because once we are in the agile mode, it may not give us enough mental space to go deeper. Once we have the product backlog, then we are very busy with that iterating and testing and building and all, so we may lose the big picture.

  • When I designed the design sprint framework, I suggested why don’t we use design thinking? When we don’t know what problem we are solving, or in other words, at the very beginning of the process. It can be timeboxed, too. This is time for discovery. So that everyone in the team has the opportunity to empathize with the end users and has some high-level picture together. In this stage, it’s very important to involve people from technology, people from legal and compliance. They shouldn’t be involved only at the later stage. Everybody will come together in the beginning to explore what kind of problems we are solving.

  • Today’s environment is changing so fast. The way to win is to identify the right problem to solve rather than solving the problem. Agile is great in solving. Design thinking can be great in identifying the problem to solve.

  • In my mental model, I tend to put some sort of exploratory time using design thinking. But then the moment we feel we identify those customer jobs, then agile can come in to iterate what we learn in the initial part of the project.

3 Tech Lead Wisdom

  1. Self-awareness.

    • What am I good at? What am I struggling? At the same time, instead of really focusing on how can I improve my weakness, working on the strengths. This is a great way of improving our leadership and scope of influence.
  2. Our energy is finite.

    • Designers and the Tech people are very passionate group of people. We care about what kind of product we are making. We want to challenge the status quo. Yet, we need to take care of ourselves. We need to pick a right battle to fight. And the best way of maintaining our energy and passion would be to get our daily routine in order, in terms of giving ourselves good sleep and time to rest.
  3. Become a master at something, going deep rather than going broad.

    • The proficiency of the tool will breed the agility. Really knowing the method at a greater depth. And having the experience from inception of the project to the implementation. Once you’ve gone through that process many times, you will gain your own enlightenment.
  4. Learn to tell stories.

    • Leadership is all about inspiring others. So when tech people have great ideas, instead of trying to appeal your ideas to your audience through logic or trend or data, on top of that, I think we should be able to weave our idea into stories, especially having the end user as the main character. How will we change their lives?
Transcript

Episode Introduction [00:01:01]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:01:01] Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Tech Lead Journal podcast. Really excited to be back here again to share with all of you my conversation with another great technical leader in the industry. Thank you for tuning in and spending your time with me today listening to this episode. If you’re new to the podcast, know that Tech Lead Journal is available for you to subscribe on major podcast apps, such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, YouTube, and many others. Also, please check out and follow Tech Lead Journal social media channels on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Every day, you will find words of wisdom from the latest podcast episode, and I share them on those channels to give us some inspiration and motivation for us to get better each day.

And if you’d like to make some contribution to the show and support the creation of this podcast, please consider joining as a patron by visiting techleadjournal.dev/patron. I highly appreciate any kind of support and your contribution would help me towards sustainably producing this show every week.

For today’s episode, I am so excited to share my lovely conversation with Jin Kang Møller. Jin is an award-winning customer experience strategists, design practitioner, and the author of “The Simplicity Playbook for Innovators“. She held design leadership positions to create values and bottom-line impact for 20 years in the large financial services firms, such as OCBC Bank in Singapore and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, and has led user experience consulting services for pharmaceutical companies. Her design methodologies have helped wealth management, private and retail banking, and also insurance businesses to drive successful customer experience and digital transformation initiatives. She was the driving force behind FRANK by OCBC, an award-winning millennial banking concept, and the OCBC OneWealth app, which drove successful digital sales and won her a Singapore Good Design Mark Gold award in 2017.

Simplicity. I’m sure all of us have heard this term being mentioned a few times in books, courses, seminars, and trainings. It is one of the words that is commonly coined these days that is highly associated with great user experience, efficient workflow and business processes. However, simplicity itself is sometimes vaguely described, and many people have different interpretations of it.

In this episode, Jin shared with me her unique and insightful perspectives on simplicity, and how by striving toward simplicity, it will naturally lead to great innovations. She shared with me in detail her powerful framework, “Simplicity Diamond“ and its five different facets, that is extremely powerful to help us embrace simplicity in dealing with different aspects of business practices, products, and services. She also shared her point of view on agile and design thinking, and how we can combine both methodologies together in order to solve the right problems for our customers and users. You also do not want to miss her fun sharing on a concept called “pain sponge”, which provides a great mindset analogy for delivering better customer experience!

I really enjoy my conversation with Jin. I learned a lot and I hope you will enjoy this episode as well. And if you like it, consider helping the show by leaving it a rating, review, or comment on your podcast app or social media channels. Those reviews and comments are one of the best ways to get this podcast to reach more listeners, and hopefully they can also benefit from the contents in this podcast. So let’s get this episode started right after our sponsor message.

Introduction [00:05:22]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:05:22] Hey, everyone. Welcome back to another show of the Tech Lead Journal podcast. Today, I have a special guest with me. Her name is Jin Kang. I hope I pronounce the name correctly. So, I found Jin’s book in one of the local bookstore a few weeks back. So the book stood out for me, because the shape, it’s vertically tall instead of horizontal or like normal book size. And it has a very interesting cover in order to promote the message about simplicity. The book is called “The Simplicity Playbook for Innovators.” So I find that the message inside is pretty good. Jin also spend a lot of time in Singapore, and that’s why a lot of stories in the book actually came from her experience in Singapore. So Jin, looking forward to have a chat with you. Hopefully you can educate us about simplicity.

Jin Kang Møller: [00:06:07] Thanks for having me.

Career Journey [00:06:08]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:06:08] So Jin, as normal in my podcast, to start with, would you be able to introduce yourself? Maybe about your career journey, any highlights or turning points?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:06:17] Okay. So yes. My journey has started as a designer. So I studied visual communication and product design in South Korea. So my name, Jin Kang, comes from South Korean name. If you’re into Korean dramas, probably you’re familiar with those names. Back in the days, design was really about making stuff. We didn’t talk about design thinking or innovation. So I come from that background where we were very mindful of, or very excited about the art of making, the craft side of design. So I remember one of the classes were car design class, where we had to sand this plastic to model the shape of the car. And there has been product design class where I had to go out and observe people. Trying to write down everything and then come out with the ideas and sketch out a lot of concepts. So that was my background. So I think this idea of design as a craft shaped my design practice as well as principles even now. I mean, as the concept of design has evolved so much. So I started my career as user experience designer. My career has started in Switzerland, and I was working as the usability expert and UI designers for mainly pharmaceutical company. So I haven’t started my design journey in a very sexy place where, you know, ads or creative. I was very busy with clarifying the complex stuff. But I’ve found that, that was very rewarding. Because pharmaceutical, as well as financial services are very important part of people’s business, yet it was very designed from an organizational point of view. So that was my motivation.

The turning point really came when I chanced upon the word “user experience.” It was a quite new word then. At that time, it was more about usability or user interface design. I learned the term when Google’s, I mean, now she is the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, when she was heading the user experience team at Google, she was featured in Fortune. Like the woman behind Google’s experience, or something like that. And then the idea of experience really capture my attention. “Wow. Experience.” People like us can design human experience. Then around the time, I happened to be at a usability conference. There’s nobody talked about experience that time. And then I met somebody who was heading customer experience team at Credit Suisse. Then my eyes were widened, “Oh my God, I have to work there.” So I immediately walked into this guy and talked to him, and I happened to get a job there. And of course he became my mentor and life-long friend. So that’s how I started my so-called design journey. Back in around the time the global financial crisis happened, as a customer experience designer. And it was fascinating to me because the idea of usability can be applied in many aspects of the experience, such as process, paper, product, anything, even the physical space. So then interesting opportunity came up. The idea that we can start this customer experience practice in Singapore, directly under the CEO’s strategy. So, some people from Credit Suisse, we moved to take up this opportunity.

We, one of the founding members of group customer experience in OCBC bank, one of the largest banks in Singapore. And then we started this journey. How do we really use the customer centricity, design the experience? So that the reason why people bank with us, it’s not because we offer slightly better interest rate. It’s not because the brand happened to be just nearby. It’s because the experience is way better. That job was supposed to last two years, cause I had a two years contract. In the thinking that, okay, two years let’s work really hard. I’m going to go back. But then, I think the idea of designing a new experience and driving change took a long time. It was not an easy process. At the same time, very rewarding process. So I ended up staying with the OCBC bank almost 10 years. During that time, my last turning point came in when you know the idea of design cannot be reside in one department. We started as a group customer experience. But with the digital technology and FinTech, disruptive technology around us, the idea that these kind of capabilities can be driven by a few individuals in a team didn’t really work for the bank. There’s a mandate to look for ways to scale with this way of thinking.

So since 2017, I’ve been very interested in looking at what is the commonality between, let’s say, agile or design thinking or lean? I mean, there are a lot of methodologies out there. And what are the principles rather than methods that can really empower every single individuals to really challenge the status quo and make the right decision in whatever they do? And I begin to believe that design as a tool can be really powerful. That can drive change and to empower people, and to bring people together to solve problems more creative way. So, yeah, so that has been my journey. The book I’ve written really captures big part of my journey. How the idea of experience, simple experience can drive the competitive advantage. At the same time, this doesn’t have to be the artwork of genius. It can be really, anyone who’s mindful of those principles and tools and applying it, and then having fun along the way. So that was my journey. Sorry. I think it was really long introduction.

Challenges Introducing Customer Experience [00:11:38]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:11:38] That’s all right. So thanks for sharing your story. When I read the book, a lot of examples came from your 10 years experience in OCBC. So you must have overcome some challenges in terms of changing the mindset of the traditional bank thinking, right? Like, for example, how do you implement this whole customer experience? Revamping it, or even like invent a new way of doing business with the customers? So what are some of the challenges that you overcame when you work on these challenges?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:12:04] Hmm. Well, there have been many challenges. I think there are maybe three things. One is the idea of customer centric. A lot of companies say it, but how do we really walk the talk? So for instance, in order to do something that is useful and easy and pleasurable for customers. We have to understand who they are, what they do, how they behave. But then the research practice has been very much based on the quantitative. We quickly want to run survey and understand, “Oh actually we don’t have to run the research because the famous consulting companies like McKinsey, they already have paper, so we know what they want.” So the idea that we can really stay humble, try to go out there, see people. It was a big mindset shift for many project members. Why do we need to spend time in really talking to real user when we have a data? So that was one of the thing.

But then the way me and my team members overcame with it was really involving them in their research process. We, bunch of designers, we went out, and we spoke to people and “Ta-da”. This is the outcome. When we involve them, our stakeholders, who’s the owner of the product or process or channel in the research process as observer. So we would rather expose what people say, how people do things in front of them. It’s more like giving our stakeholders opportunity to see how users are behaving and thinking and saying directly. So that was very interesting process because the moment people see, something changes in them. So I call it power of empathy. Because empathy is not a personal trait. Nurses are usually very empathetic. So people think, “Oh yeah, empathy, of course we have to be empathetic.” But it may not be very tangible. “What does it mean to be empathetic in our project?” But I think it’s really more of having that opportunity to meet people directly, see people directly, then something changes in someone. I believe that there is a direct connection between being able to empathize and being able to see the problem differently. So when stakeholders experienced it, they wanted more. They see the need for why time spent understanding customers’ behavior at a greater depth, that really pays off. So that’s one thing.

Another challenge could be the idea that, “Oh, design thinking takes too long. We have to deliver this by yesterday. My boss wanted it like now.” “Oh, let’s not do design thinking. Let’s do agile.” So they look at the method as if agile will make us faster, design thinking make us go deeper and soul searching kind of thing. Whereas, I think, one of the things I learned is that it’s not about what methods we adopt. It’s really about the proficiency. When people are master at something, then the speed comes naturally. So one of the way I overcame was, first of all, to send out the message. It’s not about agile or design thinking. Actually, there’s a huge overlap between those two things. And really showing the impact by timeboxing it. When we are able to focus, even though we spend time with the customers and we spend time in prototyping many options, if you are good at it, you can be actually very fast. So that was the second thing.

Third thing might be the importance of storytelling. I think people find it hard to change because they don’t see the need for it. In order to really inspire people, why we need to go that direction? Why we need to shift our thinking? The best way to do it is not through building very smart PowerPoint. It’s really to tell stories. Sometimes we would take a video of our consumer’s day in our life. Sometimes we would record some of the quotes. How they struggle in making certain financial decision. And those stories can move our stakeholders, so that they see the need for change.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:16:02] I like the last part where you tell about storytelling. Because in the last few years or so, I think I found a lot of advertisements this day is about storytelling. How the business is actually conveying what they do by telling a story inside the advertisement. Things like, for example, insurance, banking and so on. I think this is quite heart warming, I should say, because the customers can relate better to what the business is doing.

Simplicity [00:16:24]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:16:24] Which brought me into the topic of the day, which is about simplicity. Your book is all about simplicity. So it’s very simple to say, but what is actually the definition of simplicity?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:16:36] So before I answered that, what do you think is a simplicity?

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:16:41] Well, in my opinion, simplicity is something that is not taking a lot of times to think about. Not taking a lot of times to take action. Less hurdle, less friction. Is that good enough?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:16:53] It’s perfect. You know, funny enough, that was the hardest part of the book. I’ve written, I don’t know, 60000 words. And then I wasn’t convinced with my own definition. Actually, my initial definition was simplicity is a lens through innovation. But then it doesn’t really answer to what really is simple. So I went through some soul searching phase before I finalise this book. So I boiled down to two essential things. One is exactly what you said. Things have to be easy, less effort. So the Oxford dictionary actually defines it, as simplicity is something that makes things easy to do. But then I felt that is not enough. It doesn’t really differentiate your brand. There are a lot of things that you can do easy, but why certain brand or certain apps sticks with you? Why certain products don’t? I think it lies with the emotional part of simplicity. When we look at our life, when is the moment you feel, “Ah, that was simple!”? I often think about the coffee on a Sunday morning. I just got up. I just got a cup of my coffee and I drink and I feel at that moment, nothing worries me. Such a simple act makes me happy. So the way I define simplicity is the act of doing something easy, combined with positive, emotional effect. So in one sentence, simplicity is an experience that make things easy for users, and that leaves positive emotions. Because that emotion makes you feel great. That emotions make you want to do more business with some product or brands. So usability part and the emotional part combined together. That’s what I mean by simplicity in the book.

Simplicity Drives Innovation [00:18:31]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:18:31] Wow. I really love it actually, because the emotion part, I think we tend to neglect that. When we think about simplicity, it’s all about okay, complex process, complex something, and we just simplify it. But we tend to miss the emotion part. Which you highlight that it should bring a positive emotional impact, which is pretty good. And you also link simplicity with innovation. You are saying that the simplicity actually leads to innovation. I mean, I couldn’t see it in the first place. Maybe you can share with the audience, how can simplicity actually lead to innovation?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:19:00] Yeah. So there was more like my discovery. It’s not that I started with that concept. To make a confession, when I joined OCBC, and also working as a customer experience designer, I really didn’t like the word innovation. The word innovation makes me feel anxious, and I feel it’s so hollow. Innovate what? For what sake? Whose sake? And how? So the word innovation just makes people feel frantic. Look for what others are doing rather than really focus on what matters. Whenever people asked me questions about innovation, “Oh, I don’t believe in innovation.” To me, innovation is doing the right things in a better way. So I didn’t really connect what I’ve been doing and innovation. I just didn’t like innovation as a term. But then, all the work I’ve done, most project work was about improving customer experience. How can you make the digital experience simple when they want to have a financial transaction with them? How can you make this product easy to understand? How can you make the process easier for customers?

So, as we are pursuing for the benefit of customer experience, we found the result being just amazing. We ended up coming up with completely new way of interacting with the customer. We ended up designing our mobile banking in a very different way. We ended up looking at the wealth management services. What if wealth management is not about managing wealth? It’s about building confidence. So it really allow us to look at opportunities that other competitors could not have seen. So after, I don’t know, seven, eight years of repeating this process, maybe there’s a connection. When we look for opportunities to simplify, the innovation kind of comes naturally. Then I discovered there are a lot of practitioners who already discovered that secret. So I described some of the examples in the book. I think one of the guys who has been very successful investor, who will be looking for simpler businesses, then he knows these businesses will win the market. So people who are in this field or in the innovation or investment, they seem to know the secret already. Maybe I discovered a little too late. But I thought, okay, still maybe it’s never late to share the method and learnings I have. And then I decided to focus on the method rather than why it connects, because there are already a lot of books out there.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:21:22] So, if we can go deeper before the method. How do you actually connect it? Because when you say you want to achieve simplicity, does it translate straightaway automatically into innovation? How can you connect this?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:21:34] Well, from my journey, the intent was never to, in order to innovate, let’s simplify or as my book says otherwise. Because that’s what I learned. To me, it’s really about the question we need to be asking in a company is how can you offer better experience? Simplicity play a big role of it. Maybe the idea of simple doesn’t resonate with some companies. And also, when I say simplicity, it’s a little bit different from being minimalistic. Because minimalistic and simplicity has a lot of overlap such as knowing essential, like reducing and all that. But the goal is different. The minimalism might be, the goal is to reduce. But simplicity is the goal is to create that emotional effect of being simply lovable, simply confident. Whichever adjective that can work for a certain organization best. So to me, in a way, I used the word simplicity. My message to a lot of companies who deals with the complex issues will be, why don’t you find innovation opportunity in designing experiences, better experiences? Rather than let’s innovate because technology is out there, or because our competitors are doing this. Personally, because I came from the financial services industry where the complexity is so dominant, and I thought simplicity could be one keyword that can really allow us to have this dialogue. But if you asked me the better connection I can suggest would be designing a better experience would lead us to innovate.

Simplicity Diamond [00:23:04]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:23:04] I love that as well. You have a very powerful framework that you mentioned in the book which is called “Simplicity Diamond.” Would you be able to share with us, what is this diamond about? What are some of the principles behind it?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:23:15] Okay. So, simplicity diamond. These are the five principles that I felt kind of key in any sort of project you may deal with. Although these were distilled into those five things based on my experience in the financial services. When I exposed this framework to executives in non-financial services, they resonate with those principles. So I think these five are the one that can really help us to start, and also to mature the journey. So the five principles deals with the different aspects of business practice.

First principle is called “Get fueled by empathy” that is related to our research practice. So the whole idea that I want to promote here is how empathy is a strategic asset, not just nice to do in really shaping our perspectives, in looking at really interesting innovation opportunities. I introduce tools and frameworks that makes so-called the design research much more relatable. And giving confidence why this can really compliment the other research practices that people may do. I’m not suggesting they have to be completely replaced. It can really compliment the current research practices that a lot of companies do. So that’s first one.

The second principle is called “Dance with complexity”. It refers to a lot to do with the way we collaborate. I like the idea of dance. I don’t mean the solo dancing, it’s more like the ballroom dancing dance kind of dance. Because in order to solve a complex problem, your own ability expertise is never enough. Because we need to understand the different facets of the subject matter. So we need to work with our legal and compliance. We need to work with product expert. We need to work with tech person. So how do we bring those people together and really understand the subject matter and simplify it? I have this conviction, anything can be simplified if you bring the right people, if you enable them to solve the problem. So here I talk about some of the methods, how to really make that collaboration and problem-solving process, easy and fun and possible. Such as I think visual facilitation is one of the method that I highly promote. Because when things are visualized, everything become transparent, and people can challenge those. Why it had to be that way? As opposed to think in abstract terms. The get fueled by empathy and the dance with complexity sits at the bottom of the diamond because it kind of fuels the rest.

And then the top three, one of the principles is the “Focus”. It’s really about now that we understood what customers really want, we were charged by empathy, we wear the new lens to look at problems, we know how to work with other people. Now, where to focus? What is that one or two things that we can do really well? As opposed to try to do everything. I mean, resources are finite. We cannot be good at everything. The topic of focus is a lot to do with the value proposition, the crafting that value. So I suggest this diagram, the overlap between your customer’s why and your business’ why. So really understanding customer’s true jobs to be done. What are they trying to do? And what is our business trying to do? What is that interesting overlap? I call it the sweet spot. So identifying that and articulating it will be the third principles.

Fourth one, which a lot of people love is called “Speak human”. This is about the practice of communications. Well, when we say design, people typically think about layout and the color, typography, buttons, images, et cetera. But the way we write is actually a design, right? Especially these days, things are getting more conversational, chatbots, voice command. There’s no such thing as a visual button. So, I think the scope of design has expanded. Of course the language always has been part of the design, but I think now it became much more important. And also, I often see the way we write on touchpoint, whether it’s on the website or on an app or brochure, it is often a blind spot. People spend so much time in making it right, in terms of layout and interaction and whatnot, but then the copywriting, it’s just so business centric. So just by writing in a human way, we can not only bring our personality, but also it can really help people to connect with you. And the plus point of this principle that a lot of people love about is that it can be a quick fix. Whereas let’s say, dance with complexity or changing the research practice might be quite complicated because you have to involve a lot of people, you have to change the status quo. Whereas imagine you don’t change anything about your website, but you change the copy, the way you write. You can immediately see the impact. So, this can become very powerful tool to start, if you cannot change the rest.

The fifth principle is called “Design lovable experiences”. This is kind of a bringing it all together. So I really struggled how to position this. But one of the key methods I want to live with here is that why emotions really matter, because human beings are emotional beings. And in order to make that work, we need to take the aesthetic part of the design very seriously. I think the design thinking, the word became so popular, so we may have lost the significance of the look and feel part. Because now we are talking about design as (the process of) solving problem. While actually look and feel is as important. So I wanted to leave this message that don’t end at functionally good product. The end goal really is to leave the positive emotion that is materialized through amazing look and feel.

Get Fueled by Empathy [00:29:01]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:29:01] Thanks for sharing your simplicity diamond. I think each facet is pretty interesting. So I’d like to go deeper for each of the facets, if you don’t mind. You start in the beginning with empathy. I think this word is like a jargon this day. Everyone is saying it. We have to be empathetic. We have to show customer empathy and things like that. What is your definition of empathy? And you kind of mentioned it in the book, that simplicity actually starts with empathy. How can you see that relation?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:29:28] First of all, definition of empathy is quite simple. It’s the ability to understand how other people think and feel, and our ability to see the world through their eyes. So it really involves more than your head. It involves your eyes. It involve your heart, because you need to feel what they’re feeling. So that’s the definition. And as I said, why the term empathy is used, like you mentioned, even jargon, it’s true. We know empathy is good. But there is a strategic reason behind why we have to cultivate empathy in an organization. Especially if you are to task to come up with innovation and digital transformation strategy and so forth. It’s because when people are given opportunity to empathize, something changes in us to see the problem differently. So that means the research practice has to change. That means we should forget about building really nice presentation deck. What we found out, the better time spent, would be really bringing the stakeholders closer to the users. Of course, we are not bunch of stalkers. We cannot always do that.

Then what if we capture those customers’ behavior or what they are saying, their feeling in a more rich storytelling form so that your stakeholders, who will need to solve the problem with you, can really feel the way you feel. I know a lot of technical people and designers, we are very passionate people. We know changes have to be done because we are at the front end. We are seeing the user. We are testing. Whereas the key decision makers may not feel it. So to me, empathy is a tool to really make them feel. So this is why I call it, it’s a fuel. So that’s the definition and my point of view, how we can make use of it. How is that connected to simplicity? Can you tell me one kind of example, when did you feel something was simple?

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:31:14] I like these days, the taxi ride hailing app. Before we had to maybe call or went out to the side of the road just to flag a taxi. But these days you can always book a taxi. Maybe even some apps allow you to do it in few clicks and then boom, the taxi arrives.

Jin Kang Møller: [00:31:29] Yes. So that felt simple. Why do you think it is? Why is it simpler than the old days? I mean, there was a phone number, right? You can call a taxi 10 years ago, I think.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:31:39] I think it’s more convenient, and it’s self service. I just need to key in the important details without having to talk. Spend a few minutes just to talk and express my intention. In fact, some apps allow you to personalize, like they save your preference, your address, and things like that. So it allows me to do what I intend to do within a few seconds.

Jin Kang Møller: [00:31:58] Mm. Yeah. That’s right. So I think this is a good example. Cause I remember when I had to call the taxi before the whole Grab and Uber era, I had to dial the number. I had to explain the same information again and again, “Oh, I live in Scotts Road, here and there.” And then sometimes you have to wait and then maybe you are walking down the staircase because you have to pick up your child. So by looking at those behavior, how can you help people to get home faster, easier? But then you may have this idea that what if, clearly taxi is not enough. Hence we have to leverage the private cars. But then people may not trust. So, how can you then build a trust? How can we make this service is something we can share? So that people don’t feel, “Okay, I’m on a stranger’s car” or something like that.

So by looking at people’s behavior and also talking to people, why do you prefer doing this? Or what if you get on somebody’s car, how do you feel? “Oh ya, I’m afraid. What if I’m kidnapped or whatever?” So those things will help you to find a way to solve their problem, and also to deliver the better experience. So I think the way the simplicity and empathy is connected is because the source of ideas lies in people. By understanding them as a whole person will help us to come up with those ideas where to simplify and how to simplify. But to me, that’s the connection.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:33:17] I can see the connection clearly now. So, if you empathize with people, you want to help solve their problems in a humanly possible way. Every human loves a simple act of things. So nobody likes complexity, I’m sure.

Jin Kang Møller: [00:33:29] Yeah.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:33:30] So by empathizing, helping to solve people problems, and that’s why you will try to aim to come up with a simple solution as much as possible. And that’s why I think probably you can help to achieve simplicity. If I can summarize it.

Jin Kang Møller: [00:33:42] But at the same time, imagine if I was asking users like way before Grab and Uber days, “what will be the way to make your life easier?” Then people may say, “Oh yeah. Then make the taxi available every time.” Or they may suggest a few ideas. But then they may not be the innovation. The idea comes from observing their behavior. Why they struggle? So I think one of the mistakes that a lot of companies make is asking their users, what do you want? Some consumers may tell you what they want, which may be the right problem to solve. But I think first of all, it’s not customer’s job to tell us what will be the next big idea. And they cannot tell us. So we need to take the ownership. It is our job. What consumers can do for us is to share their behaviors, share their need. And it’s our job to interpret, to come up with the innovation opportunities. So that’s why I think the idea that, not just a survey or asking people. If there’s one thing we could do, what would that be? Those typical research questions, it really hinders organization from go deeper to look for really interesting yet obvious innovation opportunities. So that’s why I insist a lot on the research method has to be much more experiential, and we need to go deeper rather than increasing the sample size. Because the goal here is to get inspired and identify opportunities that other people didn’t see.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:35:05] Yeah. There’s a famous saying, I think it was Henry Ford. If you ask people, what do they want that time? They want faster horse, instead of a car.

Jin Kang Møller: [00:35:14] He noticed that what people want is a going A to B faster. Hence, he came up with the idea. Yeah. I think that’s a very good analogy.

Dancing with Complexity [00:35:20]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:35:20] So let’s move on to the next facet which is about dancing with complexity. There’s one thing that you explained pretty uniquely, which is the term called pain sponge. I know I can associate pain with complexity. But tell us a little bit more, what do you mean by pain sponge?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:35:36] Well, okay. So the dance with complexity, as I mentioned previously, it has a lot of methods. How to prototype? How to visualize? And how to engage stakeholders? How to co-create? But then pain sponge is more like a mindset. So when we are in a project such as improving customer experience, and whether we use the word simplicity or not, actually it’s quite hard. To make things simple is not easy. Sometimes I felt like giving up, cause it just, people say, no, we still have to add this information and why. It’s because of we’ve been always doing this way or MAS wouldn’t approve it. There are so many reasons, but then you have to kind of go as a detective. Is it really true? Is there any other way we can do? So that work of simplicity requires a lot of energy and passion and discipline.

There was a real situation where I was bearing myself, because at that time I was simplifying one of our forms that is related to making investment decisions. So it was like 12 pages. Not only the page number but also the content was very complicated. And I was like staying up really late and working really hard. And then my boss passed by, and then he said, “Jin, this is what is required to make things simple. So just suck it up.” And he said that. So I was like, “Yeah, I’m trying to suck it up, but it’s just a pain. It’s just so hard to swallow.” And then the next day, he actually came to my desk with a real, like a big sponge which is used for like scrubbing floors. And then he has written “pain sponge” with a marker and then put it on my table and I had to laugh so much. And then when I was looking at the sponge, yeah, actually, this is a great analogy kind of mindset that we need to have. So the sponge, if you think about it, if you spill milk, then you would soak those messy milk with your sponge. Then by the time your sponge became ugly and soaked with milk, the table become clean. So then I realized, okay, what if our mindset is like, we’re sponge, the spilled milk is the pain. So the more pain we absorb, the less pain there is left for customers. And then my thinking went further, I was like over engineering here. Maybe pain is like, there’s the physics term, law of conservation. So you cannot remove or reduce pain. Amount of pain will be always there. I mean, if you would just replace the mass with pain. Then, are you going to leave that pain for your customer to soak it up? Or are you going to do it? So there’s an inverse relation between the amount of pain you’re going to suck up and then the better customer experience it’s going to be. So we’ve been having good time with this pain sponge. Everyone in the team had owned sponge on the table to really promote the idea, designing customer experience is painful, but we are the sponge. Yes. That’s how the pain sponge came about.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:38:21] Wow. It’s pretty interesting story and very insightful, in fact. I like it. The law of conservation, right? So either you pass the pain to the customers or you actually, so to speak, suck it up, and then bear the pain for the customers. I really liked that.

Focus [00:38:33]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:38:33] So let’s go to the next facet which is about focus. I know these days we have these tough problems which is like, there are so many information available. There are so many technologies coming to us. So many business opportunities. So many problems to solve. In the first place, how can we actually focus? Because we all seem to want to accomplish many things. But it is actually to the detriment of being simple, right? Like you just want to focus on few things. So how can you balance this? Like for a company to achieve simplicity. But they don’t feel fear of missing out, in a sense.

Jin Kang Møller: [00:39:08] That’s right. Yes, so focus is hard, right? I mean, probably this is the hardest thing we can do. If you reflect our personal life. Why do we have so many clothes in our closet? It’s just a hard to choose and hard to get rid of. So, yeah, FOMO is real in business context. And especially when the competitors are moving fast, non-industry players are entering to the market. I mean, the anxiety is real, isn’t it? So you mentioned very interesting thing, you know, yet we need to focus on the fewer things. Maybe it doesn’t have to be fewer things. So the idea of focus, of course, it will be materialized into fewer. But I think it’s a lot about finding the right thing to do. One of the concept I talk about is the notion jobs to be done. This is a term that was coined by the Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, which is widely known theory. I don’t have to probably go through it in depth. But I find the concept extremely useful in really understanding, what is the thing we need to be doing?

So let’s say, just as a simple example, we wanted to let’s say design a new service for we call it the emerging affluent. Those young people who increasingly gaining wealth, but they’re not yet private banking customers. So they don’t belong to a certain segment, but then we see those emerging affluent people coming up. What is our proposition? What are the things we need to focus? Do we need to offer relationship manager? Do we need to give them digital tools? I mean, there are a lot of ideas out there. But then when we look at their behavior, how do they currently make money? We may realize that what they want is not the typical banking service. There has been a lot of ideas. What if we offer them a special portal or dedicated relationship manager who can really bring them their wealth to the next level? But then we found, they are very sufficient kind of people. So we had to understand what are they really trying to do? And then we found that since they are young, they were very busy with ticking up their milestones. Having a baby. I want to have enough money saved so that I can start my own business because I really want to kick start my business. I may be working for a corporate, but launching business has been my passion. Some people may want to focus on family, or some people want to pursue the world, travel, whatever. But they seem to have a certain milestones that people want to get done, and they are very busy with it.

So to me, that’s the job. Ticking off important milestone, getting married, having a kid, launching my business. Then what if we know those jobs, work backwards instead of what are the products and services we need to offer? The better question is, what are the things we can do for them to tick off their milestones? That creates focus. Not because we are asking business to reduce whatever you are doing. If we know what people are trying to do, the true jobs to be done, then we can optimize our resources to really bring our value proposition powerful, and that resonate with our consumers. So while fewer things will come as a result, but really knowing the true jobs to be done, to me that is the key concept. That can really guide us like the North Star when we are so distracted by this temptation, wanting to offer more things. Cause a job won’t change. I mean, you mentioned that you may have like a noise from your child. When you have a child, you have certain things you want to do in life. So if you focus on those true jobs, to me that’s real focus. Rather than are we going to reduce certain things down to fewer things? Yeah. So that’s why I suggest the shift from doing more to less, but a fewer but better. So that fewer actually meant more on the knowing that fewer jobs, the really important jobs that consumers trying to get done.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:42:57] Again, pretty insightful. Because I think, yes, I agree that focus should not be just lesser or fewer, but also it has to be aligned with maybe your values, right? Your North Star, like you mentioned. Or the things like in business context, the jobs to be done for your customers. Love that, really.

Speak Human [00:43:12]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:43:12] So let’s move to the next facet which you said many people actually find it interesting, which is called “speak human”. And I know you have this thing called “10 commandments of speaking human”. We would probably not cover everything. But if we can mention some of them for people to learn about. So what are some of the commandments that you want to share with us?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:43:32] Oh well, I mean, since Henry you read the book which are the points that you liked most? Maybe then we can start from there. I liked them all, so it’s very hard for me to choose.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:43:41] Okay. Let’s start with the first one which is “go for clarity, not conciseness”.

Jin Kang Møller: [00:43:46] Okay. So this is the one that you resonated most?

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:43:49] I mean, it’s one of the things that strike out for me because when we try to simplify, most people again, think of it like shorter sentences, or use a word that can catch as much meaning as possible. But you say, go for clarity, not conciseness.

Jin Kang Møller: [00:44:04] Mm mm. Yes, you are right. When it comes to simplifying, especially designing digital touchpoint. People think that the shorter, the better. What word could be most efficient in communicating that meaning. But then, the key here is how can we sound more human? So the example I share with you here, when you have the internet banking screen to transfer funds, instead of a “beneficiary account information”, three words, very efficient, yet, “who would you like to transfer money to?” It’s actually a longer. But it feels just simpler. And then instead of “the destination account”, you can say “select your account to debit from”. So I think the benefits are twofold. One is it sounds friendly. Second thing is it makes it clear in many situations. Sometimes people may not know what beneficiary mean. I mean, if you are so used to those terms, yes. But actually when I came to Singapore first time, the word beneficiary was “Oh, what does it mean beneficiary?” Whereas “who do you want to send money to,” we just get it. So it can really clarify. So the goal should be clarity rather than conciseness. That’s something I learned in the process.

There are some other examples in the book, especially when you talk about the product features. When you try to reduce it into fewer sentences, the meaning is already lost. As a consumer, it’s very hard to understand what it means. So we need to put a little bit effort. Maybe internally we say that way, we understand, but do consumers really understand? What if we were explaining the face-to-face, would you use a 24 hour worldwide emergency medical assistant? I mean, we wouldn’t say that way. Oh yeah, something happened to you while you are traveling, we make sure to evacuate you and then we will send you home. So the whole idea of these 10 commandments were inspired by how can we speak like a human. And I think this trend is not new. When you look at great website, especially those startups, they are already taking that human tone. There’s no such a thing as a short humanless voiceless terms. These are all humanized. So I find the key thread of writing clearly in adapting the human tone, the way we speak.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:46:14] So love that. Especially the example that you gave, beneficiary. In the first place, when I read that word, I also did not know like, what the hell is this? And I could still see it in many finance products, insurance products, and things like that. So there are terms that are very specific to the business, to the domain, that me as a customer, we don’t necessarily understand it nor we probably want to understand it deeper. And that’s why we always have this third parties, right? Like middle layer people, like the financial consultant and things like that. The job is to explain to us what it means rather than for us to just read and understand what it means. So I like that speak human is actually very essential in the products and services that you offer.

Designing Lovable Experience [00:46:54]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:46:54] So let’s move on to the next one which is about lovable experience. So the first thing that stood out for me is that you compare this thing these days, people know about Minimum Viable Product, which sometimes called MVP, and what you coined as a Minimum Lovable Product. So can you explain to us, what do you mean by Minimum Lovable Product? And how do you compare that with MVP?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:47:16] So MVP is a great concept, isn’t it? Coming from the whole lean and agile movement. But then I noticed that in the organization that this word was badly abused, to justify it is okay to launch product that may not work very well. Because we are very interested in learning fast and failing fast, which I agree that it’s good to launch something and then we learn from it. Yet somehow, the true meaning of MVP was kind of misunderstood. The true meaning of a Minimum Viable Product was the minimal version that will allow us to maximize the learning about the customer. So that is the original definition by Eric Ries, who came up with this concept. The maximize learning is completely ignored, and then people will just launch some things just for the sake of launching it, saying that we’re going to improve it in phase two. But as you know, phase two never come. Phase two become like a bucket list or like a parking lot. Not that MVP is wrong. I mean, I really think that by releasing something, if you can maximize your learning, if you use it to your true intent, this is a great concept. It’s just that because of the word minimal viable product. We are abusing this word by justifying not great product being able to launch in the marketplace.

So to change the mindset internally in OCBC Bank, I introduced the term Minimum Lovable Product. Just by changing viable to lovable, it makes people wonder, “Huh? What is lovable?” Well, lovable means that users will love it. Maybe there’s a one thing, small thing, whatever it is. There’s the one reason why people will be emotionally engaged with us. So, okay, this product is not perfect. We haven’t launched the full features. Yet, is there anything that can make people love our product or services? It can really shape people’s mindset. So I think that’s very powerful way of actually being more true to the Minimum Viable Product as the original concept.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:49:13] And also you relate lovable a lot with aesthetics, right? The beauty part of either the visuals or the experience. Can you share with us, what is the importance of aesthetics these days? I know that as a human, we love to see beautiful stuffs, but when you see how it gets implemented in services or products, right? How do you actually use this aesthetics inside your products?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:49:35] Yeah. So first of all, you notice that the terminology that I use, like lovable, aesthetics, and beautiful experience. I mean, some people say, “Yeah, because you’re a girl.” You know, the terms that girls use. Some businesses may not relate to lovable. Our business has nothing to do with loving something. But I was mindful of that, and I deliberately chose those words because it can stretch our thinking. As opposed to emotionally satisfying, you know, words like that, or pleasant. These are very safe words. Yet, our app has to be beautiful, as opposed to our app has to be pleasant to look. It just has a different kind of a mental stage, isn’t it? So that’s where the terms comes in. And then, to your question, how the sense of aesthetics related to simplicities? Because again, human beings are emotional being. I mean, as you said, it’s in our nature. We love beautiful things. And it has very strong connection to idea of simplicity. When things are looking great, you are drawn to it. It simplifies people’s decision. “Oh, I just like it.”

That was one of the concepts that FRANK by OCBC, the millennials banking concept that we launched, wanted to create. If you go with rational approach, “Oh, we offer better product. We offer better interest rate. Oh, our people are great.” You go through things like Hardware Zone, compared the product which bank offers the best interest rate? That decision-making process become very complicated. Whereas if people see a card design that, “Oh, yeah, that reminds me of my last trip in Paris. Oh, that reminds me kind of person I am. I want to flesh that out whenever I open my wallet. Decision-making process becomes simpler. So that intuitive connection with your customers can be realized through aesthetics. So we cannot leave it to just branding guidelines. Of course we need to follow the branding guidelines, but being consistent is not enough. It’s really about what are the things that we can do to really create that immediate attraction? And then that can create the immediate decision-making and higher loyalty. So that’s why it is tightly related to the concept of simplicity.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:51:43] Yeah. Again, I didn’t see it that way. When you, for example, present something that is more aesthetically pleasing, it simplifies your decision-making. Listening to what you said, I think it makes sense. I think that’s where the importance of beautifying your products and services is really, really important when you work with customers and users.

How to Embark on Simplicity Journey [00:52:01]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:52:01] So again, thanks for sharing all these simplicity diamond framework and the essence of the principles. But again, for people who wants to start embarking on this journey, how can they start? Especially when they work in traditional companies. Or is there any difference if they work in a startups? Like company that has no legacy, so to speak.

Jin Kang Møller: [00:52:20] Well, I mean, the book clearly has written based on my experience in legacy company. So I’m going say, I don’t have enough experience, talk on behalf of startup companies. But again, the idea of simplicity, whether you are designing something for your customers as a startup or as a legacy company, it’s same, isn’t it? Since my idea is really to focus on your customers, so I think they can also benefit from this concept. Where to start? I typically suggest, ideally we look at how do we do research? How do we work with our team and stakeholders? How do we create value proposition? And how do we then create the lovable experience? Ideally, it has to be done in sequence. But it doesn’t have to be. We can really start from whichever principles that speak to us most. So that’s why I’ve seen many companies who start from speak human before they go to change the research or whatnot. They just look at one of the, it could be website, it could be product brochure. They just start, and then measure the impact. Then tell the story. Then you win the customers, your stakeholders support.

For instance, one of the banks in Korea I had workshop with recently, they said, “Oh, all the five things’ great, but we just don’t have time. Two months later, we have this product launch and next week we have to get our CEO’s buy-in.” And then they ended up just apply speak human concept in one of the new product brochure. They redesign everything, only that brochure level, and then CEO gave them a standing ovation. He said, “Oh, we love it. I immediately get it.” And then they got the support, and they were able to launch on other aspects of their customer experience design. So yes, I think starting somewhere and measuring impact will be the best way to start.

Personal Simplicity [00:54:00]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:54:00] So how about if one wants to implement simplicity in their life? Is that something that you can also apply this simplicity diamond?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:54:09] Well, that is a very difficult question. Because I always say, I promote simplicity at work, but simplifying my whole life is very difficult. That allowed me to have empathy for my partners, who are typically the owner of a product, owner of the channel. My life is my own. So I cannot be a consultant to my own life. But when it comes to own life, I found it’s difficult. It’s very, very difficult. Especially the focus area. What is my true jobs? How can I then prioritize my time? And how can I then design my daily routine in a way that I can really focus on what truly matters? That makes me not only easy to do but also makes me happy. So that’ll be my next research project altogether.

But I think based on the book concept, I really try to reframe every day. Whenever the situation comes in, whenever things go out of the way that I hoped that didn’t happen, I try to reframe from the situation, and then learn from it. Another thing I try to adapt to simplify in life is some sort of idea of prototyping. So what if I really wanted to, let’s say, set up my own business? What if I take one month leave and live that life? What should my daily routine be like? But then I kind of gained clarity through the act of prototyping. So these are the things I do deliberately, consciously. But to be honest with you, I mean, this is a topic that I cannot advise you on.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:55:33] That’s all right. There are things that we can learn, like prototyping. Spend some time to actually do the things that you want and see whether you like it or whether there’s any success coming out of it.

Agile and Design Thinking [00:55:42]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:55:42] So I’m still intrigued, like you mentioned a couple of times in our conversation so far, there are people who think that agile, lean, design thinking, and all this simplicity, they might be at odds with each other. So what will be your message on this topic? How do you think all these methodologies can actually work together side-by-side in order to achieve a bigger outcome?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:56:04] Yeah. So I had to go through agile training myself because I had to understand what it means, and then I’ve been running a lot of other sprints as well. To be honest with you, I think I’ll just compare between design thinking and agile. There’s a huge overlap in terms of empowering people, self-organizing, quickly iterating and learn, and putting customer at the center of the process. We constantly look at what works, what doesn’t. How to use those things? I mean, mainly because there are like agile, like a scrum master and product owners, and what was the design thinking. It’s like so vague, right? There’s no certification. I mean, I’m running certification program with SMU Academy. But to be honest, there’s no one governing body. There’s no different roles, et cetera. So it’s quite hard. So I think this is something I really admire people who found it from that org, really standardize. That’s maybe something that design community has to learn. How do we then standardize a process so that people can adapt from it? So that’s one.

For me, the best formula I found out is the idea of the design thinking can be very powerful, before we get to the product backlog to identify all the things we want to do. Because once we are in the agile mode, it may not give us enough mental space to really go deeper. Timebox is a great concept, not that timebox is wrong. But one of the things I often see is once we have the product backlog, then we are very busy with that iterating and testing and building and all, so we may lose the big picture. So when I designed the design sprint framework, I suggested why don’t we really use design thinking? Not that I want to distinguish those different terms. When we don’t know what problem we are solving, or in other words, at the very beginning of the process. It can be timebox too. So it can be one week or two weeks. This is really time for discovery. So that everyone in the team has the opportunity to empathize with the end users. They already have some high-level picture together.

In this stage, it’s very important to involve people from technology, people from legal and compliance. They shouldn’t be involved only at the later stage. Everybody will come together in the beginning to really explore what kind of problems we are solving. Because today’s environment is changing so fast. The way to win is to identify the right problem to solve rather than we are solving the problem. So I think agile is great in solving. Design thinking can be great in identifying the problem to solve. So hence, in my mental model, I tend to put some sort of exploratory time using design thinking. But then the moment we feel we identify those customer jobs, then I think agile can come in to really iterate what we learn in the initial part of the project. So that’s how I would combine this.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:58:46] Thanks for sharing your connection with this agile and lean. I’m sure many people who are in the industry these days, there are so many methodologies out there. People also like sometimes confused. Okay, should I follow agile? Should I follow lean? Should I follow design thinking, experience design? And so many others, which I probably don’t know. So thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Unfortunately, we have to end the conversation. It’s been a pleasure. A pleasant conversation. I learn a lot.

3 Tech Lead Wisdom [00:59:12]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:59:12] So before we end, I normally ask this question about three technical leadership wisdom. So Jin, would you be able to share your wisdom for us?

Jin Kang Møller: [00:59:20] Okay. So you said three things, right? Can I say four things instead? Okay. I work with so many brilliant technology people. Also, design is actually very technical practice, isn’t it? So, one thing I would like to leave them with would be the self-awareness. What am I really good at? What am I struggling? But at the same time, instead of really focusing on how can I improve my weakness, working on the strengths. I think this is a great way of improving our leadership and scope of influence.

Second thing will be the idea that our energy is finite. Designers and the Tech people are very passionate group of people. We care about what kind of product we are making. Whether people will love our product. We want to challenge the status quo. These are really group of passionate people. Yet, we need to take care of ourselves. So we need to pick a right battle to fight. And the best way of maintaining our energy and passion would be getting our daily routine in order. In terms of giving ourselves good sleep and time to rest and all this. So all those daily practice will lead us to greatness.

The third one, which I believe would be becoming master at something, going deep rather than going broad. As I said, for instance, if you practice design thinking, the proficiency of the tool will breed the agility rather than, Oh, I’m using agile and I’m using design thinking, I’m using lean. Really knowing the method at a greater depth. And having the experience from inception of the project to the implementation. Once you’ve gone through that process, many, many times, I think you will gain your own enlightenment. So that mastery is something that we need in today’s world.

Fourth one is really learn to tell stories. I think leadership is all about inspire others. So when tech people have great ideas, instead of trying to appeal your ideas to your audience through logic or trend or data, on top of that, I think we should be able to weave our idea into stories. Especially having the end user as the main character. How will we change their lives? And I think that will really help us to increase our leadership.

Henry Suryawirawan: [01:01:33] Thanks also for sharing these wisdom. I love the way that you emphasize the fourth wisdom, which is about telling stories. So in a way, this podcast contains a lot of stories from you, where we can all learn as well. And how to achieve simplicity in our work and daily life. So thanks again, Jin. For people who would like to connect with you, or maybe ask further about this topic, where can they find you online?

Jin Kang Møller: [01:01:56] So I have a website called designfulcompany.com, which has been my personal blogging space since I dunno, 2012, when I started my simplicity journey. So you will find my really old blogs there. But now it has become my company website. So it has a tool, and I mean, still the blog is a big component of it. And there are ways to say hi and engage me for any design conversations.

Henry Suryawirawan: [01:02:21] Thanks again, Jin. I hope we can see more and more simplified business process and things like that in the world. Hence it improves our lives and our emotional being.

Jin Kang Møller: [01:02:31] It was my pleasure, and thanks for asking me all those tough questions, which made me to read my book one more time. I really enjoyed all the questions and the conversation with you. Thank you.

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