About Shimoshi NM
Means "useful" in Hebrew
Early-stage product development emphasizes lean principles and processes. Speed is not the same as efficiency, though.
Speed might get an idea to market fast, but what sells does not tell you exactly what is, and is not, performing in your model. You need to understand your optimal product outcomes.
What, exactly, should you create?
What, exactly, defines it?
What is the world like with your thing in it?
Can you explain all of this to funders?
Why an Opportunity Coach?
What would you do if you knew an array of opportunities around your identified problem?
Now that VC and investment bank funds are more scarce, it's even more imperative that entrepreneurs deeply understand their value proposition -- the fundamental and systemic problems their business addresses.
However, entrepreneurs have limited runways. Expert product development is yet another expense.
A seasoned coach can help you make the most of your runway. Know deeply why a problem should be addressed at all, in this way, at this time. Know which behaviors you're tapping and influencing. Know why you and your team are uniquely suited to execute this opportunity because you had your choice of options.
With a coach, your explorations persuade you and your stakeholders that your product is beyond feasible, beyond viable, beyond desirable. It's adoptable. This exact opportunity belongs in reality.
About Susan Wilhite
20+ years in big tech (e.g., Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Splunk, Intuit) working on emerging tech in stealth mode or skunkworks.
MA from UCLA and BA from the University of New Mexico, both in Anthropology. Interests: ecologies and evolution, tool use, ethical & safe tech, dark data, and built environments.
Susan pivoted to Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.
Above photo: Fresh off the Mountain View shuttle bus at day's end wearing a prototype Google-Levi's Jacquard denim jacket and probably listening to a podcast. Off to the dinner line and then the drive home by the ocean.
So -- that's a lot of non-startups in your background. Why should I listen to you about startups?
Stealth and skunkworks in the big leagues are under the same pressures as independent entrepreneurs. They pitch internal supporters and conjure a thing on the cheap that will sell to internal stakeholders. There are NO guarantees and no safety nets - think of all the projects Google killed in their infancy over the years.
Stealth ventures might have more established resources at the start. Still -- why should entrepreneurs ensconced within Big Tech have all the advantages?
Plus, there have been a few early ventures. Some you might know of, some I still can't talk about.
I'm in the entrepreneur ecosystem myself. I see the differences between the brilliant idea versus the true understanding of problems and actionable solutions, how mistakes happen, how ego defeats good intention, when resilience beats raw persistence -- how the sausage is made.
Yup. Someone who thinks deeply about systems and how a thing works or doesn't work in small and large ecological contexts.
As you begin to think about marketing and sales, you're determined to prevent technical and user experience debts. Save yourself many hours correcting misdirections and having to build an expensive customer support team. Make the right thing the right way, out of the box.
"There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after."
The Shimoshi Approach
Startups are experiments. Those experiments are more fun when a real product and business emerge, take flight and can maintain airspeed velocity with or without coconut in tow.
UX Research applies science and some art to gather real-world evidence for a potential product or service.
Sure there's market research that hints at who's likely to buy your thing. But what will it take for users to actually integrate product use into their daily lives? Will your product design inhibit or support your long-term business reputation?
As a general principle, I believe in products that are so great that marketing is unnecessary. In other words, appropriate and desirable products that practically sell themselves.
Product benefits are easy to find and recognize. The product truly contributes to the user's goals, desires. The product is a meaningful factor in the business model. It's not a lemon with a kickass sales force and extensive customer support to make it fly.
Testimonial | Yvette, UX Designer
"As a newer UX designer on a team of one, I wasn’t sure how to begin conducting research in my complex B2B industry. Susan gave me the mentoring and guidance I needed to choose important questions and simpler methods to get started."
"I’ve grown the awareness and understanding of UXR at my organization, partnered with others in my org to get research done, and gained knowledge and confidence that has been invaluable to my overall UX career."
Testimonial | Casey, Marketing Director, SnappyTracker
"If Polywork had a "love your comment" tag, this would be my first use of it. ;)"
HOW AN ANTHROPOLOGIST LANDED IN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
The User Experience career path did not exist when I was an undergrad. But I knew that this discipline was too important to stay nested on library shelves. Anthropology by its nature provokes reframed truth-seeking in scientific, logical, and even poetic ways.
When the US Universal Healthcare machine halted in the mid-90s, I wondered. What industry has an insatiable thirst for foundational research and the deep pockets to pay for it? Behold. There they were in the job listings -- Microsoft hires anthropologists.
It turned out that others had preceded me. Since the 1970s Xerox Parc had brought in anthropologists such as my mentor Carole Browner, later at UCLA. Genevieve Bell, going from Australian child anthropologist to Stanford to Intel. Then Brigitte Jordan, again at Xerox Parc.
Emerging technologies were an early interest. Not because they're cool (which they are) or because I'm a tech geek (which I am not).
It's that email, spreadsheets, and online solitaire games no longer disrupt people's sense of personal identity, social identity, social interactions, group affiliation/belonging, and conceptualizations of humanity in a world mediated by technology. I still want to participate in speculative ecologies - transitions in general. To understand the vulnerabilities and resilience of we humble humans.
"'Tweet' and 'Like' buttons isn't word of mouth. Rather, word of mouth comes from content, thoughtfulness, solved problems, and ease of use -- in short, the whole experience of a product or service."
"Startups often underestimate the time required for experimentation, ultimately leading to their demise."
The Best Time to Scale Up, Harvard Business Review, March-April 2023
“I need to be a little more risk-averse.” Instead of his taking a company for its word, he added, “now, the product needs to make a lot of sense.”
Computer Science Students Face a Shrinking Big Tech Job Market NYT, December 6, 2022
"Do most user research early in the project when it'll have the most impact.
"I don't expect fast growth.
I just don't want to fail because of
some small thing I didn't know."
Healthcare Startup CEO
Concept & Design | Jeff Bridges on The Coen Bros. | The Big Lebowski
"Every scene, it's so chock-full with great stuff. They write together, and I remember asking them, I said, 'How do you guys write and direct together?' I love my brother Bo but, God, I think that would be kind of a nightmare because we have these different opinions.' And I think they said something like, 'Well, we work it out when we're writing it, so when we are there shooting it, we've ironed out all our differences.'
They actually enjoy the process over the result. "We are never going to enjoy watching the movie," said Ethan Coen.
"If you want to do something horrible to people with technology, you must first inflict it on people without social power."
"What amuses me is the belief that making an interface simple to set up "as you like" for 9 bazillion unique configs is cheaper and easier than having 2 user researchers and 3 designers beat the sh*t out of every belief and assumption before dev starts on just the right thing."
Sophie Freiermuth, @wickedgeekie on Twitter
"...recommit to understanding the world, not just the user. To explore the unknown, not just gather requirements."