In his blue lab coat, stripy jumper and red boots, Tim Malbon looks every inch the trendy agency man. He is based at Made by many an agency that loves making stuff. They are based in a old factory, complete with brick chimney, and are positioned somewhere in the middle of business strategy, software development and product/service design.
Near the beginning of his talk Tim asks us to imagine a mile-long triangle-shaped tube. Each one of the sides is labelled: one is strategy, one is technology and one is design. He goes on to explain that each side is magnetised and the tube is only centimetres wide. He sees a project as being like threading a thin metal pole through the tube while trying to avoid hitting any of the sides! In other words creating a balance of strategy and design that also embraces technology is difficult – each of the three are constantly demanding the projet team’s full attention.
Tim took us through an inspiring case study, Skye in the classroom. The brief started off as a promotional page trumpeting teachers that used Skype in lessons. Made by many took this idea and did something much more exciting. They created a platform to help teachers connect and bring the world into the classroom. Through the prism of the case study Tim advises others to launch something that is small scale and malleable. By responding to user hacks the product can be refined in a constant cycle of iteration rather than needing to be 100% finished for launch.
It would be wrong of me to not mention ‘the product half-pipe’. This quirky diagram was used to explain that following a project through to the latter stages of refinement and scale is difficult but very important.
I’ll admit, when Tim first came onto the stage I was a bit sidetracked by his hipster wardrobe and unfortunate spelling mistake. He turned out to be a very interesting and engaging speaker, talking about his projects with passion while keeping the tone light and funny. If you get the chance to see him speak I’d thoroughly recommend it.