Fulcrum Field Day

November 9, 2020 • #

A fun aspect of working on a business product with a product-led growth strategy that you get to use the your product for in your personal life. I’ve used Fulcrum for creating personal tracking databases, collecting video for OpenStreetMap, and even documenting my map collection.

There’s no better way to build an empathetic perspective of your customer’s life than to go and be one as often as you can.

Last week our team did an afternoon field day where the entire company went out on a scavenger hunt of sorts, using Fulcrum to log some basic neighborhood sightings. 42 people scattered across the US collected 1,230 records in about an hour, which is an impressive pace even if the use case was a simple one!

Data across the nation, and my own fieldwork in St. Pete Data across the nation, and my own fieldwork in St. Pete

It’s unfortunate how easy it is to stray away from the realities of what customers deal with day in and day out. Any respectable product person has a deep appreciation for how their product works for customers on the ground, at least academically. What exercises like this help us do is to get out of the realm of academics and try to do a real job. With B2B software, especially the kind built for particular industrial or domain applications, it’s hard to do this frequently since you aren’t your canonical user; you have to contrive your own mock scenarios to tease out the pain points in workflow.

The problem is that manufactured tests can’t be representative of all the messy realities in utilities, construction, engineering, or the myriad other cases we serve.

There’s no silver bullet for this. Acknowledging imperfect data and remaining aware of the gaps in your knowledge is the foundation. Then fitting your solution to the right problem, at the right altitude, is the way to go.

Exercises like ours last week are always energizing, though. Anytime you can rally attention around what your customers go through every day it’s a worthy cause. The list of observations and feedback is a mile long, and all high value stuff to investigate.