We at Altitude Labs help businesses come up with strategies in the digital landscape. These businesses range from startups building version one of their product to multinationals who are looking to transform their business. These notes lay out our approach to thinking about and implementing strategy.
If you would like to find out more about how we can think with you, feel free to contact us.
Our approach to strategy is human-centered and action-oriented. By human-centered, we mean that we empathise with the end user and solve their problems. By action-oriented, we mean that we act on the ideas we come up with.
Most consulting firms shy away from acting on what they preach. This is understandably so, because the first version of any strategy is never right. Strategies need to tested, refined and tested again. Overplanning and blind faith on any given strategy leads to months of wasted time and millions of wasted dollars.
Our process involved testing early, learning and adapting. We discuss challenges openly and transparently with our clients as one team and find ways to tackle them. While this might sound uncertain, the process of coming up with something new always is. Sticking to the following principles for coming up and implementing strategy often gets us to something awesome eventually:
We are makers at heart. Instead of spending many months analysing, creating spec lists and creating business plans, we prefer to make it. We find that teams that spend a long time trying to come up with the perfect product find themselves throwing hours down the drain. Shipping a simple version of an idea is the best way to test and get feedback on a strategy. Often we discover unexpected things which lead us to the right track.
At the start of any strategy engagement, we go through a process of coming up with ideas (divergence) followed by a process of selecting or grouping ideas (convergence). In this process, we work together with our clients as one team. The process of divergence generates a large number of ideas within a short amount of time. The process of convergence sifts for the best ideas in an objective manner. The best strategies naturally emerge from such a process.
The best strategy for any business boils down to serving its customers better. We revisit strategy based on feedback and conversations with users. During our design and development process, we allocate structured time for getting feedback and listening to the people who could benefit from what we are building.
We build products iteratively by shipping early and often and bill on a time-basis. This keeps our goals aligned with our clients’ and allows us to act in their best interests. For that reason, we prefer not to take on fixed scope projects. When the specifications of a project are fixed from the get go, we are unable to act in the interest of the product and instead have to use the specifications as the source of truth. This creates a conflict between us and the client.
We see design and engineering as one. Yes, designers and engineers have very different skillsets, but they are really working together to make a single product. Design is more than how it looks and feels; design is the product itself. Likewise, engineering is more than product features; good engineering leads to a scalable and successful product. As such, it is common to see engineers involved in our product design sprints. You’ll also see our designers working beside our engineers during the development phase.