We're often asked 'what's different about Loomery?'
Depending on the context we're in, some say we look a bit like an agency, others a product team, an innovation lab or a tech delivery partner.
But whatever work we're doing, we've built Loomery to solve the challenges that legacy business models encounter as they try to retro-fit 'product' - and delivering actual progress - to 20th Century practises and incentives.
The problem with trying to do product right in organisations today - and why legacy consultancies dance around it
We’ve all seen tech projects that start fast, then gradually slow and grind to a halt. A small team, often confined to a single department or business unit, looks like they’ve found the secret sauce - but then everything gets stuck.
These projects appear to move fast because they are contained within one corner of the organisation, benefitting from a clarity of priorities and decisions. But we’ve seen time and again that on first exposure to the outside world, or just the rest of the organisation, challenges appear.
Our experience is that ‘insulation’ within a silo typically results in an uneven balance between technology, user and business considerations, for example:
- Perfect new theoretical technical architectures that deliver zero value to the business or customers.
- Incredibly detailed business cases that melt away in the face of real customer behaviour.
- Wonderfully detailed ‘target customer experiences’ that never get delivered because of a lack of consideration for technical or commercial realities.
The traditional consultancy and agency model makes this worse:
- The sales problem - By selling to a ‘technology’ or ‘business’ customer, they naturally end up biasing for the things valued by their buyer, whether that’s technical innovation or commercial rigour. Far too rarely do these teams do the hard work to join the dots across the organisation and redress the balance.
- The dominant capability problem - Naturally large established consultancies tend to excel in one domain, and will lead the work, and recommendations towards their own area of comfort.
- The more thinking, no doing problem - We’ve seen a tendency to put off ‘making’ things, for political, commercial or (more often) capability reasons.
Loomery's foundational belief: The alchemy of cross-functional collaboration
In contrast, a founding belief when starting Loomery was that the sooner you can get ‘makers’ and ‘thinkers’ working closely together, the greater the chances of success.
This belief is born out of our years of experience helping organisations innovate faster and build quality products at pace. We’ve witnessed a magic alchemy that allows small teams with the right blend of skills to move at incredible speed and become much greater than the sum of their parts. Combining thinking and making is like a super power. It makes the practical people zoom out. It confronts big thinkers with reality. We’ve seen this in start-ups like BeZero Carbon, internet era scale-ups like MOO, and decades old institutions like The University of Exeter.
To take advantage of this alchemy, we encourage cross-functionality throughout Loomery. All of our work that would traditionally be described as ‘strategic’ is making-informed and all of our ‘making work’ is guided by strategists. We combine strategists, designers and technologists to represent the competing viewpoints and balance competing priorities when designing and developing products.
As a result, we’re more strategic than your technology partners, and more making-led than any consultancy.
How this belief impacts the way we work at Loomery
Practically, this means it looks and feels a little different working with us.
We ask a lot of questions before we propose
The advantage of having all three hats (technology, customer and business) represented from the very first conversation is that we can ask the biggest questions, opportunities and challenges earlier. Our ‘sales’ meetings are more like a panel interview, where everyone gets the job.
Our teams debate in the open
The biggest challenges are often buried until it’s too late. We like to get the sacred cows out and get to an answer, or at least a set of hypotheses we can test against, in week one. We challenge respectfully, using data and user insight, modelling the behaviour of questioning, and always debating the decision/data/service - not the person. To make this behaviour work we put a lot of value in working together (see Tim’s post on why ‘fewer meetings’ is the wrong aim).
We value clear, visual communication
When people are stepping outside of their natural discipline it’s hugely important that they are able to understand and engage quickly, without having to wade through technical jargon. We communicate in plain English, and we default to explaining complex ideas visually.
We start making on day one, and we don’t stop
We measure progress in the value and impact of products shipped, not expensive slide decks. There isn’t a day when we switch from ‘thinking’ to ‘making’. We get started ‘making’ as early as possible, even if that’s just rough sketches, basic prototypes, or technical proofs-of-concept to surface assumptions quickly.
We encourage doing things that aren’t your job
The real power in cross-functionality comes when people with deep expertise step outside of ‘their discipline’ to contribute their perspective. Whether it’s an engineer helping to write a user interview script, or a designer facilitating a conversation about commercial viability it always brings new ideas and value.
We speak to customers before it feels comfortable
A common failing in early technical and commercially focused projects is a lack of customer representation. In many organisations there’s a nervousness about approaching and speaking to customers that is almost always misplaced. We aim to speak to customers in the first 10 days of every engagement, and weekly thereafter.
Our technologists say YES a lot
Great technologists are explorers. They’re able to understand what’s needed and navigate the ever-changing options to present viable paths forward. Our technical teams work towards YES, using their superior understanding of the customer and business context to make better decisions.
Get in touch to learn more about what it’s like to work with us.
Loomery accelerates product progress. Our trusted team of makers, deep expertise in emergent technologies and making-led strategic approach, mean we can demonstrate progress on your priorities next week, not next year.
Loomery teams are helping Diageo, LSE and Digital Catapult innovate faster and are building quality products at pace for Tesco, the University of Exeter and The Office for Students.