Design is intelligence made visible Design is intelligence made visible Design is intelligence made visible
Design is intelligence made visible
Every great design begins with an even better story.

Are you challenged with finding new ideas or maybe how to approach a project that seems a little unique? Do you feel yourself going down the same path but know you need to do things a little different this time?

Tim provides a coaching and mentoring service to help you broaden your thinking, take optimistic steps towards a future that may now seem unattainable. He acts as a sounding board but also filters to make helpful suggestions. More often than not, you already know what you need to do, you just need a gentle hand to remind you and get you moving forwards with more enthusiasm, enjoyment and excitement.

Reach out for a no obligation chat.

Co-design isn’t just about UI or even UX design. It may involve these specialties but if you don’t know who the "U" is then it’s going to be even harder to determine their expected "X" should be. Our co-design process can, if necessary, start well before the experiences and interfaces are discussed. We'll help you define your customer segment and the problem you’re addressing.

We’ve run quite a few projects where we found the customer is not who we thought and the problem we’re trying to solve with our solution was not the most important. These are great things to learn, early on in the project.

Subject Matter Experts and smart technology are important components of building a new service or product. However, engaging customers (user, patient, etc) early through prototyping, workshops or qualitative interviews is vital when a project contains many assumptions. These assumption, typically in higher numbers and broader for innovative projects, are the risks that can destroy a project.

All projects need a balanced combination of SME, technology and customer.

We can manage the co-design process end to end, or support you leading these important and early first steps for your project. Give us a call and we can give you an overview of how it might work for your business challenge.
Product Design
Product Design
We provide early stage product design for your brand new business ideas or extended features on a product or service you already deliver.

New developments are always a risk. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward but the bigger the risk. Our approach ensures the biggest risks are mitigated early while the project spend is still low. This builds confidence in the project and allows minor pivots as new ideas are discovered.
Why create a start-up at 50?

Do you get inspired by the many great leaders describing their techniques in LinkedIn posts and further afield? I know I do. Occasionally I read or watch some advice and their answers seem so obvious, you know it must be right.

I’ve been in the business world for a while now and I’ve often wondered if I should share any of my own experiences. Being the type of person I am, I normally think I have nothing of value to share. When the Internet came along (yes, I was working before the Internet) I thought maybe this would be a way to communicate without having to stand up in front of people, but I couldn’t latch onto any specific topic. I started on an outline for a book, created the odd blog and tried newsletters for a while but they all just petered out. I now really admire and respect people who can spread a consistent message over a growing mountain of writings, articles or videos.

But I now find myself leading an endeavour to hopefully make a positive change in our world and I’m being encouraged to talk more about it. 

We’re a couple of years into our development of Shock and I took stock of the previous start-ups I’ve worked in (4) and the products I’ve worked on (14) and realised I probably have plenty to share and now a good reason to do it.

So this newsletter will share my experiences as we attempt to improve the lives of small business owners, share how a reluctant and introverted start-up CEO deals with these challenges and share how we view this journey through a slightly different lens to most.

We all have something to share so I’d encourage you to do the same and in return I hope you get something from these articles.

Best of luck with your own [life] adventures.


If you’d like to learn more about us, please visit our website or reach out to me directly.

How do I start?
How do I start?

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” It’s often banded about when you have a big project or challenge and you’re not sure how to start. 

It’s a great saying and it’s helped me stop contemplating, cogitating or idly sitting in my chair wondering how I’m ever going to finish such a big job. It has taught me that although I “think” I have a long way to go, taking the first step is actually quite easy, so get going.

One of the many contemplative thoughts I have that stops me from starting is, how do I approach this seemingly massive task? A step might be easy but am I on the right path? Philosophically, it actually doesn’t matter and if you know your destination then you will indeed get there if you only start. However, if you’ve already been on the journey then I’d guess you’d assume the second time will always be easier, if only because you know what you’re up against.

And that’s the point of this blog. Taking a journey with a friend who’s already been will always be easier. Another more recent saying pops into my mind, “a problem shared is a problem halved”. When you’re about to embark on a new project which seems a little daunting, share your challenge with a friend that might have done something even vaguely similar. Small tips on (just to extend the analogy a little further) what boots to wear and how often to stop for breaks, makes the journey so much more enjoyable. Sure, by taking the first step you will eventually learn this but learning it sooner and gaining motivation from a friend will make reaching your destination that much sweeter.

So find a friend to share your challenge and start pounding the pavement towards your next big destination.

Has running a business really changed since COVID?
Has running a business really changed since COVID?

Isn't it interesting how this event we 're calling COVID has affected everyone, so universally? In most cases in my life on this planet, major events have either been local to a town or country or even had ripples around the world. But this pandemic has had ripples emanating from every part of the world. It goes without saying that, life has changed. But the bigger question is, will these changes be permanent?

Social distancing, masks (& the associated debates) and lockdowns will surely evolve as each country gets a better handle on managing the spread and dealing with the consequences of sick people. I can be hopeful and imagine a time where we deal with COVID like we do with the existing flu each winter season. Yes, the flu kills a lot of people and medical facilities are stretched over the winter period but it is managed and most people see this as normal.

What will be the new normal after we are able to manage COVID19?

The world's population has been shocked into doing things differently. It surprises me that we have talked about some changes for decades and then in a matter of weeks it has been done. Moving to online education is an example of this. It has not been a clean and tidy change but we've all made some transitions now and experienced the difference. For some of us this new place is not so bad and may even be better. For example, in the UK one research company suggests that 91% of office workers would like to work from home at least part of the time (Eskenzi). In the US the number is lower, 43% of full-time employees (2), but that is all employees and a bigger overall number of people. Even in smaller countries like New Zealand, 38% of people had never previously worked from home but two-thirds found it easy to do so (3).

So we will not be going back to the pre-COVID normal. Things have changed and people have changed. This has had a financial impact today but will also have a long term business impact in the future.

Now more than any other time in recent history we need to start thinking about how our business operates in this new environment. If your business model does not change completely then the way you sell and service customers definitely will.

For the faint-hearted out there, just bear a thought for the businesses during Spanish Flu of 1918. They had none of the technology advancements we have today. Even if this pandemic happened 20 years ago we'd be hard pressed to be so nimble and have the opportunity the Internet and global communications have given us today.

So how should we operate our businesses post COVID19?

There are a number of common tactics that most businesses can apply. They assume that you're not in the tourism or travel industries, these guys will need more drastic action and support. These four tactics revolve around marketing and communication, these days that means online, but also the products and services you already provide.

1. Ensure all your marketing material is online and consumable on a mobile device

In research conducted prior to COVID, more than 50% of consumers come across products online first. This would have vastly increased during lockdowns but even after, with people's reluctance to spend time in crowds, this number will have increased. In most English speaking countries, smartphone Internet usage is 80% or above. If you don't have a website that a mobile phone can find and easily navigate you'll be losing customers immediately.

2. Start experimenting with online ads to direct customers to your website

Online ads are amazingly cheap and easy to get started. They're still a little complex so ask around for help if you're unsure. Facebook can target your customers with a simple image and message for a few dollars a day. If you are starting to offer a new service or product variation this is a great way to spread the word. Each ad will direct these new customers to your website where they can find even more information about you.

3. Experiment with add-on services

We need to think a little differently now that our customers are working and living differently. If you already have loyal customers, think of new ways that can accommodate the more immediate challenges your customers are facing. I saw a great example of this at a local retail business selling gifts. The owner was finding people either didn't want to come into her store or couldn’t get the time so she offered an online video chat and would walk around her store showing people her products and offering suggestions. She used to do this in person so there wasn't a big change but her customer loyalty went through the roof. Her measure of a good day used to be foot traffic through the door, now that door is a little wider.

4. Experiment with deliverable products

Many more people are buying online but that doesn't mean they want to stop buying local. If anything COVID has supported both of these themes. You don't have to be an Amazon to sell your products online but you do need products that are easy to ship and service. For example, a local craftsman makes children's beds but he has found a way to sell these online by designing the parts for his beds to be flat-packed. I could imagine he could also partner (or expand his own services) to offer an installation service as well. He now has a lot of enthusiastic customers from around the whole country whereas pre-COVID he was only selling in his local area.

While change can be a scary thing, take heart that it's only the transition that might be challenging. Coming out the other side is always a better thing, even if it's just realising all the lessons you've learnt in the process. I'm confident that if we enthusiastically apply ourselves, work together and make the most of what we've got, we're going to end up in a better place.

Best of luck.

Originally posted on

What is your role?
What is your role?

I’ve been hunting around for a little more work and so hitting the job sites and LinkedIn. I think, like most people these days, our roles evolve quite quickly and what we did in university bears little resemblance to what we’re doing today. This leads you and me to ask the question, what exactly do I call myself? What is my profession? What is the name of the role I perform? How do I tell my Mum/Gran what I do?

In New Zealand, most companies are small (by international standards). The byproduct of this is most people need to generalise a little. So while you’re hired into a role you also do bits and pieces on the peripheral of this role. Personally I enjoy the diversity of this work, it keeps it interesting, but does broaden your experience and exacerbates this question.

So getting back to the question, what is the name of my role and does it represent what I do?

I don’t believe anyone can actually answer this question. I believe the question you (and I) should ask is, “What is my tagline?” or “What is my mission?”. 

Just like an organisation cannot be fully defined by its name, neither can your role, professionally or otherwise. However a tagline or mission can get a lot closer to the truth. So what is your tagline or mission?

I’m not sure I totally like mine yet but to throw it out there it is, Product Designer - creating something from nothing to solve problems for people, they might not know they have.

I’m sure I’ll continue to evolve it but I like where it’s heading. I might try it out on a few of these companies I’m talking to. Let me know what you come up with.

You are not the customer
You are not the customer

If you have an idea, manage a product or you’re developing a solution, this is the one thing you need to constantly keep in mind, you are not the customer. Even if you are creating a solution for yourself and feel others will also enjoy it, you are still not the customer. If you’ve grown up working in an industry and managing a product that delivers value to others in the same industry, you are not the customer.

My point here is that even if you end up using the solution you have created, you are biased by the very fact that you've created it. You will know your product way better than any customer will. If you’re creating the solution to sell then I’d expect you’d also want to sell it to more than one type of person, so you need to talk to these other folks.

Reminding yourself that you’re not the customer also reminds you that you don’t have all the answers. This is extremely important when developing a product or solution. We often fall into the trap that we think we have all the answers and feel overly optimistic about how the product should end up. When we feel this confident we tend to forget to go and ask another person. Typically we feel we’re too busy to do this. 

When you walk out of your office, into the street and talk to people I can almost guarantee that they’ll have a slightly different view of your product, to you. 

When you get out of the office and talk to others you are recognising that you are probably holding some bias and broad assumptions. It’s these assumptions that you should validate and the more you validate the more your biases are either proven correct or (more importantly) incorrect. Each validation will increase the success of your product.

So regardless of how busy you are, start talking to people that haven’t heard about your product yet and be honest with your interpretation of their answers.

There are some great books on how to test your assumptions, the most recent one I’ve seen (and is sitting on my desk to read) is Testing Business Ideas by David Bland and Alex Osterwalder. Check it out or let me know if you want to learn more.

What is normal anyway?
What is normal anyway?
I find it interesting that countries and leaders around the world are talking about how we all need to get used to the new normal. What is normal anyway? Most leaders, for their own sanity I'm sure, need to view their domain at a macro level, where statistics group large clumps of people together and polls start to categorise us. But aren't we individuals?

I find there is a lot of attention paid to this banter by the media but also ourselves. But like a political tax reduction, you only end up with a few dollars and cents back in your pocket. Our attention to this rhetoric, these numbers and these bold statements should be as long as it take to spend those dollars and cents - not very long.

So when we hear the statement, "get ready, things are going to be very different in the future, get ready for the new normal", we should listen to it once and then focus back on the people around us and carry on with our lives.

I'm not a futurist (I leave that to my friend Michelle) but I can almost guarantee that for most of us, once COVID19 has done it's dash, our routine will pretty much the same. Our values won't change (although they may strengthen) and we'll still love the same people (although maybe more deeply).

I'm saying all of this in the hope that some more introspective and possibly media hungry members around us don't get too wound up or anxious about the future. We can't predict the future, just think back to January this year to prove that point. So why assume you can predict the future now? Let's just enjoy what we have today, no matter how much or little, appreciate the people around us even it's just a person that moves out of the way when we pass them on the street.

Personally I can appreciate this introspective perspective. I was just thinking, why does my spell checker force me to capitalise COVID19. Is it trying to shout to me that things are really bad? But I can also see the way the sun in between all this rain touching a leaf outside my window and think that this plant is just carrying on regardless. Maybe I need to be a little more like that.
Working from home for someone who normally works from home.
Working from home for someone who normally works from home.
Staring out the window as I attempt to put my to do list together for the day, I’m reminded that I’m not the only one working from home today.

I’m reminded by the banging and scratching on the ceiling of my office which is also the floor for upstairs where my daughter and the dog are playing some crazy game of hide and seek.

I’m one of the people that has already got comfortable with working from home as I started over a decade ago. But I’m comfortable only when everyone else is at school or work. Strangely I still find I need to make some adjustments. So I’ve decided to move out into the garden. My daughter and I built a little shed-come-play-room a few years ago, which I have now converted into a new office. My family now know that when I’m in the shed I’m on office hours and when I make the commute across the grass into the kitchen I am now home. This also works amazingly well for me too as it gives me the triggers required to change from work mode to home mode, insuring I give my family the Dad-time they deserve.

So if you are like me and normally work from home and now find yourself surrounded by many others that do, make sure you appreciate that others are struggling way more than you with this new environment but do you realise it’s okay that things also need some adjustments for you.

Change is a good thing when we all acknowledge that we all have to part to play.
LogBook - ranked #1 business app in Australia, South Africa.
LogBook - ranked #1 business app in Australia, South Africa.

The goal of Log-Book is to create entering car mileage as simple and quick as possible but still be compliant with the tax departments’ requirements. Once you have used Log Book a few times you will be able to enter a new trip in THREE taps (and that's including the tap to save it).

Download LogBook from the App Store.

— LogBook
Professional R&D, prototyping and Customer Development
Professional R&D, prototyping and Customer Development
Partnering with the R&D team we developed multiple new products that resulted in new discoveries in product strategy, improved product options and fully released products.
— Trimble
Shock Instant Websites
Shock Instant Websites

Shock is a super easy smartphone app designed to automatically generate websites. Add your company details, pick a colour palette and add a few contact details and that’s it. Your website is ready to go live. Creating a website is only half the story, keeping it updated is what brings customers back and increases your search engine ranking. In Shock you only need to tap on a post to make amends, tap the + button to add a new post or add new stock images. Keeping fresh and current has never been easier. But it doesn’t stop there, Shock will automatically post any new content updates through to your Facebook page. Your website and your social media effortlessly working together. Shock sorts out your online presence in one simple app.

Shock Website

— Shock
Can retail businesses operate without a PC?
Can retail businesses operate without a PC?

Around the 2010’s we were finding small businesses still struggled with antiquated PC based technology. In the age of the Internet there were businesses that still had to plug in a desktop or laptop to run the operations of their business. We ran a thought experiment around a solution based purely on tablets and phones. The logistical advantages meant there was a lot less dependent on electricity, networking complications and even a centralised database /Internet connection. We envisaged a restaurant business and found there were huge advantages in portability, flexibility and simplicity. Typically those don’t factors don’t always go together. We hypothesised that this solution could run in any location in the world, regardless of local infrastructure availability.

Our conclusion was the Internet technologies can create huge opportunities for small businesses regardless of their local infrastructure however the software must be vehemently aware of the context in which it’s operating. Unfortunately current software makes too many assumptions (always on, always connected, the database is always there, etc).

If you’re interested in creating a prototype around this idea, let us know.

— Wireless Resturant System
Simplifying safety solutions
Simplifying safety solutions

Jupl provides a full platform-as-a-service to businesses and service providers focused on protecting people at risk. We were involved in early product design in the aged care segment and platform software development.

Visit Jupl here.

— Jupl
The InsightHQ SaaS product developed from PC software to be a cloud & local set of mobile tools.
The InsightHQ SaaS product developed from PC software to be a cloud & local set of mobile tools.

We provided co-design consultation, product management and software development to evolve a legacy product into an innovative and thought leading tool that integrated reporting across multiple physical IoT connected products which were previously seen as isolated. The onsite customer consultations in Australia, New Zealand and US lead to both simple and practical features as well as ideas that hadn't previously been envisaged.

Visit InsightHQ here.

— Trimble
Automating the Innovation Process
Automating the Innovation Process

We created the iPad app LeanAble to solve the paper chase we often find ourselves in when running lean startup experiments. Stickies go everywhere or at best end up as photos.

Creating a lean canvas looks great the first time but with all the expected changes we end up loosing control or don't do the best job of learning from past experiences (because we often loose them). So LeanAble provides a tool to visualise, capture, record, version control the Lean Canvas. You can prioritise your assumptions ready for the next experiment.

An experiment can be designed, discussed, and produce interview notes ready for the post problem identification or demonstration interviews.

Finally, the results of the experiment directly updates your assumptions so you can get that buzz when you see you're making progress and your canvas starts to get a bit of color.

Download Leanable from the App Store.

— LeanAble
Innovation Management
Innovation Management
As part of the St John Innovation Team we helped lead, run and facilitate numerous new services for their Telecare team for medical alarms, lone worker services and social care networking.
— St John
Sid Hsu
Sid has been a software architect and developer since the early 2000’s. Predominantly working on early prototypes, Sid has also created a number of PC and SaaS products and platforms.

Sid is a man of mystery and as such has many hidden and possibly illegal talents. He enjoys his own company which is another way of saying most people annoy him.
Tim Barnaby

Tim is a product designer specialising in early research and development. He’s been doing this work since 2010 and been involved in the construction, service, healthcare, safety and emergency industries. Tim has brought multiple original products to market for clients and his own businesses. He is currently working on a mental health project and a new internet startup (Shock). Tim lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

LinkedIn Profile

Our Values
What is important to us?

It very well may be the age we're at and while we don't particular want to share that I think it's safe to say we have a few miles on the clock. While the engine could probably do with an upgrade we could probably still hold our own against some of these newer electronic types. Anyway, given our experience our outlook on life is nicely balanced. I'm not talking about work-life balance, that's a well worn cliché. I'm talking about mind, body and spirit. Here's a list of some of the things we think are important.

Honesty with others but especially yourself. An honest life is a free life.

Healthy body, healthy mind. An old one but now more true than ever.

Friends, family & relationships. No one is an island and ultimately all we truely have is the people around us.

Everyone is inherently good, that includes you.

Be at peace with peace.