Today I headed to Shoreditch to talk to Mark Wilson, co-founder and managing director of digital service design consultancy Wilson Fletcher. If you don’t know them you definitely know their work – Wilson Fletcher has worked on the consumer end of BT Sport’s content offering, and (most famously) the Times and Sunday Times paywall.

Mark talks a lot about ‘service led design’ and does lots of research work with customers. He’s got some really interesting insights about how to get the right kind of data and use it in the right kind of way.

We talked about:
•  Wilson Fletcher’s ‘service led design’ approach;
•  The design research journey;
•  How to get real nuggets of insight;
•  Why a high paywall was the key to the Times’ success;
•  The problem with corporate incubators;
•  Why startups struggle to have a second idea;
•  The FinTech landscape and attitudes of the big banks;
•  And the future of the high street.

Mark on…

Corporate bravery:

There’s definitely some courage needed in the leadership team… for any kind of innovation, I guess, because you are taking risks, and our job, in many ways, is to de-risk that process for them.

Client and customer collaboration:

If we’re working with customers, we’ll often have clients in the room too… It gives the client organisation direct insight into what their customers are actually like, and… actually, the customers quite like getting a bit of connection with the organisation, too.

Having integrity as a company:

There are lots of gates in these processes (with clients). And very often, we get to the end of the first gate and say, don’t pursue this, because you’ve either got to invest too much, or the risk is too high, or we just don’t think the idea is strong enough that it will get traction with customers….I think that honesty is one of those reasons that people always come back to us time and time again.

The problem with many start-ups:

I think the thing that people overlook with start-ups is that they are a product of innovation, they’re not an engine of it. So most start-ups never have a second idea. And the reason for that is that they were formed to execute against an idea that had been had before… And that’s the most common, if not the only, pattern for start-ups.

When start-ups change to upstarts:

You know, success breeds problems as well as success.

The importance of different perspectives:

We see things that they haven’t seen, or sometimes just piece them together in a new way, and they get to stand at the wall going, no, it doesn’t work like that, because actually, what we have to do in order to comply with x, or what our customers need… When you join those two things together, you end up with a very energetic way of going about the early-stage design process. And I think if either of us tried to do those things independently, we would kind of wallow.


People Tell Richard Stuff: Episode 25
Mark Wilson, co-Founder & MD, Wilson Fletcher

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Mark Wilson, co-Founder & MD, Wilson Fletcher