This course is organized around putting the knowledge and skills we have learned throughout the certificate program into action with a client-focused project. This team-based and project-based course includes weekly class meetings that are a combination of lecture, discussion, guest speakers, and active teamwork. For our client-focused project, we worked with Michael Klien, a Duke professor of Dance, to help develop his unique product, The Hydrean.
While I learned countless valuable things throughout this course, most important things I learned include how to manage client relations, the importance of product testing, and the ability to pivot and adapt.
The importance of managing client relations in business has been repeated both in my Duke courses and in my internship training. This class provided a great opportunity to practice working with a client – Michael Klein – in developing a go-to-market strategy for the Hydrean. When the class was first introduced to the Hydrean, we were all slightly skeptical, particularly those of us who were not familiar with mindfulness tools. Despite our skepticism, we then had a meeting with Michael Klein to ask him questions and give him our initial thoughts on the product. This taught me how to communicate both respectfully and candidly with a client, as well as how to have a constructive dialogue even when there are differences of opinion. I learned that a key aspect of managing client relations is to always respect the client’s vision. During this meeting, my class made sure that we understood Michael Klien’s vision for the Hydrean so that we could work within those parameters. This first meeting was crucial to build our relationship with him and to make sure that we were all on the same page regarding expectations and deliverables. A second key aspect of managing client relations that I learned is the benefit of frequent and clear communication with the client. My class practiced this with our scheduled client presentations, where we updated Michael Klien on our progress and findings, and then discussed a potential future direction. For me, learning to manage client relations in this course is particularly important because after graduation I will be starting a career in consulting, where my whole job involves working with clients to find business solutions.
Secondly, I also learned the importance of product testing in this class. For the first couple weeks of class, we each kept Product Use Journals to track our personal usage of the Hydrean and document our experience. These journals helped us identify patterns in usage and determine practical strengths and weaknesses of the Hydrean. These journals were incredibly valuable for customer discovery data. The importance of testing products was emphasized by one of our guest speakers, Joshua Esnard, who created The Cut Buddy, a men’s hair grooming tool. He discussed how he tested his product before launch by using it himself for years, which is what we did with the Hydrean for a few weeks. His extensive product testing allowed him to continually refine and improve his tool by being able to gain real and instant feedback from his own usage.
Lastly, I learned the importance of the ability to pivot and adapt. Throughout the course, as we received feedback from Michael Klein, we often had to change our course of direction. For example, my group started off with the hypothesis that the Hydrean would be best suited for a Business-to-Business strategy. However, after conducting our market research we found that this Business-to-Business strategy was not as viable an option as we first thought. Michael Klein agreed, and my group needed to quickly pivot and find a new direction to explore. By pivoting quickly, we were able to take our market feedback in stride and instead explore a strategy involving companion products, which received much more positive feedback.
I chose our client update presentation as my artifact for this class because it demonstrates how my team shared our progress with Michael Klein and worked through the different stages of the project. In this client update presentation, we presented our key findings from our Product Use Journals, as well as an analysis of the Business-to-Business market strategy based upon our research and interviews. I was responsible for summarizing our Customer Discovery Phrase, which included findings from our interviews. I was also responsible for interviewing local yoga studios and summarizing the plan design, learnings, and implications from the yoga customer segment.