When Product is a Service

by | Apr 13, 2021 | Insights and Inspirations

Originally published April 12 2021 on Medium

Let me ask you a question… Can you name me a product? What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? I am going to guess that most of you thought of a physical item that you can purchase. As a team, Community Education has been advancing thanks to our innovative and agile way of working, so that our service is the product. When you think about catching a flight, imagine the passenger experience is the product. Everything from the check-in, the coffee shop and the baggage area are all the stakeholders who develop the product together, producing service for their customer.

This is what we do in Community Education, we’ve adopted a product-led approach to delivering a service. We are educators that go out into the community to deliver workshops that help build resilience. We cover topics such as First Aid, Empathy, Loneliness, and Adapting and recovering from adversity. We have used our Agile way of working to develop new products in response to our learners’ changing needs. This ability to stay relevant to our community’s needs has seen our reach increase by 27% since we adopted this new way of working last year.

In 2020 when the pandemic began and the country went into lockdown, we had to develop a way to continue with our support to our local communities. In just 6 weeks we had to redesign our service by moving from face to face, to virtual workshop delivery. We listened to our communities about how the pandemic and lockdown had affected them and responded quickly and effectively to develop additional education service-offers to help combat loneliness. It was challenging to change our workshops, but we knew it was important to adapt to the ever-changing needs of our community, create a service that supports and improve the resilience of individuals and communities across the UK.

One of the keys to our success has been the change to working in cross-functional, multidisciplinary teams. We have experts in education, content development, marketing and tech all embedded in our team. Being able to co-produce & collaborate with colleagues across Community Education and across the BRC to create our products has been transformational. We used to be frustrated by not feeling like one unified team and not having the opportunity to use our expertise to help identify service improvements. This led to educators across the UK delivering different things with a diverse array of materials. The inconsistency of our education offer was very confusing to our beneficiaries. We are now one team with a consistent portfolio of services and we have plenty of opportunities to feed into product development to continuously improve our service offer.

What we’ve learnt is that agile is agile… so it can work for any team. It allows us to be flexible to the specific needs of a service and its users. I’ve enjoyed watching the transformation of Community Education as it developed its product-led approach. I love that we are now one team, all responsible and able to continuously improve our service. I’ve seen first-hand how this way of working has really allowed us to put the beneficiary at the heart of the service we develop.

Let me ask you a question… Can you name me a product?



By Jazz Allen
British Red Cross Community Educator

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