DATE: May 2018 - Present
Promotional video showing the Proximie platform in action. (below)
Proximie is a real-time video collaboration tool for surgeons. It allows for up to 4 camera feeds to be shared simultaneously from within the operating theatre. Remote participants can then interact with the surgeon in the operating theatre using several tools like the augmented reality hand, which displays a remote participant’s hand over the surgeon’s video field, allowing them to point out intricacies within the surgical area. Annotation of the field by participants also means that they can draw on top of the video, or even bring in 3D files or CT Scans (DICOM images) and manipulate those over the surgical field. Other features include live chat and the ability for surgeons to control what the audience is looking at, which is particularly valuable in a teaching setting. This is the primary user flow, but there is also a dashboard for scheduling surgical sessions and a library comprised of recordings from live sessions with the ability to play them back and toggle between screens. Social aspects like “liking”, commenting, and sharing drives engagement. User and organisation administration also form part of the platform.
Working on the product from the early stages allowed me to drive the brand and product forward at a pace. With the product team not fully formed yet, I could take the reins and shape the development. I first led the design for a complete rebuild, then took on the product manger role to bring about this change, working closely with the engineering and infrastructure teams. My work, first as a lead designer then as product manager, took a user-centric approach, focussing on the highest value features and quick wins to make the product commercially viable in a short period. I engaged end-users and used data to inform feature priority and the design. I also worked with marketing, to evolve the brand and marketing messages. It has been a great experience to see my vision realised and fulfilling Proximie’s mission of “Saving Lives by Sharing the Worlds Best Clinical Practise”. A validation of my contribution was the series B raise of $38m. I was the product owner and lead designer leading up to the raise and instrumental in making it commercially viable. It has been an incredible journey, and seeing the impact the product has made has been incredibly rewarding.
2. PROJECT and team GOALS
The product goals and vision have been ever-evolving over the last three and a half years working at Proximie. When I received my first demo of the platform, I immediately noticed a lot going on. The interface was busy, allowing little space for the video, and given the primary use case, a clear view of the video was paramount. I decided to do a heuristic evaluation, then started confirming my findings with users. Goal setting has always been part of the journey. As design lead, my first goals were to streamline the product, align the teams, and focus clearly on what matters.
I wanted to bring the brand and product into a cohesive commercial offering. My next goal was to offer more value to end-users. I consulted with stakeholders and power users to prioritise high-value editions to the platform. As the company has grown by 900%, goals have included closing gaps between teams, championing research and testing, portraying a longer-term design vision, and hiring a world-class design team. I empower my team to shape team rituals and processes and help them grow and progress along their career path to have a happy, motivated team with a clear design vision.
3. THE TEAM
Proximie has grown at an unbelievable pace, with new additions every week. When I started, we were four individuals in the UK with an offshore engineering team of 10. The team is currently 130+ people. Proximie has scaled incredibly with teams in the US, UK, META and APAC. Given the nature of an early-stage startup, I’ve had to wear many hats since I’ve joined, assisting many teams, but my primary focus has always been on the product. As the team grew, I nurtured relationships, keeping my door open to our hospital implementation teams and the commercial teams, as they were closest to the end-users and customers. Next came bridging the gap by aligning senior stakeholder expectations to my product and design vision.
I’m incredibly passionate about growing and mentoring my design team, and I’ve hired some phenomenal talent. Given that I’ve been in the design domain for two decades, I can assemble a team around strengths and opportunities focusing on cognitive diversity. I find it incredibly rewarding to make space for junior talent to join and then stimulate them to grow. I have a close relationship with my direct team through weekly one-on-one’s and monthly OKR and career development discussions. I also encourage weekly team-building exercises where an individual chooses a locale for our alignment and strategy meetings. We all have lunch together and go on a field trip. I’ve found this to have strengthened the relationships between team members considerably, especially the new starters, in a short period. I also headhunted and interviewed personally for the design team. I have a knack for knowing who will work well together, and I’m able to assemble teams that support one another, not only in terms of personality and culture fit but also in terms of skillsets.
4. MY ROLE
As the company expanded and headcount grew, my role also evolved. I joined Proximie because I saw potential and knew I could make an impact. Initially, most of my time went into research and gaining a deep understanding of the medical domain, the clients and surgical workflows. I then sketched and wire-framed various future ideas and used this vision to guide the design strategy and product vision. I worked as a lead product designer across web, iOS and Android apps. Another aspect of my role was defining the visual language. I put a design system in place, using the anatomical design model that allowed rapid high fidelity prototyping and handover to the engineering team and a consistent experience across product touchpoints. We employed design thinking methodologies to establish various design options and then weigh them up in value and feasibility regarding new features and opportunities. In this fashion, I’ve devised user-focussed, creative and resourceful solutions. I’m a champion for the Minimum Viable Product approach and the follow-up to build that out into a full innovative solution. I also believe strongly in data, not only quantitive but also through talking to people and ethnographic research, which uncovers invaluable insights. As a product owner and manager, I always champion the user. I invited end-users to retrospectives to give a first-hand account of the impact of new features on surgical workflow, time saved or surgical outcomes. Garnering this empathy towards end-users enhanced the engineering teams output quality, with them taking a user-first approach to the implementation whenever a compromise needed to be made.
I involved stakeholders in the discovery journey and kept them informed with regular roadmap updates, design reviews and pre-release notes. I thoroughly enjoyed being the product owner for almost two years, and then progressed to a Head of Product Design role. I love the innovation space and know that creating a safe space for experimentation is essential as Alberto Alessi remarked, “Dance on the borderline between success and disaster. Because that’s where your next big breakthrough will come from.” A team can’t dance in this innovation space if they aren’t free to experiment and often fail. I created this space and guarded it for my team. I promoted building testable prototypes and ensured that every feature and change was thoroughly tested. First with the in-house commercial teams, then if viable, through compliance, and then validated with the end user before it gets put on the engineering assembly line. That said, I also kept engineering close, with leads sitting in on tests and demos for them to discover feasibility issues early on. Besides that, I celebrated achievements beyond only with my immediate team. When we achieved a notable release, I arranged for a cake to be secretly delivered to the engineering teams. I called out any exceptional teamwork, gave the team a voice and helped them build up confidence by celebrating their strengths and helping them to recognise and strengthen areas that needed work. Most of all, I created a vision, and recognised everyone’s value. People are what make companies, not features or processes. I feel strongly about nurturing a positive and fear-free culture and creating positive impact, making those around me shine.
Proximie promotional video showing ‘The Pursuit of Excellence’. (below)