Coach Essentials | Customer Science Coach Peter-Paul Oldenzeel

There is so much information and resources out there, that it gets overwhelming and challenging to find the good stuff. Therefore, we asked our coaches on 'what are their essentials?' - tools, books, ideas - anything that keeps them being amazing at their work. This week we share Customer Science coach, Peter-Paul Oldezeel's curated essentials list.

Coach Essentials | Customer Science Coach Peter-Paul Oldenzeel

Who are you?

I’m Peter-Paul (yep, two names), a Lead Coach with MadeFor, with a background in internet startups as well as strategy and innovation at international brands like Unilever, PVH (Tommy Hilfiger & Calvin Klein) and Nike. As a bootcamp coach, I’m passionate about making complex topics and challenges simple and accessible, using a range of frameworks and models. In my free time I’m learning how to be a dad, and I like to be out on the water.

Essential research method


And not the fluffy kind where you say “well let’s give that a try” and then justify whatever comes out on the other end. But the kind of experimentation inspired by the scientific method. Explore the problem, formulate a hypothesis, devise an experiment to test that hypothesis, determine metrics and boundaries for validation and invalidation, and iterate. Besides experimentation I’m a big believer in customer interviews to quickly extract useful insights.

Essential customer segmentation tool

Behaviour-based customer segmentation.

For example, “Customers who travel several times every year, and visit our store at least once a week.”. This is what personas were always meant to be. In a connected world, sets of behaviours and their correlation to things like spending are key. A great way to put behaviour-based segmentation into practice is through cohort analysis.

Essential ideation tool

AJ&Smart’s Lightning Decision Jam

Depending on the context and need, that’s AJ&Smart’s Lightning Decision Jam. Great workshop format to quickly set the context on what you’re trying to achieve as a team, what’s driving you forward and holding you back, and then ideate on ways to overcome those obstacles. And in terms of a tech tool – Miro.

Essential icebreaker

Rollercoaster check-in

With a team, I like the rollercoaster icebreaker, though it’s more of a retrospective exercise really. Ask every team member where they feel they are on the rollercoaster, and briefly share why. Another great (remote) icebreaker is to ask people to quickly grab an object that best represents their interests from their desk.

Essential blueprint

Business Model Canvas

I’m going with the Business Model Canvas. It’s proven to be a highly effective innovation tool again and again, to talk about any business-related challenge, idea or aspiration. Also really like the empathy canvas to structure your understanding of your customers.

Essential customer journey map

A simple one.

I think there’s great customer journey maps out there on the interwebs, but a lot of them tend be quite complex. I believe the point of a customer journey map is not to be holistic, but to simplify down your customer journey to the point where it helps you to easily pinpoint major highs and lows customers are experiencing, so you can direct your efforts to improving that experience.

Essential stakeholder engagement model

The interest–influence stakeholder map/quadrant.

Don’t forget about your low-influence high-interest stakeholders. Their influence might just grow over time.

Essential data visualisation tool

Willemien Brand's Visual Thinking

I’m a big fan of dashboards, data visualisation software and any other means to visualise what you mean to convey. However, more recently, I’ve been drawn to Willemien Brand’s “Visual Thinking” as a way to draw out your key message (incl. underlying data) in a simplistic and disarming way. Another great resource is Dan Roam’s book “On the back of a napkin”. So markers and paper 😉.

Essential product management tool


My favourite product management framework is GIST (Goals, Ideas, Steps, Tasks) by Itamar Gilad. When used properly, it can be a very simple and powerful alternative to using a roadmap. Another tool that comes to mind is a Kanban board. Really believe that picking up a Kanban board as a team is THE best way to start taking the agile principles to heart.

Essential wireframing tool

Markers & paper, and Figma.

In that order. Starting out on paper is fast and simple. Taking your design into Figma will make it easy to start prototyping. And as they say at IDEO – "If a picture is worth 1000 words, a prototype is worth 1000 meetings".

Essential mindfulness hacks

Buffer time and gratitude

Build in buffer time in between your meetings. Doesn’t just help you to be on time, but also gives you some time to reflect and project. Another mindfulness hack is practicing gratitude. Take a moment every week (or insert your own cadence here) to really consider what you’re grateful and express that to someone who’s helped with that impact.

My latest piece of learning

I’m learning how to be a good dad to my 1-year-old. Both in terms of acceptance (for example illness taken home from day-care) and in terms of priorities, time, and dependencies. And I’m learning new things about private-work life from him every week. For instance what real beginner’s mindset looks like, and how we’re all victims to the curse of knowledge.

My industry rolemodel

Alexander Osterwalder, author of the Business Model Canvas. Clayton Christensen, author of the Innovator’s Dilemma, and unfortunately deceased. Itamar Gilad, ex. Product Management Google.

The biggest misconception in the industry

In the learning industry – that once you’ve reached a certain seniority or age or level, you no longer can or have to learn new things. In the innovation game – that anyone knows which products and ventures are going to ‘win’. In the CX industry – that your customers and users are one and the same, and that you know what they need and want.

My piece of advice

Ask yourself why. And be wary of advice.

My favourite quote(s)

"The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else." – Eric Ries

"Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in."– Isaac Asimov

"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself" – Albert Einstein

My favorite speech

“Wear Sunscreen” 1997 commencement speech by Mary Schmich with the Chicago Tribune (also available in song form).

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