Figuring out what to explore in a problem-space study is difficult. For problem-space exploration, you ask participants about the larger intent or purpose; for user-research, you ask about your ideas or products. For example, in a problem-space study having to do with drive-through menu design at a fast food chain, we asked participants, “What went through your mind as you decided what to eat for a quick lunch over the past couple of weeks?” The purpose wasn’t to select from a menu, but to eat lunch.
It’s one thing to say it, quite another to do it. You might agree that broader, deeper understanding of people will strengthen your product strategy and solutions. You might be open to the idea that diverse teams create more sustainable organizations. But getting your own organization to make this shift seems impossible. Because of budget priorities. Because the organization has to get out ahead of the competition faster-than-fast because the market is changing. Because time is money. Because the shareholders need to see profit.
For a few years, Christina Wodtke has been speaking and writing about using stories in your work. When she says “story,” she means stories with characters and a setting and conflict and resolution. She says stories that develop your concern for the character’s outcome are memorable. And she compares stories with a climax to a typical product decision-making process where the focus is on what can be created or fixed–not why.
Chances are that if you’re subscribed to this newsletter, you’re interested in techniques for understanding others–specifically in the context of supporting people in your work. Chances are you’ve heard what the U.S. president-elect has promised, and a notable part of it goes against the philosophy of understanding and supporting a variety of different people.
I’ve taught a few workshops on problem-space research, listening sessions, and developing & applying empathy lately. These workshops always have room for Q&A and discussion, and the brilliance and depth of the topics always impresses me. I thought I’d pass some of them along. Read More
“We saw your cautions about demographics in personas versus deeper motivations that transcend the easily visible segment — and how Jobs to be Done similarly helps us focus on underlying motivations.” Weston Thompson
How do mental model diagrams compare to Jobs to be Done, or to Outcomes? Read More
On my latest client project, we experienced the typical madness around recruiting. The people we thought we set out to find didn’t define themselves the way we did, resulting in a mid-course correction. And then even with the new definition of whom we were seeking, the recruiting firm couldn’t find enough people. We had to step in and recruit for ourselves. Read More
When I help clients learn to conduct listening sessions, commonly people want an example of what it means to go deep. I will do a demo and several exercises. Sometimes this doesn’t quite illustrate what I mean, so I also do one-on-one coaching. Read More
I Want to Go to the Park!
Maybe “research” is not your core job description. But you (and your organization) believe in making informed decisions. You’ve been thinking that it’s time to hear from outside people (again). It’s time to understand their larger intentions and purposes. It’s time to map your way through the next decade of product development, rather than just looking a year ahead. Yeah, it may be time to do this, but getting started–and finished–can be … doggone difficult.