Introduce your organization to the idea of balancing all the solution-focused work with more problem-space research.
I have several different approaches in my presentations, depending on my audience. Each presentation covers the same concepts of how to harness certain kinds of empathy in your work, but with different emphasis and reasoning.
- Reassuring – for people who actively distrust the value, to explain how these concepts are useful, not just fluff
- Vision, Inspiring – for people who are actively seeking new ways to make their services & products better
- Vocabulary Mindfulness – for practitioners who are always seeking to take their skills and knowledge to the next level
Topic: Paying Better Attention to the Problem
In “western culture,” everyone is hell-bent on coming up with answers and solutions. From a tender age, kids are judged based on their knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge in homework, class activities, essays, and tests. This emphasis on solutions continues all the way up through grad school and on into team work, entrepreneurship, volunteering, mentoring, and leadership.
We do have a lot of things in our world that we can improve on. Plus, we’ve done a lot of accidental harm, in unblinking pursuit of goals. But we can’t go on solving things based on our own thin understanding of how others perceive the problem. We need richer understanding.
Let’s put equal emphasis placed on the problem. Spending equal time in the problem space generates rich understanding. Understanding the depths, perspectives, horizons and histories of the way people achieve their purposes opens up loads more opportunities. We can begin making solutions that truly support different people as opposed to an “average” one-size-fits-all attempt.
The problem space deserves more attention and a slow cycle all of its own.
Topic: Mental Model Diagrams & Opportunity Maps
Big data, data visualization, data-driven decisions… organizations hate risk. They love trying to predict your next choice based on what you chose the last time. How many times have you been chased for weeks by ads for shower fixtures because your friend was telling you about her renovation project and she wanted your opinion about finishes? These predictions are based on inferences and assumptions, not on the actual thinking that’s going on. Perhaps only 20% of real-life thinking is represented by the numbers and the predictions.
The only way to find out the other 80% of the story is to take time to listen to people. Explore how each person makes decisions in many similar scenarios — not just the one involving your product or service. Develop a sense of empathy that you can use later in your own decision-making.
If you listen to many people, you’ll start to see patterns in how they reason, react, and guide their decisions. These patterns are what you use to balance big data. You create a mental model diagram from these patterns and force your organization’s capabilities into the boxes defined by the real humans you seek to support, rather than vice versa.
The deeper insight derived from developing empathy with the people you support leads the way to tighter connection and greater detail between an offering and the purposes and intents of the people it is aimed at, whether those people are internal or external to the organization. You can conduct gap & strength analysis, devise better metrics for how well you’re doing, and easily create a scenario matrix to explore specific implementation tactics. This deep knowledge also allows organizations to confidently branch away from the competition–it clearly reveals pivots and ways to disrupt a market.
Topic: Thinking-Styles vs. Personas
Unintentional cognitive bias and demographic assumptions are common among most product teams. There is a way to become aware and avoid the risk that comes from decisions made too quickly. Thinking styles are deeply researched, demographics-free* mindsets for the characters who play roles in an org’s design scenarios.
The point of using demographics-free thinking-styles is to help your organization support broader sets of people, to be aware of broader cultures and approaches rather than be blinkered by their own [dominant] approach. Thinking-styles stop assumptions and convention, allowing your org to make design experiences based on real knowledge. They also help stakeholders and designers recognize the narrowness of current solutions (and possibly acknowledge that the narrowness is what they are actually aiming for. There are still so many stakeholders who claim their solution is for “everyone.”) If your org can define audiences specifically, highlighting the variety thinking-styles within, this variety of thinking-styles allows your org to multiply the number of goals and solutions you can seek to support.
*There is an exception for research scopes involving discrimination and relating to physiology, etc.
This mode of presenting is the most popular with organizations who have distributed teams. I use Zoom to present for either 45 or 60 minutes, followed by either 15 or 30 minutes of discussion and Q&A.
Fee: USD$300-$470 Depends on length of talk and whether payment will be made from an international credit card or account.
In-Person Corporate Presentations
If you have a corporate off-site or a team growth day, I am available to give an inspiring keynote. I offer in-person presentations at locations within a 2-hour drive of San Francisco. For more distant locations, the fee increases and travel expenses must be covered.
Fee: USD$1,500-3,600 Depends on distance of travel, length of talk, and whether my presence will be required for the remainder of the day.
Conference appearances can be arranged. Discounted fee is available when the conference organizers also host one of my half-day workshops. All travel expenses must be covered.
Fee: USD$1,500-10,000 Depends on distance of travel whether payment will be made from an international credit card or account.
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