combing vs. grouping

“What is a task, exactly?” This question came up in conversation today as the team at the University of Buffalo starts to comb some of the 47 interviews they conducted. It is an unfortunate choice of words on… Read More

conversation instead of an interview

I’ve been guiding the fabulous folks at the University of Buffalo (and the team at their design partner mStoner) through the interviewing process this week. One of the university stakeholders for the project wanted to be interviewed as… Read More

granularity & repetition of task labels

In the first five months of 2009, I’ve guided four teams through making their mental models. We have combed transcripts, labeled quotes, and grouped the labels from the bottom up to create the structure of the mental models…. Read More

go the more nutritious route

At nearly every presentation and workshop I give, someone comes up to me and asks, “Have you tried (insert tool name here) with your method? It’s really cool.” I shake my head no and politely ask them what… Read More

group the intent

I just finished my Australian Road Show with the Web Directions folks. It was really illuminating doing the workshop three times in a row. I conduct five classroom exercises in each day-long workshop, and one thing really stood… Read More

atomic tasks vs. tasks — the explanation

First the small print: I use the archaic term “task” to mean any behavior or motivator or reasoning that a person mentions. “Task” is limited in definition, but it’s simpler to say than any other combination of words… Read More

pay close attention to the words you use in labels

The words in the labels will make or break the mental model. Here is some advice to bear in mind. First, start each label with a clear, present tense verb. I often see things like “worried” and “manager”… Read More

towers with only a single task

Frequently, you may find yourself with a task box in your mental model that does not belong to any of the other towers in a mental space. This task box becomes a tower of it’s own, with just… Read More

what do I do with vague stuff I combed from the interview?

Are you in the middle of grouping the behaviors, beliefs, and reactions you found in the interviews? Having difficulty deciding what to do with a few of the opaque ideas? Here are some general guidelines that I follow… Read More

project timeline – a pictorial depiction of making a mental model

I get to work with lots of teams at wildly different organizations in the course of my practice. It never fails to impress me that the people on these teams are brilliant, driven, humorous, helpful, and plain great… Read More