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    Entries in facilitating UX (2)

    Wednesday
    Mar112015

    Give good empathy

    "We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

    It's such a bland, banal, cover-all statement. I'm just not feelin' it though. I'm not feeling that you've REALLY understood the lengths to which your stuff, has stuffed up my stuff.

    Building deeper connections, trust and understanding with customers, clients, colleagues and users means you've got to give, first.

    In a workshop I was facilitating with customers and users recently, I made a point of giving. Deeply.

    While I'm listening - like all good leaders, managers, trainers, facilitators, coaches do - I really need to show I'm listening. I've got to 'give' good listening, to get good trust.

    So in workshops, conversations, sessions, I give empathy. Big time.

    Then when there's been 'an inconvenience' or 'any inconvenience', I'll take the time in a client, customer or user workshop to hear it.

    "But it's not on topic," whispers a designer on the project. "And it will build trust," I say later, "you'll get more engagement, trust and truth, later."

    It's called empathy. I think we need to show it more by naming what it is that might have 'inconvenienced' people in the past.

    Often people want to tell you their 'story' about a situation or experience. I've seen too many people cut off in the prime of their story because it's not on topic, or we don't have time, or they're waffling on or I don't have an answer for it or I can't fix it or <insert another low empathy excuse.>

    I'm sorry if this has totally stuffed up your calendar for the day. I'm sorry if this means you were expecting to do this, not that. I'm sorry if this has meant you've spent time doing this and feel like you've wasted that time. 

    Wow that must have really been annoying. Gee that must have been frustrating and irritating. Ooooh that sounds like it was a difficult thing for you to have to do. 

    Understand. Name the inconvenience. Go out on an empathy limb. Make them know you feel it. And don't be so quick to jump on to the next topic or story. Give.

    Friday
    Mar062015

    More than Post-it Notes & Sharpies

    Let us give thanks... let us give respect, thanks and acknowledgement to two awesome and life changing tools :

    • The Post-it Note (Well, anything Post-it really, brilliant)
    • The Sharpie (In fact any marker. They're super too).

    Used together, they are life changing, team changing and world changing tools.

    So now that we've given thanks to them, we must realise that they alone (or together) do not a 'workshop' make.

    When you're getting the team, clients, users, customers, stakeholders - anyone! - together and you ask them to write their thoughts or some comments on a post-it note, it isn't a workshop.

    It's ONE tool, one task, one process in that workshop.

    What do you then do with those Post-its? Put them not a wall, whiteboard or flip chart and start categorising or sorting? That's another process or task.

    I've got to say, I'm seeing patterns before my eyes! The write-it-and-post-it technique can be limiting, repetitive and very 'same-same'.

    I'm not dissing the approach per se; it works, it's just... overworked.

    Hands up if you've been in a workshop/meeting/conversation/session/thing where you wrote stuff on a Post-it and put it on a board/whiteboard/flipchart/wall/thing?

    We can fall into tired patterns of what a workshop is, or what we can get a team or individuals to do in a workshop. When you want to engage with users, customers, stakeholders, sponsors, clients, you must think and plan what processes you'll use.

    Don't wing it. If you're the facilitator or leader of the meeting or workshop, then it's up to you to plan, think, prepare and map out what processes you'll use - or at least have at hand - to help the team and group move, shift, achieve decide and do.

    Break the Post-it pattern.

    Continue to evolve, adapt and build up your toolkit of 'go-to' processes, tools and activities that you can use with a team.

    Be ready to go where the team needs to go, do what needs to be done to respond to what's happening. (Oh, and it's not about playing 'icebreaker' games either! They're so 1980s.)

    Participation, contribution, collaboration and engagement in workshops needs to be built, ramped up, encouraged and rewarded. That's how you go deep, that's how you get great stuff done.

    So what are you planning? What are you doing and saying? How are you responding?

    This is more powerful than 'Write your idea on a Post-it' x four times in the one workshop.