Posts Tagged 'Change Management'

Empathy map: An excellent tool for planning change or any other initiative

I recently read through IDEO’s Tom & David Kelley’s book Creative Confidenceand I found a great deal of inspiration for helping build buy in for my designs and proposals. I also was able to add to my collaboration tool kit, as the book also presents stories and collaborative processes that can help kick start creativity on any team.

We have all worked on initiatives where we were so rushed that it felt if we built out our case logically and spelled out the benefits to our audience, they would naturally accept the change… or so we thought. But as we’ve found time and time again, “If you build it, they will come” often proves to be one of the most ineffective product launching strategies.

IDEO’s approach to design and change initiatives is a human-centered one that examines potential reactions to any sort of new product, object, service or change. The Empathy Map tool presents a simple start at mapping and envisioning how people will react to what you’re putting in front of them whether it is a user interface to a purchasing tool or an ice-cream scoop.

The Empathy Map asks four questions in regard to your change, product, or initiative:

  1. What will people say?
  2. What will people think?
  3. What will people do?
  4. What will people feel?
Empathy Map Questions

Ask these questions to think out how your audience will receive or react to your initiative or change.

Normally, you would put these questions up on a white board or pieces of chart paper and have your team write their answers to these questions on Post-It notes, but I work in virtual teams, so I created a PowerPoint version (see Resources below). These questions can help you sort through possible reactions and prioritize the ones that you should address. Then start making a plan for how you will address those.

In my example PowerPoint, I included the simple example of sending out a survey. Everyone loves taking surveys right? After listing a few audience reactions, thoughts, and feelings, I made an initial attempt at addressing those that I’ve seen in the past.  What I appreciate about this approach is that is a little more thorough. It allows you to separate and methodically map these reactions vs. coming up with the most ‘scary’ ones and reacting solely to those.


The wrong way to assess culture before attempting change

Let me preface this post with a confession about my fan love for classic Sci Fi films.

The story of George Taylor from Planet of the Apes. tells us how underestimating or judging a culture at face value can lead to missteps and frustration when it comes to being an agent for change. Near the beginning of the film, George was convinced that he could take over the planet, because the first sentient beings he encountered were primitive & “simple.” As he sardonically cracks:

Taylor makes an assumption without knowing who is truly in control of the planet & it's culture

Taylor makes an assumption without knowing who is truly in control of the planet & its culture

Alas, poor George ends up finding himself in this situation.


Then ultimately coming to this conclusion:


Of course at moment George made his initial assessment, he didn’t know what he was truly dealing with.

Making assumptions about the culture of the organization you when you’re attempting any change effort can result in the worst sort of initiative sabotage. It’s important that we instead really understand the culture of the groups we are working with and then plan accordingly.

Continue reading ‘The wrong way to assess culture before attempting change’

Change is Good, Change is Natural… Stasis is an abomination to nature

Excuse me while… I chew on this thought for a bit… I may wax philosophical. Things change. The seasons change. The Earth changes.   Geological records have proven that the Earth’s surface has changed many times over it’s long life. People change. Throughout history, technology has changed the way humans live, produce and interact with each other.  Do you think the emerging democracies could have occurred after the Middle Ages and Renaissance without the printing press and proliferation of ideas through books?

But why then do we so cling to the desire to ‘keep things the same?’ I’ve been wrestling with this idea ever since I can remember.  Maybe this explains my love of History. Perhaps humans naturally crave stability because they’ve spent much of their unrecorded and recorded history dealing with the seemingly unpredictable nature of the elements, disease, and natural events.  Animals respond to change via natural selection or development of instincts, but we actively try to stop change from happening or build constructs that allow us to thrive despite change.

What would happen if we had a ‘long memory’ for change?  Who would build communities or cities on a flood plain or riverbank if they had memory or records of constant floods? How would we deal with social change? Would we nod things off as just a fad that would pass or would we actually try to develop laws or social institutions that were meant to adapt to change? I’ve noticed that politicians rely on people’s limited memory of history in order to push their agendas or to get elected or re-elected into office. Sometimes I lament that we live such mayfly lives. Still, having this memory might actually cause use to become more conservative in our actions. Since we could better predict cycles of events because of our personal memories.

Someone had the foresight to build this house on stilts

Someone had the foresight to build this house on stilts - Image from the Morguefile.

Resources/more stuff:

Why people resist change (from the Slow Leadership Site)

Is Web 2.0 over complicating things?

Technology allows me to be an ‘on-the-fly’ sort of tourist. I don’t have things planned out before I get to a destination like my parents did. They had travel agents who got them packaged tours where everything from morning wake-up to afternoon snack and evening meals were all scheduled on a daily plan. I shudder to think of enjoying travel in this way. I might read extensively about a place and it’s neighborhoods before I go, but if I know that I can have Internet access when I’m there, I pretty much leave it up to the moment. When we were vacationing in San Francisco, I did my usual thing… went straight to Google maps and searched for places that I wanted to see or needed to visit: food, shopping, neighborhood historical spots, or the nearest Rite-aid to buy a replacement pair of pantyhose. When I was searching for eating places and boutiques, I noticed that a number of places had websites. A number of restaurants sounded good, but they just had too much ricketa-racketa (flash) on their websites. Come on! I just want a menu… or maybe even photos to look at. I want to know what you’re store, business or restaurant has to offer. A few sites required me to download a plug in. Others sites seemed like some design nightmare similar to some conceptual art experience designed by an irritating esoteric character from Nathan Barley. Worse, important information like ‘store hours’ or a phone number was often hidden under some cryptic heading other than the obvious ‘about us.’

Nathan Barley's Website -Bells and whistles and too much junk

I actually thought if their websites are this pretentious, then they must be pretty annoying. Ergo, I didn’t want to give them my business. The funny thing is some small mobile devices don’t play Flash very well. Often the information I needed could just be on a list. Yes, from a consumer’s point of view the web needs to be simple and easy to use. As Jakob Nielsen put it:

“Most people just want to get in, get it and get out….For them the web is not a goal in itself. It is a tool.”

Pushing bells and whistles or other advanced features may be too much if you’re forcing them on users. On the other hand, people should be restricted to just using the ‘tried and true’ methods. Mr. Nielsen argues that focus on Web 2.0 development and applications is causing many website builders to forsake good design. But I think there’s a growing market/audience of people who know how to take advantages and use the newer web technologies. To be fair to these pioneering web developers… they’re still trying to figure out what works and how to make it work well. Though many business successes have demonstrated the power of social networking through blogs, wikis and social networks/online community. A product or service can take off if a few connected users or mavens start talking about it on the web.

From a web educator’s point of view, the web has great potential to bring people closer together and these tools are more than just ricketa-racketa. Also, users can work collaboratively to develop content from written text, to music, podcasts. They can even build on concepts and enrich discussion with video sharing.

If you read this article… Nielsen sounds kind of like (excuse my words) an old fogy… who predicts that people’s use and behavior with and on the Internet will not continue as they grow older. He predicts that Internet use will go down as people age. For the sector of society who will become more involved in the ‘creative’ and ‘technology’ economies this will not be the case. And, of course their use of the technology will change because technology changes. Something just tells me that Mr. Nielsen or his perception and vision of things is sort of …. stuck. Maybe things will be this way for me when everyone is plugging directly into USB (or some kind of electronic) ports or even buying cyborg bio-add ons… I just won’t get it or understand. (Of course, you know I’m joking about the cyborg thing… well sort of).

Show this at your Change Management Meeting – Bronze Age Orientation Day

I love Mitchell and Webb!



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