Not the doodle above, but the story depicted below....
"When I approached the service desk this time, though, the person behind it barely looked at me. She was new (to me). While typing and looking at a screen, she told me to see one of the service specialists. She seemed agitated when I asked for further clarification. Somewhere in her training, or in her ongoing assessment from her team leader or supervisor, one of the following had happened: 1) she had been led to believe that paying attention to the screen in front of her was more important than paying attention to a person who had physically entered her service area; 2) she had been rewarded for handling something on the screen rather than the person in front of her; or 3) she had been allowed to persist in her work without realizing a key choice point: deal well with the item on the screen or deal well with the person in front of you (it’s possible, of course, to handle both parties well, though not necessarily at the same exact time)."
I added a shopping list to the Toolkit page of the Make Yourself Clear website.
The contents and suggested uses are below:
In Make Yourself Clear, we provide the following description of pre-assessment, borrowed from research on teaching and learning and applied to the context of business :
Asking the right questions up front to understand where customers are in their individual or company journey; using that information to prepare for interactions and transactions with those customers.
Here is a nice section from John Dewey's Experience and Education that is foundational to the practices of pre-assessment:
It is possible of course to abuse the office, and to force the activity of the young into channels which express the teacher's purpose rather than that of the pupils. But the way to avoid this danger is not for the adult to withdraw entirely. The way is, first, for the teacher to be intelligently aware of the capacities, needs, and past experiences of those under instruction, and, secondly, to allow the suggestion made to develop into a plan and project by means of the further suggestions contributed and organized into a whole by the members of the group. The plan, in other words, is a co-operative enterprise, not a dictation. The teacher's suggestion is not a mold for a cast-iron result but is a starting point to be developed into a plan through contributions from the experience of all engaged in the learning process. The development occurs through reciprocal give-and-take, the teacher taking but not being afraid also to give. The essential point is that the purpose grow and take shape through the process of social intelligence.
This visual aid summarizes some of the key points in the second part of Make Yourself Clear.
One helpful way to identify the problem points of any experience is to create a journey map (sometimes called an empathy map). The x-axis is time, the y-axis is 'delight' or simply emotional state. It can be helpful to break the total experience into just 5-6 key moments. When a "low" point is identified, a new journey map should be made to focus on 5-6 key moments in that originally single point. By mining down, you can get clarity and common understanding on what is negatively impacting a larger experience. Then you can start ideating on ways to address it.
I read what my oft-collaborator, Stephen J. Valentine who blogs at Refreshing Wednesday, wrote today about convergence. He suggested an exercise which I put into practice. Instead of thinking of my organization, I thought about communication and productivity platforms used in one of my graduate school courses. Over the years my co-teacher and I have tried a bunch of different things. Some have stuck around, others have not. My listing certain ones as being on 'life support' does not mean I do not believe in their value, it simply means that today (January 2019) it takes significant energy in order to help them be valuable within this particular context.
I started doing some analysis on multiple years of personal technical support requests I have made to the various providers that Explain Everything uses over the past year. That data and analysis will be shared soon. In particular, I was looking to see if there were any patterns across the types of requests and type of responses provided. Variables that influence the patterns include: incident type, date request made, date request closed, addressable by user, addressable only by provider, message included image, message included GIF/Video, message included link to article, message included attached document, and so on.
As I was doing this, I stumbled across one frustrating example which also served as a reminder that there is still an open loop that hasn’t been closed by the provider.
Provider 1: An Email was sent to the billing email to mention that we were still getting charged (to the credit card on file) for a service that was supposed to have been canceled 3 months prior. There are days between responses and often a response only after I send a follow up. I ended up Cc-ing their support team so that it could also be logged as a ticket. Almost a month later still no resolution despite my providing a paper trail on the dialogue that confirms that this was meant to be canceled. The other part is as a user of this service, we have no means to turn off the service ourselves.
Provider 2: A similar thing - a reduced rate for a service had been negotiated, which was mediated by waiving the second of two milestone-related payments. When the second milestone hit, we were issued an invoice and an automatic charge to the card on file. I sent a request to the contact and the support team, along with the paper trail, and within 24 hours the issue was investigated by the support team and accompanied by an acknowledgement of the error and an apology (albeit a few days later) from our account rep.
In both cases, there are system-side automated elements that end up preventing a human being from always being able to ensure that what they intended is actually executed. The human part comes in when the issue is noticed and immediately - and authentically - addressed.
I recently met author and podcaster Greg Voisen who spends a lot of time thinking and leading around creative and visual consulting. It was suggested to me to check out his podcast episode 407 where he speaks with author and visual consultant David Sibbet.
What I really appreciated from this conversation was the reminder of the importance of mental models. As a teacher (or seller or leader or service person), when you help your audience construct mental models - with literal or associative elements. If you listen - David suggests what a "spark" can mean to people based on their past experiences and interests.
When visualizing an experience - a talk, a meeting, a sales call, etc. - there is tremendous opportunity to reinforce those mental models. There are rabbit holes of ideas and information on both Greg and David's websites.