Service Design

How Visual is Your Storytelling? 1

EkatrinaHow well do you understand the pandemonium towards visuality? A new book,The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by Ekaterina Walter, is a great introduction to this subject. The book offers a viewpoint from the 20K level all the way down to pixels without missing a beat.

Ekatrina is a passionate marketer, who writes and speaks on topics of leadership, business innovation, and digital revolution and also authored Think Like Zuck.


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Are Your Personas Flawed? 0

You validate with the marketplace all those User Personas or Buyer Personas that you create. There is a lot of science to them backed up by hard data when it is required. In fact, they are one of the hottest design topics around and one of the FIRST things we create. Sometimes right after or right before that customer journey map we create. User Persona

I have always challenged people in workshops to create their own persona and their own journey of incoming and outgoing workflows. It is a challenge for most to get very far removed from themselves. At the furthest point, I then ask them to create a persona of that person. If that person happens to be in the same room, we compare.

The idea of a persona is where we get the icon for drama, the two masks of comedy and tragedy. In theatre, the older mask were leather and shaped into magnificent forms, but on the inside the masks conform to the actor’s face. So on the inside, you have the actors face and on the outside the shape of the character.

Our personas are commonly created the same way. They conform to our inside thinking. We will have a workshop placing post-it-notes on the wall creating these personas. We come to an agreement and start with the next exercise, often never returning to validate the information. This exercise is a brainstorming exercise, not a user persona.

Others will create the material with some data they have collected and validate the information through customer surveys or interviews and other quantitative or qualitative data. These personas are more accurate but still flawed. It is hard to separate yourself from your mask.

Your perspective creates the way you see the world. When you are creating a persona you are taking events and people opinions that are heavily influenced by your culture and surroundings. Can you ever be objective with a persona? How many times when you have uncovered something uncomfortable is it justified as an exception?

That persona that you created about a co-worker above, how close was it to the actual truth? The truth is what you imagine for others is very different from actual experience.

Creating personas is a tough exercise, a few tips:

  1. Go to the actual place that value is created, the point of use.
  2. Observing, and/or interviewing with multiple people from multiple disciplines.
  3. Have people record audio and/or video of what they saw.
  4. Create stories about the interaction
  5. Have real users/customers critique your persona
  6. Use outside sources to collect part of the data and perform any of the steps above.
  7. Induce failure of the product/service and observe reaction
  8. Believe what others say.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive by any means. What other ideas are there for creating good personas? Creating separation from the internal mask?

Is Visual the Key to Engagement? 0

In a 2-part podcast next week, I have Bob Petruska, author of Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters and Mick Wilz, Director of Enterprise Excellence and Co-Owner of Sur-Seal Corporation.

Mick, co-owner of Sur-Seal Corporation, began his own journey to personal and business excellence about five years ago by actively seeking a variety of tools to meet his needs and the needs of the business. “My interest is to take tribal knowledge and make it visual and accessible to everyone,” he says. We talked about Mick’s journey in part one of the podcast (next week).

In part 2 of the podcast, I had Bob talk about as a consultant how he might apply what he has learned from Mick to other organizations. Bob is phenomenal at leading change and his take on Mick’s journey was remarkable.

You can find both these guys on the same day and at the same place at the upcoming ASQ Charlotte Conference on April 8th, 2014. It will be held at the Harris Conference Center. Not that I am biased but Bob and Mick’s track is called Keep Your Organization’s Chain Straight.

Podcast Excerpt

Joe: What is different about what Mick did that others don’t do?

Bob Petruska (Sustain Lean Consulting) :

What I see Mick doing is he’s engaging people on a visceral level. He’s engaging them in a way that allows them to become part of the construction of the future. We think of it as building a bridge. We’re building a bridge across a sea of uncertainty, and we’re walking on the bridge that we’re building on as we go because we don’t know what’s in the future. There are so many uncertainties out there.

I love that Mick has identified that people are really afraid of uncertainty. By recognizing this, he’s found a brilliant way, a solution to overcome people’s uncertainty in a couple different ways. Number one, he allows them to use their hands to be part of it, and adults learn by doing. They don’t learn by going to a course or a conference. You learn by applying yourself. He’s having people apply themselves immediately to the task at hand which is constructing together a better future. They get to work it out ahead of time – “Will this work? What will be the tradeoff of us moving this piece of equipment from here to there in that flow?” I think it’s brilliant.

The other thing is people want to be part of something. One of his quotes that I really love is, “You gotta have a seat on the bus for everyone”. What it means to me when he says that is that we all have something valuable to contribute. When you think about there’s differences in the way people think, there’s value in those differences. Servicing the intricacies of the different ways of thinking actually ends up with a better solution than if everyone just kind of nods their heads, “Oh yeah, yeah, go ahead and do that,” but then silently don’t really buy-in and then later come out and actually try to destroy and say, “You know I told them this wasn’t going to work.” Instead, he asks people, “Tell me what to do.” So he’s showing humility, and he’s showing respect for the people and he’s respecting the people who know the job best. That’s really for me it’s all about respect for people, and that builds a trusting environment where I think people can be fully utilized. He’s doing a lot of things that I really admire.

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Is there Higher Value in Outcome-Based Pay? 1

Recently my work has centered on jobs that allow me to expand my thinking in the area of Outcome-Based Thinking. I have been fortunate to move into this field, and I find it exhilarating to say the least. Part of this thinking is embedded in Service Dominant Logic and the concepts of Value Co-creation and Co-production. We can talk all day, and many have been talking years about the subject and most of us still think in the lens of a Goods (Product) Dominant Logic process. The simplest explanation I can give between the two is that GD-Logic focuses on the thought of value derived at the point of transaction and SD-Logic focuses on the thought of value derived at the point of use. Money Wall

Though many forces are pulling us into the SD-Logic world, most of our thoughts and behaviors remain cemented in GD-Logic. One of the culprits that stop us from moving into this behavior is the flow of revenue or how do we get paid. In the transactional mind set, you pay for a product at the point of sale, and there is a certain guarantee that is extended. You can extend that guarantee with a service contract but at some point time it becomes yours with a little help in supporting it.

Subscription services align themselves much closer to SD-Logic revenue thinking, as you pay for the use of the product or service. Another example may be a lease where the maintenance or at least part of it, is done by the supplier. But in my mind, a true SD-Logic revenue would be outcome-based pay. The fallacy in this is how would we negotiate fair compensation for all participating parties?

The most obvious model to fall back on is sales commissions since this is all performance based pay. However, as the role of an individual sales person controlling the outcome of sales has diminished, so has commission-based selling. The problem with this model in today’s world is the fuzziness of the sales process. It is just not as simple as closing a sale anymore. For many of the reasons sales commissions seem out of place today, are the same reasons we have problems with outcome-based pay. The fuzziness of who owns the success or failure of the outcome.

Outcome-based pay for the customer can lower cost and motivate providers to provide higher quality outcomes. For the supplier, it seems to shift the entire responsibility towards their performance. A good example of the failure of this scheme is when you trouble shoot problems and ultimately they are the failure of the customer equipment compatibility, or something they just added. When you find the problem sometimes it just is not real clear especially from a customer’s standpoint who owned the problem.

Can Outcome-Base pay work? Can we move from a GD-Logic revenue structure? My take on most of this is that we have trouble leaving go of that GD-Logic or transactional thinking. Sooner, rather than later GD-Logic sales structures will disappear except for commodity based products.

Service Dominant Logic implies that value is co-created and that a higher value will be achieved through the combined efforts of both parties. This is what holds the secret to the success of outcome-based pay. It is the expected higher value, or that performance gap between normal expectation and co-create expectation. I would propose a fair price for the service that would not cause undue burden on either party could be arranged. By doing this, it would leave the gain to be shared and much easier to define. Compensation of the gap could also be determined by the level of responsibility that is assumed in achieving the outcome.

A formula like this provides the supplier a base to feel comfortable going the extra mile. It also provides the customer with commission styled incentives for better performance from the contractor. The purpose for both parties should be creating an innovative and sustainable future together. However, the language of business is money, and the money has to talk.

P.S. It seems the organizations that are most comfortable with themselves are the most comfortable with outcome-based pay.

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Contrarian or Unique Perspectives? 0

Steve Portigal author of Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights, and founder of  Portigal Consulting.  answered this question from my in past interview: I want to step back for a second, and as a manager, let’s say, I send three people out to interview or just watch the experience. They can come back and give me completely different interpretations. So, how much value can I put in this?

Related Podcast and Transcription: Interviewing Users

Steve Portigal:     I love that. That’s a great way of putting it. I think that the unique perspective is one of the things I enjoyed about doing fieldwork and trying to make sense of it. I think about setting up a study, series of interviews with whoever the team is going to be so that there’s some chance for success, and you don’t want to stand one person off to see customer A or one person to see customer Q and so on and then have them make overarching conclusions about what the need is or what the opportunity is. There has to be a way of combining that. It’s nice to do an interview in teams. But then that debris of two is really a nice size and then that conversation afterwards. What did you see? What did you see? It is really cool because people will see different things and that conversation it’s not really a battle about what’s right. It is really more of a way to conglomerate what those different impressions were and align on that and then to have if different people are talking to different customers, to have them come together and report things and so then what this conversation often include is people saying, “Oh yeah, our guys said the same things and for him it’s because of this and this, and this”.

You start to find commonalities and then you start to find contrast and part of what you want to do is understand why are those contrasts are. Well, of course, this customer didn’t have this problem because they are, in this kind of situation in their life cycle or in their technology or whatever that is. That hashing it out between the different people who have seen different things starts to uncover what the critical factors are and then now you are doing, now it’s what you do with the interview. Now, you are thinking about how we get to the implications for our product or design. I love that contrast. I loved that people are just messy. We have to kind of bring messy people in to try to deal with that and have a conversation. There’s process to that, just like you asked about interviewing. There’s a process to doing some of this sense-making, and I just give you a little scaffolding for how you might kind of bring these pieces together and to start to kind of line commonalities and contrast. You could structure it, but it is still kind of messy, and it just reflects the nature of what we are starting with which is people.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Interviewing Users

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Storytelling: What Data Can’t Talk About 0

Everyone is told to tell stories. In sales and marketing area, we are told that to have people listen to us and remember what we say, frame it in a story.  But it doesn’t seem that a lot of people ever get any training in stories or how to construct good stories.

I asked next weeks podcast guest Annette Simmons, founder of Group Process Consulting, that question. If Annette name sounds familiar don’t be surprised. She wrote the book, The Story Factor (2nd Revised Edition), and a hidden gem,Territorial Games. The Story Factor became a classic when 800-CEO-READ named it in their book as one of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time (Penguin, 2009).

Now let’s get to her answer:

Annette: There’s a reason for that. It’s kind of the same thing that happens when a writer wants to learn how to be a fiction writer. A lot of what people say about storytelling is technically accurate. Like stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Stories have tension and conflict. But I tell you that and does that help you make yourself a better storyteller?

Joe: No, not at all.

Annette: No. So there’s things that are accurate, but the way I think about it is you could get a PhD in Faulkner and how he wrote wonderful stories but it doesn’t make you Faulkner.

Joe: So what’s the secret? Is there a secret?

Annette: Let me say first that I think that the surging popularity of storytelling is because our society had to have some kind of language to talk about what facts and data can’t talk about. I think initially they talk about emotional intelligence but that got too technical. Leadership was all about traits, but you know, you’re supposed to be flexible or consistent, which one is it? So with storytelling, it’s about turning your attention to the subjective rather than the objective. When I teach storytelling what I teach initially doesn’t have anything to do with about how to tell stories but it has everything to do with how to see stories when they’re right in front of you because when you start to analyze something with rational thinking stories disappear.

Stories operate on a different logic than rational logic. For one thing stories are nonlinear so that a tiny, tiny detail can make a huge difference. It’s the same as if you say one wrong thing, you could screw up for the next decade. Understanding that dynamic, understanding that ambiguity, and paradox are inherent in stories, because they are inherent in the human experience. Actually user experience design has done some great work. I’m just writing about that right now and helping us understand storytelling. It doesn’t have to do with plot and characters – more about details that reveal a meaning. Meaning is highly variable, which is another thing about storytelling, another way to say ambiguity. Once you begin to understand that storytelling is going to conflict directly with a couple of assumptions and rational logic – for instance one plus one equals two, like one detail is as good as another, well it’s not – and the idea that you have to be clear and focused.

Storytelling is not clear and focused because you’re pulling out details that could be interpreted in several different ways. But the only way you can get someone to participate, i.e. called listening to story, is to leave room for them to make their interpretations. Storytelling at heart is about helping other people come to their own conclusions because they value theirs more than they value yours.

Story Dialoguing your Sales Pitch

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Does Lean Create too much Structure? 0

I am a big advocate of standard work, though I might have a different take on it which you can view in this post, Holacracy, Zappos and Standard Work. I always like to get other viewpoint on the subject and in a past podcast with one of my favorite Lean people, Drew Locher, I had one of those conversations. An excerpt from the podcast is below. Drew is currently Managing Director for Change Management Associates.

  Related Podcast and Transcription: Lean Thinking In Service

Joe:  We talked before the podcast about people adapting to Lean because they think that their getting into this real structured situation. Everybody’s got to do this standard work. Everybody’s got to do this regimented process to make it all work and what’s… Is that what Lean is?

Drew:  Well, standard work is a foundation concept of Lean. The quality management folks can appreciate what we are trying to accomplish there. We are trying to reduce variability in the process and then in the result of the process. So that is the foundation concept. That doesn’t mean we make everyone robots. We can allow some flexibility. We distinguish kind of what’s important versus not so important by what we call the key points which are a part of standard work. The key points are nonnegotiable. They’re quality, efficiency and in some cases safety. You’ve got to do them in these ways because we proved they’re the most efficient way. We proved that it is the safest way. We proved that they provide the quality result we’re looking for.

There are a lot of non?key point activities or steps that we can allow some flexibility on. Style, we can allow people to have a different style. We’re not going to make them all robots. They’re not all going to speak the same way and behave the same way. That would be boring in any environment, work or otherwise.

People have to realize that’s not what we’re trying to do. I’ve heard that for 25 years, all the way back to manufacturing days. You’re going to make us all robots. No, that’s really not what we want. People have that misconception. We have to get over that.

They also have to understand the other big purpose of standard work which is to identify nonstandard conditions. How can we identify nonstandard conditions if we don’t have standard conditions to begin with? We’ll forever not know. We’ll be confused. We’ll be for forever not knowing what we need to act on and what we don’t need to act on.

Joe:  I think that’s very true. How do you know where to go if you don’t know where you are? The question that I have in the Lean process, Lean Office and Processes, do we always create standard work. Basically our current state situation and map a future value stream? Is that a common process you take someone through?

Drew:  In general, we start off with value stream mapping. That is our assessment and planning tool. We allow that to tell us where the lack of standard work and what areas we need to kind of focus our efforts on, because there may be constraints or bottlenecks as we discussed earlier. In general we’ll always start with value stream mapping just to assess to make sure we don’t overlook anything. That includes the current state and the future state. Do you always have to do that? No, if you really have a good strong sense that hey, here’s our problem area. Let’s start there.

You can do that, but I always tell companies we would be remiss if we really didn’t assess the overall value stream, the overall system. We may overlook something. So we do encourage that. Sometimes that’s a little strong medicine, stronger than people are willing to accept, in particular when we get into the product development or just development in general processes and systems.

People resist value stream mapping. So I’ve been more recently taking different approaches there that are more of a tools approach rather than a system approach which value stream mapping encourages. Just to open the door, open the mind a little bit that there’s opportunity there. But generally speaking we would encourage people to start with mapping.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Lean Thinking In Service

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