goal, oriented, design, community persona, communication, Toby Elwin, blog

Communication with goal-oriented design and community persona strategy

Toby Elwin, communication, bridge, disconnect, architecture-tech.com
That is most certainly NOT what I meant.

We communicate through words we choose, voice inflection, body language, symbols, and a host of other ways as we attempt to socialize our thoughts. Our objective to communicate:

  1. that we are understood, and
  2. clarity on who is expected to do what next

Communication is a bridge, on one side is our thought, the other side our audience.  The gulf between the two littered with wasted efforts and missed intentions.

I have worked with, what I call, Community Persona strategies to create effective communications that liberally strategy borrows concepts from software, hardware, and product design professions.

In this post I present another valuable concept from that same field called:  Goal-oriented Design and presents those tips to improve the way we think about communication and the channels, the vehicles, and the modes you might choose to create community impact.

What I have borrowed, and modified from the design profession includes both Buyer Persona and Goal-directed Design strategies to meet other environments such as non-profit and internal corporate customer needs that we in organization development and project management work with.

Via Satellite and Solid State

The word communication shares the same first 7 letters as community.  There really is a link between the 2 worth a look into:

Latin Roots of Communication:

‘Communication’ is a word with a rich history. From the Latin communicare, meaning to impart, share, or make common … [t]he key root is mun- (not uni-), related to such words as ‘munificent’, ‘community’, ‘meaning’, and Gemeinschaft. The Latin munus has to do with gifts or duties offered publicly.

Digging a little deeper into Gemeinschaft:

[A] spontaneously arising organic social relationship characterized by strong reciprocal bonds of sentiment and kinship within a common tradition; also : a community or society characterized by this relationship.

Origin of GEMEINSCHAFT – German, community, from gemein common, general

It’s All Greek to Me

What you intend to convey, in an email or a presentation, and the view of how your community audience reads and reacts reveals the gulf between getting it done versus getting it accomplished. Is it that transparent to the reader or to your audience you do not care about them? In the way, as well as the effort you communicate: Yes. Yes it is.

Since most everything we do starts with design, whether email, PowerPoint, brochure, or web portal, Goal-oriented Design begins with the end in mind:  the goal to understand What’s In It For Them? (WIIFT?).  The effort to understand what motivates your intended audience, before you design, reduces the effort for them to understand what you intended.  Now you’ve increased your ability land communication that they care about and that works for you.

How do you make your community feel relevant or more intuitive understand you?  Effective design starts by thinking of the goals and motivations of the target and their wants and needs. You stop design and launch simply from your perspective.  Let’s step aside to think about steps to design, develop, and launch surveys:

  1. Develop hypothesis,
  2. Set survey goals,
  3. Design survey,
  4. Pilot survey to a test group,
  5. Modify survey, and
  6. … then release survey to target population

Interface to Communicate

Critical to design, be it executive briefing, a website, an SharePoint portal, or hardware design such as an iPad, is for the interaction, or the interface, to be:

  1. Intuitive,
  2. Easy-to-use,
  3. Conveys relevant information, and
  4. Strive, at all cost, to not make the user feel stupid
About Face 3, Essentials of Interaction Design, buyer person, community persona

Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, and David Cronin, in their book About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design introduced me to Goal-directed Design. I have enjoyed success adopting these principles with ease to develop for communication results as well as any facilitation, team brainstorming, and all manner of work groups who sit down to conjure or cogitate.

Goal-directed Design starts with the following principles:

If we design and construct products in such a way that the people who use them achieve their goals, these people will be satisfied, effective, and happy and will gladly pay for the products and recommend that others do the same. Assuming that this can be achieved in a cost-effective manner, it will translate into business success. [emphasis added]

Think on that above paragraph and any recent organization change management efforts you are challenged to deliver.  Change the frame and the intent is transformed.

Further, Cooper, et al continue in the very same paragraph:

On the surface, this premise [products designed in a way for people to achieve their goals] sounds quite obvious and straightforward: Make people happy, and your products will be a success. Why then are so many digital products so difficult and unpleasant to use? [emphasis added]

What the User Wants

Goals, not features, are the key to product success.

From the developer’s perspective, it’s perfectly logical to provide a button for every function, a field for every data input, a page for every transaction step, and a dialog for every code module. But while this adequately reflects the infrastructure of engineering efforts, it does little to provide coherent mechanisms for a user to achieve his goals.

The earliest stages of the better software, hardware, social media, and product design team sessions rely heavily on understanding an end-user’s motivations and goals.  Then to make an effort to engage with them to find insight around an end-user’s articulated or observed need you identify and validate.

As a bullet list, Alan Cooper’s definition for Goal-Directed Design*:

  • Understand users’ desires, needs, motivations, and contexts;
  • Understand business, technical, and domain opportunities, requirements, and constraints; and
  • Use this knowledge as a foundation for plans to create products whose form, content, and behavior is useful, usable, and desirable, as well as economically viable and technically feasible.

These bullets are useful for many design disciplines and since discovering Cooper’s work and introducing Goal-directed Design into my work I have made slight modification to Goal-oriented Design.  I find the principles serve well in all manner of organization development effort, from:

  • Training
  • Change Management,
  • Change Communication,
  • Facilitation,
  • Strategy Design,
  • Organization Design
  • Employee Engagement
  • Coaching,
  • Business Process Improvement,
  • Team Building, and
  • People/Project Management

Diversity is the spice of life, your work can have greater impact with Goal-oriented Design added to your profession and your work.  Alternatively, you can continue to build that bridge to nowhere, in your build make sure to include toll booths to really slow things down.

My focus for Community Persona is to look anew at our work using design strategy and to increase our organization and talent development efforts for our clients and stakeholders that we work with.  You can look deeper into persona development for your work within my Community Persona Design for Organizations series where I talk further about Alan Cooper‘s pioneering work in technology, software, and product design and adoption.

Other pioneers I mention and advocate include:

  • Adelle Revera who has introduced persona strategies in business community where it has found a distinct home sales, marketing, and product development strategies.
  • David Meerman Scott who has introduced persona strategies in the Internet community where it has found a distinct home to create social media portals, web pages, and many marketing campaigns that go beyond the internet.

Tell me how you find this effort and what works for you and how you have tested these principles in your work.  Please comment on what worked, challenged, or lends new insight.  I look forward to learn from your insight.

Community Persona Design for Organizations

  1. Buyer persona for organization strategy and development
  2. Community persona for organization development
  3. 4 design tools to meet persona context
  4. Community persona resource and influence timeline
  5. Communication with goal-oriented design and community persona strategy
  6. Community persona for SharePoint intranet design
  7. Community persona reaction for functional design
  8. Community persona for change management
  9. Community persona for project management
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