At Open we identify and examine customer issues. At DNA we deliver on that thinking.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Human Factors

Walking the walk

Charlene Turei October 2012

Recently a team discussion around the usefulness and usability of some internal systems sparked some debate about what was actually needed. What was clear was that there were different perspectives and different needs that required some understanding in order to affect positive change within the systems. So, presented with this problem, we decided it was time to walk the walk and apply our approach to ourselves.

What has been most interesting about this is just how tricky it can be to conduct such a project within your own organisation, particularly a small business. In your own environment you can be tempted to let your own experience cloud things and colleagues can think you know a lot more than you do about them, their role and what it’s like for them on a daily basis. Familiarity in some cases also meant that sessions were difficult to keep on track and needed to be refocused to ensure all key concepts were covered.

While we ran the process much as we would for our clients, we had to synthesise the information over a few levels rather than producing Personas. The depth of information gained during the interviews was appropriate for creating Personas, but for an internal piece of work in a small business, it felt both strange and potentially risky to follow this path. The key was to create tools that were abstracted enough where people could still identify with the attributes, concerns and needs without anyone feeling singled out or others jumping to a conclusion about who an output might be referring to.

As most of our clients are larger organisations with many staff, executing our process on ourselves has given us an appreciation for some key considerations when creating empathy tools for smaller businesses. It has also reinforced the value of such exercises for any sized organisation in identifying opportunities for optimising systems that enable people in their roles and the potential to reshape culture and improve service delivery models.

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