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Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

Strengths, Virtues & Triggers, Oh My!

I’ve been doing some research into different Personality typing methods. There are some  really fun tests and scoring tools that range from massively scientific to proving out a theory as an extension to a book. I love taking tests – especially when it’s all about me!

So, why should the User Experience community care? Well, we say we are not the target audience for most of our work.

  1. We do research and create personas to represent users so we have the right general mindset for representing our users.
  2. We sometimes assist Marketing by creating copy and campaign strategies with the right tone and content for the target audience while balancing it with brand guidelines.
  3. A good (and profitable!) user experience affects behaviors and habits.
  4. Overall, understanding the different classifications of user interests can help us to create interfaces and services that communicate like a real human with some personality!

So, I’ve decide to share some tests that I like and look forward to you volunteering more for me to try out.

  • Myers-Briggs test –  You can find many places online to take the test itself, but I think the detailed descriptions at personalitypage.com  for each result are so interesting. Some HR departments even use this type of testing for helping teams learn about each other’s point of view. A bit detailed for a persona, but interestingly enough, I’ve worked with personas who have the four character classification on them. (I’m an ENFP)
  • StrengthsFinder test – This is one of my favorites. You have to buy a book in order to get the code, but its worth it. There are way more classifications for strengths than personalities in Myers Briggs, but they are fun concept, like Maximizer and Woo (technicals). Really good way to select a tone for a project in a creative brief or kick up a conversation with Marketing to clarify brand attributes into communication styles. (My top 5 strengths in order are Futurist, Restoration, Activator, Ideation, and Connectedness which basically means I always look forward with a cause in mind, get it done with an open and creative slant while focusing on benefits from several angles.)
  • Heart,Smarts,Guts,and Luck (HSGL) test – This test is an extension to the book published by Harvard Business Review Press subtitled with ” What it takes to be an entrepreneur and build a great business”. It claims to be the first ever Entrepreneurial Aptitude Test (EAT). Heart dominant entrepreneurs are like Starbucks’ Howard Schulz. Smarts dominant is like Jeff Bezos from Amazon. Guts dominant is like Sir Richard Branson from Virgin ( my personal hero). The Luck trait – yes they call it a trait with an interesting explanation- is demonstrated by Tony Hsieh of Zappos. The book is a great read, and can help you talk with business about how your organization communicates its business value to its clients and investors. (I’m a Heart-Smart type, so the Guts and Luck people really fascinate me.) Their Wisdom Manifesto is worth a look too!
  • Fascinate Triggers – This is truly my favorite one. Sally Hogshead wrote a few books. One book is called Fascinate – Your 7 triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. No need to tell you why that is important for UX, but she helps many Marketers with these concepts for their businesses as well. Now she has a personality test which helps people match these triggers to their personal brands as well as map out teams. Check out the 7×7 matrix that shows an overview of each type. (I’m a trendsetter personality, leading with rebellion)
  • Virtues Test – It’s called the Values in Action (VIA) test from Institute on Character. They offer several levels of reporting. I love this example of the personalized report.  What’s interesting is the strengths roll up into basic virtues of wisdom, courage, humility, justice, temperance and transcendence. I’d love to see these strengths pulled together into super heroes. My top strengths are in the Wisdom category with creativity, curiosity, judgment (not the same meaning as Myers Briggs), and love of learning. Kinda sounds like a 14 year old girl, but I’ll take it!

Let me know if you find any of this interesting in your line of work.

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Embrace Constraints!

Developing from ‘Blue Sky’ Requirements can be exciting, scary, and confusing for some teams without a healthy vision and a certain amount of boundaries to work from. This has been my experience in the past.

With constraints come interesting boundaries that force designers and marketers to think creatively. If something were easy, everyone would do it, right? Constraints stretch us out of our comfort zone of what’s ‘known’ and predictable. It’s where true differentiation comes from. Sometimes, constraints even force us to simplify.

Look out for Inspiration!
A carefully drafted vision statement can give people a purpose and a hero’s call to action. Some people generally need to believe there is a cause in their work. I know I do!

I think there are generally three ways to react to work:

The Pessimist reaction: “Aw, man! We have to do this again? It’s [stupid / hard / tiring / etc.]” translation: “I don’t wanna do it!”

The Optimist reaction: “Well, this may suck, but let’s try to make it [fun / less of a beating / over quickly / etc].”

The Opportunist reaction: “Hmmm…. considering the root problem, and the fact that practically all people want to be lazy, there can be money made in fixing this problem. We just need to find a way to reuse whatever we put into it…”

The Cycle of Emotion in Development
Sometimes, I react to a situation in all these ways in the same project (!), but it’s exciting to be the opportunist– even though, ultimately, you know the idea may be brushed aside. It takes a lot of work, people, convincing, salesmanship, numbers, and dedication to sell good ideas … regardless of company size!

Inevitably, I always end up thinking, ‘Oh well, perhaps someone else with more energy has already thought of whatever it is’ 🙂

… Well, hurry up and build it! I wanna use it.

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Be honest. Are you ready for change?

How do you cope with change? This is an important question to ask yourself.  Are you passive? Are you accepting? Are you participating? Are you a fighter?

I’m just a problem-solver

When something surprising comes my way, I think to myself “What’s the worst that could happen?”. I think what I’d do in that case, and then become comfortable with my action plan.  By comfortable, I don’t mean I make myself like it. It just means I accept that its a possibility. From there, anything less severe than worst-case-scenario is… well BONUS! Plus, since I always really hate worst-case-scenario, I work hard to counteract everything I can that I want to avoid.

Forecaster or Backcaster?

Recently, a friend told me that my thought process is ‘backcasting’, and introduced me to the topic from a former IA Summit talk. Check out the backcasting presentation online on slideshare.

Basically, this means I work from an outcome — whether desired or avoidable — and work backwards towards mapping goals and actions from that possibility to now.

Being a Change Agent is hard!

Us human beings are weird. We want choice and freedom, but the lack of structure and stability can cause some major stress and odd reactions. Some people become unbalanced and fight just to be proven ‘right’ and to keep their ‘I’m important’ status, when all that matters is NEW understanding and growth. Solving problems is not for the faint of heart. You have to have an open mind, patience, and the fortitude to stick to your guns while still considering additional perspectives as well.

Pain brings people together

Change can be painful, frustrating, and confusing. It takes perseverence and realistic expectations to keep from getting discouraged along the way. Once people readjust to a new understanding, it becomes worth it. People get closer after being forced to go through an experience together. That’s why self help groups exist. It’s better when you know you are not in it alone.

The challenge for everyone now is that it’s not a matter of accepting change. Change is here with more to come whether we like it or not. It’s a matter of adapting. Roll with it!