From the ubiquitous Post-it® Note to Post-it® Dry Erase Surface, Post-it® Brand offers a number of tools to bring out the very best collaborative experiences amongst your colleagues. However, we know that collaboration isn’t simply limited to tools — nor is it confined to a handful of techniques. That’s why we’ve teamed with Jeff Gothelf — a speaker and thought leader on the future of user experience and design — to offer his approach to collaboration and the benefits gained from sharing & working together.
I found the following excerpt on Derek Siver’s blog. It’s from a book called “Art and Fear”:
“The ceramics teacher announced he was dividing his class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right graded solely on its quality.”
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 pounds of pots rated an A, 40 pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an A.
Well, come grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity!
It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”
This story perfectly articulates one of the fundamental Lean UX principles: prioritize making over analysis. Instead of sitting around, debating ad nauseum which direction to go in, what features make sense, which colors perfectly reflect your brand values or which words will get your customers to convert, just make something. Make something small. Make it on paper. It won’t be perfect. Tear it up. Throw it away and make it again.
It won’t work as well (or at all) as you’d hoped at first but it will teach you something. You’ll get some feedback, some insight on how building your product can be better and you’ll do a better job the second time around. You’ll get the idea out into the world, gauge feedback from your colleagues and customers and be able to take another, more educated stab at getting it right.
1. Build a storyboard — A storyboard is a sequential series of “frames” that depict an experience. By sketching steps in a process, you begin to understand how your idea can take shape in the real world and what steps will be involved. This also begins to identify gaps in your thinking and in the scope of your initiative. Storyboards are often made on Post-it® Notes with pens and pencils so they can be easily revised and created.
2. Create a story map — Similar to a storyboard but bigger and more detailed in scope is the story map. A story map takes the entire workflow of a project you’re working on and articulates each step on a Post-it® Note. They are then laid out sequentially from left to right. Underneath each step more Post-it® Notes are added to deconstruct the step into the actual features a system would need to have to support that activity. Once complete, these large, wallmounted visualizations can be used to decide what the initial scopes of work will entail.
3. Make a paper prototype — The experience you’re creating often has one or two critical pieces of its workflow. Consider taking one of these and sketching out an approximation of what this could look like at the tactical level (an interface if you’re building software). I recommend taking your paper prototype out to your target audience and walking them through it. You won’t be testing for usability of the solution. Instead, you’ll be getting information on the value of your idea. If there seems to be value, you can proceed to refine the idea. If not, that idea is best left on the paper in favor of another.
Each one of these ideas is the equivalent of a ceramic pot. How many pots will you make this week?
Jeff Gothelf is a lean UX evangelist, spreading the gospel of great team collaboration, product innovation and evidence-based decision making. He is the co-author (with Josh Seiden) of “Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience” and the upcoming “Sense and Respond” (sensingbook.com)