Empathy and Collaboration in Social Business Design

August 27, 2009
dachis_eco

Source: David Armano "Social Business by Design"

My first corporate position carried the title Methods Analyst, working for a large billing center serving a telephone company. One of my main tasks in that role involved learning how other employees performed their work and documenting it. On each project I typically spent several hours observing people work (what some today call rapid ethnography or guerilla ethnography) and then did in-depth interviews of the people I observed. Usually, at the end of my observation, I took responsibility for doing the work for a brief time under their watchful eye. In some sense you could say my work required me to continuously cross train in other people’s work, analyze the process, and write it up in a technical document.  The main insight I took away from that experience was an appreciation for the importance played by empathy in effective collaboration.

First off, collaboration isn’t just about people sharing information to achieve common goals. Collaboration is about people working with other people to achieve common goals and create value. Advocates of Enterprise 2.0 sometimes make the fundamental mistake of arguing that collaboration is really only about achieving business goals, leaving the implication that incorporating social software into the work flow of organizations is sufficient. Even though goal-orientation is a big part of collaborating, collaboration requires more to achieve goals effectively. It requires shared experience. As Dev Patnaik and Evan Rosen recently noted, empathy and collaboration go hand in hand.

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Ethnography and Second Life

September 25, 2008

I don’t usually discuss books or reports without contextualizing the discussion. However, I’ve just begun reading a book that merits mention before digesting how it fits either strategically or tactically with experience design issues.

Skilful Minds first discussed virtual anthropology several years ago noting the following.

 

The term points to the ability of customer researchers to now tap into the stories about personal experience that increasing numbers of people are providing online…But, keep in mind that the people offering their stories and experiences for your edification are not doing it for you.

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Experience Design Through Virtual Anthropology

December 5, 2005

Engaging customers involves developing a conversation that requires familiarity with their experience. Customer research is the typical resource used by experience design in developing that familiarity. Trendwatchers.com offers an overview of one potentially useful way to develop familiarity with customers, Virtual Anthropology. Read the rest of this entry »