Friday, July 22, 2005

Framing change / Changing frames

How do you go about changing the role "user experience" plays in your business?

As described in a May 2005 Fast Company article entitled "Change or Die," how you "frame" the change is important, as you often need to change the way things are currently framed.
"Our thinking is guided by narratives, not facts. When a fact doesn't fit our conceptual "frame" -- the metaphors we use to make sense of the world -- we reject it."
I made a short presentation about this at a symposium a number of years ago. Calling my presentation, "Models We Live By" (mimicing a portion of the title of a George Lakoff book, "Metaphors We Live By"), I talked about the conceptual models -- the frames -- that governed much of the thinking at my place of work then that were obstacles to my introduction of forms of user-centered design, ethnographic and usability research, and the like.

So facts and analyses will not alone motivate change?
"Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people's feelings. This is true even in organizations that are very focused on analysis and quantitative measurement, even among people who think of themselves as smart in an MBA sense."
In a presentation on the Business of Design earlier this week in San Francisco, Tom Andrews and colleagues from Stone Yamashita emphasized the importance of engaging emotion in their work with corporate executives to redefine and change organizational culture.

Should you motivate change by the emotion of fear?
"It's too easy for people to go into denial of the bad things that might happen to them. Compelling, positive visions of the future are a much stronger inspiration for change."
The extent of the role compelling visions of the future can play in achieving change in a business is very nicely described in a July 2005 Boxes and Arrows article entitled, "Customer Storytelling at the Heart of Business Success."

But oftentimes decision makers need to participate in the development of those compelling stories for change to occur. I've talked about this in a couple of earlier blog entries (e.g., "Perturbing the ecosystem via intensive, rapid, cross-disciplinary collaboration"), where facilitation of that development is key ("The need for good facilitation").

Indeed, Stone Yamashita's approach to designing organizational change is very much one of creatively facilitating their clients' development of those future visions. (For more on the work of Stone Yamishita, where several of my former colleagues do wonderful work, see "Designing Change" in the May/June 2005 issue of Communication Arts.)

(My thanks to Juli Betwee of pivot.point for providing me with a copy of the quoted Fast Company article.)