Do What You Dream

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Information about Do What You Dream

Published on November 7, 2008

Author: indi



How Mental Models Help Teams Do What They Dream

Companies Are People, Too How Mental Models Helped Teams Do What They Dreamed Indi Young

W3C team photo, December 2006 (Nektar team photo not used, to protect privacy)

Knows his customers, their Set up a demographic families, personally market segment to aim for Learns why, when, and how Have clinical data about their orders change what diabetics face daily Could order their cheese for Know they want an easier them life (but not the details) Knows they deal with other Assume easier insulin companies for other delivery is a priority products, so offers what’s appropriate

Quick! The Theory Behind Mental Models

Photos from Jeff Patton on his blog about Agile Development,

Make Sure Humans Pay Me Proper Attention

The Theory Behind Mental Models 1. Get beyond demographics 2. Dig into their stories to find out why 3. Establish strong enough empathy to play their role 4. Map out where you support them, and where you don’t

Don’t: Age distinctions, Gender (layer on demographics later!) Do: Behaviors, Beliefs, Reactions 70-year-old grandmother 17-year-old teenage boy

I mostly go to movies alone. Why? I like to give the director the attention he deserves, because when I wrote a play in college, people didn't pay attention, and they didn't get the point. Photo courtesy of Katie Kelly

Empathy: Vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another feelings, thoughts, attitudes emotions, beliefs, behaviors reactions, philosophies, motivations WALL-E Image courtesy of Disney-PIXAR

This is hard. We have difficulty taking off our employee hat The customer objectives are to increase satisfaction and loyalty. Photo courtesy of Pulpolux !!!,

Mental model courtesy of Google Analytics Team, 2007

“Can we improve this?” “Is this worth building?” “Can we trump competition in a different mental space?” “What’s the value of this to the user? To us?” “How feasible/fast is it to build this? Are there dependencies?” “When should we build it?” Photos by Roger Edwards,

What Teams Dream Of

Photos courtesy of,

We used the mental model to convince everyone to service a member’s emotional needs, not just change features.

The mental model gives us a way to get people up to speed quickly, by putting it on the wall with other artifacts about the members. Photos courtesy of Dan Arganbright, Quixtar, and Roger Edwards,

The mental model is giving us confidence to do things quite differently than the rest of the industry. Photos courtesy of,

Training the call center reps: show them the mental model and they can change their perspective really quickly. Project director photo courtesy of emmauspreston, call center photo courtesy of;

We gave the advertising agency the mental model as part of the brief. It made the brief so strong and rich that their first work back to us was closer to the mark. Meeting photo courtesy of Jens Vermeersch, storyboard photo courtesy of Just Johnny;

I was certain that a better IA would help us increase our qualified leads, among other things. The mental model was a sure way to come up with the top-down IA. Our qualified leads increased significantly in the first quarter after launch, historically a low quarter for our business.

Image courtesy of Chiara Fox

People don’t just beat a path to our door anymore. The website wasn’t doing a good job of replacing sales reps, so we needed the mental model as evidence to change it and guide that change.

Management told us to go make a new application that will compete with others who are already in the market. They thought we could just do a better job. The mental model told us that people are pretty well-served in that area already. But it also showed us a whole new area of the business that was completely under-served! So now we’re telling management that a different service will be a stronger bet. We just have to convince them to go for it.

The mental model will provide a foundation to think from for the new IA. The user has no sense of where to start. For example, breast cancer: do you start by moment in care, by segment, or by what? And we have so many different segments!

I strongly believe in the potential of information therapy to support sound decision-making. How can I translate that into a product flexible enough to meet all needs? We want our content to meet I need to understand the meaning consumers’ needs more directly. of “information architecture” before We need to write “stickier” we spend too much on this project. instructions that will truly change I have always thought that end-user health behavior. The architects are in engineering! mental model will help us zero-in on better content.

+ +

We expect that the mental model will help all these different teams rally together behind one vision, so we can avoid the confusion and battles that come with mergers like this.

Confidence … to do things differently than the rest of the industry … getting a new person/team up to speed quickly

Clarity in Direction … understand what belongs where (and not) … connect different teams with a common set of knowledge … brief another team with rich information

Change from the Accepted Method … convince management to reach beyond user feature requests and reactions to the competition … think of new ideas that are closer to the mark … get a team to shift from employee to customer perspective

Book: Mental Models Essay: Look At It Another Way on A List Apart Blog: Me: Code: URF2008 (10% discount)

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