Your People First

by Paul D'Alessandro on April 14, 2010


Creative Commons License photo credit: steenslag

One of the more frustrating aspects of experience design is overcoming inherently bad teams.  I am purposefully using the word “teams” and not organization or firms here as a team is what successfully delivers an experience.  Maybe the best way for me to illuminate this point is the question I often get when counseling on college campuses.  Inevitably, I am asked “What classes should I focus my studies on?”  So, I take the opportunity to quiz the student, “What are you looking at for your options?”.  The response 99% of the time includes design, strategy and technology classes but almost never organizational behavior classes.

Why organizational behavior?  Because your delivered experience is ultimately a reflection of your people.  Furthermore, your people are a product of what you incent them to be.  No, I am not talking solely about monetary incentive (which is the common misunderstanding).  I am talking about giving them clear line of sight to the impact of their efforts.  Do they truly get that each of their actions results in a cumulative perception of the organization?  Are they empathetic to the plight of their customers?
A great example of where this understanding often breaks down is in the medical profession.  As noted in the graph below1 based on the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy, somewhere around the 3rd year of medical school physicians for the most part lose touch with their patients and become less empathetic to their needs.
The implications of this disturbing read on one profession are both profound and simple to translate.  Challenge yourself to start by soul searching about what you are doing with your “team” as you look to deliver a truly great experience.  Incent them correctly.  Give them clear line of sight to the impact and fruits of their efforts.  Then focus on the rest of the opportunity.



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