Be an Effective E2.0 Architect – Know your Inhabitants

A friend of mine is an architect who designs homes.  His design process begins by gaining an understand of the daily activities of the inhabitants.  From the characteristics and activities he is able to build a home custom tailored to address his clients needs.

You can have the best building materials in the world, but if you don't architect your solution to meet the needs of its audience – the quality of the materials is irrelevant.

For some reason it is acceptable in the world of enterprise 2.0 collaboration to perscribe everyone a solution based on what they "might need" or a standard configuration.  Why don't we follow a similar process when delivering Enterprise 2.0 collaborative capabilities, as architects do when creating a home?

By not delivering a targeted solution we are loosing relevancy with our users.

Is it because just "good enough" is ok?  Perhaps the cost of delivering the experience is so low if a company owns an existing collaborative technology that they proceed about design in an entirely ad-hoc manner?  Whether it is featured overload, particular naming conventions that do not make sense to the users, we run the risk of drastically limiting a collaborative solution's effectiveness, by engaging in a discovery process to learn more about our audience.

Why don't we do Discovery?
I propose that we simply do not engage in this much needed discovery for two reasons

  1. We perceive this as difficult and therefore if not required, don't do it
  2. We don't know where to start

Thankfully there is a dead simple way to do address both items.  Take just a few moments to let the business outline the various personas that are going to be involved in their collaborative project.  It is actually surprisingly fun and allows the business to quickly express their needs.

From the world of design practitioners have focused on straightforward, effective ways to gain an understanding of their audience for a particular solution.

I recently stumbled across an excellent template to assist in this process.  The team at Konigi which supplies "Tools for Ideation – Resources, tools, and choice gear for ux designers" has created an outstanding template that we can leverage with our users.  The template, specifically the Persona Overview template is simple, straightforward and effective at quickly discovering what needs to be included in a solution to meet the needs of its inhabitants.

With a simple chart like Konigi's it is possible to include this asset with a request for a collaborative area by the business users – closing the gap between IT and business – and delivering the optimal solution.

Will you be the next Ray Kappe?  Happy architecting!

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