RE: User feedback? (was 5 users in a room)

Subject: RE: User feedback? (was 5 users in a room)
From: "Dori Green" <dgreen -at- associatedbrands -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2006 10:53:15 -0500

This one is easy.

Schedule it as a Usability Review Meeting, offsite in the back room of the
local tavern. Schedule it through the lunch hour, with free beers and

Take along your laptop and projector, and plenty of static write-on sheets
(the ones you can slap up on the wall like giant sticky-notes).

Have a distinct agenda _with time estimates for each topic_ and send it out
a week before the meeting with an invitation for people to suggest
additional topics.

Break things up with formal brainstorming sessions (not more than 10 minutes
each). Depending on the abilities of your group, this can be followed by
cause-and-effect ranking or at least prioritization -- or you can choose to
do these on your own after the meeting.

Holding the meeting off-site removes all the distractions of the
fire-fighting scene (I mean, office), sets this meeting apart from the 20 or
so other meetings held each week at the office, and gives a very clear
message that this is something near and dear to Top Management's heart
whether or not they're attending. After all, they're throwing money at it!

I hold four to six offsite "change facilitation" meetings per year, usually
with slightly different groups (line personnel, supervisors, support staff,
management) and slightly different foci. Onsite meetings also include
incentives to pay attention and participate -- also in the budget.

One strategy I've found especially useful was the idea to have each attendee
write down one benefit of a change, add their name, and draw three of those
entries from a jar with a small cash prize for each one drawn ($10 gift
cards work well). I tell them about the drawing at the beginning of the
presentation, and that I will not be telling them the benefits -- they're
going to tell me. They pay attention, thinking about benefits instead of
reasons why the change won't work. And I collect 10-20 benefit ideas to add
to the sales pitch for the change.

Always follow up with minutes for the attendees. These don't have to be
complicated. I've even been known to send out a "thank you for
contributing" letter with a mini-box of very good chocolates (not something
from the supermarket).

Many SMEs simply don't know how to provide the information a writer needs.
It's up to us as the communication experts to figure out how to make the
task easy, fun, and directly related to their own enlightened self-interest.

Dori Green
Technical Writer, QMS Project
Associated Brands, Inc.


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RE: User feedback? (was 5 users in a room) - [TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 13, Issue 14]: From: Nuckols, Kenneth M

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