A quick one this – I've just spotted Seth Godin's two-line blogpost today:
You can listen to what people say, sure.
But you will be far more effective if you listen to what people do.
I like some of Seth's material – he's calmed down since the fervour of the early 00s and he doesn't pretend to have the underlying science of Gladwell, but he has some thought-provoking comments…
And this one reminded me of one of the things that someone once commented on when I was showing them SenseMaker® – that by collecting experiences instead of asking for answers to questions, we are avoiding what they called "The Starbucks problem".*
Apparently… Consumer research used to ask the question "How do you like your coffee?" to which most people answered that they liked their coffee black. But sales figures didn't correlate – clearly that wasn't the reality.
Respondents had no reason to lie, in fact they probably answered from real belief – that was how they thought they liked their coffee. (Just like I believe I'm always kind to small puppies and professional in all my business dealings.) Our behaviour, however, doesn't always match our beliefs.
So instead, a question like "How did you take your last coffee?" shifts from opinion/belief to reality in context. And the figures then match. (Similarly, "how did you treat the last small puppy you met?" might reveal something other than kindness. I'm sure that a regular assessment of my real experiences in businesses would reveal fewer professional moments than the ubiquity I'd prefer…)
For me, this is where SenseMaker® kicks in so beautifully. Start with an experience, then ask them questions about the experience – never diverging from that moment to the point they might fall back into opinion…
So. Rather than, "how difficult is it to design a SenseMaker® project?", how about "what was your last project like?" – and mine was bloomin' easy and straightforward!
*This may well be apocryphal – any resemblance to actual Starbucks problems is purely coincidental and should be treated with suspicion and approached only from a safe distance.**
**Although approaching from a safe distance is rarely the problem – the problem usually starts well into the approach when "a safe distance" is now a distant memory and the approachee is actually now dangerously close.