‘People, people, people’
My brain last week transitioned from a light simmer on Monday, to full on bubbling and spilling over by Friday. That’s probably not given you the most comforting or pleasant of images, but I assure you it has actually been an incredibly fruitful week of learning. I hope to be able to organise my thoughts and cherry pick a few of the key take aways and share a few un-scary and not-too-techy tools that can help with effective communication in the ever-expanding digital environment we are embracing.
As well as commencing week 2 of the Catalyst Definition Programme, I also attended three separate training sessions; social media, open source working and designing human connection in digital services. But when thinking about what to write about in this entry, I quickly realised that ‘people’ was an obvious theme linking them all.
Just like the mantra – ‘Location, location, location’ refers to the importance of where a property is located, and essential when it comes to the value of a property…. People are vital to the work we do, whether it’s your colleagues or those that you are providing a service/support to, people are our most important asset.
Even though we are trying to automate areas of our work and seek out digital tools to aid how we communicate, people and relationships are still at the heart of what we do and the decisions we make.
So rather than giving an oversimplified summary of each of the workshops I’ll focus on the following:
Why should we work openly? Who is your audience? How can you ensure human connection?
Why should we work openly?
“Working in the open is as simple as sharing your work with others – inside or outside your organisation” (Open Working Lineup – OWL). This can simply be done by writing publicly about your work at any stage within a project. It doesn’t have to take the form of a blog, it could be done as series of Tweets or weeknotes – the latter being notes about your week that are personal and don’t need to follow any particular structure, but provide a way for you to reflect on what you have learnt over the week and make better decisions.
Here’s a guide to weeknotes and where you can share them
Turns out there are a whole heap of benefits to open source working, here are a few:
- You can learn and connect with others that are working through a similar issue and potentially find a solution more quickly
- It encourages reflection and processing information so you gain a better understanding and are more equipped to make decisions
- It’s a way of demonstrating your organisation as honest and as an innovator in your sector, potentially attracting the attention of funders, partners and other types of supporters.
One person at the training voiced that perhaps traditionally our sector is more guarded about sharing what they are working on and how they are working, because time and money are all that more precious. However, if we’ve learnt anything from the pandemic, feeling connected and collaborating with others is a necessity for successful remote and sustainable working.
Organisations that are going through the Catalyst programme and digital transformation, like ourselves, have published their project reflections and design assets (project solutions) for you to download and reuse or remix, FOR FREE!! Imagine the world we would live in if everything worked this way!!!
You can access them here: Charities working in the open
Who is your audience?
One of the things I enjoyed learning about last week was ‘personas’ – these are characters that are based on the real-life behaviours and goals of our audience i.e. users of our services or those that we want to target. By identifying key characteristics of people that we are trying to connect with you can make better informed decisions on how to engage with them – what social media platform are they likely to be on and what tone of messaging are they likely to respond to.
At first, it’s a little uncomfortable making assumptions and putting people into boxes, but this exercise is just to give a starting point and help get into the mind set of your users/beneficiaries.
For Action Hampshire we support a wide range of people and organisations, so I created 3 personas, (I could have created a whole load more if I’d let myself spend longer than 30 minutes on it) here are my sketches…
I was already familiar with the idea of personas, but I found it really useful to be able to review them in light of embracing digital working and new services that we are offering. I was also able to take these a step further and start looking at ‘persona spectrums’ – in a nutshell, this is identifying common characteristics across the different personas and how we can use this to inform and shape our digital services.
If you’re interested, Laura from WAO has created a 2-minute video explaining personas and persona spectrums a bit more. Also, Open Design Kit, which provides a collection of guides and best practices and has a section on personas with a description of why it’s useful and how to give them a go.
How can you ensure human connection?
Despite this being the last section for this weeks’ entry, it’s certainly not the least important. Digital services are amazing and can be transformative for how we run our organisations, but we need to make sure we are designing human connection into our digital services i.e. where possible making our online services more relational and more empathic.
Deepr, with the support of Catalyst, have developed a framework for doing just that. Based on research with 60+ charities they have identified conditions that work as the ‘ingredients’ to fulfil human connection.
- Presence – making sure people are engaged by exploring new ways to interact
- Equality – being inclusive by acknowledging the differences between us
- Accountability – developing services so that people want a two relationship with us
- Autonomy – empowering others by getting them to guide what and how we do things
- Whole self – being authentic and open builds trust in relationships
From these conditions Deepr has developed 40 methods to foster relationships within digital working and online services. Below I’ve included a peek at a few that I liked, but you can download the full set with descriptions for free here by entering your email address. They also provide some simple steps and practical tools to build your own opportunities for human connection into digital services.
If any work for you, I would love to hear about it, just drop me a line here
Summary of links
- Guide to weeknotes and where to share them
- Read about other charities digital projects and download their design assets
- Really cool illustrations that you can use for free (just make sure you accredit Visual Thinkery)
- 2 minute video explaining personas and persona spectrums that can help you engage your target audience
- Open Design Kit – A living collection of guides and best practices to help you to make and design openly.