I went to Jeff Parks’ practical workshop on managing end user and client needs. With great luck I met Sabrina, Ewa, Łukasz and Kamila who made the workshop memorable and the subsequent conference a very friendly and inspiring place.
Together we interviewed Dorota who represented the interests of her organisation, FRSI, and her real job which is to train librarians in rural Poland. She helps them develop their relation with local populations and achieve more knowledge sharing.
That interview was awesome, first because Dorota is a fine speaker and very passionate about her occupation, and second because of using a cheat sheet concocted by Jeff to stay on track and learn the essentials of her situation, A E I O U and Y:
Later we brainstormed quickly some ideas of what could be the top 10 essential things that FRSI would benefit from doing in terms of activity (not only technological needs, but generally what could help them be more successful).
Next, Dorota invented herself into a new character, “Kristina”, the lonely but passionate librarian in a small village. She managed to embark us into her own very believable story, after which we spent time as a group to piece up more ideas and concepts to solve both Kristina and Dorota’s concerns.
Funny thing is, FRSI had already been planning and implementing most ideas we came up with! It’s called Labib and it’s already live at labib.pl. It is like a linkedin for rural librarians and other important contributors to this knowledge sharing ecosystem.
Finally, Ewa masterfully rendered a Kristina and her new web&service portal, so that other groups could come and give feedback over the proposal, while we went to another group which had a much more specific focus on gathering feedback from the general public about libraries through star rating and picture-taking.
The key takeaway: Questioning for clarity
Jeff is very adamant about the concept of “questioning for clarity“. His idea is that the designer in any organisation has to have an overview of both the organisation she works for and the end users. It also means that the role of the designer isn’t to dictate what the ideal solutions are because it comes off as arrogant and inevitably sparks resistance.
Instead, the idea is to make the decision makers realize what they know and don’t know, help them out finding new things about their users, and ultimately bring more clarity and their own insights.