Autodesk got its start when we democratized CAD technology by making it available on personal computers that were much less expensive than special-purpose workstations so that small mom and pop architect shops could graduate from using their drafting tables. We have never forgotten that and still have mom and pop shops as customers today, but in addition to these small shops, we also have large firms as customers. For them, we are often a trusted advisor instead of just another vendor. Part of the reason is that we work closely with them to help them solve their workflow-related problems.
One of the things that some of our larger customers take advantage of is our Future of Making workshops. In these workshops, a customer identifies a problem that they are having, and Autodesk works with them to apply problem-solving techniques in pursuit of solutions. Over a series of blog posts, I thought I'd share some of those techniques.
One approach to customer-workflow problem-solving is to:
- FRAME THE CONTEXT — What is changing in your business?
- ANALYZE FORCES — What is the impact to your business?
- EXPLORE OPTIONS — What might you do differently?
- ENVISION YOUR FUTURE — What should you do differently?
- DECIDE BOLD STEPS — What will you do differently?
A variety of problem-solving techniques can be applied during these steps. One of the techniques that can be used to FRAME THE CONTEXT is to use a Participant Map:
Setting the internal context with a Participant Map gets everyone on the same page. Clarifying what success looks like for each team member — and synthesizing individual success into group success — does many positive things:
- First, it engages each person. Every person must declare his/her goals and current assessment.
- Second, it forces the group to think about what is the best use of their time together.
- Third, the map itself provides a persistent reference for the meeting's direction.
The Participant Map consists of:
- Name, Role, What Success Looks Like - Have each participant write on two sticky notes.
- Emotional Portrait - Ask each participant to draw a simple sketch of a face — a vertical oval, two eyes, a mouth, and eyebrows — that illustrates how he/she is feeling about the work at hand.
- Room Map - Sketch a map of the participants' seating arrangement.
- Placement - Have each participant place his/her sticky notes on the map corresponding to where they are sitting in the room.
- Invitation to Explain - Direct the participants' attention to the map and ask them to reflect on the expressions to get a sense of how they collectively feel about the work at hand. Invite participants, one by one, to share their meeting goals and explain what's behind their facial expressions.
- Summary - Summarize the group's overall aspirations.
- Anything Else - Before moving to the next phase, ask the group if there is anything else they would like to achieve.
The Participant Map is a Grove Consultants International technique.
Technique sharing is alive in the lab.