Respecting participants

By Andrew on 18th October 2018 — 2 mins read

I had the pleasure of running a UX away day last week. A day for all the UXers at Nationwide to get together, share experiences and techniques. A safe place to explore stuff. Fun and useful.

We had a UX quiz, a speed-dating exercise and (my favourite bit) a bunch of short workshops / talks from the team.

I ran a workshop on project goal prioritisation. It was a simple [forced ranking]( exercise that I wanted folks to try for themselves. I was shooting for kinaesthetic learning: getting them to work with some pre-prepared cards.

As a joke, I made up some silly sounding project goals for the teams to prioritise. Printing these out on cards for the sorting activity:

enable error-free storytelling
optimize bleeding-edge systems
expedite competitive catalysts for change
productivate effective collaboration and idea-sharing
evisculate revolutionary alignments
incubate interactive scrums
facilitate synergistic products
monetize goal-oriented opportunities
holistic brand distinctive paradigms
syndicate multidisciplinary relationships

I’d generated these goals from a site I found after googling ‘business goal generator’ –

## Here’s what I got wrong
I made the mistake of not telling the room straight away that these were joke goals – and that they shouldn’t pay them too much attention. The point was just to get a feel for moving the cards around, giving them relative scores for importance and feasibility (and to imagine what the exercise might feel like with real goals). I got them to write scores on the cards, and then to create a chart (showing importance by feasibility).

I’d say more than half of the room (all experienced UX folks), took the project goals seriously – and tried to understand their importance and feasibility as REAL GOALS.

I was surprised. (I thought they were all going to laugh at the silly sounding words.)

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised though. Because:
1. A workshop is a compliant space. Participants try to do what the facilitator asks. The facilitator leads – and the rest of the room is following as best as they can.
2. We come across nonsense corporate speak ALL THE TIME. Some may have been being generous towards me – assuming that I was someone who talks in this way too. Some may have thought that these were terms that they should know and be able to compare.

Either way, I was wrong to abuse their trust in me… and it was a powerful reminder of how participants can get blind-sided when you don’t guide their attention to self-reflection.

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