KT Productivity Hacks
By Patrick Faucher
1. Want to change peoples’ behaviour? Don’t ask yourself how you can better tell/convince them to do something. Instead, ask yourself why they aren’t doing it already. Then, do what you can to make it easier for them to do what you want them to do.
It seems simple, but more often than not, we design poor systems and then find ourselves having to over-invest in communications/education efforts to overcome the shortcomings of those systems.
For example, let’s pretend for a moment that you’re in a park and you just finished a bottle of soda. What’s more likely to lead to you recycling that bottle: the fact that you know that by recycling it, it can be used to create a new sleeping bag — or that someone had the foresight to prominently place a blue recycling bin within reach of your picnic table?
- Want to learn more? Listen to “How to Launch a Behaviour Change Revolution” from my favourite podcast, Freakonomics Radio. If you’re short for time, skip ahead to 30:30 to hear an interview with Daniel Kahneman, the psychologist who in 2002 received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, speaking more about driving and restraining forces.
2. Plan to fail early and often with rapid prototypes.
I must confess, early in my career, I refused to show my boss anything but my most polished ideas. My ego — and perhaps a lack of confidence — would drive me to stay up into the wee hours of the morning, perfecting my work.
Nowadays, rapid prototyping is at the core of most of the work I do. The first things I present to clients are often notepad sketches, whiteboard scribbles, collages, post-it note and paper clip art, etc. It saves me time by helping me to eliminate or refine less promising ideas. It also enriches my work by allowing me to incorporate insights from others — ideally end users — early in the process, when there’s still time to do so and before I over-invest in a less promising direction. I find it also helps my clients move beyond their own preconceived solutions to their problems, allowing us to discover the solution together, which almost always leads to the best work.
- Want to learn more? Read the Interaction Design Foundation’s 4th stage of the design thinking process: prototyping to learn about low and high fidelity prototyping, and examples of each.
3. Identify how you’re going to use content, and then repurpose it in as many ways as possible.
If there’s one idea I try to hammer home to the rest of our KT team, it’s this one. Don’t just write an article, run a workshop, or shoot a video — find the purpose of your story, and tell it in as many ways as possible with the least amount of effort as possible.
To do that, you must first distill your message. Ask yourself in what way do you want people to be transformed? What is it that you want them to believe or do after they experience your KT product? Then, write it down in a single sentence — that’s your main point. Then write down how you’d explain it to someone in an elevator — that’s your 30 second pitch. Finally, ask yourself how you’d present it to someone if you had three whole minutes (the average length of the most popular videos on Youtube is 2 minutes 54 seconds, which gives you an idea of just how short our attention spans really are).
These three forms of your message should serve as the basis of all your future communications/education efforts. It’ll ensure you’re presenting your thoughts with consistency and purpose.
Then, think about how you can transform those key messages for various media to increase your reach. For example, if you did a one hour presentation, how could you summarize your notes into something you could post to a blog? How can we turn your blog into an instructional video for clients seeking advice on a similar matter? How can we adapt that video into a feature in our annual report?
This process runs smoothest when you can anticipate all applications of your message in advance — that way, you can plan which execution you should produce first to reduce the amount of work required downstream.
- Want to learn more? Read 11 Genius Ways to Repurpose Content, from Wordstream.
4. Learn from the real experts. Ask an extreme user. Ask someone who’s failed before.
I find the design thinking mindset is best explained using shopping cart redesign as an example. If you were looking to improve the design of a shopping cart, you’d want to learn from a wide variety of users: the solo shopper, the parent who has to find space for their toddler, the older person living with arthritis, the caretaker who corrals the shopping carts at the end of the night, the cashiers who see how every shopper loads their cart, the managers tasked with purchasing the carts, the people living without a home who use the cart every day in all types of weather to tote their belongings… the list goes on.
Watch how they interact with their cart. Ask them why they’ve modified it or used it in a particular way. A design thinker should look at how people use and/or adapt the shopping cart to suit their own specific needs, and consider ways to incorporate (or better accommodate) the best ideas into the design of their new cart. Often, this process begins with a thorough examination of your work and all those it might impact.
Note: we are often blind to some of the groups most affected by an issue, or who might benefit from our work. In order to maximize the impact and relevance of your work, it’s your responsibility to do your due diligence in determining who it could impact in some way.
- Want to learn more? Here’s a quick read about extreme users from an Industrial Design student interning as a User Experience designer.
5. A/B test your messaging.
In our data-rich age, you should always be looking for ways to improve what you do and how you do it. In fact, this one’s so important to the KT skill-set that I think it deserves a blog of it own (plus, this one’s getting a little long). So look for a post in the coming months on A/B testing of your messaging where, among other things, we’ll talk about complacency, how to A/B test your communications on social media, and how A/B testing has been used to improve organ donation rates.
About the Author
Patrick Faucher is the Creative & Strategic Services Lead for the George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation’s Knowledge Translation platform. A communications strategist with over 10 years experience, he specializes in creating content engineered to build awareness, understanding, engagement, and adoption through an approach rooted in design thinking (rapid prototyping) and behavioural insights (nudging).