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Interview Your Stakeholders Like a Librarian

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Have you ever delivered exactly what your manager or colleagues asked for … only to hear “No, this isn’t what I wanted at all”? Presented content that fulfilled every requirement you were given, only to have it rejected? Tried to find out what your end users needed only to hear the echo of old Henry Ford saying “if I’d asked them what they wanted they would’ve said ‘faster horses’”?
These communication issues can sink your team or project before it gets started – but they don’t have to.
Librarians know that people often don’t ask for what they really need. By asking the right kinds of questions at the right time, you too can deploy ninja librarian mind-reading tactics! Anne Haines will draw on over a decade of library reference experience to help you discover new strategies for wowing stakeholders by giving them what they didn’t even know they needed.

Attendees will:
• Understand the power of question negotiation, active listening, and other strategies which can help you steer your stakeholders towards more effective communication.

• Explore different kinds of questions that can work in a wide range of contexts to help you collaboratively define your stakeholders’ problems so that you can get to work solving them.

• Consider ways to apply active empathy in order to foster a more transparent and productive collaboration.

Published in: Education
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Interview Your Stakeholders Like a Librarian

  1. 1. interview your stakeholders like a librarian Anne Haines Web Content Specialist Indiana University Bloomington Libraries @annehaines
  2. 2. Photo by Kingston Information & Library Service - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License https://www.flickr.com/photos/47879667@N08 Created with Haiku Deck
  3. 3. where we’re going:  what people don’t ask for, & why  4 levels of information need  3 ways to understand context  4 types of questions  active listening & active empathy  tips, tricks, & wrap-up
  4. 4. stakeholder interview • clarify project goals • gather requirements • gain rapport with the team • identify potential threats to the work [adapted from Meyer & Wachter-Boettcher]
  5. 5. truth: we're not psychic cc: ancient history - https://www.flickr.com/photos/7745843@N03
  6. 6. oranges and peaches?cc: julochka - https://www.flickr.com/photos/24209378@N03
  7. 7. interviewcc: Duke University Archives - https://www.flickr.com/photos/19219926@N04
  8. 8. structurecc: james j8246 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/127437870@N08
  9. 9. Four levels of information need cc: valkyrieh116 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/54357435@N00
  10. 10. flickr.com/wocintechchat CC BY 2.0
  11. 11. The problem is, um, so many THINGS! On the website! cc: JD Hancock - https://www.flickr.com/photos/83346641@N00
  12. 12. somebody get us a content strategy! cc: juhansonin - https://www.flickr.com/photos/38869431@N00
  13. 13. RFP for FAQ ASAP! cc: andertoons - https://www.flickr.com/photos/75545090@N00
  14. 14. Bruce Ryan, 4 Syllables www.4syllables.com.au/resources/cartoons/
  15. 15. I'm in ur library guess I should ask for a book then cc: paul goyette - https://www.flickr.com/photos/65414509@N00
  16. 16. Robert S. Taylor, Question Negotiation 1. the visceral need 2. the conscious need 3. the formalized need 4. the compromised need
  17. 17. WHAT I didn't know we could do that! cc: Greencolander - https://www.flickr.com/photos/37539977@N00
  18. 18. interview as negotiation cc: Sachmanns.dk - https://www.flickr.com/photos/35974633@N00
  19. 19. 3 things to understand [Dervin/Dewdney, 1986] cc: Manchester Library - https://www.flickr.com/photos/14802104@N07
  20. 20. cc: Jordi@photos - https://www.flickr.com/photos/65107251@N00 the situation
  21. 21. cc: hey mr glen - https://www.flickr.com/photos/17106526@N00 the gaps
  22. 22. the uses cc: familymwr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/36196762@N04
  23. 23. "Inquirers frequently cannot define WHAT they want, but they can discuss WHY they need it."
  24. 24. faster horses? cc: Toronto Public Library Special Collections - https://www.flickr.com/photos/43021516@N06
  25. 25. [Ford never actually said that]cc: born1945 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/12567713@N00
  26. 26. 4 types of questions cc: Scott McLeod - https://www.flickr.com/photos/93393982@N00
  27. 27. closed questions cc: theunquietlibrarian - https://www.flickr.com/photos/10557450@N04
  28. 28. flyer.viralnova.com/funny-flyer/
  29. 29. open questions cc: theunquietlibrarian - https://www.flickr.com/photos/10557450@N04
  30. 30. cc: Si Jobling - https://www.flickr.com/photos/59372110@N00
  31. 31. sense-making questions (also called neutral questions) cc: theunquietlibrarian - https://www.flickr.com/photos/10557450@N04
  32. 32. sense-making questions • how much info do you need (scope of project)? • what's your deadline? • what are your top priorities?
  33. 33. sense-making questions • what have you done so far? what info do you already have? • what do you plan to do with the information? • what would a perfect solution look like?
  34. 34. sense-making questions  who’s your audience?  how did your previous redesign go?  what do your analytics look like?  what content do you already have?
  35. 35. • what data do you wish users were providing? • where do you tend to get messy or unreliable data? • how do you use this piece of info to drive other processes? [from Meyer & Wachter-Boettcher]
  36. 36. unboxing questions cc: hehaden - https://www.flickr.com/photos/30972961@N04
  37. 37. user stories as a [ ] I want [ ] so that I can [ ]
  38. 38. active listening & empathy cc: niclindh - https://www.flickr.com/photos/40257616@N00
  39. 39. encouragers cc: Rob Swystun - https://www.flickr.com/photos/88781579@N05
  40. 40. resist premature diagnosis cc: jeffeaton - https://www.flickr.com/photos/70315202@N00
  41. 41. “Designer Style” questions Does this content make you feel angry?  Did you use a simple layout to prevent scope creep?  Did the administration get excited? [Kevin Hoffman, Meetings are a Design Problem]
  42. 42. we don't always know cc: simpleinsomnia - https://www.flickr.com/photos/95329455@N02
  43. 43. (they probably do) treat everyone as though they have a broken heart cc: Will Cyr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/31812896@N06
  44. 44. some other tricks cc: kennymatic - https://www.flickr.com/photos/99472898@N00
  45. 45. Photo by llauren - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/96715224@N00 Created with Haiku Deck
  46. 46. Photo by wonderferret - Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/65555826@N00 Created with Haiku Deck
  47. 47. content strategy as problem solving cc: dullhunk - https://www.flickr.com/photos/14829735@N00
  48. 48. context is everything cc: c@rljones - https://www.flickr.com/photos/17149966@N00
  49. 49. content strategy is people cc: Great Beyond - https://www.flickr.com/photos/26104563@N00
  50. 50. "the best way to placate a difficult man is to ask him to teach you something" [Ta-Nehisi Coates]
  51. 51. cc: hazzeltoz - https://www.flickr.com/photos/28865063@N07 questions? tweet: @ahaines email: ahaines@indiana.edu [I’m really really bad at LinkedIn] references & readings: http://go.iu.edu/1K0y
  52. 52. Works Cited & Further Readings if you want ‘em: http://go.iu.edu/1K0y

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