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The Politics of the Artichoke  Selling your ideas in an organization, one stakeholder at a time. Prepared by Dorothy M. Danforth for Danforth Media
About Dorothy	 Dorothy M. Danforth Principal, Danforth Media Inc. Software Design & User Experience Consulting 15 years software design, usability research, and systems development for Fortune 500and emerging technology companies. Has made a career out of working with startups and developing new product concepts. Spearheaded web design and usability processes and standards. Led numerous R&D efforts for venture funding.
About Dorothy Doesn’t think like a politician! ,[object Object]
Thinks like an engineer…
Not much room left for politics!
Need to learn how, to sell ideas and get to do interesting work,[object Object]
Politics of the Artichoke High Level Agenda Project History The “Big” Idea Project Approach Results Critical Success Factors Questions
Case Study (Researching faceted search for Comcast)
Project History Connecting the DotsConsultant to Comcast, working with a small internal team exploring On Demand navigation for an existing web product.  How do people decide what to watch? How can we best support users when deciding what to watch?
The “Big” Idea What if we offered users faceted search to sort through movies and show? Common use on eCommerce sites Helps users sift through large amount of data Can adopt “natural language” for how people search for entertainment Surprise, it wasn’t already in widespread use for media browsing
Concept Challenges Sounds good, isn’t that enough? Just a seed idea, there were many open questions…  Can we translate this approach for media browsing? Will people want to use it for media? (much lower investment than a purchase) If yes, what should it look like? How should it interact? and What would the best facets be?
Organizational Challenges Getting the go ahead to explore Comcast has a large interactive service group full of bright people working on many different initiatives at any given time… With a complex idea that will require multiple areas of buy-in, where do you start? How would we get anyone to even look at this through all the “noise” of competing ideas? Oh, and by the way, there’s no official project or budget for this!
Our Approach (One little baby-step at a time)
Plant the Seed Informal conversations to test the water,many “pop in” meetings Got a feel for issues, what any push back might be and associate ourselves with the idea without making it a formal cause.  Based on informal feedback did some more research then started to preempt questions and concerns Locate potential advocates and blockers
Write it Down Document the concept and a basic approach to due diligence Put intuition on paper and sent it to the people we informally discussed the idea with (even the blockers) Kept it simple, a one page data sheet outlining why it should be explored  Indicate at a high level what the exploration might entail including a general starting scope
Legitimize Seek Executive Sponsorship Be persistent. The idea will die without a budget and basic executive support.  Seek out a potential advocate who will benefit from your success but not be too hindered if the idea does not pan out  Start small, minimize risk and only ask for go ahead for the next step Be flexible, try to find another project that ties into your idea and see if you can piggy-back
Strategize Craft a detailed research plan Consider how you will incorporate feedback from others, and evolve the idea based on new findings Identify each significant stakeholder area and address their needs & concerns in your plan Use multiple forms of research, iterate and only progress if you get positive input
Balance Involve others in the plan, but with clear limits ,[object Object]
i.e. Clear roles and structured inputs
Promote various stakeholders to talk with each other. Have them meet and present what they are working on that’s related to the idea,[object Object]
Communicate Keep people informed of the project’s status. No surprises. Offer updates and interim presentations Soft sell some of the more unexpected or counterintuitive findings Give people time to process findings and let them see the progression you see.
Road Show Document, present & evangelize your results The presentation should be clear, concise and portablei.e. people should be able to get all of the relevant information if they are looking at it without a presenter. Be objective in your analysis—let the data do the advocating Take the show on the road, schedule formal & informal read outs of the presentation, answer questions
Let it go… Step back and let others do their job The goal isn’t to finalize the idea—its to give it a life of its own with as much chance of success as possible Leave plenty of room for ownership, recommend next steps for others to take the baton For me, as a consultant, I moved onto other projects with another clients Others continued the process…
Results & Impact (A steady evolution)
Research Results Faceted search for media tested very well… The model lent itself well to media browsing with surveys & card sort exercises indicating potential facets User testing with an interactive Flash prototype lent insight into how it should interact Users indicated that it was a significant improvement over existing sorting options

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Politics of the Artichoke

  • 1. The Politics of the Artichoke Selling your ideas in an organization, one stakeholder at a time. Prepared by Dorothy M. Danforth for Danforth Media
  • 2. About Dorothy Dorothy M. Danforth Principal, Danforth Media Inc. Software Design & User Experience Consulting 15 years software design, usability research, and systems development for Fortune 500and emerging technology companies. Has made a career out of working with startups and developing new product concepts. Spearheaded web design and usability processes and standards. Led numerous R&D efforts for venture funding.
  • 3.
  • 4. Thinks like an engineer…
  • 5. Not much room left for politics!
  • 6.
  • 7. Politics of the Artichoke High Level Agenda Project History The “Big” Idea Project Approach Results Critical Success Factors Questions
  • 8. Case Study (Researching faceted search for Comcast)
  • 9. Project History Connecting the DotsConsultant to Comcast, working with a small internal team exploring On Demand navigation for an existing web product. How do people decide what to watch? How can we best support users when deciding what to watch?
  • 10. The “Big” Idea What if we offered users faceted search to sort through movies and show? Common use on eCommerce sites Helps users sift through large amount of data Can adopt “natural language” for how people search for entertainment Surprise, it wasn’t already in widespread use for media browsing
  • 11. Concept Challenges Sounds good, isn’t that enough? Just a seed idea, there were many open questions… Can we translate this approach for media browsing? Will people want to use it for media? (much lower investment than a purchase) If yes, what should it look like? How should it interact? and What would the best facets be?
  • 12. Organizational Challenges Getting the go ahead to explore Comcast has a large interactive service group full of bright people working on many different initiatives at any given time… With a complex idea that will require multiple areas of buy-in, where do you start? How would we get anyone to even look at this through all the “noise” of competing ideas? Oh, and by the way, there’s no official project or budget for this!
  • 13. Our Approach (One little baby-step at a time)
  • 14. Plant the Seed Informal conversations to test the water,many “pop in” meetings Got a feel for issues, what any push back might be and associate ourselves with the idea without making it a formal cause. Based on informal feedback did some more research then started to preempt questions and concerns Locate potential advocates and blockers
  • 15. Write it Down Document the concept and a basic approach to due diligence Put intuition on paper and sent it to the people we informally discussed the idea with (even the blockers) Kept it simple, a one page data sheet outlining why it should be explored Indicate at a high level what the exploration might entail including a general starting scope
  • 16. Legitimize Seek Executive Sponsorship Be persistent. The idea will die without a budget and basic executive support. Seek out a potential advocate who will benefit from your success but not be too hindered if the idea does not pan out Start small, minimize risk and only ask for go ahead for the next step Be flexible, try to find another project that ties into your idea and see if you can piggy-back
  • 17. Strategize Craft a detailed research plan Consider how you will incorporate feedback from others, and evolve the idea based on new findings Identify each significant stakeholder area and address their needs & concerns in your plan Use multiple forms of research, iterate and only progress if you get positive input
  • 18.
  • 19. i.e. Clear roles and structured inputs
  • 20.
  • 21. Communicate Keep people informed of the project’s status. No surprises. Offer updates and interim presentations Soft sell some of the more unexpected or counterintuitive findings Give people time to process findings and let them see the progression you see.
  • 22. Road Show Document, present & evangelize your results The presentation should be clear, concise and portablei.e. people should be able to get all of the relevant information if they are looking at it without a presenter. Be objective in your analysis—let the data do the advocating Take the show on the road, schedule formal & informal read outs of the presentation, answer questions
  • 23. Let it go… Step back and let others do their job The goal isn’t to finalize the idea—its to give it a life of its own with as much chance of success as possible Leave plenty of room for ownership, recommend next steps for others to take the baton For me, as a consultant, I moved onto other projects with another clients Others continued the process…
  • 24. Results & Impact (A steady evolution)
  • 25. Research Results Faceted search for media tested very well… The model lent itself well to media browsing with surveys & card sort exercises indicating potential facets User testing with an interactive Flash prototype lent insight into how it should interact Users indicated that it was a significant improvement over existing sorting options
  • 26. Ongoing Impact Comcast.net Within about six months the Comcast.net product team launched a first phase version of a video player that was in line with many of our research findings This functionality is in production and evolving…
  • 27. Ongoing Impact Fancast.comWithin about one year, the Fancast.com team released a first phase version of the faceted search for On Demand This functionality is in production and evolving…

Editor's Notes

  1. How many people here consider themselves to be politically savvy?How many designers? Developers? Any product managers?Designers and developers often have great product ideas, but they don’t always have the skills to promote those ideas throughout an organization. I’m not particularly politically minded, when I think an idea is good, I tend to think everyone else will see the connections I’ve made. Not always true. Brute force can get you there but takes a lot of energy and can polarize people etc.Case study highlighting some of the approaches I picked up that have worked. Using a Comcast project since it is a pretty clear fairly recent example. I submitted this for the “Online Strategy” track because while selling an idea is tough enough, selling an organization on a multi-phase or multi-initiative strategy and keeping them focused is much tougher.