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The People Puzzle 
Making the Pieces Fit 
@kerry_anne 
Kerry-Anne Gilowey 
MIMA Summit · Minneapolis · 15 October 2014
Government 
I’m an 
independent 
content strategy 
Volunteer-run 
associations 
Web design 
Technology Startups 
Healthcar...
Government 
Web design 
PEOPLE 
I’m an 
independent 
content strategy 
Volunteer-run 
associations 
Technology Startups 
H...
PEOPLE 
Needs 
Fears 
Vulnerabilities 
Passions 
Struggles 
Agendas 
Past experiences 
Motivations 
Prejudices 
Personalit...
Nope.
We’re more like this. 
Image credit: Flickr user danielpaquet
Doin’ bizniz.
We talk about 
Our hard skills 
Our knowledge 
Our experience 
Our objectives
We don’t talk about 
Our weaknesses 
Our hangups 
Our emotional history 
Our hidden agendas
These things affect bizniz.
Practical things first
Keep track of people 
Image credit: Flickr user tjblackwell
! 
Project team Stakeholders
Collaborators 
☺
What should you track? 
Simple facts? Sure. But also: 
Your impressions 
Personality traits 
Sticking points, agendas 
Par...
For your eyes only.
Do one-on-one sessions 
Image credit: Flickr user levendis
Ask questions like these... 
What are your processes and tools? 
What’s working, and what’s not? 
What does your team look...
...not these 
What are your business requirements? 
What functionality do you need on the 
website? 
What buttons do you w...
The magic sentence 
(I have no idea how Kristina 
can hear anything over that 
loud party hat.) 
Image courtesy of Sean Tu...
Puzzle time!
Tory 
Brand Manager 
THE SITUATION 
Brought you onto the project 
Over-communicator 
Goes back on decisions 
Keeps you awa...
Tory 
Brand Manager 
WHAT’S GOING ON? 
Her boss doesn’t respect her 
She doesn’t know how to defend 
her ideas 
Afraid of ...
Tory 
Brand Manager 
WHAT CAN YOU DO? 
Give her digital resources 
Discuss ways to defend your ideas 
together in advance ...
Felix 
Business Analyst 
THE SITUATION 
Is inflexible 
Asks for inappropriate deliverables 
Values deadlines over progress...
Felix 
Business Analyst 
THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? 
He doesn’t really understand the 
domain of the project 
He’s afr...
Felix 
Business Analyst 
THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? 
Communicate frequently 
Set up additional sessions to work 
throu...
Sharon 
Head of Customer Care 
THE SITUATION 
Frequently says, “I’ve been saying 
that for four years...” 
Sighs and rolls...
Sharon 
Head of Customer Care 
THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? 
Feels she hasn’t been heard in the 
past and isn’t going to...
Sharon 
Head of Customer Care 
THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? 
Turn her into an ally 
Get her on board 
Give her credit fo...
Karl 
Digital Editor 
THE SITUATION 
Has worked here for a long time 
Helped build current version of 
website 
Seems unco...
Karl 
Digital Editor 
THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? 
Feels threatened by negative 
attention on current site 
He’s strugg...
Karl 
Digital Editor 
THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? 
Take time to understand past 
challenges and history 
Make sure he f...
Laura 
Compliance Officer 
THE SITUATION 
Keeps changing copy in ways that 
are not customer-friendly 
Sees everything in ...
Laura 
Compliance Officer 
THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? 
Afraid of being sued 
Motivated by doing her job well 
Sees her...
Laura 
Compliance Officer 
THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? 
Ask for feedback, not revisions 
Make a visible effort to under...
Lee 
Lead Developer 
THE SITUATION 
Doesn’t seem to trust you 
Doesn’t get involved at workshops 
Seems condescending 
Doe...
Lee 
Lead Developer 
THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? 
Has had bad experiences with non-technical 
people in the past 
Devel...
Lee 
Lead Developer 
THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? 
Demonstrate your technical 
understanding early 
Create clear, useful...
Saul 
Stakeholder from HR 
THE SITUATION 
Difficult to get hold of 
Uncooperative during interviews, 
doesn’t open up at a...
Saul 
Stakeholder from HR 
THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? 
He’s suspicious of the project and 
your motives 
Afraid that h...
Saul 
Stakeholder from HR 
THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? 
Become his friend 
Be open about the project objectives 
and yo...
Things to look out for
Non-verbal cues
An ongoing conflict 
Image credit: Flickr user etolane
Passions and agendas
The silent ones
History
Putting the pieces together
Everyone 
has their 
reasons.
Everyone has their reasons. 
He’s scared of 
taking 
responsibility. 
She’s 
struggling 
with 
perfectionism. 
He’s worrie...
Solving the people puzzle 
90%$ 
Asking why 
The rest
Behaviour is frequently situational.
The usual way 
Encounter 
objection
The usual way 
Encounter 
objection 
React 
instinctively
A better way 
Encounter 
objection
A better way 
Encounter 
objection 
Stop and 
consider
A better way 
Encounter 
objection 
Stop and 
consider 
Respond 
thoughtfully
Be just as empathic with 
your team members and 
stakeholders 
as you are with your 
customers and readers.
Thanks for listening! 
Kerry-Anne Gilowey 
kerryanne@augustsun.co.za 
http://augustsun.co.za 
http://about.me/kerryanne 
@...
The People Puzzle: Making the Pieces Fit – MIMA Summit 2014
The People Puzzle: Making the Pieces Fit – MIMA Summit 2014
The People Puzzle: Making the Pieces Fit – MIMA Summit 2014
The People Puzzle: Making the Pieces Fit – MIMA Summit 2014
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The People Puzzle: Making the Pieces Fit – MIMA Summit 2014

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Knowledge workers bring far more than just their intellectual skills to a project. They bring their fears, their prejudices, their motivations, their emotional history, and their personalities to the table too. At kick-off meetings we openly discuss our roles and skill sets, but these other intangible things are never exposed.

Yet the way that stakeholders and team members interact with one another is almost certain to have a greater impact on the success of your project than which technology platform you choose or what goes into your style guide.

I gave this talk at MIMA Summit 2014 in Minneapolis.

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The People Puzzle: Making the Pieces Fit – MIMA Summit 2014

  1. The People Puzzle Making the Pieces Fit @kerry_anne Kerry-Anne Gilowey MIMA Summit · Minneapolis · 15 October 2014
  2. Government I’m an independent content strategy Volunteer-run associations Web design Technology Startups Healthcare consultant Online retail Financial services Advertising
  3. Government Web design PEOPLE I’m an independent content strategy Volunteer-run associations Technology Startups Healthcare consultant Online retail Financial services Advertising
  4. PEOPLE Needs Fears Vulnerabilities Passions Struggles Agendas Past experiences Motivations Prejudices Personality quirks History
  5. Nope.
  6. We’re more like this. Image credit: Flickr user danielpaquet
  7. Doin’ bizniz.
  8. We talk about Our hard skills Our knowledge Our experience Our objectives
  9. We don’t talk about Our weaknesses Our hangups Our emotional history Our hidden agendas
  10. These things affect bizniz.
  11. Practical things first
  12. Keep track of people Image credit: Flickr user tjblackwell
  13. ! Project team Stakeholders
  14. Collaborators ☺
  15. What should you track? Simple facts? Sure. But also: Your impressions Personality traits Sticking points, agendas Particular interests, concerns
  16. For your eyes only.
  17. Do one-on-one sessions Image credit: Flickr user levendis
  18. Ask questions like these... What are your processes and tools? What’s working, and what’s not? What does your team look like? What other teams and departments do you work with? Where are the bottlenecks? What are your challenges?
  19. ...not these What are your business requirements? What functionality do you need on the website? What buttons do you want on the admin panel?
  20. The magic sentence (I have no idea how Kristina can hear anything over that loud party hat.) Image courtesy of Sean Tubridy! “Tell me more about that.”
  21. Puzzle time!
  22. Tory Brand Manager THE SITUATION Brought you onto the project Over-communicator Goes back on decisions Keeps you away from her boss
  23. Tory Brand Manager WHAT’S GOING ON? Her boss doesn’t respect her She doesn’t know how to defend her ideas Afraid of losing her job Feels she’s on shaky ground with the advent of digital
  24. Tory Brand Manager WHAT CAN YOU DO? Give her digital resources Discuss ways to defend your ideas together in advance Give her YOUR respect
  25. Felix Business Analyst THE SITUATION Is inflexible Asks for inappropriate deliverables Values deadlines over progress Hides behind process, project plans
  26. Felix Business Analyst THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? He doesn’t really understand the domain of the project He’s afraid that if he deviates he’ll be shown up
  27. Felix Business Analyst THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? Communicate frequently Set up additional sessions to work through subject matter
  28. Sharon Head of Customer Care THE SITUATION Frequently says, “I’ve been saying that for four years...” Sighs and rolls eyes during meetings when recommendations are made
  29. Sharon Head of Customer Care THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? Feels she hasn’t been heard in the past and isn’t going to get the credit she deserves Feels sidelined by the new project, which she doesn’t own
  30. Sharon Head of Customer Care THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? Turn her into an ally Get her on board Give her credit for her ideas in front of other team members
  31. Karl Digital Editor THE SITUATION Has worked here for a long time Helped build current version of website Seems uncooperative Takes a long time to submit work
  32. Karl Digital Editor THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? Feels threatened by negative attention on current site He’s struggling with perfectionism Doesn’t like to show his work
  33. Karl Digital Editor THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? Take time to understand past challenges and history Make sure he feels heard Treat his deliverables as works in progress, collaborate
  34. Laura Compliance Officer THE SITUATION Keeps changing copy in ways that are not customer-friendly Sees everything in black and white terms
  35. Laura Compliance Officer THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? Afraid of being sued Motivated by doing her job well Sees herself as a champion for compliance
  36. Laura Compliance Officer THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? Ask for feedback, not revisions Make a visible effort to understand the regulatory environment
  37. Lee Lead Developer THE SITUATION Doesn’t seem to trust you Doesn’t get involved at workshops Seems condescending Doesn’t answer your questions in detail
  38. Lee Lead Developer THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? Has had bad experiences with non-technical people in the past Developed prejudices
  39. Lee Lead Developer THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? Demonstrate your technical understanding early Create clear, useful deliverables Avoid marketing jargon and buzzwords
  40. Saul Stakeholder from HR THE SITUATION Difficult to get hold of Uncooperative during interviews, doesn’t open up at all Gives one-word answers or says he doesn’t know Extremely defensive
  41. Saul Stakeholder from HR THE SITUATION WHAT’S GOING ON? He’s suspicious of the project and your motives Afraid that he doesn’t know the answers
  42. Saul Stakeholder from HR THE SITUATION WHAT CAN YOU DO? Become his friend Be open about the project objectives and your motives Reassure him Ask about things that he knows well to get him comfortable
  43. Things to look out for
  44. Non-verbal cues
  45. An ongoing conflict Image credit: Flickr user etolane
  46. Passions and agendas
  47. The silent ones
  48. History
  49. Putting the pieces together
  50. Everyone has their reasons.
  51. Everyone has their reasons. He’s scared of taking responsibility. She’s struggling with perfectionism. He’s worried about looking stupid. She’s afraid that she’ll be blamed.
  52. Solving the people puzzle 90%$ Asking why The rest
  53. Behaviour is frequently situational.
  54. The usual way Encounter objection
  55. The usual way Encounter objection React instinctively
  56. A better way Encounter objection
  57. A better way Encounter objection Stop and consider
  58. A better way Encounter objection Stop and consider Respond thoughtfully
  59. Be just as empathic with your team members and stakeholders as you are with your customers and readers.
  60. Thanks for listening! Kerry-Anne Gilowey kerryanne@augustsun.co.za http://augustsun.co.za http://about.me/kerryanne @kerry_anne

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