PART 4 - HEY! THAT’S NOT AN ANSWER
CROSS-CHANNEL ECOSYSTEMS 101
January 12 2017
WAIT A SECOND, THAT’S NOT AN ANSWER
It is. While a certain project will be initiated because of
a social, organizational, or individual need or pain, that need or
pain is not what generates the ecosystem
That need or pain is a problem space within an ecosystem
that is usually, at project start, largely unknown
HERE YOU GO AGAIN. NEEDS AND PAINS?
Yes. Needs or pains are usually the reason an investigation starts
Examples of organizational pain are “not intercepting the actor’s
path because they go to competitors”, “increase our paid-for vs
free customer ratio”, or “enter the online grocery market”
A social pain could be reduce traffic, or promote equality
NOT FOLLOWING. MAYBE AN EXAMPLE? PLEASE?
Sure. Suppose there is a fictional University X whose
management wants to “improve their courses”
This need or desire to improve is the organizational pain
that serves as the catalyst for the design process
SO WE HAVE PA...
Before we get to that. I find always extremely useful to have the
design team produce a rough sketch of the ecosystem as they
see it based on whatever information they possess
This is an iterative process whose primary goal is to provide a
canvas for further reflection and a way to make bias explicit
ALRIGHT. PAIN ...
… this can be the ugliest, most terrible sketch ever, or something
more refined or structured, depending on resources
The important thing is that it gets to be constantly used and
revised, and made like a map / rich picture / system map
Pictures. Links. Not a list, nor a set of requirements
You were saying that pains are not solutions, right?
They aren’t. They are a problem space that requires investigation
But then, what about the actors and their experiences?
THEY WANT BETTER COURSES, NO?
We know what University X wants to do, and we could argue that
University X is an actor (or many different groups of actors), and
we’d be correct, but are they ostensibly the primary actors?
Are they the ones for whom we make better courses?
I GUESS NOT. I WOULD SAY STUDENTS
Correct again, at least in our example. In reality, even that would
have to be checked. It might be that a better course means a
course that can be approved by some certification authority
Here, let’s say students. So, wouldn’t you agree that we first of all
should know what a “better course” is to students?
SURE, BUT WHAT ABOUT TEACHERS, OR STAFF?
Pragmatism is the name of the game, as in all of design
If budget, time, or other constraints allow it, investigate them
If pockets are empty and results due yesterday, stick to the
primary group of actors. Remember there’s always more actors
WAIT. WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S ALWAYS MORE?
Given any system, its boundaries are arbitrarily
established based on the questions being asked
You cannot argue in abstract that the group “students’
partners” is to be included or excluded, for example
OK. BACK ONE STEP. INVESTIGATE PRIMARY ACTORS
Using whatever tools or methods are appropriate, actors are
investigated to find out what “a course” is to them
We want to know their goal and the path they travel
Usually, not only there are differences between actor groups,
but individual actors in the same group do not see eye to eye
YES, STUDENTS ARE INDIVIDUALS. BUT GOALS?
Students will tell you that a course for them is something they
want to pass because they need the credits, or that they want to
learn all of the knowledge, or that they hate school
These “goals” are important in connection with the path they
travel through the still unknown ecosystem we are exploring
THE PATH THEY TRAVEL?
At this stage, these different “goals” will probably configure
structurally different cross-channel ecosystems
Even though the base elements might or might not be exactly
the same, their role, their relationships, and their weight in “the
experience” will be different from actor to actor
ANY WAY YOU CAN MAKE THIS A TAD CLEARER?
For a student who just wants to pass, additional non-compulsory
reading material or resources will have little importance
For an off-campus student, the teacher’s office might be useless
but a Facebook group or the course online platform essential
Goals and paths through the ecosystem are linked
PART 5 COMING JAN 19
“FUN TIMES WITH PATHS AND MAPS”