[Presentation Design] Making the Pitch for Action on Climate Change

A few weeks ago I got introduced to the Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA), an organization which had been assembled to help achieve a ambitious, fair, and binding agreement in December at the UNFCC Climate Conference in Copenhagen. As they enter the final run-up to the event over the next few months they were looking to spruce up their presentation deck in advance of their official launch – the only catch? it had to be done in roughly 48 hours.

Before:

The Process

Up for the challenge, I got started. Over the next 48 hours I helped them entirely reflow the presentation to create a story that built up a case for action and showed how the GCCA would play a pivotal role in coming away from Copenhagen with a deal that was best for the planet, and all its stakeholders. From there I built out the presentation deck, created a consistent template and added visual elements that helped further illustrate what’s at stake.

The Results

Some example slides from the finished presentation

gcca_port gcca_port1
gcca_port2gcca_port3
gcca_port4gcca_port5
gcca_port6gcca_port7

Case Study

I’ve summarized the entire process as a mini-case study on my site – you can access it here.

As a freelance facilitator and information designer, I can help your organization discover, define and develop your story so you can share it more effectively – If your organization could benefit from better explaining what it is you do, then I can be of help. Contact me today.

[Follow-up] The Integrated Content Lifecycle

The Integrated Content Lifecycle

A quick post to update you on the Translation World session, “The Integrated Lifecycle: Creating a Foundation for Envisioning and Planning an Integrated Translation Lifecycle that I facilitated last month – A summary of the session, as well as the visual outputs, including a high-rez PDF, are now available on my site, here.

Overall I think the session went really, really well – we had a perfect mix of attendees (we had three of the four major stakeholders represented) and all had mixed levels of experience with integrated systems. I’m really happy with the final visual as well – I think we captured the important points and I know the attendees themselves gained a much deeper understanding of the process and discovered areas where integrating systems might prove valuable. Be sure to check out the full rundown of the session (including the process we used) and sneak a peak at the full-size graphic while you’re at it.

All of the outputs have been licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial, Share-alike license.

As a freelance facilitator and information designer, I can help your organization discover, define and develop your story so you can share it more effectively – If your organization could benefit from better explaining what it is you do, then I can be of help, contact me today.

Designing for Visual Efficiency – My FITC Toronto Talk

Yesterday I gave a talk at FITC Toronto on designing for visual efficiency. I was originally approached last fall to submit a idea and my original intention was to do a talk focused on design for information heavy graphics and recommendations on best pratices for designing them. But, based on some of the content I got to see at our VizThink conference in San Jose this February though I decided to shift and narrow the focus to designing for visual efficiency, a slightly different topic but still quite relevant to the original context.

When I say visual efficiency what I’m actually referring to is the idea of designing to reduce the amount of processing our minds have to understand what we’re looking at.Overall I think it was fairly well received, by the end of the session it was standing room only. I think I achieved my goal of sparking the idea in attendee’s heads that it’s important to think about, consider and factor HOW people see, and how to work with that process,  into their designs.

The presentation is embedded below – I’d love to hear your feedback or questions. I may also represent it at an upcoming VizThink Toronto.

Suggested Reading and links to the imagery used in the presentation can be found on my FITC09 page on the site.

[IDEA] Mind State Messaging

Far too many weeks ago I had lunch with Sean Howard (a.k.a. “Craphammer“) for lunch – we’d been talking to him, and his team at SpinGlobe, about some Clay Tablet marketing activities and he wanted to share some ideas.

One idea he brought up was the concept of “mind-states” – in a nutshell, trying to identify what state of mind your target is in. It was a new concept to me (thus why I’m CTO instead of CMO) but made perfect sense once he explained it.

We talked about how to visualize the notion and by the end of lunch we had a napkin sketch that consisted of mapping mind-states to messages, basically the idea of targeting each message to the specific mind states of each user.

Tweaking it Further
That night on the GO train home I opened up Illustrator and decided to play with the concept a little further. Over the following days Sean and I shot the illustration, along with comments, back and forth eventually coming up with this variation:

Mindstate1

To which Sean simply responded “You’ve got to post this so we can discuss it with more people” – which I’m doing now, many, many weeks later (Sorry Sean :) )

The premise is pretty straightforward. The idea is broken into four general quadrants “Mind States”, “Needs”, “Features/Benefits” and lastly “Messaging”. Each oval represents an item in that theme. Obviously in practical use these ovals would be text or images describing the specific element. I also used size the indicate importance (or, in the case of features, strength/support) – the bigger the oval the bigger or more important the item.

Mind States rooted in Needs

Mindstate_MS-N

My initial impression (and the bit Sean and I are still debating) was that behind each Mind State (which I at first considered to be an irrational state), there was a rational need or requirement behind it.

I’ve dropped the notion of rational/irrational from the latest version but the notion of a Mind State being rooted in a real Need or Requirement (or vice versa) is still very much there. For example, perhaps the Mind State was “I want that promotion”, the thinking is there’s a requirement or need(s) in the background that would resolve, or contribute to resolving, the mind state. In this case it may be “deliver on sales targets”.

Needs can drive States, States can drive Needs.

Features & Benefits to resolve Needs

Mindstate_MS-N-FR

This was all fine and dandy, but the next consideration was how mind states and needs related to your product or offering. For the most part it’s hard to link features and benefits directly to a mind state. As far as I can see, no feature I can put into my software will resolve the your mind state of “I want that promotion” but if you can uncover the true need then you can build features or identify benefits that help resolve it. By recognizing that the users mind state is actually driven by a need (deliver on sales targets) we can now see that our “Automated Lead Identifier” and “Motivational Tool-tips” features can help the user achieve their need, by keeping them informed and motivated, which will hopefully resolve their mind-state.

Messaging around Features to speak to Mind States

Mindstate1

Because Features don’t typically speak directly to Mind States we need to close the loop with messaging. Messaging should speak to the mind state of the user. By working through the previous relationships we know that “I want that promotion” is resolved by the need to “deliver on targets” which our product helps solve by “automatically identifying new leads”.

If you can craft messaging that speaks to their emotional mind state you have the opportunity to strike a real cord with them, then back it up with true features that have their needs in mind.

Mind-State Messaging in Product Management

The other side effect that came out of this exercise was the realization that this could also be used to work through product management issues. By using items that are scaled (or colour coded etc.) to represent the importance you can quickly get an impression of how your product’s features & benefits stack up. The image below shows how needs can be mapped to features or benefits, and how you can quickly gauge if your product is living up to the needs of your prospects/clients.

prodmgm_balance

In example (1) you can see that the need is tiny, and likely not very important in the grand scheme of things, but look at the strength (and assumedly the amount of effort that’s gone into it) of the feature in comparison. Likewise in (2) a huge need is basically going unfulfilled.

Obviously depending on who your specifically targeting you won’t be able to get a perfect match (3) – in theory you’d have different Mind state maps for each persona you’re dealing with in the sales/marketing cycle – but with this model it still gives you some insight into the holes you may have in your product. Especially if the same imbalance pops up on every model etc.

Discuss.
Anyways, this idea is still in the “half-baked” stage, but Sean and I really wanted to throw it out into the ether to see what others thought of it. I know Sean has actually thrown this into the mix on some pitches and projects over the past few weeks – but I’ll leave him to comment on where it worked/didn’t work.

Thoughts?

Of Standards and Methodologies: Defining best practices for the LSP

Back at Localization World Berlin I sat in on a session at during GALA‘s pre-conference day. The conversation, somewhat to the surprise of myself and some other product vendors in the room, wasn’t about technical standards but rather about trying to establish standards for LSP’s. These standards were in the context of operating procedures (tasks, process etc.) and at times got down to specific metrics or formats (quality measurement, fuzzy matches, etc.)

“Standard” is a funny word. To techies it often creates a sense of relief (if it’s actually been adopted) but to business operators like LSPs it can create a real sense of panic. During the meeting I noticed more than a couple people who clearly heard the word standard, had it used in the context of defining how they run their business and it was all they could do not to run screaming from the room.

At first I thought I was just going to end up zoning out for the two hours as the topic only had tangential interest for me but a few minutes in the conversation the discussion seemed to be stalling/circling a bit and, well, I’m the kind of guy who likes to jump into discussions with both feet just for the hell of it – so I chimed in.

My Concerns
My big concerns out of the gate were twofold:

  1. No specific focus
    The conversation was jumping from the 100,000 foot “Let’s examine and define our processes” right down to the 10 foot “how do we standardize fuzzy matches?” debate. To be successful the end result/goal needs to be clearly defined and those pushing it forward need to buy in. The reality is there are no wrong answers here but there needs to be one answer.

  2. The word “Standard”
    As I mentioned above the word Standard can freak people out. In this case I’m also not so sure it applied to the highest level view of what the group appears to be trying to accomplish. Subconsciously it probably sounds a lot better to say you’re working on establishing a “standard” rather than creating a “methodology” but there’s a lot of baggage that goes along with the word.

At some point in the discussion I suggested that perhaps “Standard” wasn’t the right word and perhaps “Methodology” or “Best Practices” were more appropriate. Initially I got the sentiment that folks were happy lumping them together under the same umbrella but eventually even Don DePalma suggested we get a jar and every time someone said the word standard they’d have to throw a Euro in it .

Lumping them together didn’t sit well with me at the meeting but I rolled with it. Upon reflection I think it actually does the process a disservice. While Standard, Best Practices and Methodologies all fall into the same, very broad group, I think they each speak to very different levels of definition.

Hierarchy of Business Practices
I’d like to step back for a second and layout how I view all of the different levels that come into play when trying to define a business model or process. Starting from the highest level, 100,000ft strategic view right down to the 10ft tactical level.

While the notions of Best Practices, Methodologies and Processes are separated by fairly fuzzy lines I thing there is still a sense of hierarchy between them:

BestPractices2

  • Best Practices:
    These establish the baseline expectation anyone should have of a Language Service Provider. They state what an LSP (or internal language department) should and should not perform as part of their business process. For example, best practices may dictate that an LSP has a Quality Assurance Methodology but not necessarily detail what steps that involves.

  • Methodologies:
    A Methodology covers a group of processes that an LSP will utilize to achieve a specific goal. A Methodology will detail what processes should be under taken to ensure they are putting out the highest quality translation. For example, the QA Methodology may dictate that each document must be peer reviewed and a client in-country review should take place. Again, in this case it won’t necessarily dictate what exact steps must be taken by each resource, just that they need to be involved and follow the prescribed review process.
  • Process:
    These are the isolated processes that combine to make a methodology. Processes will generally reference a specific cluster of tasks related to a specific competency. i.e. “Project Intake”, “File Preparation”, “Translation”, “File Review”, etc.
  • Tasks/Standards:
    Finally at the very base we have tasks and standards. These are essentially the building blocks of the entire system. These are the individual steps that a person must perform or a standard that elements of the project must conform to. Standards could be technical (XLIFF, TMX) or material (Standard for defining fuzzy matches).

It’s also important to note that components such as methodologies, processes and tasks/standards do not have to have exclusive relationships with the adjacent tiers. A Quality Assurance process may be reused in a variety of methodologies within an organization. And at the lowest-level standards and tasks will likely be reused numerous times across a business.

So Where to Start?

The toughest challenge is always, “Where to start?” – and this is where I think the conversation largely got stalled in Berlin. We were flipping back and forth between notions of Best Practices/ Methodologies & tasks/standards. Again, neither answer is wrong, but you need to pick one and roll with it.

At the end of the day, regardless of what level you start at the outcome has to approachable, attainable and agreeable (AAA) to the people who you want to have adopt it, in this case the LSPs.

If you start at the bottom then it’s important to pick a narrow, defined niche and explicitly define the task or standard. If it meets the AAA measure you should have no trouble getting organizations to adopt it, especially if it’s merely defining something they already do. People love to be able to say they comply with something.

My personal approach though would be to start at the very top. Define the broad best practices – by doing this you create the buckets that you will need to back fill with methodologies. Processes, tasks and standards. As an industry body GALA can, over time, begin to roll out sanctioned methodologies & standards but by defining a broad best practice it gives everyone a chance to contribute.

If GALA were to bring to market the “GALA Best Practices for Translation Service Providers” they could outline the methodologies and processes that a client should expect their translation provider to have adopted. These best practices should outline that the translator has a clear and stated policy with respect to fuzzy matches, a methodology for identifying and assigning ‘best fit’ resources to projects, a clear and stated policy on translation memory ownership, a defined Quality Assurance process, and so on.

By identifying these best practices GALA would have created a plan from which to build out all of the necessary methodologies, processes, standards & tasks. And best of all, as organizations begin to adopt these best practices they will in turn start to creat
e their own methodologies etc., as those get shared back into the community they can help shape and define the GALA standard. Additionally, a Bet Practices standard gives member companies something they can achieve without (potentially) having to radically alter how they do business – which makes it far more approachable.

These are just my thoughts on the issue – I hope the conversation continues as it is really worth having and I think, over time, could contribute greatly to the business of all GALA members.