Posts tagged “reframe”

Tad Friend: Interviewing Master

I love this bit from Tad Friend’s New Yorker profile of Donald Glover

Noting that he often spoke about how life would be different if he were White Donald, I asked Glover how our conversations would be different if I were black. He gave me a considering look. “We’d have a language we both understood, and you’d know me better,” he said. “But as Black Tad you’d only be in a position of talking to me because you were good at placating a white audience. As a black person, you have to sell the black culture to succeed. So I’d try to trust Black Tad, but it’s really up to him whether he’d sell us out.”

Glover is an elusive interview, dismissing many expected norms around career, goals, success, creativity. Here, Friend takes a framework that Glover has presented (if Glover were white rather than black) and twists that into a new question (if Friend were black rather than white). He’s extending and adapting what Glover has already told him in order to probe more deeply on that model, by asking Glover to consider a hypothetical. And in doing so, Friend points back to the actual instrument of inquiry – the interview conducted by an interviewer, and asks Glover to examine that relationship.

That is masterful interviewing: hearing to the world view the interviewee is articulating; building a hypothetical evolution of that framework in order to examine the assumptions of that framework more closely; and acknowledging the context of the interview itself in order to probe even more deeply.

Since we are reading an article, and not an interview transcript, we only know about this because Friend put it in his article; in order to make his point he had to reveal the questions as well as the answers. And it’s a delightful reveal.

Ugly Yet Yummy

From the New York Times comes this story about Fruta Feia, or Ugly Fruit, a cooperative in Lisbon that has found opportunity through a combination of economic pressure and reframing conventional norms for food appearance.

There is a market for fruits and vegetables deemed too ugly by government bureaucrats, supermarkets and other retailers to sell to their customers. A third of Portugal’s farming produce goes to waste because of the quality standards set by supermarkets and their consumers. Fruta Feia buys the unwanted food at about half the price at which producers sell it to supermarkets. It has quietly subverted fixed notions of what is beautiful, or at least edible.

Bringing the reframe to cookies

It’s time for a cookie post, isn’t it? Grab yourself one or two and settle in.

This video is brilliant. It takes the familiar trope of the manufacturing-process video, plays it backwards, and then constructs an overarching narrative that makes sense of what we’re seeing.

The Oblique Strategies offer a set of provocations that can help with a creative or problem-solving block. This video shows an effective use of one of them: reverse.

Rethinking Everything About What You Do For Customers

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Rebecca Mead’s New Yorker feature The Sense of an Ending describes some really dramatic (and successful) reframes in care for dementia patients. There’s a number of profound shifts in how the caregivers describe their role and in the kind of experience they seek to deliver for the patient (and their family). The whole article (linked above, but subscribers only) describes those shifts and the cultural and organizational efforts to get there. I’ve included just a portion here

One of the first things Alonzo did, in 1998, was to ask an aide who was born in Vietnam to talk to staff members in her native tongue. “It was the only language I could find that nobody else could speak,” Alonzo recalled. “So we had her tell us very sweetly, in Vietnamese, what she wanted us to do, and we couldn’t understand her.” The staff had to become attuned to the woman’s nonverbal cues.

On another occasion, Alzono underwent a public bed bath, in front of the entire staff, of twenty-seven. She didn’t allow herself to move her limbs, and behaved as if confused. Afterward, she was able to describe the nature of her discomfort, and staff members analyzed their own activity in light of it. “Let me tell you, it sucked – it was incredibly uncomfortable,” she told me. Staff members then spooned food into one another’s mouths and brushed one another’s teeth, in order to be on the receiving end of activities that they performed for their charges every day. “You can find how threatening it is to have something touch your mouth when you have not brought it to your own lips,” she said.

In the most radical experiment, the staff wore adult diapers. “That was kind of life-changing for everybody involved,” Alonzo told me. “We all recognized just how uncomfortable it was to sit in a wet brief. Some of our front-line staff, who really wanted to know how bad that felt, did not change them for a couple of hours.” Previous may residents had been dressed in diapers, as they tend to be in a majority of nursing homes. Not long afterward, aides decided to stop the practice with most residents, instead taking them to the bathroom fifteen or twenty minutes after mealtimes. This made residents happier while making the staff’s jobs easier, because they no longer had to change people who were agitated.

There’s a rich tradition of participating in the experience our customers are having (see this great war story about an adventure in an “old age simulation suit”) and what feels like an increasing mention of empathy. I really like how this story highlights not so much the ergonomic or functional task aspects that are revealed but how this drives to revisiting the fundamental ideas of how the institution conceives of the patient experience it provides. I also like the full-on simplicity of the approach, the people who do this stuff to others now try it themselves and talk about it.

See also Richard Anderson’s blog post from this week about reframes in general and in healthcare specifically.

Dark Patterns for Interviewing

How to Win at Conversation is a humorous New Yorker article that frames conversation as a competition and offers up strategies (including Seed of Doubt, Barrage of Interruptions, Intentional Mishearing and Unfulfilled Intimations of Actual Gossip) for winning. You’ll likely recognize when you’ve been on the receiving end, or maybe when you’ve done it yourself. The piece can be read as a set of dark patterns for good interviewing.

OPPONENT: We just got some pretty good news.
YOU: I can’t believe it! They finally gave you a five-hundred-thousand-dollar raise, didn’t they?
OPPONENT: Er…no.
YOU: Oh. Sorry. So what’s the good news?
OPPONENT: Our little Jimmy just got into his first-choice preschool.
YOU: Oh. That’s good, too. Certainly nothing to sneeze at!

Strategy used: Intentional Overstatement of Expectations.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] book lovers never go to bed alone – [A Tumblr blog consisting only of photos of bookshelves, from homes and bookstores. Why? Because they can.]
  • [from steve_portigal] Ideal Bookshelf – [More examples of books as a identity system] This is an ongoing project called "Ideal Bookshelf". I paint sets of books as a form of portraiture: a person's favorites (of all time, within a genre or from a particular period in their lives); the ones that helped make them who they are today. We show off our books on shelves like merit badges (the ones not on our Kindle, at least), because we're proud of the ideas we've ingested to make us who we are, as we should be. The spine of a book is a sort of code for the giant cloud of ideas the author included within it. Just ten of them together on a sheet of paper tells the story of the mind that picked them in a way that is easily digestible but allows for endless study. We also display our books hoping to connect with others. When I paint someone else's bookshelf and they have the same book I do, it instantly makes me happy.
  • [from steve_portigal] Mr. Peanut’s New Look? Planters Went Old School [NYTimes.com] – Mr. Peanut is getting a voice as part of efforts to revitalize the character and brand for contemporary consumers. [Also] a new look, meant to give him a more authentic appearance by evoking designs of the character from the 30s & 40s. He is now brown, rather than yellow, and sports a gray flannel suit…Nostalgia is not what it used to be, particularly when it comes to younger consumers, so the goal is to be perceived not as old-fashioned but rather as old-school ­ from an earlier era and worthy of respect…Mr. Levine hastened to reassure fans that “he’s still Mr. Peanut, with the top hat and monocle and cane….We’re taking him back to his roots.” In addition to getting a voice, Mr. Peanut has a new sidekick. Mr. Peanut’s buddy is named Benson, shorter than Mr. Peanut ­ one nut in his shell rather than two. “Benson is quite enamored of Mr. Peanut,” Mr. Levine said, but they are, as the saying goes, just friends. Benson does not live in Mr. Peanut’s house, Mr. Wixom said.
  • [from steve_portigal] White poppies banned from P.E.I. market [CBC News] – [Disruption – whether innovative or not – starts with ideas. The poppy itself is not harmful or otherwise objectionable, but the idea it – arbitrarily, mind you – represents is transgressive enough that the establishment reacts as only the establishment can – by banning the representation of that idea. I assume, for further irony, that these are plastic poppies, not "real" poppies. The power of symbols!] The Charlottetown Farmers Market turned away people selling white poppies on Sunday for Remembrance Day. Volunteers with the Island Peace Committee had arranged to hand out the controversial poppies at the farmers market for the second consecutive week. Committee members say the alternative poppies stand for peace and are also to remember civilians who die in war. The white poppies have drawn an angry response from the Royal Canadian Legion, saying they detract from the original red poppy…For now, people will have to contact the Island Peace Committee directly to get a white poppy.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • UK teen sex education pamphlet emphasizes sex sex as healthy and pleasurable rather than warning about disease – "Health officials are trying to change the tone of sex education. The new pamphlet, called "Pleasure," has sparked some opposition from those who believe it encourages promiscuity among teens in a country that already has high rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases."

    Regardless of what you think of this morally, politically, etc., it's a powerful example of reframing a discussion and challenging closely-held beliefs in order to innovate.

  • Slides and audio posted for “Well, we did all this research … now what?” at BayCHI – BayCHI has relaunched podcasts and my recent BayCHI talk is among the first to be posted. You can listen to the audio, or you can watch the slides with embedded audio."Steve Portigal introduces a framework for synthesizing raw data into insights, and then creatively using those insights to develop a range of business concepts that respond to those insights and integrate a fresh, contextual understanding of a customer's unmet needs."

Frames of Reference at the Zoo

A morning at the Santa Barbara zoo reveals some interesting frames and reframes.

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Donors to the zoo are “Foster Feeders”, a more nurturing and sustaining view of how cash ends up as food.

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Adding a card to a parking meter is an attempt to present the payment-for-service device as a donation opportunity. It’s a bit of a leap and maybe not the right connotation for the zoo’s purposes.

giraffes
You could pay to ride with a plastic giraffe, or you could gaze upon a real one.

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Even the benches are up for sponsorship. Here’s a plaque-hole which may simply be a lack of maintenance but gently offers the possibility of Your Name Here.

man
On display at a new exhibit: Man.

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Cockroaches made all the more frightening when a puppeteer-like hand enters the frame to flip them over, pluck out the dead ones, and drop off some food.

egg
Everyone gets the chance to be a zoo animal!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Twitter's suggested users for you to follow – This lacks any personalization and reinforces the unfortunate star system that (social) media supports, but it's a good example of a "how to get started" scaffolding that I've written about before
  • Jimmyjane's Sex Change Operation – my article on Core77 – We were invited to designer-sex-accessory firm Jimmyjane to learn more about their history and their approach. My thoughts on the company and its mission are posted on Core7.

    "Ethan Imboden worked an industrial designer for firms like Ecco and frogdesign, cranking out designs for everyday products (i.e., staplers and monitors), but grew to feel that he had something more to contribute. After starting his own design firm, he went with a client to the Adult Novelty Expo and saw bad design everywhere. He founded Jimmyjane as a response to that, and set out to use form, color, materials and so on to create premium vibrators. Now he's a visionary creative, with strong ideas about the Jimmyjane brand and how to embody those attributes across a range of products. Imboden fits the Be A Genius and Get It Right archetype we wrote about in interactions."

“The ultimate tech accessory”

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These full page ads for Audéo have been running in magazines for the past few months.

The copy tell us that “hearing is inversely proportional to your life experience.” What an incredible reframe this is! Aging becomes experience, with a real vanity appeal (the more experience you’ve had, the more you are like this rock-n-roll dude, the more you have hearing loss). Hearing aid becomes tech accessory or even better personal communication assistant (both phrases that appear in the ad).

The cliche is that eyeglasses make you look smart; will a hearing aid (or personal audio monitoring system) make you look tough? Sure, if I was a traditional candidate for this product, I’d rather get something cool that reinforces a positive sense of self, but is the manufacturer Phonak going to be able to grow the market by getting new customers into on-board acoustic support?

Polaroid Reframe

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Sunset, Pacific Grove, CA

Last weekend we went to a wedding (at gorgeous Asilomar, in Pacific Grove). The weekend before we had visited some friends who recently been married, and they showed us their photo album and their Polaroid album, where everyone who attended posed for a Polaroid and inscribed the page in the book where the picture was posted. In fact, some wedding crashers appeared in the book, with (their real?) names signed.

So, weren’t surprised when this wedding featured something similar. But the experience was far from perfect. As we headed from the ceremony into the reception, we waited in a long line – not to greet the happy couple, but for the bottleneck in the process – the picture. You had to complete the task in order to be granted admission to the reception. Indeed, they were not permitting couples or groups to pose together, but singling out each individual person to stand alone (while those behind them watched on) and yelling “smile” at them. Suddenly, the notion of having my picture taken took on privacy/government/civil-liberties overtones. Every single person was being documented; the celebratory feeling was drained away when they insisted upon solo shots. The wedding scenario is highly scripted, even as it evolves, and there are meanings (couplehood, for example) attached to many of the minor rituals; well there are no doubt meanings attached to all of the rituals, whether implicit or explicit. So when creating new rituals, one has to be sensitive to the context. Lining up for individual photos before we can eat evokes an immigration process; posing quickly for a snapshot with a data is celebratory.

Sure, it wasn’t a big deal and didn’t impact the wedding experience greatly, but I was impressed by the power of small details to shift meaning and reframe/reassociate an entire transaction.

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