If bringing along business stakeholders for user research is important for persona creation, co-creation exercises are an even more powerful set of tools to gain insight and to build buy-in. Co creation isn’t allowing the end user to design the product. Instead, it’s really a facilitation exercise that allows them to articulate their needs, goals, and desires. Creating a user experience journey map based on user research is a worthwhile effort in itself. But It’s possible to turn the user research into an activity that allows the users to essentially generate the journey map for the researcher through co-creation. Not only does it allow for a lot more to be done in less time/smaller budget, but you end up with a more accurate map in the process.
I’m not going to go into a detailed description or explanation of how to run one of these exercises. I still run into pitfalls and snares with the process from time to time, and perhaps my next post will get into the tactics of co-creating a journey map. But I find the exercise to be pretty amazing for clarifying business processes. Ever since I witnessed it in action, I have put it into place whenever the project requires it.
This exercise can be time consuming, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Ideally, you will need half of a day with your business stakeholders and SMEs if you are looking at redesigning a more complex process or series of processes that comprise a user experience. I’ve been able to walk a couple of participants through the process with satisfactory results in an hour, but I don’t recommend this approach unless it’s absolutely necessary and definitely not until you have gotten a couple under your belt.
At the end of the exercise you will have a journeyman that everyone has participated in creating. If you are defining the current state journey, it’s incredible to see how often the resulting map leads to the identification of a step or two in the current business process that can be eliminated almost immediately because it is redundant or otherwise unnecessary. Future state journey maps help everyone communicate what their vision is for the designed experience. Assumptions are made clear and pet projects/notions can begin being dismantled (or supported) immediately.
Back to the original story…
Through the co-creation of journey maps, stakeholders finally saw the screwed up processes they had intuited for so long. All of their assumptions were made visible. Eventually, word spread about the process itself and people within the organization were already imagining other potential uses for the exercise. In a simple visual language they could now point to and show people holding the levers of change exactly where the process could be improved.
The practical and strategic application of UX as a practice had been shown to provide real ROI. The UX team moved beyond being graphic designers in the eyes of their coworkers. UX itself had moved from a concept like “We should be more UX focused as an organization” via a tangible example that demonstrated what UX actually means. Improvement of processes had even demonstrated how UX tools can be applied to broader CX challenges.
UX for enterprise is about incremental wins that lead to cultural change. Having a vision for the end goal while being open to a change of direction is necessary to navigate any corporate landscape. The practice of UX can actually facilitate this.