Interesting post from Nathanael Boehm at http://purecaffeine.com around using social collaboration tools as part of the co-design process. I think we take virtual tools for granted if we use them a lot and design processes could suffer if not built from the ground up to be executed socially.
The use of consultation approaches that involve social interaction between participants requires careful consideration of the desired, probable and possible social outcomes of bringing together a group of people regardless of whether it’s in-person or online. You can’t take a focus group model and shove it onto a web forum with the assumption it will work the same way.
Social media — blogs, forums, wikis, social multimedia, social voting etc — isn’t alone in suffering from the problems of ‘distance’ between researchers and participants. Traditional tools such as surveys, suggestion forms etc also have this problem but it’s less visible than in social media where participants can share their opinions with others and influence perceptions.
The benefit of running a consultation through social media is that people can build tribes and rally support behind their ideas and for you, making your job easier and saving you from the failure of misinterpreting how to prioritise people’s requests. Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li refer to this as ‘energising the groundswell’ in Groundswell. If you screw it up, those same community leaders will work against you. Establishing a community can also create barriers to entry for new participants … if they can’t see where they can jump into the conversation they won’t contribute at all – something you could have avoided with a traditional consultation.
One idea I do have is to establish mock customer co-design workshops using staff masquerading as customers in a role-playing exercise. It provides a safe environment to determine potential customer response to presenting certain ideas or in this case provides a safe environment for inexperienced staff to go through the motions without the risk of affecting the agency’s and Government’s reputation with customers.Read more at www.purecaffeine.com