IA Summit 12: Orchestrate Against Atomism

Orchestrate Against Atomism is a presentation that was done by Patrick Quattlebaum. I was intrigued by the title and decided to go when I read from the guide that the talk was about challenges with cross channel experiences. He starts by talking about how cross-channel design is not new, yet most cross-channel experiences are not good.

The problem Quattlebaum says, is that while we do think about the other channels, we think about them from our context. Holistic design starts to give way to individual touch-points. The stakeholders of each area of the business try to contribute to their experience by focusing only on the touch-points of their area thinking that if everyone focuses on making their area the best it can be, all areas will connect into one great experience. However this is the opposite of holism, and instead causes the company to lose focus of the holistic cross-channel experience. What we need to do, is orchestrate across the silos.

“If you’re disjoined internally, you’re going to be disjointed externally”

He recommends the following model for fixing this problem:

  • Understand the Context
  • Frame the Problem
  • Build Bridges
  • Expand the Toolkit

Understanding the Context

Many companies are still fundamentally running with an old world view of work, machines producing measurable and predictable results. More recently the PMO has come along to ensure that projects are running on time and with the right results within budget across the silos, but while they are fostering horizontal collaboration, it’s not the collaboration needed for cross-channel experience design.

Frame the Problem

What we need to get the business to understand is that the customer expects us to be working together horizontally and collaboratively towards a holistic set of experiences. We need to break down the silos and work together towards a vision that persists across the company.

Build Bridges

We as IA’s and designers need to be the bridge builders. We need to build bridges across the organization, team to team, to create relationships and organize change. To do this we have to be empathetic to their needs, goals, visions, and motivations. We need to understand that we are asking them to take risks and earn their respect to do so.

Some of the things you are most likely to encounter is those who feel it is either not their job to help you, or that you are trying to take away an area of their control. To counter this it is important to apprentice the silo first so that you can learn the in’s and out’s of what they are trying to do, this includes learning the language of their work.

Be a roadmap detective and see what initiatives they may already be working on. Don’t assume your ideas aren’t something they haven’t already tried. Show the other areas of the business you are also working with, and learn how they can contribute by showing the holistic cross-channel experience you are trying to achieve.

Expand the Toolkit

Bring people from various areas together for brainstorming collaborative activities like Gamestorming, Journey Mapping, and Blueprinting. Things like Service Blueprints can be used to show how people think about their piece in the context of the whole, and where pieces of the cross-channel experience bridge from, and to. These exercises should be used to pull pieces together on a regular basis, regardless of the fidelity. Help remind them they are all part of a whole. Ensure continuity and consistency across touch-points and purposes.

Creating a cross-channel customer experience display showing research and user feedback across the touch-points can be a great way to show people their part in the whole. Allow them to leave feedback and suggest improvements in areas that are normally outside of their view so that everyone is contributing to the holistic experience.