As part of an ongoing project, I have been prototyping pieces of a new recognition program I’m preparing to roll out. I have been meeting with people one on one to test one of the most critical components of my plan, involving motivation and sustainment. I knew going into these interviews that I would learn a lot, but I wasn’t initially prepared to deal with the amount of content generated that was not directly related to the piece of my plan that I was testing.
One of the challenges I’ve experienced in prototyping sessions is keeping people on topic. Even with a very simple A/B design to test a response to a change in conditions, there are a lot of questions and comments, many not related to the exact component I am testing. What I have learned is the Power of the Parking Lot. Now, when I start my Prototyping test, I make sure that I have a parking lot prominently posted on either a whiteboard or easel, so that I can capture all the off-topic ideas that are generated in the course of the test.
Now that I am nearly done with my tests, I plan to bring together small groups of test participants to review all the ideas surfaced in my prototype tests. These ideas can then drive another round of tests, or perhaps be integrated directly into my overall plan.
So, when you start meeting with people to prototype parts of a larger plan:
- Be prepared with a parking lot to capture ideas that are not directly related to your test;
- Keep your subject focused on the content you are testing by letting them know that you can capture all of their off-topic ideas for later discussion; and
- Bring test participants back together to review all the ideas generated in your tests.