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Interaction Preferences (IP) Profile [Update: Final Use Testing]

By constructing an 'Interaction Preferences Profile', employees describe how they prefer to receive feedback, critiques and gratitude.

Photo of Robert Smith

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Overview

At its richest, the sharing and receiving of gratitude can be a deeply personal interaction between two individuals.  In practice, the impact of each interaction varies according to the experience, preferences and world-view of each.

As society acknowledges its responsibilities around respecting individuals' boundaries for social interaction, a need has been exposed for clarifying individual preferences within those boundaries.  This idea suggests that by taking note of how an individual prefers to interact, future exchanges will be more welcomed, less stressful and more effective.

This idea only addresses preferences within the realm of legally and professionally-accepted behaviors.  Abuse or harassment fall outside the scope of this idea.

The focus of this idea is to alleviate some of the concerns that something well-intentioned might instead have the reverse effect, causing stress or 'missing the mark'.


User Journey

The construction of an 'Interaction Preferences Profile' (IP Profile) is likely to fall under the domain and responsibility of the Human Resources department, and it should be shared with new hires soon after employment begins.  Existing employees should be interviewed regarding their preferences as soon as such a program is initiated.

While it's important to explain the intent and the particulars of the IP Profile to employees in a timely manner, all employees should be allowed time, possibly weeks or months, to consider their feelings and get to know their colleagues before filling it out.  They should also be able to update it whenever they choose.  The intent should be to be honest, not to rush anyone into a decision.

One of the most important elements offered through this idea is that since the IP Profile contains straightforward, easily understandable concepts shared across all employees of a company, one employee could reference the standard IP Profile to rebuff another’s unwanted behavior without additional explanation.  (Ex: “Stop.  I’m not comfortable with that level of physical contact.”)

As part of the HR system, employee feedback on colleagues' adherence to preferred interactions should also be solicited periodically, especially if there have been incidents, and during employee reviews, helping to measure success and drive refinements.  Any negative incidents should be addressed quickly and thoughtfully, with action plans put in place to resolve differences.

Preference Continuums

Four areas of particular importance were identified and illustrated as continuums (ranges). This enables users to select their preferences by highlighting those illustrations which they are comfortable with, rather than by attempting to interpret lengthy blocks of text.

The four continuums, with example preferences shown, include:

  • Management Style


  • Acknowledgement: Private/Public


  • Physical Contact Comfort


  • 'Rewards/Gifts' Preference


Usability Testing

Version 1 of the IP Profile presentation is attached to this idea-page and was shared with numerous colleagues.  (Note that in the final digital version the green and red sliders will be interactive).

A number of issues were identified, including:

  • Rearrange the preference continuums so users are not presented with the most challenging one (Physical Contact) first.
  • The continuum images were too light.
  • Some of the 'Gift' images were confusing.  Text will be added to avoid confusion.


  • 'Frequency' was deemed unnecessary.
  • Remove the signature box to avoid the perception of 'signing away any rights'.


These issues were addressed in Version 2 of the IP Profile presentation, also attached.

This version tested well.  No misunderstandings or issues were noted.


Thanks to the team and our test participants for their valuable contributions to this idea!

Idea Title

Interaction Preferences (IP) Profile

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

By allowing individuals to describe their preferred interactions, feedback, criticism and gratitude can be shared with them more effectively and with far less likelihood of creating negative experiences.

Who are you innovating for?

All employees will be able to influence how others interact with them, causing less stress and more positive experiences.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

All companies that provide feedback to employees may benefit from this idea, especially those where individuals interact to accomplish goals, perform tasks or assist one another.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

An IP Profile will be developed and then shared with HR departments to vet out issues around confidentiality, interviews, terminology and roll-out. Once refined and accepted, an Intro & Roll-out Plan would be developed with the HR department and Sr Management. Key steps: 1. Make a digital version of the IP Profile document available on the HR site. 2. Hold a company-wide 'all-hands' forum. Sr management should introduce the IP Profile and explain its importance to the company. HR can explain how it will work. 3. HR will schedule all employees to walk through it. 4. HR will meet with each employee, explaining and answering questions. 5. HR will conduct follow-up reviews.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

The expense associated with the time required for employee interviews may provide some push-back, as may concerns about employee confidentiality and preferences.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

An IP Profile form will be developed and shared with numerous colleagues to solicit feedback on the structure, questions and perceived value.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

Brainstorm refinements for the next iteration of an IP Profile form/process with members of the mentoring organization.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.
  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Discussions with colleagues and friends.

Tell us about yourself

I am an Industrial designer and author. My team consists of trainers, designers, artists and public-facing tour-guides.

Where are you / your team located?

Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

NA

Company / Organization Name

NA

Website

NA

Tell us about your experience

This team has worked in product development, academia and retail.

Please describe, in detail, how you will test and get feedback on your concept.

First and second iteration versions of the Interaction Preferences Profile document have been attached to this idea page and have shared with colleagues, friends and family to solicit feedback. (Note that the green and red sliders will be user-adjustable components in the final document).

Please describe specifically how you plan to scale your idea. What are the key next steps you will take, and how will those steps inform the evolution and growth of your concept?

A refined version of the Interaction Preferences Profile document will be shared with Human Resource representatives at various companies to solicit additional feedback. Follow-on discussions will address IP Profile content as well as potential implementation strategies.

As we have seen in the Challenge, there is a tension between authentic expressions of gratitude and mandatory gratitude. How does your idea inspire truly authentic expressions of gratitude versus mandated ones?

This idea addresses how individuals prefer to interact with colleagues, managers and staff. A documented understanding of these preferences should enable gratitude-related interactions to be received and shared in a thoughtful, authentic and welcoming manner.

Gratitude often thrives when opportunities for connection are created. How will your concept create new opportunities for human connection?

This idea attempts to capture the ways individuals are most receptive to interactions, eliminating confusion and breaking down barriers to communication.

Who (specifically) will benefit from your concept, and how they will interact with it? What design considerations have you included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions? 

All employees of companies embracing this approach to capturing the interaction preferences of individuals will benefit from an improved understanding of how each prefers to be treated, mentored, critiqued and rewarded.

Please describe how you intend to use the prize funding, if selected as a Top Idea. Be specific.

Graphic designers, Website creation/management specialists and Human Resources professionals will be tapped to update the Interaction Preferences (IP) Profile documentation, website and roll-out procedures.
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Attachments (3)

UserJourney-2.jpg

User Journey for a new hire incorporating an Interaction Preferences (IP) Profile

IP Profile-2.pdf

Interaction Preferences (IP) Profile document, Version 2

IP Profile-1.pdf

Interaction Preferences (IP) Profile document, Version 1

20 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Robert Smith ,

This is a final reminder that the deadline for all submission materials is 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time TODAY--that's in less than 4 hours. Excited to see your final post on the platform!

Spam
Photo of Tara
Team

Bob, fun to see our discussions out and organized! The diagrams are a great addition. An "Interaction Profile" is so poignant given all the current news feeds and even today's article by Time on Person of the year. Very well laid out and so easily generalized and adaptable to companies of all makes, models sizes and focus.

Spam
Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Hi Tara,
Glad to hear you think that an IP Profile is both relevant and easily generalized for various companies. That will be important for large scale adoption.

Thanks for the comment! -Robert

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Robert Smith ,

Great to see your post updated! For the question, "How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?" I'm wondering what steps specifically would need to be executed for roll-out? Would this be a team-specific initiative, or a company-wide initiative?

Looking forward to learning more!

Spam
Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Hi Lauren Ito ,

I'll get some more detail about specific steps into my answer.

I believe the HR department would be responsible for the roll-out, but senior management would likely need to introduce it through an 'All-hands' forum.

Thanks for the comment! -Robert

Spam
Photo of Alan Somerfield
Team

Hi Robert Smith ,

Fascinating and thoughtful approach to what on the surface seems like a a natural everyday workplace activity but in the modern complex world of social relationships finding the right way to interact with, give thanks to or celebrate success with a colleague can be tricky. I really like the way you have broken this complex problem down into simple visual language that should really help people identify what works best.

As a manager myself who is hoping I hit the right mark for expressing gratitude (but probably misses quite often!) I think a challenge would be to remember what is appropriate for each individual in the team. Often the time to celebrate some success and say thank you can arise quickly and impulsively and 'in the moment' I imagine I find find it difficult to remember what works best for that individual. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Best of luck,

Alan

Spam
Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Hi Alan Somerfield ,

You raise a good point. I remember considering an idea for handing out special collar pins or such to every employee as a sign of their preferences, and then immediately realized that this was flawed in many obvious ways, after all, few people want to literally 'wear their heart on their sleeve".

I suggest the simplest approach would be to stick with the most common forms of interaction for 'in the moment' sharing of gratitude (left end of the spectrum: fist bump, shaking hands) and if someone is proving to be extremely valuable to review their preferences as a refresher. This will also remind you about what gifts they might prefer, etc, ahead of any specific mention or event.

Thanks for the comment! -Robert

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Alan Somerfield ,

Great to see a previous collaboration from Circular Design continuing in this challenge! Thank you for sharing your feedback and insights.

Spam
Photo of Pam Gray
Team

Your IP Profile is intriguing.
I think there may be some value added in considering the 5 Gratitude Languages. It is easy to know when you feel under appreciated. Unfortunately, it may be harder to define for yourself how you would like to have gratitude expressed. There may need to be a deeper exploration of personal needs before the IP Profile can be utilized.

I would be very interested in further exploration of this topic and would like to be added to your team.
Thanks,
Pam Gray

Spam
Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Hi Pam,

Filling out an IP Profile will require serious introspection about what behaviors you prefer, what's important to you, how you like to be treated and how you prefer to communicate with peers and managers.

Perhaps, after having had the IP Profile explained in a meeting with HR, the employee should be given some time to consider their responses. This could take place over a month or more so that the new employee can settle in a bit and get to know their peer group, managers, etc.

What's important about an IP Profile is that the company cares enough to ask each employee to set their own ground rules, their own boundaries, for interactions. It shouldn't be rushed through to 'check a box'.

I appreciate your comment! Thanks- Robert

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Robert Smith ,

A friendly reminder the Gratitude in the Workplace Storytelling Workshop is tomorrow, November 30th at 9:00 a.m. PST! Hope to see you there!

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Robert Smith ,

Thank you for sharing this concept and updating so rapidly! I'm curious how this would be integrated into a workplace in the most easily accessible way possible? I'm also curious about who would be your ideal user, and how does this solution specifically alleviate their gratitude pain-points?

Excited to learn more!

Spam
Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Hi Lauren Ito ,

One of the topics we hope to discuss with HR representatives will be what the roll-out within a company might look like.

I would be disappointed if the IP Profile looked like 'just one more form to fill out' for new hires already swamped with signing various required documents and dealing with training requests. I believe that filling out one's IP Profile would be far more valuable as part of a discussion where the new employee gets to know the HR representative and her new manager while 'dipping her toe' in the company culture.

Our hope is that by capturing individuals' interaction preferences, future interactions where they are recipients of gratitude would be welcomed and well received, creating far more authentic impact, lasting influence and stronger bonds with their colleagues and the company as a whole.

Thanks, as always, for the thoughtful comment! -Robert

Spam
Photo of Mike Brown
Team

Very interesting idea Bob! The thought of using the visual continuum as means of gauging a freshly hired employee's comfort zone is a nice and simple way to approach a potentially awkward conversation, one that may not give accurate results if asked verbally.

To muddy the waters with a hot topic these days, I wonder how the individual's view on gender in the workplace, and maybe in general, will factor into their response to the visuals they see. The implications may be much more obvious, but having a trio of images (men interacting with men, women with women, men with women) would be an interesting addition to any future testing you plan on.

Looking forward to seeing how this develops. Happy innovating!

Spam
Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Hi Mike Brown ,

You're right, this is a delicate, potentially awkward conversation to have, especially with a new employee anxious to find a way to work well with new colleagues. Letting them select from a continuum should be far easier and more honest than trying to explain with words. The idea of providing images based on gender-specific interactions would probably help address some difficult situations as well.

The follow-on step of sharing the preferences also needs much additional thought. May I add you to my team?

Thanks for the comment. -Robert

Spam
Photo of Mike Brown
Team

Sure, happy to be a part of this concept. The potential to create a more welcoming, smooth transition into a new job is already there. Presenting the information in that delicate manner while getting a true response is tricky. I'll keep thinking on this. Thanks for inviting me to the team!

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Robert Smith ,

Congratulations on advancing to the Refinement Phase of the Challenge! Please tag me in the comments @Lauren Ito with any questions and for feedback on your user experience map, evaluation questions, and prototyping. We recommend updating your post throughout the phase to allow for our community to engage, collaborate, and share feedback on your post.

Excited to see how your idea develops in the coming weeks!

Spam
Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Hi Lauren Ito ,

Happy to have made the next round! Getting my team together to work on the details.

Thanks for the comment and stay tuned! -Robert

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Robert Smith !

Great to see you in the Gratitude Challenge. I hope all is well in Colorado. I'm curious, how would you measure the success of this practice?

I'm attaching the definition of gratitude we are using for reference in building out your concept: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/gratitude/definition

Lastly, the post The 5 Gratitude Languages for the Workplace: Tools for Expressing & Experiencing Gratitude at Work is also tackling the question of how to align gratitude with someone's preferences. It may be helpful for you two to connect!

Excited to learn more!

Spam
Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Hi Lauren Ito !

Good question about measuring success for this idea. Since IP Profiles flow through Human Resources, feedback should be available on at least an annual basis from employees about whether this is working for them. Success could be viewed as peer and management compliance with each individual's preferences.

Thanks for sending over the definition, I'll take a look and make sure I'm staying true to the challenge's intent. I'll also scope out the other post you mentioned.

Thanks for the comment! -Robert