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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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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


Company / Organization Name




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)


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


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

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!

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