We’re running a series on how to make sure your ideas get heard. This is the second installment; you can read the first part here.
Just recently, a client gave us the following design challenge:
How do you communicate the idea of a mutual fund to a group of college-aged students who know nothing of financial markets? Think of young adults who can’t tell you what a stock or bond is, who know nothing of asset allocation or diversified portfolios.
In other words, they lack basic financial literacy.
So how would you do it? Here is what we came up with:
As you can see, this is a very different way of telling the story of a mutual fund, with the specific needs of the audience in mind. Obviously, this is not right for all audiences, but it does give you an idea of what might be possible if you approach the problem from a different direction. I think it also starts to suggest a different way of thinking about how ideas can be successfully shared.
At Collective Next, we use two frameworks to guide our thinking in sharing ideas.
OUR FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING IDEAS: FACTS + FEELING + FUNCTION
The first framework helps us think about the ideas themselves. Before we spend any time time exploring how to create engagement with an idea, we start by better understanding the idea.
So we all know that an idea can be understood by the FACTS associated with it. This is the foundational information about any idea. FACTS answer the questions “What is it?” “How does it work?” “What benefits will it create?” And so on. These FACTS represent the rational and technical elements of the idea and are the answers to the six questions of journalism – Who, what, where, when, why, and how. Think of it as the information Spock from Star Trek would gravitate to; the part of an idea that connects to our heads. The better we understand the FACTS, the better we can explain the idea and the way it works.
But ideas are more than just FACTS. They have an emotional side to them as well. Beyond the FACTS you can also understand an idea by its FEELING. Some ideas feel bold; some feel clever. Some ideas have an inherent sense of optimism; others just feel pragmatic. The FEELING of an idea runs deeper than the FACTS -– it’s the part of an idea that resonates with our hearts and our guts.
So the FACTS convince and the FEELING compels, but to what end? That leads us to the final area of this framework. Ideas also can be understood by their FUNCTION; the expectations they have on the world. Some ideas ask us to adopt a new product or technology. Some ideas ask us to reflect on our lives or to change the way we do things or the way we think. A mentor of mine often said, “An idea is only as useful as what it enables you to do.” To understand the FUNCTION of an idea is to understand what we are meant to do with it. All ideas have reason for being, and that reason is more than just to stay an idea.
By better understanding ideas, by building a more holistic picture of them in terms of the FACTS (those things that connect with our heads), the FEELING (those things that engage our hearts), and the FUNCTION (those thing that tell our hands what to do with them), we are much better prepared to share them.
In the next installment, we’ll cover a second framework, the one we use to improve the ways ideas actually get shared. It’s the framework you use to ensure that your terrific Hula-Hoop idea doesn’t come across as a round circle on a piece of paper that no one gets.