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Template for Web-based Interviews

Page history last edited by mfrazier@openworld.com 9 years ago


A Question & Answer Resource for Social Networks

To Share Insights and Opportunities for CoCreation






As an aid to sharing project ideas in social networks, it may be useful to have a standard Q&A template through which specialists can fill in their respective insights on problems, opportunities, and strategies relating to their initiatives.


The questions below aim to generate narratives in a domain-independent "fractal" pattern that can speed learning and discovery of opportunities for co-creation. Key questions are noted in boldface. (To speed interactions, a Q&A web page might have a slider-style button that would give users the choice of seeing only the boldfaced questions.)







  • Metadata


What is your name?


How would you describe yourself?


What is the main topic you will you be exploring here?


Why do you want to share your insights?










  • Interest-generating statement


What is a good “teaser” to stir up interest in your topic? 



  • What stakeholders can benefit


Who do you see as the prime audience?


Who else may benefit from the insights you’re sharing here?



OPTION:  Who may disagree with the points you'll be making in this background interview?



  • Fit with time, place, technology and resource contexts


In what kind of situations will people find your remarks most useful?


Further prompt: Please mention the kind of places, times, or other circumstances where people will find the material you're covering to be most valuable.



  • How this was prepared, and why


How did you research and prepare the material that you are presenting here?


Are there any caveats you’d like to offer about the applicability of what we’ll be hearing?


Before we get going, are there people or organizations whose inputs or help you would like to acknowledge?








  • Main area(s) of concern or tension


What is the essential challenge now facing the audience you mentioned?


Please give examples of the forms this challenge is now taking.



  • Context – how people have earlier dealt with challenge


How has this target audience (or similar groups) met this kind of challenge in the past?


Why are these past approaches no longer the best way to go?



  • New driving forces (ideas, technologies, other shifts)


What factors or driving forces now make possible a change in past approaches?


Please describe specific forces (for example, new technologies, ideas, expectations, or value systems) that call for a change in approach.



  • Leading examples of response behavior (success and failure stories)


Who is now adapting best– and who is adapting most poorly – to these forces?


Please describe some surprising examples of successful responses and failures to these forces.



  • Benchmarking indicators of success


How far-reaching is the challenge that faces the target audience?


What data or key indicators show the extent of the challenge? 




  • Gap analysis: successes compared to baseline case


How well is the main audience doing now based on statistics, compared with how others are doing?


What are the most critical gaps or shortfalls that the audience you've described has to resolve?



  • Stakes in resolution of challenge


What do you see happening to this audience – and how soon -- if the gaps or challenges are not dealt with?







  • Overview: ideal resolution of the challenge


What surprising result do you think is achievable by the target audience, in response to the challenge?



  • Spectrum of cases related to this ideal


Are there any examples where people in similar circumstances have successfully achieved such results?



  • Innovative rules used in these cases


In your view, what are the interesting aspects of their successes?








  • Key features/ benefits of actual solution (including innovation)


What are the highlights of a strategy or set of actions that your target audience can take to reach its desired result?


Please describe each core element of your success strategy in as much detail as needed.



  • Results of gap analysis on factors influencing success


For each core element of your strategy, please describe how it compares to other alternatives that people may now be considering to reach the result.



  • Preconditions for this preferred strategy to work


What are the overall preconditions (resources and organizational) for this basic strategy to work?


Please also describe any specific preconditions for the key individual elements of the strategy.



  • Sequence of preparation steps (scope, plan, commit)


What self-assessment can the audience undertake to scope out the potential value of the basic strategy?


What steps can be taken by your audience to turn the basic strategy into a tailored workplan, and estimate its impacts?


Once this workplan is ready, what steps should your audience take to confirm its acceptance by key stakeholders?



  • Sequence of execution steps (prepare inputs, process throughputs, deliver outputs, and confirm results)


What are the key inputs (skills, funds, places, etc) that the plan will need to be implemented?



What kind of processes will be needed to transform these key inputs into useful outputs? 


What delivery systems will get the outputs to the right people and places? 


What systems should be in place to confirm the results? 



  • Scenarios to set up the solution (buy, build, customize)


What are the main tradeoffs between three options -- making, buying, or customizing  --   to prepare the ground for the preferred workplan?


Are there any surprising “off the shelf” solutions available for this setup stage?



  • Scenarios to manage the solution


What scenarios do you see to manage the operational stage?


Are there any surprising “off the shelf” solutions that can help in for this operational stage?



  • Scenarios to troubleshoot problems with the solution


 What scenarios do you see for troubleshooting/fixing any problems that arise?


Are there any surprising “off the shelf” solutions available in this troubleshooting and fixup stage?







  • Interests of stakeholders


Who are the likely key champions of adopting your basic strategy in the current setting, and what are their interests in supporting it?


Who are the likely key opponents of adopting your basic strategy in the current setting, and what are their interests in opposing it?


Who are the likely key undecided stakeholders, and what are their reasons for staying undecided?



  • Key relationship decision factors (matrix)


Please list what you see as “deep” factors (e.g. existing values, commitments, or relationships) that influence decisions of the respective stakeholders.



  • Key transactional decision factors (matrix)


Please list other factors that may influence decisions of the respective stakeholders.



  • Survey of stakeholder response


Do you have anecdotes, or information from market surveys, showing what stakeholders think about current conditions?


Do you have anecdotes, or information from market surveys, showing what stakeholders think about the proposed strategy and workplan?



  • Analysis of results


Can you describe, in more detail, important concerns or issues raised by these anecdotes or surveys?



  • Cautions and qualifiers


Please note any limitations regarding the data cited and/or the analysis, and suggest ways these limitations can be overcome in the future.



  • Implications for action


Please conclude with a summary of the acceptance survey results and implications for action.







  • Resolution of issues and uncertainties


How urgent is the need for the audience to take action?


What are the most pressing issues and uncertainties to resolve, before the audience proceeds to act on the opportunities and strategy?  


What results and benefits are with reach of your audience after they make a decision to move forward?


Can you offer any further words of advice or encouragement?




Thanks – we appreciate your sharing this background!




Annex A:   Resources to Clarify Understanding




  • Background on author and sponsors


Please give a brief biography of your background and experience in the subject area of your talk, as well as the qualifications of any organization that helped in sponsoring your work. 


  • Case studies


Can you recommend any related case studies for people to review?



  • Key issues checklist


What checklists are available for people to understand the detailed requirements for the project Scoping and Planning stages?


  • Survey instruments


Please give the listeners any sources of  questionnaires that can be used in “acceptance testing” of  the Strategy and its workplan.



  • Survey results tables


Please give samples of tables and charts that can be used to present the results of “acceptance testing” surveys.


  • Detailed impact projects


Please give samples of spreadsheets showing revenues, costs, and investment returns from adoption of a similar strategy and workplan.


  • Timeline


Please give samples of timelines showing standard phases and activities for this kind of strategy and workplan.


  • References


What basic and advance references are available to better understand the subjects covered in this talk?


  • Specialists


Where can the audience find other experts or research groups who specialize in the areas covered in this talk?




Annex B:    Resources for Next Steps




  • Details for a spec




Are there sample specifications for the key goods and services needed to implement the recommended strategy and workplan?



  • Request for Proposal (RFP) details


Are there sample RFP ( documents that can be circulated to vendors of key goods and services needed by this strategy and workplan?



  • List of resources


Are there directories of specialized vendors and other solution providers that can be useful?



  • Bid publishing


What are the best online or other venues to post a call for bids?



  • Bid review


Please give samples of bid review templates/spreadsheets for evaluating vendor proposals.



  • Contract


Please give model contracts for partnerships or vendor agreements that could be useful for implementing the strategy and workplan.



  • Permits


Please itemize the permits, approvals, and other mandatory requirements that are needed, along with any flowchart of when these requirements must be met.



  • Project oversight systems


Please give pointers to any model “dashboards” or project management templates for the audience to oversee implemention of  the strategy and workplan.

Comments (20)

Michael J said

at 5:01 am on Apr 12, 2010

Mark, some thoughts.

To ask someone to give this level information is a significant barrier to entry. I doubt that I would take the time to clarify my own thinking enough to be shareable. 2me it's a bit like an application to college. "How would you describe yourself?" (2me) is the essence of the deep problem. The answer is always the same : "It depends who is asking."

As I understand it this "document" lives in the flow we are trying to create as follows: It wants to make public a persona's context to make it easier to understand the words that are emitted from that persona. In the service of that function it has to be easy and supply the minimum data points to take the friction out of that function.

Perhaps the following is a path forward. I'll put in my responses to try to make it more concrete.

What's your day job?
None. Comfortable enough retired

In the context of this junto, What do want to see happen? What is the urgency (time frame, deadline) of when it wants to happen?
"I want to see the prison population in the States reduced as fast as possible. My focus at the moment is on bottom of the pyramid high school education."

What do you want to understand?
"How people think. Why good smart people do stupid things."

Where have you been?
Born, Munich Germany 1946. Came to US in 1948. My people are East European Jews. Lived on the lower East Side, the Bronx, grew up in Queens. Graduated Columbia 1967. A year in Madison Wisconsin studying demography. Started a printing business in 1972. Taught at Parsons from 2000 -2008. Retired and living in New York.

What are you in a position to give?
Lots of on line time. A little money from time to time.

What are you in a position not to give? Significant face time.

One way to test this out is to see if this you gives a pretty clear idea of "where my persona is coming from " in the sense of being able to get maximum clarity from our ensuing conversation. (2me) it works.

mfrazier@openworld.com said

at 7:38 am on Apr 12, 2010


Completely agree about the length and detail of the Q&A being a _big_ barrier. Yet it has value, I think, in the context of an accordion-like slider button that is sensitive to the user's time.

If they only have a minute or two to spare, the slider button goes all the way to the left, and only a dozen (at most) "mountain-top" questions (similar to the ones you indicated) would appear. If they want to come back later and and have more interest or time to add further details, the slider lets them see it in fuller form.

Another value of having a detailed Q&A like this, I think, is that it could be extended in a way that lets others in a socnet or tribe to pitch in with new material. The draft framework above hews to the narrative fractal structure mentioned in earlier EBD convos.

So if a given expert/interviewee only has time to share top-level insights, that's fine - others in the tribe can put in 0.02 Rushkoffs with their ideas on how to fill in/co-create the missing pieces. Issues arising over the proposed additions can then be a source for TwitterTennis or Juntos.

What do you think?



Michael J said

at 5:56 pm on Apr 12, 2010


I think I don't have a precise idea of the purpose of the document. Maybe you could sketch out the use case to help me understand. What I'm seeing is to give a framework for a useful convo in the service of either clarifying some ideas or getting something done. I'm pretty sure I must be missing something. But I'm not sure what it is.

mfrazier@openworld.com said

at 8:16 pm on Apr 12, 2010

(1st of 2)

An accordion-like, time-sensitive interview offers a new way - I hope – for good ideas to move more quickly to realization.

Many insights in offline and online conversations create a buzz. Few get traction. This occurs in part because of shifting attention in a torrent of cool, loosely connected ideas.

And in other cases, where a good idea does get traction, lots of time and effort when originator(s) of the idea are inundated in efforts interact with legions of new folks who want to get up to speed and contribute meaningfully.

The accordion Q&A is an approach to start easing this problem. It aims to make it much simpler for originators of cool ideas to sketch them out in a structured way. And once the idea creator has done such a preliminary sketch, the inflow of prospective helpers has a new way, on their own time rather than the originator’s, to get up to speed.

Let's say you want to more rapidly seed actual EDU reforms, Venessa a rollout for Junto, and Spiro a way to model the influence of reputation capital in the flocking patterns of socnets.

Once you've decided to move from discussion to action, a web-based, self-paced Interview template might help for a (relatively) painless structured knowledge dump.

Only have a few minutes? No problem – a time-sensitive, web-based interview only would ask the "mountaintop" questions. You can always come back later if you want to fill in/share more details on the attractor, challenge, opportunity, strategy, acceptance tests, and next steps in the narrative fractal format.

Creating such a resource provides a way for you, as the originator of an idea, to point new, aspiring contributors to an online resource, where most of their (non value-creating) questions can be answered.


mfrazier@openworld.com said

at 8:17 pm on Apr 12, 2010

(2nd of 2)

This can lead (I think) to huge time savings because of fewer needless diversions of the originator's attention.

Yet there’s a more fundamental value in having a time-sensitive, structured online interviewer. It comes when you want to spot and fill holes in an actionable idea.

A structured Q&A session can help an idea originator more easily identify gaps that may keep the concept from moving to realization. In many cases, the originator will want to do fill these gaps on their own.

In other cases, however, the originator may want to engage the talents of the socnet, for specialized expewrtize or an ability to more rapidly generate the elements needed.

When placed in a narrative fractal structure, such invitations for co-creation may be easier to put in an understandable (to others) context.

For example, say you want to follow through on a venture to help at-risk kids in a Rhode Island high school create book-publishing ventures. In going through the (detailed) interview, you might hit a question asking for success precedents for the idea. You flag a key gap to be filled – mini-case studies on similar initiatives that you can show to local allies.

You then might want to put out a call for others to help - perhaps seeking volunteers from an online community such as the EBD wiki or Educause, or posting it on Elance as a freelance research gig.

If you do want to tap the online talent pool, people there will benefit if there’s a URL where they can see the structured ideas you shared in an online interview.

As a result, I’ll wager 2 Rushkoffs that you'll get be distracted by many fewer time-wasting questions from aspiring allies, and that you’ll find higher quality contributions from the individuals you do choose to engage.



Michael J said

at 6:21 am on Apr 13, 2010

Makes sense, but I have to wonder if it's the best way to do it for me. I have only recently recently moved into a retired activity state. The operant characteristic is that I don't have to stress about a good enough sustainable revenue stream going forward. I'm also blessed with a family for whom at this moment the serious life problems - school - kids - earning a living - health - are in the background.

If I read it correctly the core problem is " getting distracted " This becomes a stress when one is on a mission. A day job is a mission with quarterly, weekly and daily delivery points. One approach is to try to mitigate this stress with tools to manage the conversation, do some kind of "automatic filtering" to make visible data points that would otherwise be missed in the rush of events.

Another possible approach is to somehow model serendipity. My take is that the most generative innovative connections happen in the context of serendipity. It's why I think Linked In doesn't engender new connections. The defining characteristic of Linked In is that you join cause you are on a "mission" to find other useful (2U) people. But new symbolic patterns are precisely from people who are not initially seen as useful(2u).

My sense is that a more productive approach might be to engage a new audience. What I'm thinking of are boomers. The critical property of boomers is that an increasing number are at the end of their careers. They have the time. It's an experience that I had once before when in college. You would probably not be surprised that I found a mission, but that's a different story.

Consider if we would have made a connection through the system you are thinking of. My sense is not. To me the most promising direction is to design a framework that scales what we've both seen happen. From what I understand so far, my bet is that it needs a different approach.

Michael J said

at 6:33 am on Apr 13, 2010

I think it's fair to say that you see some of what I see with regards to using publishing as an approach to intervene in BoP education. My take is that it is happening whether I add to it or not. It's a much longer story, but 2me the business requirements of the global and local printing companies will get it on their radar sooner or later. With every new technology introduced and as the economy continues to play out as local stresses in physical places, my bet is that something is going to give.

After thirty plus years in the printing world, I have not a terrible sense of what those pressures are, where they're coming from and the mindsets of the players both at the global and local levels. After seven years in the "academy" I think I have a pretty good picture of the stresses in higher ed and a conversational knowledge of the stresses in high schools.

My mindset now is I no longer have a mission. If I can help make it better faster, great. If I can't, someone else will. The going forward opportunity is that I believe there is a large cohort right behind me that will have a similar attitude.

mfrazier@openworld.com said

at 2:56 pm on Apr 13, 2010


>> Consider if we would have made a connection through the [Q&A} system you are thinking of. My sense is not... From what I understand so far, my bet is that it needs a different approach.

I'm with you completely on the first two sentences. The spontaneous back and forth and serendipity generated by conversations and communities (Venessa's blog being a world-class example of this) is where the connection starts. My hope is that when people want to move ideas from conversation into action, there will be ways to get interested parties more easily up to speed. Otherwise, there's a big risk that the calls upon concept initiators will bring their pace down to a trot or a walk.



Michael J said

at 6:15 pm on Apr 13, 2010

Have you considered an invitation to Basecamp? I've used it many times. It's awesome for project management. So the path might be engage -> "you really want to do something, then I'll set up a basecamp and we'll do it. If not let's keep talking. No harm done.

Wadda ya think?

mfrazier@openworld.com said

at 11:01 am on Apr 14, 2010

Yes, great idea for Basecamp in the implementation stage. My abiding concern is that prospective participants in implementation first get oriented well, through a knowledge dump by the concept initiators and/or related specialists. Then, they could have a way to get more out of bouts of TwitterTennis, Junto, and (in implementation stage) Basecamp. Y/N?

Michael J said

at 1:07 pm on Apr 14, 2010

Not sure. I'm not sure a knowledge dump works. In the context of the convo over at the blog with Spiros, a knowledge dump is almost by def a series of I(2expert) . It's a bit like I(2teacher) in the edu space. Much mo betta 2(me) is enuff unambiguous data points so that string construction and pattern creation can be more easily done by others.

Especially in the service of innovation, the real moment occurs when an I(2u) is plucked from your string. Put together with a couple of ((2me) from my string to create a string that niether one of use could have done separately.


Michael J said

at 1:09 pm on Apr 14, 2010

Take for example where our convo is going in gamv changers for edu. You put on the table four different ID(2u). I choose one or two. Share various attributes of my convos and weak links and interest. Then we can say "what's next." To me very, very nice.

mfrazier@openworld.com said

at 3:57 pm on Apr 14, 2010

Agree - small group conversations are great at mapping points of resonance.

The challenge I see, however, is for the concept initiators to move (some of) their ideas into action.

To do this, a template along the lines of challenge->opportunity->strategy->acceptance test->next step may help to turn a "messy", mulithreaded conversation into a more coherent proposed project form. With this, others can more quickly get up to speed and focus on useful parts to challenge/improve.

The result may be more evolutionarily-fit initiatives than would otherwise arise from free-form convos.

If you're game, shall we give it a try -- and see what happens?



Michael J said

at 4:04 pm on Apr 14, 2010

I'm ready to tweet, comment on blogs, keep scanning the radar, entangling interesting people and trying to get my dear friends in the Print world see the opportunities to do well by doing good.

Within the boundaries of that activity space, Ready when you are. Maybe Edu Game changers is the activity space to get our strings organized..

Spiro Spiliadis said

at 12:19 pm on Apr 18, 2010

Some thoughts came to mind, may seem radical because of the suggested site i'm about to mention but it's relation to the idea that an orchestrated and strategic set of questions can contribute to aligning people so that something like Junto can seek it's advantages.

The idea of e-harmony is that through a set of questions, they can give you a conclusive list of potentials.
The idea to contribute is to "find" a match.
The match is a suggestion, but the intent is the driving force behind it.
The person who at the moment decides to take the "questionnaire" is going to react to a series of "moments" that are going to be mostly reactive subconscious answers based on past, present and future.

The space between impulse and reaction is the conscious space that observes this.

By taking e-harmony's methodology structure and "emotional behavior" we are playing with a set of variables, in essence we are capturing the "attractor" part of the process, however we also know the suggestions are only the "potential" shown towards the intent to build deep meaningful relationships.

In e-harmony it's personal, but professionally it serves it's value, that when we can measure to some proximity this matchmaking we then give intent to it's combination, through improvised conversation the tension may not be as strong because there is the notion you've been matched with someone that may share a common interest.

This can then go into Junto where it can be measured and referenced.

What can we learn from e-harmony, from software, to creating an emotional intent to "want' to find people that may have something to offer. but in relation to ideas.


Michael J said

at 2:38 pm on Apr 18, 2010

Interesting. So if the purpose is to encourage conversation that serves real life action..maybe an eye to productive teams may be useful. My experience tells me that a successful team needs at minimum three Actors (one person per actor is usually enuff, but Actor allows for more.) In Gladwell's language it's a maven, a connector and a salesman. Also can be described as a domain expert, a communication designer (web,print,vid etc.) , a project manager and most important someone who owns the problem as part of their day job.

Maybe instead of "optimizing e Harmony" for a mono gamous 1 to 1 relationship. We look at optimizing for a productive team.
I bet if folks with problems on the ground had a place to fill out a project description, with a deadline, there might be lots of folks who would do it in the spirit of Open Source.

So maybe it's Open Source solutions for Real Life problems.

Leonard Kish said

at 2:46 pm on Apr 18, 2010

This is starting to sound a bit like an online technology incubator of sorts. Could morph into an online Y-combinator or Tech Stars... I like it. Next phase of the web is about coordinating work and solving problems (creating real value). This could be it. Open source organization or project-building platform, not unlike what Friedman was discussing today: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/opinion/18friedman.html?hp

Michael J said

at 3:11 pm on Apr 18, 2010


Thanks for the Freidman article. My takeaway is that the hardest part is to identify the problem. Everything else I bet the folks already entangled in EBD wiki and blog + their networks can do. My $.02 is to maniacal focus on finding people on the ground who own the problem AND are honestly incented to get it solved. From what I think I see, in a funny way crafting solutions is pretty easy compared to finding just the right problems to solve.

Leonard Kish said

at 5:13 pm on Apr 18, 2010

I tend to agree, but it depends on the problem. Some problems are going to require quite of bit of work, tria & error, so, as you say, the incentives need to be enough to keep everyone committed and engaged over the long haul to see things through.

The other issue is getting the solution, once created, out to people that need it, at the time they need it, in a form in which they can use it: a sort of network propagation (previously referred to as marketing). Oftentimes solutions or new tools can require a significant amount of education and messaging. That said, disruptive (simple, inexpensive, convenient) innovations tend to propagate on their own.

Anyway, there are several steps to getting a problem solved for the world at large:

Problem identification.
Solution ideation.
Selection of ideas.
Feedback on prototypes.
Construction of narrative or plan for the solution's fit to the problem for the world at large, including sustainability model (sometimes known as business model).
Gather resources required to build and disseminate.
Feedback on product/features.
Feedback on business model.
Measure, refine, etc. (Branch, prune, repeat.)

The feedback at each step is the real value that's being added here.

Michael J said

at 5:27 pm on Apr 18, 2010

All good points. But my experience at the Bottom of the Pyramid or in non formal enterprise settings is that all the steps you describe are present, but tend to happen at the same times. The model is more define - design - deploy and iterate as fast as possible. I've seen it work with student and non profit projects. Also seen it work in building a user interface for a startup that made it to be being purchased by a global.

It points to the critical importance of the person on the ground who defines the problem. The feedback is immediate and is in the form of "this will work(2me)." Low cost, fast iterations can do amazing things. I take as one of the best data points the speed and ease of EBD and the emergence of junto in under a month once energized by Venessa blog post.

To be clear the ground work has been put in place, by Vennesa and the other co creators for at least the 10,000 hours that Gladwell describes. I think the convo at this wiki in "Game Changers for Edu" might have a similar path. @FrancisOtolo in Lagos Nigeria owns the problem. He is engaged as a co creator of the project. My bet is that we could get some good enuff in place in an amazingly short time, if and only it, the spark catches.

I have to say that I've been totally blown away by watching this all happen. But I have to believe that if we look very closely at what has happened, we'll be able to understand the principles to get it replicate and thus possibly scale.

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