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The Discovery Process: Mental Map

The Discovery Process: Mental Map

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Published by terrygault
How customers view you or your products is garnered by a framework of assumptions, stories and images in their minds.

If you really want to influence someone, your first task is to understand how they think. An individual’s perspective on the world can be identified and “mapped.”
How customers view you or your products is garnered by a framework of assumptions, stories and images in their minds.

If you really want to influence someone, your first task is to understand how they think. An individual’s perspective on the world can be identified and “mapped.”

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Published by: terrygault on Mar 03, 2008
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06/08/2010

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How customers view you or your products is garnered by a framework of assumptions,stories and images in their minds.If you really want to influence someone, your first task is to understand how theythink. An individual’s perspective on the world can be identified and “mapped.”A Model for Asking QuestionsStep 1. Neutral PromptsForce the customer to control the direction of the dialogue. Watch and learn thecustomer’s tendencies: to what issues does the customer repeatedly return? What isthe emotional state of the customer around each of the issues (excitement, fear,confusion)?Step 2. Define the Universe with Wide QuestionsUse questions to identify the universe of customer concerns. Frequently apresenter hears the customer identify an interesting issue and then immediatelystarts digging into that issue in depth. Only later in the process does thepresenter learn that this was a relatively minor issue to the customer.Step 3. Prioritizing Issues with Priority QuestionsOnce you have identified all of the issues within the customer’s universe ofconcerns, now ask the customer to prioritize their concerns. Time needs to bespent in this step further utilizing empathic responses to help the customerexplore their real priorities.Step 4. Pursue Detail with Deep QuestionsAfter the customer successfully prioritizes their concerns, now ask questions thatdeepen the conversation about the top ranking issues. The questions are alldirected to further the depth of inquiry on a particular issue. These questionscan be short or as long as necessary to legitimately plumb and understand thedepth of the customer’s knowledge about each of these issues.Skills for Understanding our Mental Maps1. Suspending Assumptions/Judgments: Holding our own views in abeyance;refraining from imposing them on others but not suppressing or holding them back:as if our assumptions are suspended in the air before us, hanging on a string afew feet before our noses.2. Seeing Each Other As Colleagues: Seeing the other as a colleague in a mutualquest for clarity. The greatest benefits are achieved by viewing “adversaries” as“colleagues with different views.”3. Pay Attention to Your Intentions: Understanding what you hope to accomplish:“What is my intention?” “Am I willing to be influenced?”4. Reflection: Slowing down the thinking process in order to become more awareof how you form your mental models. Most people believe that, when faced withdifficult problems, the thing to do is act. In dialogue, the motto could be “Don’tdo something, just stand there.” “What is it I am thinking?” “What do I want atthis moment?”5. Advocacy: Making your thinking process visible by stating your assumptionsand providing the data as to how you arrived there. “Here’s what I think, andhere’s how I got there.” “I assumed that…”6. Inquiry: Holding conversations where we openly inquire into each other’sassumptions, thinking and reasoning. “What leads you to conclude that?” “Can you
 
help me understand your thinking here?”Balance Advocacy and InquiryMaking your thinking and reasoning visible to others, and then encouraging othersto challenge it. Most of us have received sales training in how to be forceful andarticulate “advocates” for our position or product. But we often find that as wepush and bombard the customer with our pitch, they begin to shrink back and growresistant. Balancing advocacy and inquiry might sound like:“I believe you need this product. I believe you need it because…. Does that soundright? Are there any obvious flaws in my reasoning? Am I missing any informationimportant to making the right decision?”Building Shared Meaning:Using language with precision, taking care to make evident the meaning — or lackof meaning. This is the especially important with more simple phrases.“You said, ‘Get this project finished.’ What is ‘finished’?”“Getting it to marketing.”“So you’re not including getting it shipped?”“I hadn’t intended to. What leads you to believe that‘finished’ would include shipping?”Listening:Hearing the answers to our inquiries with openness and understanding.“Where does your reasoning go next?“Am I correct that you’re saying…?”Case StudyThe Detroit Big Three: How they lost the American market so quickly.A good example of how tacit assumptions in mental maps can affect human behavioris the loss of the U.S. car market to foreign competitors.German and Japanese Imports increased their share of the U.S. market from nearzero to 38 percent by 1986. How did that happen?Research suggests that the Detroit Big Three had very similar mental maps, most ofwhich included the assumptions cited on the left.For many years these assumptions had been “A magic formula” for success. TheDetroit auto-makers didn’t say, “We have a mental map that asserts all people careabout is styling.” They said, “All people really care about is styling.”They remained unaware that this was merely their construct and not the final“reality”. The validity of their mental map therefore remained unexamined.As the world changed, a gap widened between Detroit’s mental map and reality,

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