3 Ways to Be More Tangible in Your Work

So much of our work is lost in words.

Conversations that go in circles. Emails quickly forgotten. The 27th bullet point in your presentation.

Being tangible vastly improves the experience and quality of your work.

What do I mean by “tangible?”

tan·gi·ble : 1. perceptible by touch.

It’s a simple idea. Make things that can be interacted with. Talking at each other simply doesn’t count.

Try these things instead.

1. Use sticky notes to capture individual thoughts and ideas

A colleague reminded me how frequently teams just get together and talk. After 20 minutes, there’s nothing to show for it. Nothing tangible.

If your conversation is, for example, about what to do next in the project, grab a sticky note pack and capture people’s ideas and questions, one per sticky note.

Now you can group, review, rate and select from the ideas. Making them tangible allows you to interact with them – the key to tangibility.

This works for any topic or question put to a team. It simply requires discipline to do, no special skill.

2. Print out your power point deck and paste it up on a wall or board

Get your deck (or any digital content) up on the wall.

Now you can see and interact with it in a whole new way. And you can invite colleagues to join you at the board and provide feedback.

Let them grab pages and move them around. Write on top of the pages. Add sticky notes for consideration.

Working with colleagues standing up, shoulder to shoulder, interacting with the presentation, fundamentally changes the conversation and the quality of improvements.

3. Bring in something for people to try

One of my clients was trying to reimagine the interface to their audio products. They talked a lot about the qualities they imagined it could have.

One mentioned the new Wii gaming console.

“Have you ever tried it?” I asked. Not one person in the room even though some of their kids had one.

I brought it in and set it up at our next meeting and had each one of them try it. Curiosity turned to delight. Then insight. Then creative, relevant ideas for their own products.

It was the tangibility of experiencing it that helped them understand and make the connections in a way that talking simply cannot.

Professional work is dominated by words. When you create ways of being more tangible, so people can physically interact with emerging ideas and each other, it leads to remarkable and rewarding progress.

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