This is an Eval Central archive copy, find the original at cense.ca.
This simple technique is among the most powerful at eliciting a lot of information. When we look at an existing service, it may be easy to describe what people do to deliver, manage, and receive the service in simple terms. For example, an exchange between a bank teller and a client might be described as simply as a person walking up to a desk, asking for money, inserting their bank card, receiving money from the teller, and leaving.
An Activity Analysis would break this down even further. It would involve tracking the experience of the client. It would denote what the client did from the moment she entered the bank, what she saw, what she smelled or experienced, her feelings or thoughts, and the steps she took toward the desk.
You might ask how long she took, whether she stopped en route to the desk, knew where it was (did she ask for directions?) or did she wait in line and for how long.
We can also track what the teller was doing up to and including the moment of engagement with the client. What tasks was she doing? Where was her focus? What is she thinking or feeling?
This is a micro-method version of A Day in the Life, which is another method that helps us understand what our service clients do and use.
How to do it
Activity Analysis can be done as a group, facilitated by a leader to help organize and manage the activity. It’s a great way to get people talking about all that is going on with the actors, the environment, and the tasks. By opening up the discussion and walking through each step in the journey through the service with each actor, everything that shapes the environmental conditions, and the tasks that are performed, you’ll reveal an enormous amount of data about what actually transpires with even the simplest transaction.
This can be used to seed further questions like:
- What infrastructure is needed to support the interaction?
- What would be ideal?
- How might this interaction look different?
- What other variables could affect the journey and the outcome?
- What could be done or introduced to make this better?
Activity analysis is something that can be done in small groups over the course of 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the complexity of the task and the amount of knowledge the participants have of the task or activity.
This simple analysis can reveal information about flows, resources, outcomes, and processes that are in place to support your service and help you see what’s not only in place, but what is possible, too.
This can be a great way to bring people together as well as lead your service design and evaluation efforts. If you want to implement this approach in your organization and need help, reach out to us. We’d welcome hearing from you.