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December 18, 2015

Organizations and Design

December 18, 2015

I've been thinking a lot about organizations, organizational culture, design, and how to do great work in organizations. I recently met and had a fascinating conversation with Christina Bowen of Sageland Consulting about building responsive organizations. I've been introduced to a variety of subjects on organizational structure and development and some cool books I really need to read.

Since my work has been in the web design and content management realms for over 11 years, I am very interested in design. My interests recently are gravitated toward user experience design and organizations who use UX design on a daily basis. But design is bigger than just web interface experiences. This could be organizational design, artchitecture, customer service design, city parks, public transportation—anything that people interact with and has the potential for problems or improvement.

This week I heard a couple really great podcast episodes from the UIE Podcast series that touch on (or hammer on) making organizations more design oriented.

First, a really good talk by Jared Spool from his talk at the UX Advantage Conference. In it he talks about the Disney Magic Band and how it is one of the most expensive investments of an organization into innovation in user experience, how that got sold internally, the dialogue and tools used to get approval and buy-in on the over 1 Billion dollar budget.

In addition, he talks about how organizations can get aligned by using a simple exercise of writing out, in point form, the story of Hansel and Gretel and nearly everyone has the same story, and then asking them to write down what their organization is working toward for the next 5 years. In the latter case, few of those look at all the same. His position is that it takes storytelling and repetition to get and maintain alignment—just as everyone knows the story of Hansel and Gretel, through hearing it often enough, it becomes part of them.

Jared Spool on where design lives in most organizations:

Before you get to a design infused culture, design always plays this secondary role. It plays this thing that you do, in addition to all the things you’ve always done. You’re going to put out the product, it’s going to have features, but now we’re also going to make it well-designed.

The podcast episode is well worth a listen. Find here: UX Advantage: Infusing Design Into Our Organizations.

The second, short episode from the UIE Podcast series is this rather short but slick episode where Jared explores time traveling through enterprise software and how to bring it into the 21st century, with guests, Hagan Rivers and Dana Chisnell. This episode clocks in at under 13 minutes but it is truly satisifying if you're trying to understand how enterprise software sucks so frequently. It feels as though this applies also to software built by technologists without a full understanding of users.

Hagan Rivers on how enterprise interface design starts:

It is true. There’s this classic case of like, “Build a database, and then whatever’s in the database you just throw that up on the screen with the switches and levers that manage it”. But no real sense of, “How does the user do a task? How do they accomplish something?” “How many steps does it take to add a patient, and to hook them up to the information, or to create a purchase order and send it to the next person who has to deal with it?” It sometimes is a lot of steps to get that work done.

Listen to Time Traveling with Enterprise Applications – UX Immersion Podcast.

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