Join me on April 17 for “Championing Contextual Research” webinar
April 10th, 2012
On April 17 I’ll be presenting a UIE webinar about Championing Contextual Research in Your Organization. Sign up here!
To the delight of UX designers everywhere, organizations today increasingly conduct user-centered research methods like surveys, focus groups, and usability testing.
But what can we learn beyond the office environment? Isn’t user observation among the most powerful UX design research techniques we can do?
Yes! So Steve Portigal will describe the techniques, processes, and discussion points you can use to make it happen in your organization. And once you find out how to quell cultural or budgetary resistance to fieldwork, then you can create more analytical designs that make users jump for joy.
You’ll gain user insight before you need it.
- Identify opportunities to learn about users
- Conduct specialized interviews beyond just “talking to people”
Advocate for the adoption of contextual research
You’ll become a change agent in your organization.
- Understand how markets and processes relate to one another
- Discuss benefits and drawbacks for both stakeholders and users
Maximize the organizational impact of any research you do
You’ll start to establish research agendas from the get-go.
- Integrate synthesis and analysis in any approved project
- Create research outputs that are relevant to your stakeholders
Engage the rest of the organization in contextual research
You’ll make your process and outputs more visible.
- Tackle entrenched belief structures with hands-on techniques
- Involve teams in identifying patterns and themes
Please sign up here. If you can’t make the scheduled time, you can also get a recording of the event.
Some relevant articles I’ve seen lately that might relate to this topic are
How to tell managers they‘re wrong about UX research and Organizational Challenges for UX Professionals
February 10th, 2012
Are You Learning as Fast as the World Is Changing? [HBR Blog Network] – Innovation is about the new. It begins with new thinking and typically involves learning new things and being exposed to new ideas. Through our self-funded study, the Omni project, we describe this challenge to keep up with the pace of possibilities in the Transformations theme. Here the author suggests three “habits of mind” (diverse sources of inspiration, copy success from other industries, and collaboration) that promise to keep you learning as fast as the world is changing.
Today, the challenge for leaders at every level is no longer just to out-hustle, out-muscle, and out-maneuver the competition. It is to out-think the competition in ways big and small, to develop a unique point of view about the future and help your organization get there before anyone else does. Which is why a defining challenge of leadership is whether you can answer a question that is as simple as it is powerful: Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?
The human factor in service design [McKinsey Quarterly] – The customer service landscape is continually evolving and responding to the winds of technological change and floods of social media. Here, three company stories illustrate different ways to think about the human side of service interaction. The article suggests that you ask yourself three questions to diagnose opportunities for improvement: How human is your service? How economic is your service? Can your people scale it up? The only question I’d add is: How do you know? since this line of inquiry into the design of services is fueled by research with humans both inside and outside the organization.
When putting together services that are economically attractive and grounded in a good understanding of what motivates customers, companies shouldn’t overlook their own employees—the other human beings involved in a transaction. Companies give themselves a big edge when they design service processes that a widely distributed workforce can easily adopt, understand, automate, and execute.
Let’s Debunk 4 Myths About How Great Companies Innovate [Co.Design] – This “mythbusting” article delivers a punchy dose that dispels any notion that innovative companies are fueled solely by visionary leaders, industry competition, market mimicking, and luck. It appears that we have no excuse not to innovate.
A growing base of consumers with new expectations and new demands only fuels the fire for more products and services. Firms that claim to be fast followers are often merely just followers. As a firm grows and matures, its bureaucracy, decisions, and approvals inhibit its ability to bring a new product to market quickly. The company can’t respond fast enough to innovators or consumer demands. In this period of rapid change and global competition, innovation isn’t a “nice to have” but an important core competence; those firms that can’t keep up will inevitably perish.
The most important meal of the day
June 25th, 2010
Culture eating strategy for breakfast at a recent custom car show…
Every company wants consumer loyalty, but not every organization knows what to do with it. The kind of fandom that expresses itself as a brand militia, while a tremendous asset, is not a force easily controlled from the top.
In a New York Times article on Chevrolet’s recent attempt to wrangle their identity back from the people by mandating GM staff to say “Chevrolet” rather than “Chevy,” Corvette racer Dick Guldstrand explains:
Once it became an American icon, America took it away from G.M. They made it a Chevy. You’re doing a disservice to all the people by telling them not to call it a Chevy.
Whether you’re talking about consumers or the members of an organization itself, a strategy based on top-down control leaves little room for passionate engagement. Cisco CEO John Chambers is remaking that organization’s entire structure around the perspective that
Leadership is not really about delegating tasks and monitoring results; it is about imbuing the entire workforce with a sense of responsibility for the business.
Ongoing engagement – through shared responsibility and shared identity – builds loyalty. And this process can only happen if an organization or brand leaves room for people’s agency, so they can create a sense of ownership and meaning for themselves.
Loyalty Cuts Both Ways
August 12th, 2009
In a full-page ad in today’s SF Chronicle jobs section, Columbus Foods asks for help in hiring their employees who have lost their jobs after a recent fire. It’s a pretty dramatic and heartfelt demonstration of an employer’s loyalty to its employees, a vector of loyalty we don’t consider as often as its inverse.
We Need A Hand After The Disaster
On Thursday, July 23, 2009, a significant fire hit Columbus' Cabot Packaging and Slicing facility in South San Francisco. The building was completely destroyed.
Being in business for over 90 years, we have faced many challenges, but it is our employees'strength, dedication and resilience that has brought us our continued success. At Columbus, we have always had pride in the quality of our people.
We are still in business and, long-term, fully expect to come out stronger from this challenge. We have been able to relocate about 40% of the work force of this facility to our other locations and to associated companies. However, because of the fire, the remainder of the workers from the affected facility will be displaced. While we have provided generous severances, we want to do more to help these employees find new jobs.
So we are reaching out to the greater business community for help placing these skilled and loyal employees.
It is important to us that we do everything we can to help them, as without them we would have never gotten to the place we are today. If you have any openings, please send correspondence to helpcabot@Columco.com. We will work with you and the employees affected by this disaster to ensure minimal disruption to their lives. And thank you in advance for lending any support.
Chipotle: Different and Better?
April 24th, 2008
Ode To A Burrito is a Fast Company profile of Chipotle Mexican Grill and iconoclastic founder and CEO Steve Ells.
Chipotle has achieved these impressive stats by spurning fast-food orthodoxy….Chipotle also avoids the frills that pad other chains’ bottom lines. “Desserts and other sides are all profit for these chains,” says industry analyst Clark Wolf. “The whole infrastructure’s already there, so they can make a 90% margin on extras.” But founder and CEO Steve Ells staunchly refuses to expand his menu beyond four options (burrito, burrito bowl, taco, salad). “We want to do just a few things better than everyone else,” Ells says. “We just do things we think are right.”
Could you open a movie theater without popcorn, focusing instead on the core few things that enable the desired experience (this is a bad metaphor since of course popcorn is readily seen as intrinsic to a movie experience, in-home or in the theater)? Is Ells throwing away money for an idea that is meaningless or does he have a holistic Jobs-like vision that drives decisions like this (his name is Steve…)?
Elsewhere the article refers to fans of the chain and describes the growth and financial success the company is showing. But what do you think? Is this company run by a brilliant visionary?