Posts tagged “development”

You Say You Want a Revolution . . .

Alan Cooper spoke earlier this week at a meeting of the San Francisco Interaction Design Association chapter. Cooper talked about programming as a craft, and Interaction Designers as potential facilitators of that craft within the business world.

Cooper is advocating what he calls an “insurgency of quality,” which he describes as being about how software design and production processes can and should be evolving-specifically, increasing the time spent refining products before they’re released as “finished.”

It’s an old carpenters’ adage to “measure twice, cut once.” The current software production model Cooper is speaking out against might be described as: measure once, cut once, ship once, repeat all steps for version 2.

Based on the insurgency Cooper is advocating, in which Interaction Designers and Programmers would take more time to get it right before a product goes to market, the development model would become: measure twice, cut twice (e.g. validate and iterate), ship once. The idea being that what gets shipped would be of higher quality then what generally gets produced in the current way, which prioritizes time-to-market.

We work with a lot of clients who are operating within very tight timelines. I’d be curious to know what kinds of successes and failures Cooper and his firm’s consultants have been having with their clients in trying to implement this new development model on actual projects. Are the Cooper folks finding that client organizations are ready, willing and able to add more development time to the front end? If not, what kinds of strategies are working and not working in trying to encourage that kind of change?

A lot of theoretical revolutions break down or dissolve when they meet real world complexities and constraints. It would be great to have some stories detailing how the ideas Cooper is advocating are getting played out in real project engagements.

Real stories from real people inspire change

Developments Magazine highlights an interviewing method that is part-historian, part-journalism, part-ethnography (and you could probably throw in participatory design and co-creation for a higher buzzword count). But the thrust is that stories, built from the details of the lives of real people are more effective drivers of change for advocates and policymakers and other stakeholders.

National newspaper, TV and radio journalists spent three days recording the lives of more than 30 rural people in Sindh province – people whose main qualification for being interviewed was their poverty.

These life stories were gathered by the Panos network and partners using a painstaking method of interviewing which emphasizes patient listening and open ended questions. The result was that those journalists are now more inclined to highlight the problems faced by the people they met and others like them.

These interviews were gathered using a method known as ‘oral testimony‘, which sets out to record the fine detail of the lives of people in developing countries. This involves ‘active listening’ and encouraging the interviewee to dictate the direction of the interview.

What People Want In Their Homes and Communities

The NYT writes a front-page story about the growth in housing developments in the US in areas that were formerly “the middle of nowhere.” Beyond being generally interesting as a trend, I was intrigued by the (perhaps not novel but at least unique to me) teaser of how they are figuring out what to put into these homes.

One area in which KB Home takes pride is its market research. It asks things like where people want their kitchens and how much more of a commute they can stomach. And it surveys its own buyers to get a comprehensive idea of who they are and why they bought.

In its most recent survey of Tampa home buyers, KB asked people what they valued the most in their home and community. They wanted more space and a greater sense of security. Safety always ranks second, even in communities where there is virtually no crime.

Asked what they wanted in a home, 88 percent said a home security system, 93 percent said they preferred neighborhoods with “more streetlights” and 96 percent insisted on deadbolt locks or security doors.

So KB Home offers them all. “It’s up to us to figure out what people really want and to translate that into architecture,” said Erik Kough, KB’s vice president for architecture. And the company designs its communities with winding streets with sidewalks and cul-de-sacs to keep traffic slow, to give a sense of containment and to give an appearance distinctly unlike the urban grid that the young, middle-class families instinctively associate with crime. “I definitely feel safe here. I feel protected,” said Lisa Crawford, who moved to New River about a year ago with her husband, Steve, and their two children.

“And I can tell you that the people in Tampa are a whole lot different than the people here,” Ms. Crawford said. “In Tampa, there’s a faster pace. I like it here, that it’s more of a community, more of a small-town feel.”


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