Posts tagged “management”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] What the Luddites Really Fought Against [Smithsonian Magazine] – [Conniff re-contextualizes the term "Luddite" for the digital age. Rather than a rejection or ignorance of technology, being a Luddite is about deliberately and continuously questioning its role in our lives.] The original Luddites lived in an era of “reassuringly clear-cut targets—machines one could still destroy with a sledgehammer”, making them easy to romanticize. By contrast, our technology is as nebulous as “the cloud,” that Web-based limbo where our digital thoughts increasingly go to spend eternity. The original Luddites would answer that we are human. Getting past the myth and seeing their protest more clearly is a reminder that it’s possible to live well with technology, but only if we continually question the ways it shapes our lives. It’s about small things, like cutting the cord, shutting down the smartphone and going out for a walk. But it needs to be about big things, too, like standing up against technologies that put money or convenience above other human values.
  • [from julienorvaisas] Observed: The Death of the File System? [Johnny Holland] – [The question of digital file management and navigation is one we find ourselves pondering here from time to time. Our mobile lifestyle and shift to an app-oriented way of interfacing with devices suggests that a new vision for navigating files is in order. But in the end, is the staid but flexible file-folder metaphor holding up OK?] “Projects” are just one type of organizational scheme. As a user experience designer, I’ve seen a lot of professionals in other fields organizing a lot of stuff in a lot of different ways. So even attempts at inter-app organization around the concept of a project, such as Microsoft’s Project Center, are not effective replacements for an infinitely flexible organization scheme like simple folders. …We still need a high-level organization system of some kind. And that is the challenge. It’s a challenge because that problem has already been solved by the file system. The challenge is to solve it better.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Japan’s Smokestacks Draw Industrial-Strength Sightseers [WSJ.com] – [This sub-culture is exerting economic influence. I'm looking for the American equivalent.] What started as a fringe subculture known as kojo moe, or "factory infatuation," is beginning to gain wider appeal in Japan, turning industrial zones into unlikely tourist attractions. It's the Japanese equivalent of going sightseeing at industrial stretches along the New Jersey Turnpike. Unlike the tourists who visit the factories of Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese manufacturers, the kojo moe crowd has little interest in the inner workings of the plants. They get excited by the maze of intricate piping around the exterior of a steel plant or the cylindrical smokestacks sending up steam. [A book on the topic] lists 19 questions to test one's kojo moe credentials, including "Do you like Blade Runner?" and "Can you stare at a factory you like all day long?" Now, industrial regions across Japan are working to create factory sightseeing tours.
  • [from steve_portigal] Stop Blaming Your Culture [Strategy + Business] – [A must-read. This could become the article on the topic, a companion to Porter's classic What is Strategy? REad it and pass it along.] Fortunately, there is an effective, accessible way to deal with cultural challenges. Don’t blame your culture; use it purposefully. View it as an asset: a source of energy, pride, and motivation. Learn to work with it and within it. Discern the elements of the culture that are congruent with your strategy. Figure out which of the old constructive behaviors embedded in your culture can be applied to accelerate the changes that you want. Find ways to counterbalance and diminish other elements of the culture that hinder you. In this way, you can initiate, accelerate, and sustain truly beneficial change — with far less effort, time, and expense, and with better results, than many executives expect.
  • [from steve_portigal] Steve Portigal to write book on interviewing users [Rosenfeld Media] – Interviewing users is fundamental to user experience work but, as Steve Portigal cautions, we tend to take it for granted. Because it's based on talking and listening, skills we think we have, we often wing it. Sadly, we miss out on many of the wonderful opportunities our interviews should reveal. So we're thrilled that Steve, who's contributed regular columns to interactions and Core77, has signed on to write a new Rosenfeld Media book, The Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing, to help UX practitioners really succeed with interviewing. Steve's book will focus on helping practitioners to better understand users' perspectives, and to rely upon rapport as the main ingredient in successful user interviews.
  • [from steve_portigal] Intel Teams with will.i.am, Black Eyed Peas Front Man [Intel] – [Is there a nomenclature convention emerging? If your corporate title is surrounded by quote marks, you may not receive the same HR benefits as others. Although it looks like he's got a badge? See you at Friday's Beer Bust!] He’s best known for being a multi-platinum music artist, producer and front man for The Black Eyed Peas, but will.i.am is also an innovator, technology fan, entrepreneur and philanthropist. With today’s announcement at the Anaheim Convention Center, the seven-time Grammy winner has added another title to his multi-faceted resume: “director of creative innovation.” As an extension of his insatiable fascination with technology, which plays a significant role in his professional and personal lives, will.i.am will engage in a multi-year, hands-on creative and technology collaboration with Intel Corporation. He already sports an Intel ID badge, which he proudly showed off at a news conference in Anaheim, where Intel is holding an internal sales and marketing conference.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Segmenting the Hendrix fan [NYTimes.com] – “We believe that there is a Jimi Hendrix fan out there at 99 cents and at $9 and at $20 — all the way across the spectrum,” Mr. Block said. “We want to make each fan an appropriate offering. Is the complete Jimi Hendrix on vinyl something every music fan would want? Absolutely not. Would there be a market for it? Absolutely.”
  • Jerry Seinfeld on ideas [NYTimes.com] – Whatever happens to “The Marriage Ref,” Mr. Seinfeld said that he was out of ideas now. “Ideas are a terrible obligation,” he said. “Who needs something else to take care of? I have kids. I’d rather nurture them than another idea.”
  • The Disposable Film Festival – In recent years a new kind of film has emerged: The Disposable Film. It has been made possible by new media (webcams, point and shoot digital cameras, cell phones, screen capture software, and one time use digital video cameras) and the rise of online distribution (YouTube, Google, MySpace, etc.). These films are often made quickly, casually, and sometimes even unintentionally. Everyone has become a Disposable Filmmaker: directors of Saturday night cell phone videos, actors under the eyes of security cameras, and narrators before their webcams. Let's face it – we live in an age of disposable film. Now it's time to do something creative with it.
  • How to Kill Innovation: Keep Asking Questions – Scott Anthony [Harvard Business Review] – Resource-rich companies have the "luxury" of researching and researching problems. That can be a huge benefit in known markets where precision matters. But it can be a huge deficit in unknown markets where precision is impossible and attempts to create it through analysis are quixotic. Entrepreneurs don't have the luxury of asking "What about…" questions, and in disruptive circumstances that works in their favor.

    So what's the alternative? Substitute early action for never-ending analysis. Figure out the quickest, cheapest way to do something market-facing to start the iterative process that so frequently typifies innovation. Be prepared to make quick decisions, but have the driver of the decision be in-market data, not conceptual analysis. In other words, go small and learn. Pitch (or even sell) your idea to colleagues. Open up a kiosk in a shopping mall for a week. Create a quick-and-dirty website describing your idea. Be prepared to make quick decisions.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Klaus Kaasgaard: Why Designers Sometimes Make Me Cringe [interactions magazine] – [A response to Dan Formosa's piece about marketing research] There is no doubt that Formosa has been exposed to a lot of bad market research in his career. So have I. But I have also been exposed to a lot of bad design research, whether dealing with qualitative data or quantitative data. I cringe at both. And while we should point out when the emperor has no clothes in our daily work situations, it is not the bad research that defines a discipline. I have been exposed to both good market research and good design research as well and, more important, some of the most compelling and impactful research combined different research techniques for a more comprehensive and insightful outcome. That, I suppose, leads me to my conclusion.
  • How many Kindles have really been sold? (And other interesting tidbits about ebooks) [Mobile Opportunity] – Some interesting numbers about the size and dynamics of the market: sales, usage, platforms, content. One highlight is the preferred device used to read ebooks
    -PC: 47%
    -Kindle: 32% (and rising in later waves of the survey)
    -iPhone: 11%
    -iPod Touch: 10%
    -Other smartphones (including Blackberry) 9%
    -Netbooks 9%
    -Sony Reader 8%
    -Barnes & Noble Nook 8%
  • Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy [SF Chronicle] – Altruism is the whole idea behind the new charity, called the Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy. It's the brainchild of Courtney Martin, a South of Market writer who dreamed up the idea four years ago in New York and has handed out a stack of her own $100 bills every year to select good-deed doers who agree to dream up unusual ways to use the dough. Jeremy Mende took a stack of cash to Union Square and offered pairs of strangers $1 apiece if they would have one-on-one conversations with each other. Then he videotaped the conversations and made a home movie. The strangers talked to each other about sex, fireworks, banana slugs, gin, orgasms and Marlon Brando. Some of the conversations were worth a lot more than $1. The best idea seemed to come from Martin's own mother. She used her $100 to buy 400 quarters and scatter them on a grammar school playground.
  • R.J. Cutler: What I Learned From Anna Wintour [HuffPo] – Some principles of management from the director of The September Issue. We watched the film this week and highly recommend it. I thought about work as well; the film offers up lots of provocation around collaboration, artistic vision, managing teams of people, power, prototyping, and more.
    (via Kottke)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Book Two (started in 2006) – As digital technologies become ever more prevalent, we believe it is inevitable that the primacy of the physical book will fade, and the art forms traditionally associated with it will be radically altered also. But in what ways will the stories that we tell be affected by the ways in which we recieve them, and what new forms will arise? We don’t have the answer, but we’re looking forward to finding out.
  • A company’s sense of identity – who we are – nice parallel to my recent article on organizational empathy – Apple dropped the word “computer” from its name in January 2007, soon after it introduced the iPhone. Likewise, Fuji Photo Film shortened its name to Fujifilm in 2006, when sales of its photography products slipped to less than one-third of total revenue.

    These moves symbolize fundamental shifts in how these companies see themselves and how others perceive them. In short, they signify a change in identity.

    How a company responds to today’s tumultuous technological and competitive landscape depends greatly on how it defines itself or, in some cases, redefines itself.

    Questioning a company’s identity, whether or not it results in change, is something that every organization should do.

ChittahChattah Quickies

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Sleep Dealer – Alex Rivera's 2008 film turns his Why Cybraceros? political-commentary 5-minute short into a feature film about an immigrant labor solution where impoverished Mexican workers use implants to remotely control robots in other countries, performing crappy dangerous jobs no one one in those countries wants to do. But they stay in Mexico to be exploited, rather than coming over the border.

    It's a powerful idea and the movie's history from agit-prop to entertainment meshes nicely with some of the points I made about science fiction recently in interactions magazine, in We Are Living in a Sci-Fi World.

  • Cybracero Systems – The ultimate in remote control. Workers doing whatever you need, from our state of the art facility in Tijuana, Mexico.
  • Why Cybraceros? (1997 video) – Link to the 1997 video
  • Why Cybraceros? – As agriculture has become a larger and larger industry in America, it has become harder and harder to find American workers willing to do the most basic farm tasks. Picking, pruning, cutting, and handling farm produce are all simple, but delicate tasks. Work that requires such attention to detail remains a challenge for farm technologists, and as of yet, cannot be automated. As the American work force grows increasingly sophisticated, it is even harder to find the hand labor to do these grueling tasks.

    Under the Cybracero program American farm labor will be accomplished on American soil, but no Mexican workers will need to leave Mexico. Only the labor of Mexicans will cross the border, Mexican workers will no longer have to.

    Using high speed internet connections, directly to Mexico, American farms and Mexican laborers will be directly connected. These workers will then be able to remotely control robotic farm workers, known as Cybraceros, from their village in Mexico.

  • Organizational Culture 101: A Practical How-To For Interaction Designers – Great piece by Sam Ladner. Success requires so much more than "doing the work" and this is a great look at some of the softer-yet-killer aspects of "consulting."

Loyalty Cuts Both Ways

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.

cabot

The Cultures of Design

I’ve published a new column in DMI Connect – The Cultures of Design – In our engagements with different organizations we see a large range of cultures-of-design. I use that term to capture the aspect of an organization’s culture that drives how they determine what to make for their customers. I’ll outline a few prominent archetypes (of course there are more!), and while they may teeter dangerously close to caricature, in their extremity they can be illustrative of the complex nature of culture.

ChittahChattah Quickies

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • How commercial software products are developed (or "get some empathy for clients, right here") – I worked on the "Windows Mobile PC User Experience" team. This team was part of Longhorn from a feature standpoint but was organizationally part of the Tablet PC group. To find a common manager to other people I needed to work with required walking 6 or 7 steps up the org chart from me. My team's raison d'etre was: improve the experience for users on laptops, notebooks and ultra-mobile PCs. Noble enough. Of course the Windows Shell team, whose code I needed to muck about in to accomplish my tiny piece of this, had a charter of their own which may or may not have intersected ours.

    My team had a very talented UI designer and my particular feature had a good, headstrong program manager with strong ideas about user experience. We had a Mac [owned personally by a team member] that we looked to as a paragon of clean UI. Of course the Shell team also had some great UI designers and numerous good, headstrong PMs who valued (I can only assume) simplicity and so on.

  • Not quite-credible story about Best Buy differentiating on making technology usable/understandable – Mr. Dunn said he wanted to create an atmosphere where consumers were attracted not just to products but also to services that help them master fast-changing technology and configure and connect devices.

    One of Best Buy’s main competitive strategies has been services, something it has done better in the past than any national electronics retailer. That translates into selling product warranties, or help with installing a home theater or configuring a computer.
    Mr. Dunn said a chief example of the kind of thing Best Buy wants to be known for is a service it calls Walk Out Working that it began introducing in May 2007. The service, which is free, helps consumers configure new mobile phones so that when they leave the store they are able to use features like music playback and Web surfing.

    …He argues that [other retailers] cannot compete with Best Buy when it comes to offering individual service, explaining technology to customers and charging to help them adapt to it.

  • Jobless Benefits Web Site Adds Insult to Injury – Jobless people seeking information about their benefits on the Brazilian Labor Ministry's Web were forced to type in passwords such as "bum" and "shameless." A private company that created the site's security system is blamed; its contract with the ministry wasn't being renewed, which may have prompted the pranks.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Japanese robots not finding their market, recession and high prices blamed (but not fundamental mismatch between need and solution?) – Roborior by Tmsuk — a watermelon-shape house sitter on wheels that rolls around a home and uses infrared sensors to detect suspicious movement and a video camera to transmit images to absent residents — has struggled to find new users. A rental program was scrapped in April because of lack of interest. Though the company won’t release sale figures, it has sold less than a third of the goal, 3,000 units, it set when Roborior hit the market in 2005, analysts say. There are no plans to manufacture more.

    That is a shame, Mariko Ishikawa, a Tmsuk spokesman, says, because busy Japanese in the city could use the Roborior to keep an eye on aging parents in the countryside. “Roborior is just the kind of robot Japanese society needs in the future,” Ms. Ishikawa said.

    Sales of a Secom product, My Spoon, a robot with a swiveling, spoon-fitted arm that helps older or disabled people eat, have similarly stalled as caregivers balk at its $4,000 price.

  • Chris Anderson on the differences between scarcity thinking and abundance thinking – When scarce resources become abundant, smart people treat them differently, exploiting them rather than conserving them. It feels wrong, but done right it can change the world. The problem is that abundant resources, like computing power, are too often treated as scarce.

ChittahChattah Quickies

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Survey Says Baby Boomers Think Playing With Your Blackberry During A Meeting Is Rude – The 'tude in the blog entry about the survey is as interesting as the 'tude the survey's creation and content point to. Social norms shift and that gets introduced and changes the way people interact gets put through the social norm filter: is it rude? Is it distracting? Should other people stop doing it? Or should we get over it? This just points to the transition we're going through rather than offering any clear sense of what's going on. Full disclosure: I'm a Gen-Xer and I bolted from a boring presentation a few weeks ago when the person behind me tapped on the shoulder and asked me to stop using my iPhone as she found it distracting [I was discreetly using Google Reader in my lap].
  • Gartner's Hype cycle – a graphic representation of the maturity, adoption and business application of specific technologies – Hype cycles characterize the over-enthusiasm or "hype" and subsequent disappointment that typically happens with the introduction of new technologies.They also show how and when technologies move beyond the hype, offer practical benefits and become widely accepted.

    Five phases of the hype cycle
    1. "Technology Trigger" —A breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest
    2. "Peak of Inflated Expectations" — Frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations; There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures
    3. "Trough of Disillusionment" — Fails to meet expectations and becomes unfashionable
    4. "Slope of Enlightenment" —some businesses experiment to understand the benefits and practical application
    5. "Plateau of Productivity" — benefits become widely demonstrated and accepted

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Design Research Methods for Experience Design – Triading is a method that allows a researcher to uncover dimensions of a design space that are pertinent to its target audience. In triading, researchers present three different concepts or ideas to participants and ask them to identify how two of them are different from the third. Participants describe, in their own terms, the dimensions or attributes that differentiate the concepts. Participants follow this process iteratively—identifying additional attributes they feel distinguish two of the concepts from the third until they can’t think of any other distinguishing factors.

    The benefit of this process is that it uncovers dimensions of a particular domain that are important to the target audience rather than the researcher or designer. For example, participants may describe differences in groups as “warm” versus cold” or business-like” versus fun.” Designers can then use the most relevant or common dimensions as inspiration for further design and exploration.

  • Mapping Oakland – Mapping Oakland is a research project aimed at mapping people’s perceptions of neighborhoods and urban space within the City of Oakland. Mental maps have been used in geography to understand individual perceptions of space and place for sometime. The method has proven useful in helping geographers understand how people perceive elements within the landscape for navigational purposes and to understand the cultural value of spaces. This web site provides citizens throughout Oakland access to a survey that measures how people perceive and use public open space in the City of Oakland.
  • How ethnic groups change Oakland neighborhoods – When Robert Lemon, a UC Berkeley landscape architecture grad student, was a community planner in Columbus, Ohio, he noticed that despite the car-oriented landscape, residents of the city's Latino community, for the most part, liked to get around on foot and bicycle and, as a result, were bending the neighborhood to their collective will. Taco trucks and open-air produce markets popped up in vacant parking lots on one of the city's main shopping thoroughfares. The bicycle was a key mode of transportation even though there weren't dedicated bike lanes, and colorful murals appeared on the walls of large buildings. The neighborhood had the feel of small-town Oaxaca, the Mexican state from which many of the city's Latinos hailed.

    In California, he found similar changes occurring in Oakland's Fruitvale and Chinatown neighborhoods. He is conducting a formal survey as part of a fellowship & has gone through Oakland's diverse neighborhoods, walking up and down the streets asking questions.

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