Last month, a group of 40 people comprised largely of "usability practitioners" and open source developers assembled in San Francisco for a "Usability Sprint." For 3 intense days, participants worked in small teams to improve the usability of 6 software development projects. But the larger goal of the sprint, and the reason it was a sprint, was to "perturb the ecosystem" -- to "make the community smarter, not just the individuals" -- to dramatically change open source developers' understanding of usability and the common belief that open source and usability don't mix well, and to create a hunger and an opportunity for more to happen along the same and similar lines in the future. And according to the participants who described the 3-day sprint on the March 8 BayCHI program, all of these goals were met.
In my work at Yahoo! and at Viant, having business, engineering, and user experience (UX) personnel collaborate in rapid ethnographic research and its analysis/synthesis resulted in UX personnel becoming partners in the development of business and product strategy, which was a major change to the ecosystem. This created a hunger and opportunity for more to happen along the same and similar lines elsewhere in both companies.
Also in my work at Yahoo!, having designers, design researchers, users, and sometimes other members of the product team collaborate via intensive, rapid, iterative design and evaluation not only improved design but also improved the relationship between designers and design researchers, and between these UX personnel and product management. This, too, created a hunger and opportunity for more to happen along the same and similar lines elsewhere in the company.
Intensive, rapid, cross-disciplinary collaboration is common in companies known for their ability to innovate effectively, and is somewhat akin to a process used in companies like Landmark Education, which claims to transform people's lives.
In a couple of weeks, I'll be leading a two-day consortium for leaders of multiple UX professional communities focused on meeting the needs of UX professionals and the organizations that serve them. The intent of this somewhat intensive, rapid, cross-disciplinary collaboration is to perturb the ecosystem, resulting in significantly increased and ongoing collaboration among UX-related professional organizations, and ultimately among the professionals they serve.