Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Designing in hostile territory"

In this blog, I've repeatedly referenced the frustrations user experience personnel often experience in their workplaces (see, for example, "Borrowing from the field of child development").

The title of a BusinessWeek article by Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, nicely describes what this can feel like: "Designing in Hostile Territory."

In that article and in other articles, Roger does a great job of explaining why business is so hostile to design, and why that needs to change.

Roger spoke about aspects of this at the recent CONNECTING 07 World Design Congress in San Francisco. Jon Kolko and I refer to some of what he said at that conference in "interactions cafe," an article to appear next month that presents some of our thoughts about the relationship between that conference (which we both attended) and contents of our first issue of interactions magazine. Here I extend that reflection, with a focus on Roger and his articles, on just one of the authors of content to appear in the January+February 2008 issue of interactions, and on a reference to some important related work.

As reflected in the nearby blurry image of a slide from Roger's plenary presentation, there is little overlap between the kind of thinking that comprises design -- involving "consideration of a wide array of relevant variables, most of which are qualitative, to produce meaningful, valid solutions" -- and the kind of thinking that is dominant in business -- involving "reducing the number of variables considered to mostly quantitative measures in order to achieve consistency and predictability." To analytical thinkers, the activities and language of design thinking "connote danger, uncertainty, and guesswork." Little surprise that user experience personnel experience frustration in their workplaces.
"Both (design thinking and analytical thinking) have their place, but as organizations grow, analytical thinking -- which focuses on exploitation and refinement of the current state of knowledge -- often crowds out design thinking -- which pushes knowledge forward and creates new possibilities. As a consequence, as businesses grow and tilt towards analytical thinking, they leave themselves exposed to competitors -- often smaller ones -- that use design thinking to outflank them."
Compare those words from Roger with what Secil Watson, Senior VP Internet Channel Strategy at Wells Fargo, says about customer experience in our first issue of interactions magazine:
"It is really hard for established companies and industry leaders to change their practices and business models to focus steadfastly on better customer experiences. They have so much invested in their current infrastructure that dramatic changes are very complex and time consuming in nature. But unless they change, this will create opportunities for new entrants that will develop their business models and infrastructure from scratch around a strategy that focuses on customer experience as an essential way to attain long-term customer value, as opposed to strategies that focus on marketing prowess, sales effectiveness, market share, distribution network, high switching costs, or cost efficiency."
As Roger Martin argues, it is essential to create a business environment in which design thinking can flourish. However, as he states in "At the Crossroads of Design and Business":
"...if Design Thinking is critical, maybe restricting it to designers and protecting them from business people is not actually the most productive avenue to pursue. Perhaps eliminating the need for protection by turning business people into Design Thinkers would be more effective.

To create a Design Thinking organization, a company must create a corporate environment in which it is the job of all managers to understand customer needs at a deep and sophisticated level and to understand what the firm's product means to the customer at not only a functional level, but also an emotional and psychological level. It must also create a culture in which line managers are not satisfied with merely serving customers, but insist on delighting them and making them feel the company is their partner, friend, and confidante."
And user experience personnel can play a critical role in creating this environment. Consider more words from Secil's interactions article on what it has taken to affect such change at Wells Fargo:
"We championed customer experience broadly. We knew that product managers, engineers, and servicing staff were equally important partners in the success of each of our customer-experience efforts. Instead of owning and controlling the goal of creating positive customer experience, we shared our vision and our methods across the group. This was a grassroots effort that took a long time. We didn’t do formal training across the group, nor did we mandate a new process. Instead, we created converts in every project we touched using our UCD methods. Having a flexible set of well-designed, easy-to-use UCD tools such as those mentioned (in this article) made the experience teams more credible and put us in the position of guiding the process of concept definition and design for our business partners."
Claudia Kotchka, VP of Design Innovation & Strategy, has been responsible for achieving change of this nature at P&G. During a presentation at Stanford University this past spring, she described the P&G journey to achieve such change as progressing through three phases. Phase 1, "Discipline of Design," was a phase during which design was focused largely on aesthetics as other disciplines tried to figure out what to do with designers that were added to the organization. Phase 2, "Practice of Design," was a phase during which designers realized they couldn't achieve success effectively alone and needed to collaborate with people in other disciplines; among steps taken to help achieve this collaboration: a "mentoring up program" to enable managers to "see what designers see," and an effort to teach designers the language of business. Phase 3, "Design Strategy," moved on to infusing design innovation into business strategy via, in part, teaching design thinking to business leaders.

Neither Claudia nor Secil would claim that their work is done. But both have made great strides in changing the cultures of their workplaces.

Which phase is your company in? What kind of thinking dominates where you work? What roles are your user experience personnel playing? Are they still just "designing in hostile territory"?

Take the time to read some of Roger Martin's many terrific articles. Others I recommend include, "Reliability vs. Validity," "Scientific Management is Past it's Peak," and "Why Decisions Need Design."

In several past blog entries of mine, you can read more from Secil Watson and about the work she has been spearheading at Wells Fargo. See, for example, "Breaking silos," "Moving UX into a position of corporate influence: Whose advice really works?", and "Developing user-centered tools for strategic business planning."

"interactions cafe" will appear at the end of each issue of interactions magazine beginning with the January+February 2008 issue.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Management is where the real problem is"

Earlier this month, Jeff Johnson appeared on the BayCHI program to speak about the updated version of his GUI Bloopers book.

As Jeff put it, he ran through examples of all but the last of his categories of bloopers very quickly, because the last category -- management bloopers -- "is where the real problem is, since so many bloopers continue to be made."

Here is Jeff's list of management bloopers:

As described by Jeff, development typically occurs with no UI design, no UI standards or guidelines, and no oversight.

Why is this still true?

Note that a list of all of the bloopers and blooper categories is presented on the book's website.

Note also that Jeff said that when writing the first edition of the book (published March 2000), it was hard to find any bloopers in Apple products. However, "that is no longer the case."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Another short-notice workshop, this time in Chicago November 5

I'll be running another short notice workshop -- added late to the DUX 2007 pre-conference tutorial lineup -- this coming Monday, November 5 at the Intercontinental Hotel on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Workshop title: "Changing the Role User Experience Plays in Your Business." This will be a modified version of the well-received September workshop entitled, "Moving User Experience into a Position of Greater Corporate Influence" offered in New York City.

If you or someone you know might like to attend this workshop but cannot attend DUX 2007, let me know; I'll see what I can do to get you or the "someone you know" in. If you plan to attend DUX 2007 and have not yet signed up for a tutorial, consider modifying your registration in order to join us.

Evaluations of past offerings of a related nature suggest you'll learn alot and will have a good time:
"I really enjoyed last weekend's workshop. You're a gifted teacher and I think I learned as much from your way of relating to us and the material as I did from the material itself. Your manner and approach really inspired me." -- Participant in September's "Moving User Experience into a Position of Greater Corporate Influence" workshop

"Richard is an excellent instructor and employs an effective Socratic teaching style." -- Jaime Guerrero, student of "Managing User Experience Groups" (additional evaluations of that course)

"There is no more skilled panel moderator than Richard Anderson, so I was eager to attend this interactive session. I was not disappointed." -- Pabini Gabriel-Petit, UXmatters on the "Moving UX into a Position of Corporate Influence: Whose Advice Really Works?" session at CHI 2007

"the best managed workshop I've seen...; brilliant process in the workshop (Richard) organized" -- Jonathan Grudin, Microsoft Research

"Richard Anderson teaches a remarkable user-centered design course which alighted me on the path I am today." -- Peter Merholz, Adaptive Path

"The sign of an excellent teacher, I feel, is the ability to make even the most stubborn among us (me) question our assumptions. Richard is just such a teacher, and I feel privileged to have taken his class." -- Student of "User-Centered Design / Usability Engineering" (additional evaluations of that course)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Convincing executives and other management personnel of the value of ethnography

Need some help understanding the value of ethnographic research methods or convincing others of that value?

If you do, you are not alone. According to Bain & Company's Management Tools & Trends 2007 survey of 1221 international executives, "consumer ethnography" is one of the least-valued of 25 of the most popular management tools and techniques. Ratings of use and satisfaction were both among the lowest. (Not that ethnography is or should be viewed as only a "management" tool, but if it is to have the greatest possible impact in a business...)

In a discussion about this in the anthrodesign yahoogroup, Martha Cotton stated:
"while ethnography has moved from a niche approach to slightly more mainstream..., (executives) still don't really know what they're buying or why they should value ethnography as an approach."
And what to do about this apparently received considerable attention at last week's Ethnography Praxis in Industry conference (EPIC 2007), as revealed in a blog posting by Jeffrey Bardzell:
"A... major issue is one of legitimation. How can ethnographers convince managers and marketing leaders to take them seriously? How do they justify their work both intellectually (methods, data, etc.) and also from a business perspective (actually leads to better business processes or products)?"
Having good stories to share about ethnographic research findings with significant business implications, or about the important role ethnographic research has played in other businesses can help. I've referenced several such stories in past blog entries (see "Conducting 'ethnographic' research" for a partial list). And Jon Kolko and I will be including a couple of excellent stories, one by Stefana Broadbent and Valerie Bauwens of Swisscom Innovations, in the January+February 2008 issue of interactions magazine.

David Gilmore offered additional advice in his excellent May+June 2002 article, "Understanding and Overcoming Resistance to Ethnographic Research." As David argues, the most persuasive technique might be to give those who resist conducting ethnographic research the experience of an ethnographic approach.

Both techniques have been part of the strategy I have followed for many years, and I encourage you to consider including both in your strategy. But there is more that can be done, and I'll try to address those things (further) in future blog entries.

Note that ethnographic research receives the attention of several contributions to our January+February 2008 issue of interactions magazine. One of them -- from Don Norman -- urges caution:
"Many of our clever ethnographic and field methods are designed to find unmet needs. You know what? Most are far better off if they stay unmet."
(A tip of the hat to Mark Vanderbeeken for pointing me to the blog entry about EPIC 2007 via his terrific blog, "Putting People First.")

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Work space

I love to visit artist's work spaces, and the San Francisco Bay Area provides several opportunities throughout the year to do just that -- when multiple artists open their studios to the public for a weekend.

I particularly look forward to San Francisco's Mission Open Studios, which largely features artists in old industrial buildings that have been converted into multiple floors of spacious artist studios, most with lots of wall space and configurable as needed for different activities, both solo and involving several people.

Two years ago, I wrote about the value of ample wall space and of open, reconfigurable work spaces in a blog posting about the impact of "walls" on working "in the world of user experience." Some of that value is captured very nicely in a 1998 quote I included in that blog posting -- words from Judy Olson and collegues:
"Collocation of cognitive artifacts and team members offers the broadest bandwidth for cooperative work. Team members developed shared documents together, making the work tangible. Artifacts helped coordination and motivation as well. The key feature was that they were persistent, allowing easy access (by a glance, not a file retrieval) and large enough to allow cross connections to be perceived. The presence of one's co-workers helped with coordination, implicit learning, easy transitions from one phase of work to another, and social facilitation."
Bill Buxton says much the same in his terrific 2007 book, "Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design," and cautions:
"simply plunking a bunch of corkboards or foamboards around your work space does not magically turn it into a design studio. These are artifacts with certain affordances, but their effective use requires as much attention to the cultivation of the culture of the studio as to the detailing of the architectural space."
Such cultures and work spaces are far from the norm in companies where user experience needs to play a much larger role, but they are appearing here and there as special areas designated for special "innovation" activities. Kaiser Permanente's impressive Sidney R. Garfield Health Care Innovation Center, occupying a huge warehouse, is one example; P&G's Clay Street Project, occupying "a brick-walled loft in a gritty Cincinatti neighborhood," is another.

Recently, I visited Adobe in San Jose California for a tour of a work space of a similar nature, except that it is used ongoing (i.e., not just for special projects) by user experience personnel (and those that join them to collaborate) and wasn't constructed apart in some funky location. Until this past spring, the work area looked like that in the photo at left of a hallway lined by small offices with doors, still the norm in the building. But now, a large part of one floor is as depicted in the composite photo -- an open, multi-use work space, with whiteboards and "foamboards" on long spacious walls, on walls on wheels, and even on horizontal work surfaces.

At Stanford University this past spring, Claudia Kotchka, VP of Design Innovation & Strategy at P&G (where they have the Clay Street Project) , spoke of attempts at convincing her company to replace existing seas of cubicles with such work spaces, but has found that the mindset regarding appropriate, corporate office space is not easy to change.

Years ago, Karen Holtzblatt argued, "If you want your team to be creative, give them a room." But a conventional conference room, even when used as thoroughly as the one shown in the image from Karen, is often not enough.

My thanks to Julie Baher, Experience Design Manager, for the tour of the Adobe work space. Thanks also to Claudia Brenner, Implementation Manager, for a tour of the Garfield Innovation Center.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Who should you hire?

Recently, I've been reading resum├ęs and interviewing potential candidates to help a client make some hiring decisions.

I've always enjoyed the process of interviewing and considering candidates, and of ultimately hiring people as I've done in past management roles. And in most of my experiences, the process has gone very smoothly. However, there have been a couple of interesting exceptions.

One of those exceptions was when most of the members of a particular user experience functional group were not necessarily convinced a particular candidate was right for the group. Additionally, the director of the group, to whom I reported as a consulting manager, was thoroughly convinced this candidate was not a good fit. Well, guess what? I thought this candidate was essential for the group.

The director and group members were concerned that the candidate did not have enough experience with and, hence, would be less competent at doing the kind of work that the group members were doing most of the time. I was confident the candidate could do that kind of work adequately, but I was most excited that the candidate was better prepared to do the kind of work that others in the group needed to be doing more so that the group would become more effective -- more impactful in the business.

It took some time, and, because of that, the candidate had made arrangements to enter another job in the company for which he already worked, but I convinced the director and the group of the benefits of hiring this candidate, and hire him I did.

Adding this person to the group was an important part of a process of changing the nature of some of the work the group did. And by example and other means, this person's subsequent work in the group did exactly that, and, indeed, enabled the group to become more impactful in the business.

What all to look for in potential hires has been the subject of many discussions and debates. One which occurred late last month on the IxDA discussion list focused mostly on the importance (or lack thereof) of a candidate's field of study in school and of the candidate's portfolio. Around the edges of this debate was advocation of the importance of a candidate's personality, particularly of whether it is the right personality to work with the team the candidate would be joining.

IDEO has long advocated the importance of working in teams in which people can "check their disciplines at the door" when beneficial, and to facilitate that, they have advocated hiring "T-shaped people":
"Regardless of whether your goal is to innovate around a product, service, or business opportunity, you get good insights by having an observant and empathetic view of the world. You can't just stand in your own shoes; you've got to be able to stand in the shoes of others. Empathy allows you to have original insights about the world. It also enables you to build better teams.

We look for people who are so inquisitive about the world that they're willing to try to do what you do. We call them 'T-shaped people.' They have a principal skill that describes the vertical leg of the T -- they're mechanical engineers or industrial designers. But they are so empathetic that they can branch out into other skills, such as anthropology, and do them as well. They are able to explore insights from many different perspectives and recognize patterns of behavior that point to a universal human need. That's what you're after at this point -- patterns that yield ideas."
However, last month, Peter Merholz challenged that recommendation to some extent:
"…you don’t necessarily want a team of all T-shaped people. The reality of the world is that you have T- and I- and bar-shaped people, and I suspect that the strongest teams are comprised of all three that work in concert. Me, I’m a bar-shaped person. I’m all about the connections between disciplines, and being able to articulate the power of that integration. Obviously, T-shaped people are important, too, people who can bridge that synthesis and go deep. But perhaps most important is that we no longer marginalize I-shaped people. It’s easy to dismiss I-shaped folks, people who simply want to focus on, geek out to, their particular passion. But these people can be amazing on teams, because once you give them a bit of a direction, they can do amazing work."
Other people have suggested that you should look for yet other "shapes" of people, including "pi," "sun," and "kidney" (see comment #9). However, others have argued the advisability of looking beyond any of these types of classifications of people.

Here is a random collection of recommendations from some of the many user experience managers, directors, and executives with whom I've discussed the topic of who to hire:
“be opportunistic; make adjustments to what you are looking for based on the skills, background, interests, etc. of those who apply”

“hire for motivational and thinking skills, rather than for whether they have done the same thing before”

“hire ‘commercial’ designers, not artists”

“a good ‘aesthetic’ is not enough; creative thinking needs to be married with analytical thinking”

“needed are collaborative people -- people who are participatory, flexible, facilitative, consultative (i.e., can ask the right questions, create a dialogue, reflect back, etc.)”

“consider where you want to take your group, and hire people who will be able to do what you want them to do at that later point”
I remember smiling to myself when hearing that final piece of advice, in part because that was pretty much the argument I was making in support of hiring the candidate I referenced in the story I told at the beginning of this blog posting. What made me smile most, however, was the fact that this piece of advice came from the director I referenced in that story -- the one who almost nixed the hire I believed was essential to moving the group forward and making it more impactful. (The advice was being given a couple years later.)

My thanks to Mary Quandt for bringing the concept of "pi-shaped people" to my attention.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Special workshop in NYC September 8

I'll be running a special, short notice workshop -- with special, short notice pricing -- on Saturday, September 8 on the edge of the East Village in New York City.

Workshop title: Moving User Experience into a Position of Greater Corporate Influence.

Workshop description:
Why is it that at a time when user experience (UX) expertise is in high demand, countless UX professionals continue to feel misunderstood, undervalued, and unable to contribute to the success of the businesses for which they work in the ways and to the extent they can and often should?

Why is it that at a time when UX is becoming a critical marketplace differentiator, countless companies continue to not utilize or position user experience professionals in such a way as to enable them to effectively contribute to the formulation of business strategy?

What can be done to change this? What can YOU do to move UX into a position of greater influence where YOU work?

Explore and formulate answers to these questions in a special workshop led by Richard Anderson, UX practice, management, and organizational strategy consultant and incoming Co-Editor-in-Chief of interactions magazine.

This highly interactive and participatory workshop will borrow elements from the very successful multi-session “Managing User Experience Groups” course Richard has co-taught in Silicon Valley, from the highly praised “Moving UX into a Position of Corporate Influence: Whose Advice Really Works?” interactive session from CHI 2007, from related workshops Richard has led within various companies, and from a multi-session “User Experience Managers and Executives Speak” course Richard will be offering in Silicon Valley next spring.

(This workshop is intended for all who want to and can impact how user experience is addressed in their places of work, but might be particularly valuable for people in management roles.)
If you'll be in the NYC area on September 8, I hope you'll consider joining us.

For more information and to register, see Victor Lombardi's Smart Experience website. Readers of my blog can use the code "FOSE" for a 10% discount off of the special short notice registration fee.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

On the advisibility of estimating ROI

Much has been written about analyzing return on investment (ROI) in order for user experience to have influence in a corporate context. And as I detailed in "Calculating return on investment," some have argued that such analyses are and have been essential, while others have argued that dependence on ROI calculations can be and has been excessive and detrimental.

One of the examples I referenced in that blog entry was the major role estimating ROI had played at eBay for several years. Their process for creating the business case for user experience projects was described by Jeff Herman in a paper presented at CHI 2004 and again by Christian Rohrer in a presentation made in January 2007.

However, things have been changing at eBay.

You might have seen some hint of this in how President and CEO Meg Whitman recently described user experience as one of eBay's main strategic priorities.

What has been happening behind the scenes?

One of the changes made has been to how they address ROI.

eBay's Justin Miller talked about this during the session I led at CHI 2007 entitled, "Moving UX into a Position of Corporate Influence: Whose Advice Really Works?":
"At eBay, as Richard mentioned, we have changed significantly, but (not only regarding) user experience. As a company, we had much more demand than we had supply in terms of executing on projects, so we developed ROI calculations for every project that we wanted to do, whether it was user experience related or some other thing. We discussed not doing it for the user experience pieces, but we would have been the only ones not doing it and trying to make the case that we shouldn't need to do it. The fact is, the reason we are at the company -- the reason we've been hired and have grown our group significantly is to drive ROI -- to drive revenue, to drive value. So, we should be able to show that. We've had a lot of success, and we've presented and talked about it. I don't hold it against my company for saying you guys need to do it, because we were doing that for everyone.

Recently, however, we looked at those calculations -- we looked at what everyone had been presenting over the past years. After someone would present their ROI estimates, they would come back a year later and say "here is how we did..." We looked at the results and found that at least 90% of us came back and said, "we did great." But when we looked at the return that we should have gotten if every one of those projects actually delivered what they predicted, we learned that we would have 10 times the revenue of what we have today. We realized that looking at ROI on a project by project basis was not the right approach, whether it was the user experience or otherwise. We needed to be looking at the user experience and other things at a higher level.

So, now we are focused on the initiatives. We are not focused on the individual projects. What are we trying to go after? We are, for example, trying to increase conversion rate, so when a buyer looks at a listing when they come to a site, what percentage actually bid on an item? That is the kind of thing we are looking at -- at whether we able to move those metrics, not at whether a particular project moved the needle by some percentage. And that has had a huge impact and changed the morale of employees, focusing less on the details and the tactics, and focusing more on the big picture, because you can really understand that if you can generate a change at the high level, that has a big impact."
Hence, is estimating ROI advisable? Again, many respond with a blanket, "yes."


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On "green design"

This past Thursday, I attended two presentations on "green design." Late in the afternoon, Terry Swack, Founder & CEO of Clean Culture and pictured at right, spoke at PARC on "Sustainable Product Design." Then, during the evening, frogdesign hosted a panel in San Francisco entitled, "The Many Shades of Green."

As reflected in both of those presentations and their content, green design is big these days, and for very good reasons. Burning Man has even gone green this year (in a manner of speaking)!

But as Terry put it:
"Many companies are beginning to understand what they need to do, but they just don't know what's most important and where or how to begin."
Hence, to borrow Terry's quote from Joel Makower's blog:
"...the pace of change seems oh-so slow" (October 2006)
It is interesting that both of the above quotes are akin to what many still say in reference to experience design rather than sustainable design. Indeed, there is lots of overlap in the nature and flavor of both conversations.

Consider these additional quotes from Terry's presentation, which are also akin to what is often said about user experience:
"...(corporate social responsibility) can be much more than a cost, a constraint, or a charitable deed—it can be a source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage.” (from "Strategy and Society: The Link Between competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility," December 2006)

"For change to occur, life cycle mindsets (must be) adopted and incorporated during conceptual product design stages."
Hence, those focused on moving user experience into a position of greater corporate influence might have something to learn from those focused on moving sustainable design into a position of greater corporate influence, and vice versa.

For example, an interesting strategy initiated by frogdesign is what they call the Kyoto Treaty of design (see Valerie Casey's "The Designer's Dilemma," Summer 2007). Outlining basic tenets of "a call to arms for the creative community around environmental stewardship," this treaty has, according to Valerie, been signed by every consultancy frogdesign has approached, thus increasing the chances the principles will be followed by any consultancy a company might take their business to. This is reminiscent of Clare-Marie Karat's efforts back in 1998 at getting companies to endorse a Computer User's Bill of Rights. Might there be other applications of such a strategy?

And what about green design of user experience?

In a paper that received the Best Paper Award at CHI 2007, Eli Blevis (pictured at right) "presents the perspective that sustainability can and should be a central focus of interaction design."

Jon Kolko and I, the incoming Editors-in-Chief of interactions magazine, are delighted that Eli will be contributing editor for an article on sustainable design for all issues of interactions magazine beginning in January 2008.

The Venn diagram is from Adam Richardson's "Tragedy of the Commons," Summer 2007.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Secret agent (wo)man?

At last week's BayCHI Usability Engineering Birds-of-a-Feather meeting, Anita Salem and Cynthia King presented the results of a highly-rated workshop conducted at UPA 2007. "In the workshop, experienced practitioners came together to look at how a richer understanding of change can help usability professionals create more sustainable user-centric organizations." The title of the workshop: "Beyond ROI: UCD as a Catalyst for Organizational Change."

The focus of much of the evening was John Kotter's eight stages of change and the actions that could be taken to achieve each stage as brainstormed by the workshop participants.

The eight stages:
  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Create a guiding coalition
  3. Create a vision and strategy
  4. Communicate the change vision
  5. Empower broad-based action
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Consolidate and produce more change
  8. Anchor new approaches in the culture
In a paper presented at DUX 2003 entitled, "Using a Change-Management Approach to Promote Customer-Centered Design," Stephen Sato and Andrew Panton described how Kotter's eight stages of change had helped them to institutionalize a customer-centered design approach within the product development organization of a division of Hewlett-Packard in Bristol, UK.
"Introducing the customer-centered design approach at the appropriate phase in the change-management process was crucial to its adoption.

... In order for the customer-centered approach to become institutionalized, the authors recognized that they needed to go beyond just changing practices in product design, and needed to affect changes to the organization structure, processes, and culture."
The advisability of considering the larger framework of organizational and cultural change has been recognized by others as well. For example, Don Fotsch, VP User Experience | Design & Product Planning at PayPal, keeps a handout at his desk which he received during a change management course he took when getting his MBA. The handout -- "Diagnosis for Organizational Design" by Robert Duncan -- describes a seven component design framework to help explain why an organization functions in the way it does, and provides guidance for analyzing how the seven components reinforce each other.
"When considering change, all seven components must be considered, and if one is changed it is most likely that the other components will have to be changed to be consistent with each other."
In an article entitled, "Connecting Cultures, Changing Organizations: The User Experience Practitioner as Change Agent," Paul Sherman wrote:
"As UX professionals, we have many tools and techniques available to us, and we contribute to our product teams in many ways. However, while having good UX skills is necessary, it is not alone sufficient. No matter the size of our organizations or the domains we work within, our most valuable contributions are not our design or user research efforts. Rather, our most valuable contributions occur when we function as change agents."
And during the session I led at CHI 2007 entitled, "Moving UX into a Position of Corporate Influence: Whose Advice Really Works?", Secil Watson's concluding remarks included:
"Think of yourselves as change agents. If you like that role, then look at of yourselves as the people who can really change the culture of the organization you are a part of."
(Secil is Senior VP of Internet Channel Strategy at Wells Fargo.)

However, I recently read an entry in someone's blog -- which, unfortunately, I'm unable to locate again -- which argued that user experience professionals should NOT reveal their intent to change an organization's culture, since doing so will increase the resistance they are likely to face. This argument reminded me of a 1995 article in Communications of the ACM entitled, "Succeeding as a Clandestine Change Agent," in which C. Dennis Allen wrote:
"This was my challenge: to change a development organization of hundreds of software engineers without letting them know it. The goal is the success of the organization, not necessarily to receive credit for your own contributions. ... Since talking directly to upper management had failed in my previous situation, I decided I would try a longer term, grass-roots strategy. ... I wanted to avoid the risks of cross-organizational antagonism that often leads to failure when one group is trying to 'fix' another group in the company."

However, in today's world, I'm not sure it remains as advisable to be clandestine and to not talk directly with upper management. Today, openness and enlisting everyone's support as well as their participation has a greater chance of success and might very well speed up a process which in many organizations has taken many years to achieve, some of which your company might not be able to wait.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hail to the Chief!

From a press release of last week:
"Cleveland Clinic has named M. Bridget Duffy, M.D., Chief Experience Officer, a newly created role designed to ensure all aspects of the patient experience at Cleveland Clinic meet the highest standards.

'We recognize that delivering World Class healthcare requires a lot more than providing patients with access to leading-edge treatments and technologies,' said Delos M. 'Toby' Cosgrove, M.D., CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic. 'As a leading healthcare provider, we must exceed the expectations of those we serve, offering compassion, showing empathy and providing patients with the responsiveness they deserve. With her passion for patient-centered initiatives, Dr. Duffy is the ideal person to oversee the Clinic’s efforts to provide a world-class patient experience.'

As Chief Experience Officer, Dr. Duffy will advance Cleveland Clinic’s Patient First Initiative by creating a culture that addresses the emotional and physical experience for the patient, restores empathy as a core value and recognizes the central role that employees play in delivering an exceptional patient experience."
During May of 2005, I posted an article entitled "The Chief Experience Officer" in my blog, refering to Challis Hodge's 2001 description of the role ("...should ensure that an organization delivers the appropriate experience at every point of contact it makes with the public") and to Jeffrey Rayport's March 2005 related description and his recommendation that companies create the position:
"To ensure desirable customer experiences, companies must appoint dedicated chief experience officers. Call this individual the 'other' CEO—or, as we prefer, the CXO (not to be confused with the commonly used term that refers to any C-level executive)."
In an article published later that year, Bill Buxton argued for the need for a CDO:
"Is design leadership an executive level position? Do you have a Chief Design Officer reporting to the president? My view is that if you do not, you are not serious about design or innovation. Furthermore, you are telegraphing this fact to all of your employees, along with a clear message that they need not be either. As a result, you might as well fire all of your creative people, since you are setting them up to fail anyhow."
During 2006, James Gilmore and Joseph Pine of "The Experience Economy" fame chimed in with an article entitled, "Wanted: Chief eXperience Officers," and Bruce Temkin of Forrester Research began to advocate for a CC/EO -- a Chief Customer/Experience Officer. This year, additional advocates have surfaced (e.g., see "The New CEO -- Chief Experience Officer").

However, in the upcoming issue of interactions magazine, Jonathan Arnowitz writes:
"Tuesday's offerings (of CHI 2007) included a panel organized by Richard Anderson titled, 'Moving UX into a Position of Corporate Influence: Whose Advice Really Works?' Much to our surprise, the panelists all seemed to scoff at the idea Richard posed: the need for a chief design officer or chief user experience officer or an alternate C-level design presence. One commentator said, 'The last thing you want is the board dictating the colors or fonts or other designs.'"
Jonathan did not agree:
"The panelists here were completely off base. The chief design officer (CDO) concept is meant to avoid this very thing. A CDO should set the design strategy for the company and make sure it stays on course. Being a C-level officer, the CDO has enough clout to keep boardroom design from taking place."
Why did my panelists not like the idea?

Panelist Secil Watson, Sr. VP of Internet Channel Strategy at Wells Fargo, said:
"My one worry is that there are only so many things you can divide up in terms of accountability, so if you say you are the Chief Experience Officer, there is not much that you are accountable for yourself. ...that accountability truly lies across the organization."
Blogger Eric Mattson appears to agree with Secil, as suggested by his words of earlier in the year:
"Experiences are core to a multitude of management roles already in existence. The last thing you want to do is seperate responsibility for great experiences from marketing, customer service, sales, training and product development.

It's like hiring a chief ethics officer to make sure your organization is honest."
Two panelists argued that the role of the CXO (or CDO or CC/EO) should be played by the CEO (i.e., the Chief Executive Officer). Indeed, Jonathan Arnowitz and others claim that the CXO and CEO are one and the same at Apple. But few CEOs can do what Steve Jobs does when it comes to design and user experience. (Plus, it is not necessarily the case that a successful CXO need be as "hands-on" as Steve Jobs.)

Panelist Jim Nieters, Sr. Manager of User Experience Design at Cisco, argued that it would be difficult for anyone in such a role to have anything but symbolic value at Cisco:
"There is a Senior VP in charge of our security products -- that person defines strategy. Our Chief Security Officer is more of a visible function -- more of a political function. That person goes and talks with people out in Washington and that kind of thing. So, I'm not sure that a Chief Experience Officer would be able to make an impact in the company, because we are very stove-piped as a company -- we have business units and technology groups -- it is like a kingdom -- every business unit is its own profit and loss center, and each of the executives owns everything..."
Panelist Jeremy Ashley, VP of Applications User Experience at Oracle, was the panelist who expressed concern about "the board dictating the colors or fonts or other designs." However, he also said "it would be very good to have an advocate at that level, especially because then that advocate also controls budget, and we all know that budget is king."

And panelist Justin Miller, Sr. Director of Product at eBay for Europe, had this to say:
"I mentioned earlier that I don't think having a Chief Experience Officer is the right direction, because you don't want to have all of your other organizations not focused on it. But where I think we generally get stuck -- and maybe this is true industry-wide -- but certainly at eBay, is that we think of the user experience of the site, or the user experience of whatever product. I think that is a very narrow view.

What we have got to be thinking about is the complete user experience, the holistic user experience, which includes the word of mouth they hear, the marketing they see, the experience they have on the site, the experience our customers have when they talk to customer support, ... All of that is part of the user experience, and I haven't seen very many companies tackle that issue. That is a place for a C-level user experience person -- someone who can be looking across the organizations, someone who is not directly responsible for the user experience on the site, but helping customer support, marketing, the product or website, etc. work together to create a holistic, collective, positive user experience that reflects the brand promise."
However, Justin's interpretation of the role might not be equivalent to Jonathan's. Lou Carbone has expressed concern about multiple interpretations, writing that the "definition and interpretation of the role and function of a Chief Experience Officer tends to be all over the board..."

Consider, for example, what Gilmore and Pine identify as the CXO's primary responsibility: to "develop, launch, manage and refresh a rich portfolio of paid-for experiences...created specifically to generate new sources of revenue and profits in an increasingly commoditized world."

Hmm... That definition and interpretation appears to be far different from that intended by the people at Cleveland Clinic or by most others referenced in this article.

Carbone's words of caution continue: "in far too many instances, both the people appointing the chief experience officer and the individual that’s appointed, don’t have the foggiest notion of what that role and function entail."

Challis Hodge, Jeffrey Rayport, Jonathan Arnowitz, Bill Buxton, Bruce Temkin, and Justin Miller are among those who have some pretty clear notions which, while not necessarily equivalent, would benefit lots of companies.

Quoting Jeffrey Rayport:
"The new executive must relentlessly focus on unifying the disparate functions of human resources, marketing, operations, sales, service, and technology. For most companies, such integration suggests an unholy alliance of warring fiefdoms and silos, and that's precisely why the C-suite needs an individual with the power and authority to deliver integrated experiences for customers."
As Jonathan entitled his upcoming interactions magazine article, "Enter the Chief Design Officer! Hail to the Chief!"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Already at work as Incoming Editors-in-Chief of "interactions" magazine

Recently, Jon Kolko and I were appointed the next Editors-in-Chief of interactions magazine. (That is Jon at right on the cover of his recently published book.)

Though our first issue will not appear until January 2008, we have been working on fleshing out our vision for the publication, reconceptualizing the editorial board and structure, extending invitations of participation, meeting editorial and design staff, developing a strategy for a web presence, and much more.

Last month, I asked "How would you change 'interactions' magazine? What is missing? How could it be improved? How could it become more valuable to you?"

I've received responses from many, but I look forward to also receiving a response from you.

Many thanks to Ken Korman, Denise Doig, Mark Mandelbaum, Brooke Hardy, Andrij Borys, Alicia Kubista, and others for helping to make our interactions meetings in New York City both highly productive and enjoyable.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Breaking silos

In an April blog posting entitled, "Breaking silos," David Armano described the value of shared project ownership among multiple Flash/Ajax developers in his place of work.
"Each touches a part of the project... Sometimes it's at the same time. Other times it's not. No one has clear ownership... Territories don't exist... It's a shared goal -- a purpose. ... It's organic. It's collaborative. It works."
And he suggests that others can benefit similarly:
"Tip for all the executives out there. ... If you find yourself working in silos -- ask yourself why this is. If our people in the trenches can work this way -- so can we."
However, is sharing ownership across disciplines or functions or business units like sharing ownership among multiple Flash/Ajax developers?

In the world of user experience, one of the challenges to shared ownership across disciplines is the lack of respect some disciplines have for others. Bill Buxton and Cliff Nass discussed the difficulty some people have trusting the expertise of others during my interview of the two of them on stage at CHI 99. Some of Cliff's words on this matter:
"There's been this idea that somehow design is this richy democratic process where we all listen to each other, we're all expert, we all take each other seriously. I don't think that is fully true. I think a better model is that we figure out who knows the most about an area and listen to them most closely. The artist should listen to the social scientists about social science and to the technologists about technology...be informed about the true constraints and the opportunities. But the artists have to be trusted to do art; social scientists and technologists shouldn't be doing art. Nor should artists be doing technology. Since it's really hard to be good at one of these things...let alone two or even three...I think that division of labor makes sense. This idea of participatory design is a good one, but not when it means the abdication of expertise.

I was once teaching a class at Stanford, which often has these democratic impulses, and I said, 'I can't remember who said this particular quotation: A or B.' One of the students raised their hand and said, 'Well, let's take a vote on it!' That idea about voting about facts...about voting about what's true, while it is charming and feels good, doesn't result in the best designs."
Some of Bill's words:
"I want to find out how to have the skill of user interface design understood so that people will respect it in the same way that they respect the skill of hacking an operating system or designing a microprocessor. Since the skill of design is not well understood, everybody is an expert, and they all have an equal vote. There's no other discipline that I'm aware of where everybody has an equal vote regardless of their skill or expertise."
Bill said similar things during a presentation at Stanford University earlier this month, telling a story about how the CFO and Head of HR had all sorts of input to product design at Alias | Wavefront (where Bill was Chief Scientist for many years), yet Bill was permitted no input into how corporate finances were handled.

Also earlier this month, the VP of a large user experience organization told me about having earlier in the day cut off a marketing manager who, during a design review, was about to recommend changes to some wording on a redesigned webpage. He explained to the marketing manager that the content personnel had that part of the design covered, and he told me of how his organization's content managers were just starting to get their feet under them again after having had their work messed up for a very long time by product managers. (See "Borrowing from the field of child development..." for references to more stories of this nature.)

However, in a blog entry I posted in March (a posting recently republished in UX Magazine), I referenced situations in which "checking your disciplines at the door" can be beneficial.

And as Claudia Kotchka, VP of Design Innovation & Strategy at P&G, argued during her recent presentation at Stanford, "turf wars are unproductive and never lead to design succeeding."

The issue of ownership of the user experience was among several issues addressed during a CHI conference session I led last month, and session participants had differing perspectives on this issue. One participant advocating shared ownership was Secil Watson, Senior VP of Internet Channel Strategy at Wells Fargo. In my view, Secil's perspective is particularly insightful, as reflected in her words below which come from communication with me prior to the conference session:
"In our Internet channel strategy team, ... we have different disciplines represented: UI design, IA, content strategy, UI development, customer communications, servicing experience, product management, strategic planning, market research, user research, syndicated research, metrics analysis, statistical modelling, process consulting and business and technical architecture.

Their collective goal is to create positive customer experiences, which we believe lead to long term customer value. We think that we can only arrive at positive customer experiences if we collaborate. None of the disciplines can arrive at the right solution in their silos, since they each have a limited vantage point.

The (nearby) 'clover diagram' shows the key questions we all ask, regardless of our competencies. It also shows how achieving positive customer experiences presents an optimization problem. It's not about 'putting the customer at the center'. It's about finding a solution that meets multiple objectives. Finding the solutions require three things: 1. asking the right questions 2. Knowing who to go to to get the right answers 3. Having a culture that supports cross group collaboration (facilitating giving and receiving of help).

Collaboration and integrated work practices are critical. No one discipline can come up with the right answer - they would all only be able to 'locally optimize' their solutions. But putting everyone in the same organization, under the same roof, in the same room are also impractical solutions.

The change has to occur over time and be culturally encouraged: Individuals from different disciplines should know when to ask for another discipline's help, tools and opinions. To facilitate this information sharing, it's also critical that disciplines are open to sharing their tools and findings with other groups.

Asking for and offering help, tools and advice creates an economy of insight. And good insights drive organizations towards a culture that starts asking the right questions more often. At the same time, individuals become better able to connect to the right groups to get the answers to their questions.

My definition of a 'customer centric' culture is where people are asking the right questions to the right people, who are able and willing to collaborate to provide their insights. In such a culture, over time, individuals ask the right questions more often and get the right answers more often. This is a reinforcing feedback loop. As this culture takes hold, more and more of the solutions coming out of the group would yield positive customer experiences. Eventually, the center of the clover would grow...

So, a KPI for 'how customer centric is your organization' would measure how many of the "solutions" an organization creates do fall into the center of the clover as opposed to on one or two of the petals or even worse, outside of the clover."
For more on Secil's approach at Wells Fargo, see "Developing user-centered tools for business planning."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Riander Blog receiving growing attention worldwide

I'm delighted that lots of people and companies are finding value in my blog.

People around the world have contacted me about it, and blogs around the world have referenced it.

One of the most notable references appeared in Putting People First, a blog by Mark Vanderbeeken in Italy that is read by approximately 2500 people every day.

Recently, UX Magazine -- a 2007 Webby Awards nominee for Best Business Blog, posted an entry from my blog and added another blog entry to their article editing queue.

And others, including Viaspire -- a 2007 blogger's choice awards nominee for Best Marketing Blog, have posted compliments.

I hope you'll find future Riander Blog postings warrant your attention and others' attention worldwide.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Metaphors for understanding organizational and process issues

Metaphors come in handy for communicating about and even identifying organizational issues of relevance to user experience. For example, in "Changing the course or pace of a large ship," I wrote about a couple of commonly used boat metaphors:
"... the head of a now large and quite successful corporate user experience organization recently told me, early on (i.e., ~5 years ago when he joined the company as manager of a very small UI group), he felt like he was rowing a small boat to try to change the course of the large ship to which it is attached via a rope.

Interestingly, a director in another very large corporate user experience organization recently invoked a similar metaphor, describing the pace of change he was able to achieve as akin to the pace of an oil tanker rather than a speed boat. However, he was talking about the situation now, not years ago when the organization was in its infancy."
The speed boat metaphor appeared again in "What is holding User Experience back or propelling User Experience forward where you work?", answers to which were solicited from working professionals via collaborative "Speed Boat exercises":
"For one exercise, I drew a speed boat and several anchors hanging from it on the whiteboard, and asked everyone to write onto post-its whatever has been holding User Experience back where they work and then place those post-its on the several anchors.

... To learn what the students believe has been key to propelling User Experience forward where they work (to the extent that it has been propelled or is being propelled forward), I shifted the focus of the Speed Boat exercise from the anchors to -- you guessed it -- the engine propellers (see nearby photo). Interestingly, in several cases, "propelling forward" encompassed "moving upstream," to use yet another metaphor which, at least on the surface, is moving in the opposite direction!

... Why bother with the speed boats and the anchors and the propellers? There are several reasons, but one of the most interesting, in my view, is how they appear to help tap what participants actually 'experience' in their workplace."
And I've referenced other metaphors, including a couple of "three-legged stools" (e.g., of collaboration) that will fall over if any leg is missing.

Recently, I stumbled upon a couple of clever and more complex metaphors of a related nature.

In Thoughts on Microsoft Spark UX Summit, Adam Richardson wrote:
"...I had kind of a funny thought about UX while sipping from a plastic bottle of Ritz Carlton water. I noticed the nutrition label on the water, where everything was 0%. Now if you knew nothing about water and its importance to life you would think it was a completely useless and trivial liquid. It’s all around you and thus taken for granted, and sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad, but exactly why some is good and some is bad you can’t really explain. It suddenly hit me that user experience is treated like water: on conventional business metrics it shows up as a 0 all across the board. However, user experience is something companies deliver whether they mean to or not, but they lack the means to see it or understand how to quantify what makes it good or bad. And increasingly UX needs to be treated as the life-sustaining element that keeps them alive by separating them from the competition. Achieving this requires addition of new metrics that actually reflect it."
And in a paper submitted to CHI 2007's alt.chi venue -- an experimental venue for "unusual, challenging, and thought-provoking work that might not otherwise be seen at the conference," Anna Swartling and colleagues described how a football metaphor can help one visualize organizational responsibility (or lack thereof) for usability.
"In our study of a procurer organization, we saw that even though both procurer and developer were positive towards usability, no one in particular took responsibility for it. Rather, for some, usability was perceived as omnipresent in many processes, and for others, if it wasn't included in the requirements specification, it was more or less absent. Usability was always someone else's problem or responsibility. We came to think of usability being "kicked" around, within the organization as well as during development. This transformed into sports and for us, closest to mind was football."
Anna and her colleagues developed this metaphor extensively, associating various systems development project roles with goal keepers, team captains, the referee, the audience in the stands, the home and visiting teams, and others. And by doing so, they were able to better understand why usability gets "kicked around" as it often does.

As the authors state:
"The advantage of a metaphor is that it enables the possibility to see things from a new perspective."
What metaphors have enabled you or others to better understand organizational and process issues of relevance to user experience?

Metaphor is critical to human thinking, particularly when dealing with abstract concepts as so well documented by George Lakoff. Check out the classic Metaphors We Live By for more information.

A user experience metaphor of a different nature that I stumbled upon recently: Mike Kuniavsky's use of magic as a metaphor for the design of ubiquitous computing devices. Those interested in exploring the benefits of this design metaphor should look back in the archives for Bruce Tognazzini's description of the insightful relationship between "Magic and Software Design."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

So, whose advice really works?

Two weeks ago, I led a session during the CHI 2007 conference entitled, "Moving User Experience into a Position of Corporate Influence: Whose Advice Really Works?"

As I described in a preview, a major focus of the session was five means of -- according to many -- moving user experience into a position of corporate influence: documenting and evangelizing user experience work, owning the user experience, proper organizational positioning, calculating return on investment, and conducting "ethnographic" research. Indeed, according to many, each of these five means is critical to moving user experience into a position of corporate influence. However, one can find arguments against the use or importance of each means. Hence, of interest was which means played critical roles in moving user experience into a position of influence in the diverse mix of workplaces of six panelists, all in or having been in senior management positions via which they have moved user experience into a position of corporate influence.

During the session, I introduced each means, referencing arguments and evidence in support of the means, and referencing arguments and evidence to the contrary. Then, after the audience members proclaimed whether or not they believed that particular means was critical to moving user experience into a position of corporate influence, the six panelists moved to a location on stage reflecting whether or not the means played a critical role in their workplaces (see sample slide).

Note the dissimilarity of the configuration of the panelists in the two nearby photos showing their configuration for two of the five means. Indeed, there was a lot of movement on stage during the session. All six panelists were never together behind the same table, and different combinations of panelists were behind different tables (or "sitting on the fence" in the center) for all five means.

After moving into position for a means, panelists addressed how and/or why the means played or didn't play a critical role where they work.

So, what did the panelists say? Why is it that important words of advice regarding moving user experience into a position of corporate influence should be followed in some cases but not necessarily in all? When should one follow what advice?

The session, which received rave reviews, was recorded for addition to ACM's Digital Library, so you'll all have an opportunity to learn answers to those questions as provided by the panelists via that recording. I'll let you know when the recording becomes available.

However, you can find partial answers to these questions in previous entries in my blog, and I'll address the panelists' answers and the session further in upcoming entries. (I hear that a couple of other people might also be preparing online reports about the session.)

Justin Miller's final words during the panel provide some good overarching guidance. After referring to Jakob Nielsen's stages of corporate usability maturity as providing some good guidance regarding when to do what, Justin said:
"But the really important thing is referenced in the very last sentence of Jakob's article: 'Once you learn how to tickle the organization sufficiently to make it move, you can start planning for your next upgrade...' You have to know how to influence your own organization, because that is what is going to make you successful. And that is going to be different from organization to organization, and within the same organization, it is going to vary over time. So, you've got to be plugged into how to change and influence things where you work, ... and you've got to be sure that you have the right capability (to do that)."
Justin Miller is Senior Director of Product -- Europe, eBay.

For a couple of my thoughts on Nielsen's stages of corporate usability maturity, see Changing the course or pace of a large ship.

Photos courtesy of Nancy Frishberg.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How would you change "interactions" magazine?

Let's say you had an opportunity to become an Editor-in-Chief of interactions magazine (subtitled "New Visions in Human-Computer Interaction" and a bi-monthly publication of ACM SIGCHI), or that you at least had an opportunity to provide input to the incoming Editor(s)-in-Chief.

How would you change the magazine? Would you change it? What, if anything, is missing? How could it be improved?

I have greatly valued interactions magazine over the years, from the initial issues overseen by Editor-in-Chief John Rheinfrank (the first issue was published in January 1994), through a period of time during which it looks like there might not have been an Editor-in-Chief, through Steven Pemberton's years as Editor-in-Chief, and most recently, while Jonathan Arnowitz and Elizabeth Dykstra-Erikson have been sharing that role.

Indeed, I have quoted and otherwise referenced content from interactions in several of my articles in this blog.

But there are some things about the publication that I think could be improved. Are there some things about interactions that you think could be improved?

Please let me know (riander at well dot com), as I have an opportunity to significantly impact the nature and content of the magazine.

How could interactions magazine become more valuable to you?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Moving UX into a position of corporate influence: Whose advice really works?

I'll be leading an "interactive session" at CHI 2007 entitled, "Moving UX into a Position of Corporate Influence: Whose Advice Really Works?" Here is the abstract:
"Professionals working to move user experience (UX) into a position of corporate influence are impeded by conflicting recommendations, including those regarding the roles of documenting and evangelizing UX work, ownership of UX, organizational positioning, calculating return on investment, and conducting "ethnographic" research. In this interactive session, a group of senior UX management personnel who have moved UX into positions of rapidly increasing influence in their varied places of work debate their different perspectives and approaches to help resolve the conflicting recommendations and generate some new and improved guidance."
A four-page description of this session will be published and will become available in ACM's digital library. However, I've prepared a longer version of the description for you to download.

During recent weeks, I've posted blog entries that provide even more information about the focus of the session:
15 Feb 07: Documenting and evangelizing user experience work

24 Jan 07: Ownership of the user-customer experience

01 Feb 07: Does it matter where User Experience is positioned in your corporate structure?

13 Mar 07 Calculating return on investment

5 Apr 07 Conducting "ethnographic" research
And I recently activated the ability to comment on those postings to invite you to share your stories about your experiences. For example, the first comment to the last posting referenced above is from me and says:
"What has been your experience where you work? Has conducting 'ethnographic' research played a role in moving user experience into a position of corporate influence, or has it not played such a role? If it hasn't, could it? If it has, what role has it played?"
If you'd prefer, feel free to share information about your experiences just with me via email.

The experiences that will receive the greatest attention during the CHI conference session will be those of the following people:
  • Jeremy Ashley, Vice President of Applications User Experience, Oracle
  • Tobias Herrmann, Head of Team User Experience, mobilkom austria (represented by Manfred Tscheligi, Managing Director of USECON, Wien Austria)
  • Justin Miller, Senior Director of Product for Europe, eBay
  • Jim Nieters, Senior Manager User Experience Design, Cisco
  • Shauna Sampson Eves, Director of User Experience, Blue Shield of California
  • Secil Tabli Watson, Senior Vice President Internet Channel Strategy, Wells Fargo
(And I'll contribute a couple of my own stories as well.)

Watch this blog for additional information on the (topic of the) session, but if you are attending CHI 2007, I hope you'll join us Tuesday, 1 May, 14:30-16:00 in the San Jose Convention Center's Civic Auditorium.