management archives
“Too many CIOs get lost in the thicket of what platforms are hot today, what buzzwords are ascendant, what tool got the reviews here, or there, and never take time to sit down with a user and observe, and listen, and talk.”
From Mark Hurst on Good Experience. Helpful quote as I prepare to host a training session on conducting customer interviews next week. Good dialog illustrating why it’s important for management to buy in to user-centered principles.

posted by ted 10 hours ago · 0 comments

Compartmentalists, Specialists, and Generalists

Jared Spool just posted an interesting article on the ideal makeup of a UX team . He makes a useful distinction between a specialist and a compartmentalist:

While the former is about having the majority of your experience in a single discipline, the latter is about only having experience in that discipline… . A compartmentalist isolates themselves from the other disciplines around them, not really learning what they do or how they do it. Compartmentalism is bad for teams, because it means you have to have enough work to keep that individual busy within that discipline, and if needs shift or emergencies crop up, their value is dramatically diminished.

I would also add that a compartmentalist tends to make decisions that cause problems for other team members—the compartmentalized user researcher makes design recommendations that don’t meet the needs the business analyst identified previously; the designer designs something that will take $5 million to implement; the HTML coder who transforms those ultra-accessible semantic forms into screen-reader nightmares for the blind.

So I agree with Spool that compartmentalism is bad. But he also says that the main reason to choose a specialist over a generalist is economic; if a specialist is available and affordable, you would hire a specialist, according to the article. But aren’t there times when specialization is a negative for the project? Even if I could afford a specialist HTML coder, business analyst, interaction designer, and user researcher… isn’t there some inherent value in having the same person play one or more of those roles, depending on project size, complexity, or a host of other factors?

I don’t think economics is the only factor.

posted by ted on Monday, Nov 17, 2008 · 7 comments

“Leaders inspire. Managers require.”
A participant at the George Wythe University Statesmanship Retreat last weekend, commenting on the difference between leadership and management. Not to say that good managers can’t also inspire—but when they do, that is when they Lead instead of merely Manage. Also, you can lead without being a manager—something good designers do every day.

posted by ted on Monday, Nov 17, 2008 · 0 comments

“He had an unbending
devotion to flexibility.
Lincoln on Leadership

posted by ted on Tuesday, Oct 23, 2007

Managers do things right.
Leaders do right things.
Quoted in Lincoln on Leadership, my current commuter audiobook

posted by ted on Friday, Oct 19, 2007

Project “Soul Searching”

In our jobs, working for the LDS Church, we work on projects that do not generate financial income. This is very different than the corporate world that I’m used to, but also a very good thing. The projects we work on do not generate income, but they do use financial resources of the Church, and the bar is set very high to use those resources in the most effective way possible. This environment requires an extra level of vigilance and “project soul searching” that may not happen (although it probably should) in the corporate world. In this quest for meaning, I’ve been bombarded with questions. The process of questioning doesn’t always get to the answer. In fact, if you’ve got all the answers, the chances are that you don’t really understand the problem. The purpose of questioning is to gain a better understanding of the problem, where your solution fits in, and what effect it will really have on your customers and end users.

Andy Rutledge makes some good points on this also in his article “Seek Understading, Not Answers”

posted by john on Wednesday, Aug 23, 2006 · 0 comments