When connectivity is wellness
A few conversations recently about connectivity and what it means to be well had sparked something of a different perspective. Namely, what it means to find wellness when you are connected. Sounds like a wrong shift of perspective to some, but we must realize that for many, to be disconnected will mean Essential death. It’s rather on a scale of connectivity where they will figure out what is too much, what isn’t enough, and what it means to be well.
Borrowing from the ideology behind digital immigrants and natives (see: Howard Reinghold), there’s obviously a difference between those who grew up with connectivity as it evolved and those who grew up with different aspects of it more or less normalized. Much like those who grew up with color TV listened to those who grew up with radio talk about the diminishing of imagination, there’s a similar angle to this discussion. However, we won’t settle on the perceived negative connotations, there’s room for that in other digital humanism discussions. We would be better to ask what wellness looks like.
On the other side of those things techie, there’s been plotting what it means to be connected but not overwhelmed. When wearing connected glasses and ears means “an ability to communicate but not be overdone with media connecting to you.” Or, adding a set of ears and finding the other spectrums of hearing not easily heard as we age. Or, adding a watch for wellness is also adding a human introspection of transactions and rest. In a sense, grafting connected devices and services not for the purpose of being consumed with media/attention, but for the purpose of using it to filter the world so that a humane perspective remains.
Wellness starts to sound more like exercising agency over how and what is connected to. It really is “use these attention-seeking, analytics-invasive” services and devices, but doing so under the lens of “let me stay connected to the parts of the world which matters.” Yes, sometimes that means disconnect, but more often, it means to use the settings, filters, and timers also present in order to lower the volume and tone.
Looked at a bike lock this weekend and wondered why an NFC-enabled lock was not (yet?) invented to make it easier to keep a locked bicycle from being taken. A bicycle being used speaks to being human-powered, and close to your surroundings as you travel. However, solutions for securing a bicycle are either to fold and take it with you, or use a fairly thick and heavy lock to secure it. There’s connectivity on a finger which could solve both of these if we thought about it differently. That differently isn’t to be disconnected (analog, or manual)m but to use connectivity in such a way it causes us to cultivate wellness, rather than disconnect because of fears.
If connectivity were also looked at as wellness, what could your humane-enabled perspective also create? What else would it empower? Why not connect to those outcomes instead of what we’ve been doing to date?
Persistence… for those to whom media has or hasn’t given them attention, there’s the swelling of persistence. For those engaging in environmental conversations, the addition of younger voices seems to validate their persistence. While the diminishing of data or resources invites a different type of persistence. Whether or not persistence is met with the intended desire, what’s been true about this week — and the links shared — is that persistence is just as much a tune for the age as any other.
Only a few items this week, but a few recaps of previous editorials:
Less “Finished” and More “What Else Is There”
Not every project ends in a beautiful design. Better said, not every project begins with the ideal experience being the thing that is delivered. Often, the idealized design becomes water down, modified, standards approved, or any other myriad of items before it lands into the customer’s hands. As a designer, whether talking about Web or services or hardware, you have to be OK with the idea of your craftsmanship being in an incomplete state. Still, being OK with that state doesn’t mean that there are lessons yet to be learned.
One lesson is that of the design experience was just a guide all along. There is some truth to the statement that often people do not understand what they want until they see it. And what happens here in there is that a design experience is created, however it is eschewed for something else entirely. There was one project we talked about here, that when it released looked almost nothing like the design that was created. The overall experience was actually similar to a few pieces of an early prototype. However, it was the choice of the client to MoveOn from the experience that was designed to experience that was closer aligned to their vision. Can’t be mad at such things, in that case, the product is actually doing well.
In another case, you may have the lesson of the design experience being held to, but the end result not calculated or foreseen. This would seem like an issue which comes from the lack of research, or even the lack of follow through with some of the metrics after the product has been designed. But actually, this is a matter of understanding that design experiences do not always, and should not always, understand every outcome. In fact, it is these unforeseen consequences of a design which should be sought after. This allows you to design a better experience later; and hopefully, there are no mortal injuries as a result of learning said lesson.
The last lesson, this one is for the practitioner specifically, is the lesson of doing too much. It is easily the case for an experience designer to calculate all possible directions for design experience. That ability to have a macro and micro view of the design experience is an asset. And often, notebooks are filled, Post-it notes are laid, and wireframes designed against both the macro and micro view. However, if the design experience is not brought to fruition as designed, the practitioner would feel that the design is incomplete. It is not incomplete; however, their expectations for what the design experience were supposed to contain was incomplete. They went beyond the scope of reality, not the scope of the design. This is an important lesson; it is the humility one.
Now, these are not the only lessons found in designing experiences. There are often several more. However, a recently concluded project brought to mind these lessons in part because there is a re-orientation that happens when you realize that an incomplete design is part of what should happen sometimes. The re-orientation is that design experiences are not the province of the practitioner, it belongs to those who will live with it and it’s consequences. The designer is merely the translator. Some phrases don’t need to be as polished as they hear them in their heads and hearts. All lessons need to be learned — these are just a few for those who create for others.
What happens when you start thinking about what you can do now and start concentrating a little bit more towards the horizon? Not, “future” in the respect of it’s impossible but we’re gonna think about it anyway. Future in the respect of, given a few things breaking the right way, this could certainly happen next. This horizon mindset might both be a safe space to dream, as well as a decent toolshed.
That’s the framing for what’s shared for this week. Not that far out there, but also not exactly around the corner yet either:
A few posts this week:
Also, if you are following via microblog, you’ll see additional items posted throughout the weekend.
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Unstructured thoughts on Apple’s 2019 WWDC Keynote
Did not intend to sit down and write this, so am using Siri dictation to do so. Because Voice Control is probably the most important highlight from the WWDC keynote. Well, the most important highlight for those people who may be looking to utilize Apple devices and services for the next 10 to 15 years. For those people, and for what seems to be pointing towards in writing/dictating this right now, the power will be in declarative computing - not simply pushing a mouse, keyboard, or cursor to where you want to go. But using intention as a control mechanism. Gestures are a part of this, but mental acuity is the canvas/pen.
A little bit more about Siri: it seems as if Apple has taken some lessons from Brian Roemmele and is making a more natural interface for potential conversation. Now, he might say that they could’ve gone further and made it purely conversational, and an active listener. But it seems as if they are setting the stage for doing that with watchOS doing noise-loudness detection, a new neural text-to-speech voice, and more. Not fully SiriOS, but the enablements there and with Shortcuts on iOS/iPadOS seems to point there cleanly.
That the iPad is now getting specifically focused iPadOS says a whole lot about the future productivity. Granted, if you’ve been listening to this channel or others for many years, you’re already bought and sold into that vision. The case is now that it’s possible not only for others to jump into that vision, but there is an incentive for developers to build that into their products, and for productivity to change to adapt to that reality. It’s almost like saying, the tablet is grown enough to be the kind of device it needs to be, here is the way you work that out. Three-finger text control gestures toss the “need a mouse” argument out; and PencilKit should finally mean something of a standard-fare in apps which use canvas/drawing surfaces to elevate that input mechanism and the connections it opens.
The new Mac Pro reminds of the Ford F150 from one or two generations ago. It went from a design that looks like a car, but try to take some of the smoother softer aspects of an automotive design and appropriate that to a truck. And while they did not hurt their sales numbers any, they were perceived as being less capable. When looking at the new Mac Pro, not only the design but also the features, the absolutely insane features of the top and models, you can’t help but see a similar cadence. A device like this is really built for professionals, not power users. Will not be surprised to hear those who do YouTube, tech journalism, fawn over the specs for this. But they are not the audience. To those to whom this will be the audience, a redesigned F150 will be exactly what is ordered. And just like Ford, Apple will likely see their perception and marketshare grow by leaps and bounds because of this attention to this specific group.
Swift UI is going to be more important for the health of macOS as it goes forward. Not so much because it gives away for iOS applications to come to macOS, but it allows certain skills and development to be shared from those persons who been developing for many years/decades to those who are just entering the space and find arcane frameworks or software development kits a little more cumbersome than they need to be. That’s not a bad thing, if you want to improve the user experience of some applications, you have to improve the user experience of the developers who are developing those experiences. Demo looked like Swift Playgrounds minus the gaming — kids who play Minecraft are well-positioned to go right into this.
All in all, it has to be something of a breather for those persons who have thought or have seen a decrease in the affluence and ability of Apple to set trends. Clearly, some of the softer bits are harder to see at this juncture (it is a keynote, at the annual developers conference). But if you look beyond the things that were announced, paying attention to the placement of items in the presentation, pain attention to the energy around some of the announcements, you can see that Apple is very much setting themselves up for future where the iPhone has now become like the Mac. Paying attention to the whispers: AirPods, HomePod, CarPlay, Siri — this is Apple next. And that’s not a bad place at all. Even with the economic and cultural headwinds happening right now.
Update: Videos for the keynotes and other sessions are all posted here.
Not every challenge is challenging
One of the most difficult concepts to get across in the middle of the sales process is complexity. Or more specifically, how “complexity doesn’t matter.” Given enough information, yet not always enough time to synthesize, anything that is truly complex isn’t. Recognizing complexity is a type of humility. Humility that respects the problem, its audiences, and even the solutions.
It comes across as arrogant to say “oh, that’s easy I get it.“ And that’s because in their framework, in their context, they see an insurmountable problem. But you are outside of that box, you sit in the context not as burdened with the income or the outcome. You are just enough involved to help them see where they could not see before.
Drawing on the outside of the box some refuse to get outside of
Challenges to the way that we move, the way that we behave, the way that we create are a box. And it’s a good box. This box is good for boundaries of protection, boundaries that measure our success, and boundaries that measure the scope or reach of our influence. Those challenges also constrain us. Constraints are a type of freedom, but they are also a limitation. Walking alongside someone who is not inside of your box is an admission you can not overcome the challenge alone. You see their strengths, and opt to graft to your own so that a step forward may happen.
But, they are likely not challenged by your challenges. They have their own challenges. Yours is probably a stimulant to continue past their challenge. Might even be the ink they use to draw on the outside of your box. They don’t’ have your limitations, nor should they. They aren’t supposed to fit in your box…
…they are to empower you to reshape your box.
Finding and synthesizing readings when the months slow down into heat of summer tends to be a little difficult. Not because there’s not as much value in what’s generated or shared, but because the connections become less apparent. The challenge isn’t challenging — however, there is no easy fit. Designing structures to understand associations is a bit of a kennel’s game — sure, you can put a wrapper around items, but that doesn’t mean it matters to more than the one doing the wrapping. The hope is that it does matter, and at the point when it does, connections manifest into opportunity.
Here are this week’s most interesting reads:
A very heart-felt piece written about a great woman met some years ago. Amazing life and energy. So grateful to have met Peg: Last Conversation — Painfully Hopeful
Just a few pieces this week:
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June of last year (2018) was an interesting month. Felt like there was a shift which needed to be taken with the content here and at the same time, the way summer happens, a lot of activity slows down. So, instead of productivity for others, effort was into setting up the summer/fall output to come.
Deftly turning a large ship with a whisper
With some clients, the topic of organizational change comes up very often. This is usually because the work with this client involves taking multiple teams and putting them on the same level as it relates to utilizing a specific software platform. This vantage point offers an ability to see what innovation will look like for an enterprise, but also how hard it is to move in enterprise in a new direction after they have done something for so long.
With several of the teams, they are merely looking at ways of doing their job more efficiently. Shortcuts, automations, and even “features I didn’t know were there” tends to be the context. As such, innovation for these teams looks less like doing something brand new, and more like “how to simplify the most complex happenings.“ For these teams, simply taking a common-to-them analogy and then relating the benefit of the system, offers the best opportunities for what becomes innovative practices.
For a few other teams, there’s a bit more needed. The jobs-to-be-done had been conflicted. Instead of monitoring and elevating meaning, roles are calculating and constraining meaning. Instead of searching datastores quickly, they are locked file cabinets — whose taxonomy is only known by the owner, but often forgotten over time, or triggered by a changing organizational system due to their maturity in the organization. For these persons, enterprise innovation is also simplifying complexity, but first under the guise of “what does your job need for you to execute.”
It is these innovation projects which are the most fun, and the most challenging. Being an external operator means that some of the data day elements of what it means for that enterprise to function are going to always be hidden from view. However, some of those day-to-day elements are pieces that I actually need to be hand is innovative practices are going to have a new footing. In a sense, both of the after mentioned context need to be repotted into new soil. But all of the old cannot be thrown away. The core remains, but the space is envisioned anew (a fun question here: “have you used this tool you already have available to do this”).
Overtime, our role becomes more of a lighthouse. We are not the evangelist, we train the evangelist. We train those people who will be the bell-toll for what it means for that organization to have a better direction. That doesn’t mean a sense of being disconnected from the final outcome. But in our case, we are at governors of the outcome. We are governors of facilitating a path forward. For many enterprises that is simply a whisper in the ear of a highly influential person or group. And then win that whisper is heard just long enough, it becomes an activity that transforms the behavior of the entire organization. But does so in a way they accept, a way they want, and a way they understand better the winds of opportunity are now flowing.
Writing a forward for an upcoming book and was impressed to think about the contexts of love, lust, and loss. Sounds complicated and a bit obscure to ventures somewhat bracketed around technology and its changes. But, it makes good sense to think about how these tools and behaviors effect what is appreciated, gained, or denied because of those tools/behaviors. Perhaps these links which have stuck out from the past seven days knit around a similar theme for you as well. Or, maybe just one of those — love, lust, and loss — sticks out. Suffice to say, those things which are complex and magical do impress on us that reality.
Nothing created this week due to putting that energy towards several workshops. New content will come back next week (even with the USA doing the holiday thing on Monday). Here’s some of what’s been published over the past weeks to hold you over till then:
There is a hashtag-day holiday almost every day it seems. Sometimes, these days seem nothing more than the commercialization of an ego. Othertimes, it seems to draw attention to the kinds of concerns which seem to fall swiftly under the covers of day-to-day life. Such is the weirdness of today’s #BikeToWorkDay — at least here in the auto-centric USA, this day has become something of a trumpet for those who enjoy cycling, but can’t seem to break from the constraints of needing to drive to work or dress/appear productive even when they want to ascribe to fit/affluence/etc. These days are kind of a world witihin our world; signaling some aspect of what we want to be, but also granting some freedom to explore what life could be along that hashtag-analogy.
Here are this week’s reads — who follow their own hashtag-analogies:
And a few 🔗 from here:
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Last week was a flashback to the posts shared last year (April 2018). For this week, it’s a look at what was shared a month later, May ‘18.
Perspectives & Concepts
There’s a pattern to each week here. The long-post to start the week is both summary and launching. Then something in the middle of the week — a concept or a flashback. Then the close of the week where items of the week’s interest are shared (and those following via the site/Microblog see a bit more throughout the weekend). It’s not all that efficient for creating, but it is sufficient for the type of things created.
This navigating of efficiency and sufficiency comes up often in prospective and active projects. Usually, the intention/ask is to make something more efficient — but what’s really being sought is a better association to sufficiency in process, activity, and/or product. In being given a look into what creates outcomes, efficiency seems to be the measuring stick. And to some degree, you can merit some success when removing friction. But, that can’t be the goal. Sufficiency can be the goal, but after a very early point, it’s not so much measured as it’s felt — that is, what’s actually done becomes understood and analyzed well above the scope of what metrics define efficiency.
Can’t take credit for this framing. A recent read at Treehugger opened the topic and made very clear that the aim shouldn’t simply be making a process or series or products efficient. If looking at what people are doing isn’t the metric first, no amount of efficiency actually solves the problem. It actually adds inefficiencies.
But, can an effort like Avanceé subscribe and then ascribe to its clients such a philosophy? Likely, yes. This is the domain not only of an SME, but also of being forward in such a way which respects the people who own the journey. It’s likely a divergence from what you might be used to — but, it wouldn’t be drawing on the outside of the box if it didn’t look at effects/affects like this now would it?
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Perhaps it is more about paying attention to what matters for most people. What matters are the smaller bits. The digestible bits. What effects me today? What is the friction I can respond to which affects me/my family? The wider view is a harder one. It means you either are forgetting what’s in front of your nose for what’s in front of your feet; or that you are fully taken care of in those more immediate cares, willing to look at the macro-view towards how it will effect you. Themeing this week’s roundup around such a macro view — conversations like these aren’t frequent enough of all of our circles, perhaps by design.
A few opinions from here:
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Flashbacks to what talked about on the site a year ago:
Wondering why design tools have been reluctant to evolve
Conversations about design methods and software often bracket the week. If it isn’t another software/service, it’s a design system or a shift in a large/influential company’s motivations which sparks things. And it’s not a bad thing. Design is the language of making something functional and addressable for someone else. When it works well, it should be applauded. When it fails, it should also be elevated as lessons to build from.
Yet, there is this gap in the methods and implementing of design where — if you inhabit the space long enough — you realize that the tools are woefully equipped to transmit the best fidelity of what’s intended. The tools — everything from the napkin and pen to the metrics suites used for assessing usability, frequency, and issues —are developed around the idea that value is being communicated and can retold at each step of the journey. For the most part, this seems to be true, right until a shift happens.
Previously, we ran a post titled The Ethics of UX As A Social/Security Vector. It is the kind of post which can fly under the radar of those in design spaces because it seems to run similar to the other “UX is not doing right by us” theme. Yet, when poking past the questions posed in that piece, one can start to see a tension within the tools and methods designers use to communicate. In a few examples, we can see where it wasn’t the design of the end product where ethics issues lay, but it was in the tooling itself that never asked the designer/developer to consider more than their own intent. So, what happens when the tools evolve to asking these perspectives?
One thought is that the tools we use need to be embedded with ethical and organizational intelligence at a higher place in the ideation process. For example, a tool like Figma is excellent for designers and developers as various bits of communication have been solidified and there just needs to be some work around the edges. Once a design system has been created with Figma, one can make the assumption that the logic needed to build and implement a system has also seen some considerable attention towards its value to various audiences.
Chances are though, more designers have spent time in a scenario more similar to the other image in our frame — Microsoft’s Sketch2Code. S2C is an experimental interface using Microsoft’s lessons in image and intelligence to take whiteboard/napkin sketches and turn them into code. Not interactive, not even mapped against an org’s design system. S2C merely trims the work from those executive thoughts (“can we do it like…”) to elements which can build towards the final product (code, code snippets). However, S2C has a problem, it’s just snippets and a contextualized journey, it isn’t a map which can be built from.
Design tools actually need to bridge what’s explained here between S2C and Figma. And that evolution not happening (fast enough?) with the tools. It is on the whiteboard, and it’s long been the case that some analytical software can check code for logic/rule/regulation after its built. The tooling of enabling the designer to be poked during the fact isn’t there. And maybe it can be for a while — then turned off when those “training wheels” are no longer needed. Or, maybe they aren’t turned off — the ethics which guide why we can’t have this info populate a field because of our company’s stance on this or that probably does mean it evolves.
Much like an mobile operating system learns its owner and begins to recommend items at various points of use, perhaps its time for design tools to get a similar bridge — even if that tool is camera looking at that whiteboard sketch, validating the idea, preparing the code for inclusion to the backlog and branch, but also elevating where it conflicts with the design system and ethics of the attending org/nation. A previous shared concept pointed to this line of thinking. In between communicating and designing, there’s a better behavior to be esteemed. Maybe the evolution of the toolkit could do that. If the tooling evolves at this point, then perhaps the rippled effects of abuse, market gain, culture/language, etc. can be given a more valuable bit of attention.
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Each week, looking back over what has been an influential read is something of a joy and a hurdle.
It’s a joy because there are connections made with particular items. There are insights, dissections, and connections which have made an impact at that very moment. Or maybe, it was an impact better felt when combined with something else read/created previously.
At the same time it’s a hurdle, because everything that you read is not necessarily meant to be taken in. Everything that falls into a feed is not meant to be consumed. The hurdle can be explained simply: is this important enough to come back to you later, or was it just a distraction for the thing you were supposed to be concentrating on?
With that kind of perspective, looking back over 6 to 7 days of notable reads takes on a different priority. It doesn’t mean that everything matters, it just means accepting the challenge of respecting the moment.
Here are a few of the items which stuck out this week:
Only one article this week:
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Bending UX to see other vectors of organizational ethics
A friend and I joked about a photo sent to him. He asked about the name scribbled on the cup. To him and his SE USA context, it came across as a push/play on the term “field negro.” To him, it was a bold play. Now, the name on the cup (“fields”) was in reference to the name of the drink (Strawberry Fields Latte), but it did invite us to take the convo further. What if my name were Fields? Do I even look like someone with that name? And then there was my push: could I change my name in the Starbucks app to “Field Negro?” If so, would they call out the whole name? Would it be shortened?
At that point I put forward this point:
Now wondering if there’s field validation on the names in their app to prevent that
For those involved within web technologies, the idea of field validation is an important one. From in putting the correct information, to validating whether or form is ready to be completed, field validation stands as a very important topic. And I will not even get started in talking about the various ways that web developers, designers, etc. all display whether a field has been successfully validated or not. Suffice to say, that is a seriously challenging subject.
But, I didn’t stop there. I went further with my comment and introspection into field validation:
But… they (Starbucks staff) all went thru sensitivity training right? If UX is the digital modeling of the org’s character, shouldn’t field validation (in their app) be tested for that too
Here lies will where we find a different factor for user experience and then what may have been considered before. If user experience is a successful translation of a company‘s values to the performance of its software/services, it would make sense that something as simple as field validation would also go through the same lessons/outcomes of sensitivity training that those who work with the inputs or outputs have also gone through. If you will, making it digitally clear that every aspect of an organization is showing forth the ethics the company says it espouses.
This quickly goes from being a technical question, is there a field validation for a specific string of characters, to an ethical question, should a company that is allowing a field for identification prohibit certain strings of characters from showing in order to display it sensitivity to a particular group of people or cultural context. That’s not an easy answer; that is an easy answer.
What about a naming field tells you that a company has considered points of view outside of a dominant narrative? There was a story a few years ago about a person in Hawaii whose name was too long to be printed on a drivers license because it contains too many letters. Is it the responsibility of the department of motor vehicles to consider that native names, when written in Latin characters, can be much longer than byte lengths allow? What happens when the byte is too small? Do we change their name to fit our structures? What about password requirement scenarios? Being asked to create a password of a specific minimum number of characters, containing a certain number of symbols, numbers or upper/lower case characters seems to be a sensible framework. But what about when it isn’t? What about when that kind of framework actually limits how the system can be secured, and also enables people to be more easily surveilled?
I will admit, this line of questioning and hypothesizing serves no specific end personally. Professionally however, it opens a door up two types of automation/machine learning in which humans are helped out of their biases, instead of entrenched within them. Going forward, it may not make sense socially to change my name and a Starbucks application for kicks, but it does make sense to explore why some of those changes should not happen. Yelling “fire” in a movie theater doesn’t just test the people sitting in it, but the frameworks supporting those people who came to watch the movie.
Paradigm shifts are interesting. Usually, we don’t recognize there has been a change until after the changes happened. But, there are a few people who live on the precipice of those changes. People who, for better or worse, have their senses already tuned to what the shift will be and can recognize those changes before, during, and after they actually happen. In some respects, this presents those people who recognize paradigm shifts as something of an anomaly. Change always happens, but those people who recognize paradigms and the conditions for change seem to have a different set of senses. A conclusion you can draw: seems like those people are the actual shift the paradigm is trying to get you to recognize.
And with that, let’s share the last weeks notable reads:
A productive week, and a few pieces native to the paradigm shift of this endeavor:
A common question grants a canvas to an uncommon answer: ”So what exactly do I/does Avanceé do?”
Heard somewhat often because explaining “experience design” to those who may be around design tangentially is a dice roll. For those who are familiar with design and it’s many permutations, an explanation goes into some specifics and vernacular. For those who don’t have that association, syncing activities and intentions to a space they are familiar with grants the desired clarity. That said, coming via card/site/social media doesn’t always grant the same context. So, consider this a mild explanation of those bits talked about on the About page and those images occasionslly shared
Mobile and Connected Device Subject Matter Expert (SME)
As it relates to mobile, wearables, and other connected devices, some work primarily centers around how to better understand behaviors and content going into those types of devices, what kind of services can be enabled from those devices, and what can be understood from the behaviors and analytics. Sometimes, this means merely looking at data streams and interpretation get next steps or gaps in existing flows. Occasionally, there’s room to concept better approaches which might improve customer experience, user experience, and technical performance. And sometimes, there’s just play — which becomes products themselves.
User Experience and Process Design SME/Consulting
At times, the work encompasses experience design for new or existing products, which often includes looking at the process by which those products will be developed and implemented, not just how those products look and function. These projects are usually not talked about directly because of nondisclosure agreements, or they fall under a slightly different window of access. However, the subject area for these projects is a consistent theme for nearly everything done to date.
Digital Life/Digital Humanism Coaching and Strategy
Through some of the more executive and strategy conversations, some work and consultation has also spoken to the prospects of what it means for digital and connected artifacts to enhance or degrade humanity. Digital humanism is a pretty frequent topic because many are looking at what it looks like to be committed with technology, while also being in a state of balance despite it. To date, work on this topic has been through posts and a few presentations. However, it’s because of this lens that “what exactly do you do” question gets asked the most.
Pattern Behavior Research
Pattern behavior research could probably be put under the same category with user experience and process design, but this work is a little deeper than what is traditionally experienced in either of those spaces. Also done with an executive component, pattern behavior research doesn’t just look at what it takes to build a product or service, but it looks at the underlying causes and implications of those products and services. To date, this has resulted in product scoping and market research for specific clients.
Wireframes, Interactive Decks, & Presetations
Thankfully, not everything has to sit behind a conversation. Some of the work that has been produced ends up in wireframes, interactive decks, and presentations. These are public facing, or publicly shared, components which allow a small glimpse into the finished products, while also not betraying some of the sausage-making which happens before and after these are produced.
Professional/Executive Innovation Coaching
And finally, there’s the piece which happens as a part of some projects/engagements, but doesn’t get as much publicity due to the intensity of the action - coaching. This has only happened on a limited basis, but has consistently drawn interest from executive-level supporters of Avanceé as a wanted serivce because of time spent in the other engagment spaces, and their enablement to take modern technology ans practices forward.
This is what Avanceé looks like to date. If there’s a common theme to most of it, it’s simply articulating systems by understanding design in order to re-engineer complexity. Perhaps a complicated way to say “see the forest and the trees while navigating in space,” but that’s how this endeavor has evolved.
If you think I/Avanceé can be of service to your teams/org, get in touch and let’s see how you will be able to move forward in your space.
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To be mindful or to be inspired? That’s where aspects of the week land when we talk of themes. Perhaps that is not a bad thing — seasonal contexts notwithstanding. Where some might design a better experience, others themselves inspired to do a bit more than simply exist. Aims of some of our most recent work has reset some groups from Strategy-Implementation to Strategy-Focus. It is spring for more than just the trees and allergies (in the northern hemisphere at least). Mindful experience design draws you inside, whereas inspired experience design spreads to others. Spring forth.
Here’s some seed or pollen from the reads this week:
And a few from here:
Collaborative software is validated through collaborative experiences before its individual features
One of the challenges in training software and process is found in the disconnect of knowing the features of an application/service/device, and the context in which it wants to be best used by those being trained. In the past, it was single-user perspective software which opens to a collaborative element (for ex, MS Word to make the Report was by a single author, but “track changes” was meant to make the editing process inclusive of more eyes). Now, the world of productivity software has both that and collaborative-first software. The former can be learned features-first, but the latter, learning features first is the surest way to failure — especially when training/leading in new or infrequent spaces.
So, how does one get up to speed with collaborative products if the training industry still begins from a single-user, features-first perspective? Playtime. Intentional playtime.
Services such as Slack and Microsoft Teams are more or less useless without 3-5 people in the service concurrently. You need to not only have the largely, text-base conversations, but those who will use the app versus the website, those who grab add-ons to make aspects easier, and then a consistent-enough stream of activity. Now, if the latter doesn’t happen, then Slack/Teams becomes a wasteland. Or worse, your content management platform is another network file share, your collaborative word processor is no better than MS Word 97, and everyone wonders less about their competencies, and more about the focus of the technology leaders within the organization.
If something does take, you find new shapes of productivity forming, some of which has no present metric by the org’s existing performance standards. And at the same time, individuals will need to learn quickly how to manage the old way of doing things, and the newer ways the collaborative product has invited into the workspace. Groups start lifting styles of notifications, shortcuts to other features, or repackaging of binders/files/processes into a mastery of something more than what the outputs are — they strike towards a mastery of what it means to work.
A mastery of the features then isn’t even the mastery of the collaborative service — that’s just a mastery of a context within it. There are the secret commands, the bots, the use across other software platforms (for example, using Zapier to push info into and out of Slack based on triggers/commands). At that point, there’s enough mastery in to begin looking at teaching others how the collaborative product has value beyond their workspace. There’s only the words “innovation” here — risk and metrics are only defined by the features of what’s used, and the fear of what it portends.
So then, how can one evaluate the value of collaborative products if it needs others? That’s where your value system has to also update with the shape of the environment. Interdependent metrics such as friction to sharing, invasive/dismissive notifications, quality of communication, and resulting outputs are some measures. Should this be deployed to all groups? Maybe, depends on what value you think it will bring. It needs to be small enough to catch technical issues, and wide enough to get a range of users to identify gaps in what is and isn’t understood.
Expertise needs to be experienced — especially as it relates to the nature of collaborative software. Once it is, then there’s a canvas of possibilities towards its application to others.
As mentioned earlier this week, wanted to get back to letting the notable links/reads of the week sit on this pattern. It’s not that sharing a daily links blog is not important. But, it makes more sense through curation when you can figure out what some of those things look like, and how it impacts an audience.
Today, the theme is contemplation and breathing. Taking into account that not everything that we breathe in can be understood immediately, nor that everything that we breathe out will be something that lingers. There’s space. Space for contemplation in between the breath. And where that space is appreciated, beauty happens, life happens. And maybe, a return to a better rhythm.
With that, here are those items which stuck out this week; and just as previously, the order presented as a team just as important as the individual articles:
Just one piece authored this week:
Previously shared notable lists:
Some weeks back, started to share notable reads as a daily, rather than weekly supplement. And while this was a good idea from the standpoint of traffic (likely, don’t even look at the stats) and visibility, much about what this space is has gotten lost in the spreading. For example, part of the missing content here has been the long-form posts — item like this one where a few hundred words are spent expressing a piece of a lingering idea.
Those lingering ideas helped to generate the meaning for those reads, as well as served as fuel for concepts and projects as they happened. It also made for a space to continue to practice using the Tap wireless keyboard (of which am greatly out of practice) and other computing accessory items which point forward better than the cases, keyboards, and other tropes which bolster similar sites. Lingering ideas and continual experiments invite a fairer attempt to figure out what worlds sync with now, and which worlds have yet to be explored.
For example, there’s a form and shape to apps which want to help people write apps without writing code. These take the same shape and behavior of asking the person to stencil shapes together with logical statements, usually not looking like the language the person is readily familiar with (for example, Appdoo). Instead of starting with “what do you want to do” and getting embraced to getting there, they are starting with “here’s how this works, can you fit your problem into this.” Not right or wrong, but it’s a shape.
On the other hand, there are fewer experiences where people get a chance to leverage some understood analogies, and then create something programmatic with it. Products like LiquidText get towards this — and Ink and Switch’s Muse goes further still. These kinds of experiments and experiences push forward the concept of taking items which have been engineered as complex, and transform them into accessible spaces which better express the intent of the creators, not simply the abilities of the toolmakers.
Hence, getting back to this pattern — augmented by a simple program’s ability to do some neat things, and pushed forward thru contemplative leanings. To reflect again, and share a piece of what that does forward is what this space is for (in part). And maybe then what’s notable doesn’t just come forward more, but enables a little less complexity to get into the hands of others.
Moving back to the weekly share next week. Noticed a few things effected by the lack of better curation, especially from a retention-application standpoint.