Startup Brainstorm Meeting

Applying Human Factors to Organizational Management

UX Magazine is always a good source of interesting ideas. Their recent article on using UX skills on the inside (i.e. internal management processes at work) seems to me to be something that we already knew, didn’t we?

Good change agents are nothing more than good designers. You already have good design skills. And if you are like Jane and trying to change things where you work, try applying those skills internally. Observe and you’ll make stuff happen. And by gaining a better understanding of the organization through this process, you’ll find yourself with more opportunities to affect bigger changes.

    The steps that they recommend are:

  • Model your user: in this case stakeholders, internal clients, and peers.
  • Model your use case: in this case the organizational context, the culture, the chain of command, the performance management metrics, and so on.
  • Design iteratively: start with small changes (that will get through the unavoidable change anxiety and inertia that organizations have) and adjust as you go to iron out anything that isn’t working and to expand on good ideas.

My Take

Sorry UXMag, but I think we already knew this. I appreciate the thoughts and if anyone didn’t know, this is a valuable article. I certainly don’t blame them for publishing it. They have more bandwidth than we do here at EID, so they can revisit older topics when it suits their content schedule. But why did I bother to dedicate an article about it in our smaller space? I think there is something to say on this subject, it just happened to be missing in the article.

UX Mag is absolutely correct that we don’t often apply our HF skills to our workplaces. We don’t eat our own cooking as the cliché goes. But it is not because we don’t see the link. I think if most of us sat back and thought about implementing change at our workplaces, we would see the parallels.

But where the gaps occur is when it comes to attention and incentives. Attention is the primary challenge. We spend most of our time, most of our effort, and most of our attention on our work projects. When we get a notice that some change is happening and there is a meeting next week to hear about – we are simply too focused on our “real” work to offer our assistance to management in developing better process design and change management processes.

Then, there are the incentives, or lack thereof. Imagine if you put off your work project for a week to help management develop the process or implement the change. What do you think the result would be? The client would be pissed off at the unexpected delay. And would you get the undying thanks from management? Doubtful.

So is it really worth doing this? Even if the long term benefits are huge in terms of organizational productivity, more efficient use of your future self’s time, and even better profit sharing in your future salary – those are all long term. Right now, what is on my plate is the client deadline I have in a week. So of course that is what I am going to focus on.

Your Turn

What do you think? Are the principles outlined in the UX Mag article new to you? Do you get time in your workday to apply them? Were you ever even asked? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: StartupStockPhotos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *