The chronicles of bad experience: Verizon and Symantec

Everybody knows that bloggers like to bash companies that have displeased them. We do it because we feel angry and betrayed and want to get back at them. We also do it because we want to save others from unpleasant experiences and avoidable frustrations. Today it’s my turn to rant: let’s talk about Verizon’s greed and Symantec’s pitiful and misleading customer service. Fasten your seat belts.

Read more…

User Research: Don’t neglect the goldmine in your own backyard

A product development process built around the user and the experience is an expensive proposition for many companies. On the surface, companies may reject user- and experience-centric approaches because they appear more expensive (more steps, more people involved, more time); deep inside, taking a user-centric approach is frightening because it requires relinquishing control and embracing a 180° cultural shift.

Putting a lot of thought in the early phases of product design clashes against the "faster, cheaper," "let’s see if it sticks" IT culture. Reaching out to people outside the company to discover solutions, ideas, and opportunities is unsettling for companies in which "the boss" makes all decisions and sets all strategic directions.  True user-centered design requires a flatter, more democratic, and distributed corporate structure to work.

Because adopting a user-centered framework requires a cultural paradigm shift we often need to start small and proceed slowly to avoid a massive immune rejection response from the corporate culture. The good news is that in each company there are pockets of user knowledge that designers can easily leverage to get important user information.

Read more…

Scott Cook, founder of Intuit, talks about innovation at CHI 2006

Scott Cook opened CHI 2006 with a plenary on fostering innovation. Live-blogging notes have been posted on the CHI Blog. Here are my notes, which are not a word-by-word report on the talk but more of an annotated reconstruction (quote at your own risk).

Creating Game-changing Invention

The brief –  Innovation happens at the junction between business and customer needs, not from executive ideas or lonely geniuses within the company. Indeed, innovation bottlenecks are often at the top. Creating a culture of innovation is about nurturing customer observation, incubating new ideas, celebrating failure, and staying out of the way. Read Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) and Peter Drucker (Innovation and Entrepreneurship).

Intuit: Changes lives so profoundly people can’t imagine going back to the old way.

Read more…

Persuasion, the Sheryl Crow paradox, and Antonella’s yogurt rule

I am reading The Secrets of Consulting by Gerald Weinberg (have you noticed how I always talk about books before I finish reading them? And BTW, thanks to Jared Spool and Kyle Pero for the book suggestion). By “consulting” Weinberg means “how to convince others that you can help them and how to be successful in helping them”. The book is quite entertaining and has some good insights on the art of persuasion and self-promotion.

I have a couple of ideas on how to address consulting challenges, too. Weinberg has a kick for breakfast food analogies (e.g., the law of raspberry jam, the orange juice test, and so on), so I came up with my very own Antonella’s Yogurt Rule. Before I introduce the Yogurt Rule, though, let’s step back for a moment and discuss the Sheryl Crow paradox.

Read more…