A product is only a success if it is being used.
Moving a potential user from a state of no awareness of a product to a user requires careful thought and action.
The definition of usability is sometimes reduced to “easy to use,” but this over-simplifies the problem and provides little guidance for the user interface designer. A more precise definition can be used to understand user requirements, formulate usability goals and decide on the best techniques for usability evaluations. An understanding of the five characteristics of usability – effective, efficient, engaging, error tolerant, easy to learn – helps guide the user-centered design tasks to the goal of usable products.
- Usability means thinking about how and why people use a product.
Good technical writing, like good interaction design, focuses on user’s goals. The first step in creating a usable product is understanding those goals in the context of the user’s environment, task or work flow, and letting these needs inform the design.
- Usability means evaluation.
Usability relies on user-feedback through evaluation rather than simply trusting the experience and expertise of the designer. Unlike conventional software acceptance testing, usability evaluation involves watching real people use a product (or prototype), and using what is learned to improve the product.
- Usability means more than just “ease of use”
The 5 Es – efficient, effective, engaging, error tolerant and easy to learn – describe the multi-faceted characteristics of usability. Interfaces are evaluated against the combination of these characteristics which best describe the user’s requirements for success and satisfaction.
- Usability means user-centered design
Users are satisfied when an interface is user-centered – when their goals, mental models, tasks and requirements are all met. The combination of analysis, design and evaluation all approached starting from the user’s point of view creates usable products.
Read the well written, in-depth post by Whitney Quesenbery on her site here: http://www.wqusability.com/articles/more-than-ease-of-use.html
A close friend recently approached me asking for advice. They are considering launching a consulting business and in doing their research, they wanted to know any “off the cuff” words of wisdom I might have for them. Having run my own graphic design and website development firm for several years, I had some things to say.
When I was starting my company in the USA I had approached a businessman and asked a similar question, his wisdom was invaluable and I would say it is part of the reason my company was successful.
First, let’s define successful.
Each individual needs to define success in their own terms. For me personally, success would look far different today than it did a decade ago. I’m going to assume you’re reading this because you’re defining success monetarily, so let’s move on.
Look around enough and you will begin to recognize the “blah blah me too lemming-like” marketing speak everywhere. It’s boring and useless and begins to look pathetic. Be bold enough to plant a flag on ONE specific mountain and work hard to be the unquestionable SME (subject matter expert) to defend it. Find good people you can trust to hand off certain requests you are regularly getting asked for, maybe even work out a finders fee, but stand firm on top of your mountain. Get speaking gigs, get recognized, be the expert.
ADD VALUE. When you are an expert and you are adding value, you’ll be busy and well paid.
Consider these very distinct stages in how you make money in consulting, in order:
- Know your hourly rate and use it as a positioning tool.
- Get a second shift job to keep from compromising while you build it.
- Fill >60% of ALL the time you work with residual fees.
- Maintain >60% with an increasingly higher hourly rate.
- Move exclusively to package pricing w/o reference to hours.
- Build scalable income (webinars, books, etc.).
I personally have not made it to ‘6’ yet. I always am a bit nervous to put myself out there as I do not want to come across braggadocios.
Be very helpful in giving away terrific advice for free as long as you don’t personalize it; then charge ridiculous amounts of money to do so.
I spoke at an event once where I gave ALL of my secrets away. It was a wild plan, but it worked. I gained more business from that engagement than I could possibly handle and my hourly rate nearly doubled because of it. The reason: the business owners trusted me.
Figure out why you’re in business. I’d suggest these three things, in this order:
- Make money.
- Make a difference.
- Enjoy the process.
If you don’t charge enough, no one listens and you don’t have an opportunity to make a difference. But just charging a lot of money, especially in a service-client relationship, can be soul crushing. You must find the win-win balance where you’re making enough money while feeling like your customers are winning.
Take chances and be different. This leads me into my second take-away:
Be amazing at communicating. I have found transparency as highly valued in the C-Suite.
What I mean by transparency is: communicate as clearly and often as possible. Imagine yourself in the C-Suite and answer the questions you imagine them asking – especially the difficult ones. If your product is necessary then it will be easy to sell. Find out why it’s necessary and walk boldly as the expert in that category. In 2007 the iPhone was the answer – Apple wasn’t hiring salespeople to sell it, the product sold itself.
Over the past several weeks I’ve been performing my research on developing empathy and humility, the foundation of servant leadership, in Afrillennials. I found in the past session an interesting “aha moment” popped up in our discussion and it brought me back to this quote:
According to neuroscientist Antonio Damasio our emotions are the deciding factor for 95 percent of our decisions. So rather than “thinking and acting,” we generally “feel and act.” Part of Damasio’s research involved brain-damaged people who were unable to experience emotions. Even though they could list the pros and cons of any given choice, they were unable to make decisions.
Damasio’s work led him to believe that human beings aren’t “thinking machines that feel,” but rather “feeling machines that think.”
The 95% of our decisions are based on emotions is a staggering thought. I’ve found in my own life, as the development of this research has been taking place, that I desire to make more decisions based on fact vs. emotions. The self-awareness required for this takes deep effort, introspection, and humility with others to allow them to speak into your life, calling out the areas where your thoughts may not be in alignment with your values.
Psychopaths walk among us. Here’s how to resist their evilness.
— Read on www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/10-popular-techniques-used-by-manipulators-and-how-to-fight-them.html
Consulting this week with a large corporation I found they were drowning in emails. Many of the exco team were stressed and it reminded me of this amazing article, which I presented to the team and am working on having implemented into daily routines – from the top down.
Subject line keywords are:
- ACTION – Compulsory for the recipient to take some action
- SIGN – Requires the signature of the recipient
- INFO – For informational purposes only, and there is no response or action required
- DECISION – Requires a decision by the recipient
- REQUEST – Seeks permission or approval by the recipient
- COORD – Coordination by or with the recipient is needed
Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF). Military professionals lead their emails with a short, staccato statement known as the BLUF. (Yes, being the military, there is an acronym for everything.) It declares the purpose of the email and action required. The BLUF should quickly answer the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why. An effective BLUF distills the most important information for the reader. Here’s an example BLUF from the Air Force Handbook:
BLUF: Effective 29 Oct 13, all Air Force Doctrine Documents (AFDDs) have been rescinded and replaced by core doctrine volumes and doctrine annexes.
Here is an email example for corporate use that uses keywords in the subject, bottom line, background bullets, and active voice:
Subject: INFO – Meeting Change
Bottom Line: We scheduled the weekly update meeting for Thursday at 2 PM CST to accommodate the CFO’s schedule.
- We searched for other available times, but this is the only time that works, and it’s important that you are on the call, so that you can address your P&L.
- CFO will be in Boston on Thursday meeting at an offsite with the management committee.
- He wants to review the financial report that can be found here (insert link) before the call.
As I look deeper into Change Management and Organizational Leadership the topic of feedback increasingly comes to the forefront. In a conversation with a fellow Change Manager here in Cape Town our discussion centered around getting feedback which he said is the biggest hurdle he faces in his projects. His practice has begun focusing on helping the employees elicit open, anonymous feedback from their co-workers. Their tool focuses on two questions: What can employee A do better? and What is employee A doing better than anyone else?
The explanation of their Change Management process made me think of this article explaining how Steve Jobs would elicit the most effective feedback.
Tell me what’s not working.
The questions were not directed only toward the exco team, but various people in the organization: Tell me what’s not working here. Then conversely, he would ask someone else: Tell me what is working here.
Ultimately, great leaders, Level 5 leaders as Jim Collins (Good To Great) calls them, are individuals who trust those they’ve hired. By asking questions in this manner, it allows those individuals to speak up and be heard.
I was in a meeting the other day for a possible Change Management contract. The leader of the organization walked in and impressed me with the way he carried himself, responded to questions, and generally led. I left thinking, not only do I want to work with that guy, I want to be like that guy.
This morning I came across an article with a tremendous bullet list describing several characteristics this CIO has.
Here are some characteristics that make for my ideal leader:
You’re noticeably calm and comfortable at work. You’re aware how your attitude and behavior affects those around you, and you care deeply about having a supportive climate at work.
Work is one part of your life. You fit your work into healthy working hours. You take vacations. You switch off. When you choose to work unusual hours, you don’t expect others to, therefore you don’t disturb them.
No matter who you’re speaking with, when you’re speaking with them, you are present.
You operate on intentional, thoughtfully chosen processes based on what you and your team value. Because you value other’s engagement, and time, you don’t add or persist process for the sake of process.
You don’t just expect your people to do their best work, you empower and trust them to. You give or find them the support they need to grow into new challenges and be successful.
Steve Moore has written a new book called “The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible” and the introduction has already profoundly impacted me. He discusses a man I’ve never heard of, Samuel Logan Brengle, so passionately that I will begin reading more about this man.
The quote which I latched onto was:
Influence, not position, is at the core of leadership. When a person without leadership capacity is given a leadership title or position, the result isn’t a complete lack of influence, but rather a greatly limited power base. This is true in life and in the Bible.
You can read the intro here.
This is an excerpt from the book ‘Strength to love’ by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is addressing the problem that has always hampered man: his inability to conquer evil by his own power. In pathetic amazement, man asks, “Why can I not cast it out? Why can I not remove this evil from my life?”
Though the evils of sensuality, selfishness, and cruelty often rise aggressively in his soul, something within tells him that they are intruders and reminds him of his higher destiny and more noble allegiance. Man’s hankering after the demonic is always disturbed by his longing for the divine. As he seeks to adjust to the demands of time, he knows that eternity is his ultimate habitat. When man comes to himself, he knows that evil is a foreign invader that must be driven from the native soils of his soul before he can achieve moral and spiritual dignity.
So, how can evil be cast out? Men have usually pursued two paths to eliminate evil and thereby save the world. The first calls upon man to remove evil through his own power and ingenuity… Give people a fair chance and a decent education, and they will save themselves. This idea, sweeping across the modern world like a plague, has ushered God out and escorted man in and has substituted human ingenuity for divine guidance.
But in spite of the astounding new scientific developments, the old evils continue and the age of reason has been transformed into an age of terror. Selfishness and hatred have not vanished with an enlargement of our educational system and and an extension of our legislative policies. The humanist’s hope is an illusion, based on too great an optimism concerning the inherent goodness of human nature.
The second idea for removing evil from the world stipulates that if man waits submissively upon the Lord, in his own good time God alone will redeem the world. The fallacy of thinking that God will cast evil from the earth, even if man does nothing except sit complacently by the wayside, is that no prodigious thunderbolt from heaven will blast away evil. No mighty army of angels will descend to force men to do what their wills resist.
The Bible portrays God not as an omnipotent czar who makes all decisions for his subjects nor as a cosmic tyrant who with gestapo-like methods invades the inner lives of men but rather as a loving Father who gives to his children such abundant blessings as they may be willing to receive. Always man must do something. “Stand upon thy feet,” says God to Ezekiel, “and I will speak unto you.” Man is no helpless invalid left in a valley of total depravity until God pulls him out. Man is rather an upstanding human being whose vision has been impaired by the cataracts of sin and whose soul has been weakened by the virus of pride, but there is sufficient vision left for him to lift his eyes unto the hills, and there remains enough of God’s image for him to turn his weak and sin-battered life toward the Great Physician, the curer of the ravages of sin.
There is so much more to discuss and Dr. King’s thoughts on this are profound and life-changing to the reader. Please buy this book, read the rest of this chapter, and let’s discuss this further.
We all want to be more effective; increase profit and productivity while decreasing spending.
I came across an article discussing the value of being empathic towards the customer as well sharing the story of why you come to work every day. In one organizations weekly meetings they found that asking the below question increased sales by 23%. Employees began to hear and envision their “why” and were able to find the excitement in how they were helping their customers, not just selling products.
How did we make a difference for a client since last time we met?
Empathy is one of the Social Awareness competencies in the twelve-competency Leadership Competency Model developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis. Empirically linked to leadership performance, Empathy is present in leaders with an understanding of the motivations of others, and the ability to relate to differing perspectives.
Strength in this competency is also demonstrated by leaders who:
- Listen attentively
- Are able to understand unspoken or confused attempts at communication
- Engage in actions indicating a sincere interest in others
- Have an increased capacity to respect diversity
Fast Company just posted an interesting article that discusses a study on why communicating in person versus a written text is worth the effort. According to a 2016 survey of more than 2,000 US adults (paywall) where managers were asked what they found most difficult about communicating with employees a full 69% of respondents said they found “communicating in general” to be the hardest part about communicating with employees.
Clearly, there is a breakdown.
In Schroeder’s study of almost 300 people, participants were asked to watch, listen, and read arguments about subjects they agreed or disagreed with, including abortion, music, and war. They were asked to judge the character of the communicator and the quality or veracity of the argument. Schroeder’s team found that the participants who watched or listened to the communicator were less dismissive of their claims than when they read that communicator’s same argument.
Schroeder’s research also found the participants who listened to or watched the communicators talk were also less likely to dehumanize them–a phenomenon where we subconsciously belittle or demonize the cognitive capabilities and moral attributes of people who hold views other than our own.
This article has some great advice and is where the 69% statistic came from.
“Rather than endless lunches or dinners or boondoggles, one of the best ways to build a good relationship with your employees is to make sure they feel heard,” wrote HR guru Kim Scott in Harvard Business Review. Scott suggests regular one-on-one check-ins where the employee sets the agenda, and that managers give regular feedback—both positive and critical.
My take is that business is going so rapidly, individuals don’t stop and have a cup of coffee together often enough. If they do, it’s rushed, not relaxed, and no relationship is actually built.
In Cape Town, I’ve worked with a man who told me of his experiences working in offices downtown before the age of computers. “People had time to think” he said. I’ll never forget that statement, because it doesn’t seem the speed of business allows us that luxury anymore.
In Seoul, while consulting over a two-weeek period, I was privileged to experience a “3 o’clock conversation time” – I don’t know what it was called in Korean and it may have just been this particular organization’s practice. Every day, at three in the afternoon, for thirty minutes the executive leadership would step into the CEO’s office, take off their shoes and have coffee and pastries. The conversation was very open, discussing wives or children, vacations, work issues, jokes, etc. It was a team who enjoyed being around each other and felt like they all had the same goal they were working toward. As the statement above emphasizes: the executive leadership felt heard by their leader. They then turned around and did the same for the staff whom they were responsible for.
Are you having difficulty leading? Try slowing down, being friendly, and listening with no agenda.
Background: London announced they would not renew Uber’s licence to operate in the city — major blow to the organisation. This comes after a series of mishaps and scandals kept Uber in the news for months–for many reasons–the company’s board of directors decided that former chief Travis Kalanick was no longer the right man for the job.
The new CEO stepped in and responded to the London announcement by stating:
While the impulse may be to say that this is unfair, one of the lessons I’ve learned over time is that change comes from self-reflection. So it’s worth examining how we got here. The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation. Irrespective of whether we did everything that is being said about us in London today (and to be clear, I don’t think we did), it really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours, where actions in one part of the world can have serious consequences in another.
It’s good to listen to criticism and check ourselves, we all have blind spots.
Read the article at inc.com
Remember the raison d’etre, the reason your project is.
Ask for feedback related to either the vision or user goals. For instance, if working on a website, instead of a completely open-ended question like “What do you think?”, try a more focused question like “How well does this design help users find volunteer opportunites based on their desire?”
A recent international study surveyed more than 500 business leaders and asked them what sets great employees apart. The researchers wanted to know why some people are more successful than others at work, and the answers were surprising; leaders chose “personality” as the leading reason.
Notably, 78% of leaders said personality sets great employees apart, more than cultural fit (53%) and even an employee’s skills (39%).
Read the full article by Dr. Travis Bradberry on LinkedIn
A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.
Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.
Of the 16 books recommended in this article, I would like to read at least these few:
Woo, Wow, and Win
Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight
Authors: Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell
One Sentence Summary: This book promotes the concept of designing your company around service and offers strategies based on the idea that the design of services is different from manufacturing.
Recommended by: Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick
Technology as a Service Playbook
How to Grow a Profitable Subscription Business
Authors: Thomas Lah and J.B. Wood
One Sentence Summary: A guide to decision making and execution around the “as-a-service” model, with the intent of putting a company on a path to profitable growth by changing how “offers” are designed, built, marketed, sold, and serviced.
Recommended by: Stephanie Newby, CEO of Crimson Hexagon
A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
Author: Tony Hsieh
One Sentence Summary: The CEO of Zappos explains how he created a corporate culture based upon the concept that there is value to happiness, both for employees and customers.
Recommended by: Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Worldwide
A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Authors: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
One Sentence Summary: A set of amusing case studies illustrating that economics is the study of how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.
Recommended by: Jeremiah Owyang, CEO of Crowd Companies
Does a sense of purpose come from you as the employee or from the organization?
John Oliver called 2016 the worst f**king year. I feel like this outlook is very dramatic and shows the emotional intelligence of those who hold that view.
In response to this, the author of this article kept a gratitude journal and was able to realise some incredible revelations about his life.
What do you think? Regarding the photo: I’m so very grateful to have had an incredible opportunity to climb into the enchantments near Seattle for my friends’ 40th birthday.
I am researching Millenials in the Workplace and how to develop better employees. A friend of mine sent me this video last night and wanted my take.
He breaks down ‘4 pieces or characteristics that lead to happiness’ as:
The main point he tries to get across is that Millenials are entitled and lazy, and it’s not their fault, but the fault of the parents who were following terrible parenting advice.
“To me, a hack is a clever or unexpectedly efficient means of getting something done. A good hack should feel like cheating because the value created by the hack feels completely disproportionate from the work done.
With this definition in mind, I present five leadership hacks I regularly use. These are not practices designed to redefine your leadership philosophy. They are hacks.”
- Two minutes early for everything.
- The clock faces you.
- Office Hours.
- Three questions before any meeting.
- Continually fix small broken things.
In reading this, I really appreciated the five hacks, but number four and five especially stood out to me. Three questions before any meeting or else it doesn’t happen: brilliant. He resolves to have three questions which need to be answered in order to prove the value of that meeting taking place.
The last hack is the easiest and it’s the best: fix small broken things. Always. It takes seconds to clean that whiteboard, to plug in the clock in the conference room, and to stop, lean down, and pick up a piece of trash. Seconds.
The value created isn’t just the small decrease in entropy, it’s that you are actively demonstrating being a leader. I understand the compounding awesomeness of continually fixing small broken things.
It seems a lot of the shaking that is happening in 2016 has been bringing up some good things. Just this morning I’ve run into a great infographic laying out the hierarchy of profit and then I came upon Seth Godin’s recent thoughts on Ethics. His thoughts, the infographic, and other items I’m noticing in my news feed all seem to be pointing to a dissatisfaction in business for profit and more towards empathy.
Perhaps profit and market share and the rest could merely be tools in service of the ability to make things better, to treat people ever more fairly, to do work that we’re more proud of each day.
This quote seems a little depressing, but I wanted to post it because I think what he’s touching on is the fact that if you haven’t experienced exhilaration then you can’t empathize with grief or vise versa. Being in a current state of Waiting and Hoping, I feel I’m experiencing both pain and joy at the same moment. (In my attempt to practice becoming more self-aware, my introspection is becoming too philosophical at the moment).
“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.”
“Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope’.”
– Alexandre Dumas
While looking through my news feed this morning I found this article and think it adds value.
I had to write a quick response today to the question:
Why do you believe a leader needs to be reasonably self-aware if they are going to be a good leader?
What do you think of my response:
When I envision a leader who is not self-aware, I think of an individual dealing with insecurity then attempting to hide it with pride and arrogance. There are several reasons a leader must be self-aware, but I will discuss the one most important to me: If you are unable to read what’s going on with yourself, how will you read your subordinates and lead them well? A leader with no self-awareness would end up making choices on whims versus logic and would demoralize everyone who works for them. Beyond having a high employee turn over rate, this type of leader would end up costing the organization money and time due to them working on ego boosting projects while avoiding rather than delegating other projects. They would not be capable of delegating due to their lack of personal skills as well as not being able to recognize the skills of their subordinates.
Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. – Jack Welch