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Innovation, change

Innovation (technology perspective) and Organizational change (process perspective) from a human-centered perspective.

Quick Nexus wrap-up

I had to leave the Nexus for change conference early today so that I could rest a little before my trip to Vegas for the IA Summit - need some energy to travel. Nexus was a great event. As a fellow IT person said at lunch - "I have learned a lot but I have no idea what it is yet." It will take a while for this intensive 2-days with the leading change methods experts to sink in.

"Get everyone in the same space at the same time" is my over-simplification of what these professionals do every day. The conference was about getting them all in the same physical space, of course, but the conference web site served as that virtual place before and it will support the community afterwards.

Although only a handful of attendees were into the "Web 2.0" thing as an enabler for getting everybody into the same virtual space for conversations, I was excited that most saw the need for better technology adoption by the group as a whole. Unfortunately, there was a missed opportunity for Nexus to hook up with a Web 2.0 talk that was happening on the BGSU campus at the same time:

Technology Trends and Web 2.0, Erick Schonfeld, Business 2.0.

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Entrepreneurial thinking

Registration is now open for the 4th Annual Sebo Series in Entrepreneurship, April 13, 2007 - Entrepreneurial Thinking - the catalyst for business growth at BGSU.


Other sessions:

  • Supply Chain Entrepreneurial Thinking
  • Entrepreneurial Thinking from the Start
  • Innovation in Corporate Strategy
  • Innovative Business Models


Innovation for everyone

One of the US home page features this week is Innovation for everyone. Instead of building a world which people (are forced to) adapt to, let's have the world adapt to human differences and special abilities.

(While the Flash version is acceptable for getting an overview of the topic, I personally find the plain-old HTML version easier to read in depth. The audio version is more than just a nice touch in this case.)

There are 3 major themes to the article:

  • Shades of ability: Going from a black-and-white "normal/disabled" model, to shades of ability, to the social focus on access, to a complex model that takes into account environmental context. The innovation happens when we take down the barriers within an experience designed for certain abilities.
  • Open standards open doors: Examples where open standards enable user customization, so people can make an IT environment that matches their unique abilities.
  • Designing for everyone: Universal design principles as "good business design."

IBM home page executive editor Derek Baker also interviews John Kemp.

I chatted with Derek briefly while he was working on this feature - about how universal usability fits in nicely with innovation for everyone. Nothing specifically about UU made it in, but it still turned out to be a very good Idea from IBM.

Nexus for Change

I dipped my toe into the field of organization development last year when I attended a workshop on Management by discovery. Despite being a total outsider (I was among people who had advanced degrees in this), people seemed interested in my stories of how large organizations were adapting to the challenges triggered by the web. It only takes a few examples for people to see how designing a user-centered web site can expose gaps in how the business is organized. And how businesses are changing in order to survive. It is sorta a corollary to Conway's Law:

Organizations which build web sites are constrained to produce information architectures which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations

(Thanks to Steve Portigal for helping me find that Conway article from 1968. I started looking for it 6 months ago. Our local library has it stashed away somewhere, but would not send me a copy - who has time to go visit a library?)

I am going to dip a larger body part into "organization development" in two months. I will be attending Nexus for change, March 22-23, at BGSU. "An unprecedented conference bringing together practitioners, researchers, leaders, activists, and educators to advance participative change methods."

I won't be the only user experience person there. Peter Jones of Redesign Research and fellow UXnet local ambassador in Ohio is presenting.

A few hours after this event is over, I will be getting on a plane for the IA Summit in Las Vegas, so I am hoping I will be able to synthesize something from these worlds.

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Guy Kawasaki coming to the area, April 13th

Guy Kawasaki is coming to BGSU in mid-April as part of the 4th Annual Sebo Series in Entrepreneurship.

Tom Kelley of IDEO spoke last year, but I did not learn about it in time.

I think I can make this one - just waiting for more details from the BGSU Entrepreneurship program (and yes, that is local-boy-done-good Scott Hamilton helping to fund all of this).


Innovation and user experience

Jared's article Innovation is the new black struck home for me. Not just because he quotes IBMer Eric Tsou from the @issue conference, but because "innovation" has quickly permeated many things within IBM.

For me personally, I have worked on The Innovation Value and won an "Innovation clients can feel" award for a different project. If you have been watching, you will notice a lot on innovation. I cannot count all of the messages tied to innovation any more.

I'd say "Innovation is the new blue". (^:

My first glimpse into the business world's obsession with innovation was last year's International Workshop on Accelerated Radical Innovation. There I started to pick up the innovation lingo and, like Jared, saw how important experience design was going to be. None of this user experience work is new, it is just becoming a lot more valuable. If this is because CEO's are obsessed with innovation, then I am quite happy to share my background and experience to help them innovate.

Innovation: "It's the user experience, stupid".

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Management by discovery

An IA Institute job posting for "System Designer / Prototyper" at Klein Associates in Dayton reminds me of the "Management by Discovery" workshop that I attended in March. The workshop was part of the Mind your leadership conference at BGSU. (I missed the rest of the conference because I was travelling to the IA Summit.)

The workshop was officially titled "The cognitive dimenions of leadership: A practitioner's toolkit." I had no expectations, was mainly attending because it sounded interesting and it was close to home - worth the risk of a day of my time. What surprised me was that I already knew a lot of this stuff because Gary Klein is well-known for Cognitive task analysis and other HCI work (not sure how I missed Gary up until then). I had "stumbled" into an HCI person presenting to a business audience, so I felt right at home.

Management by Discovery is different than Management by Objectives and other management styles because it focuses on emergent goals (instead of upfront, well-defined goals, which never happens anyway). It means a lot of story-telling, sense-making, iteration and other things we assume with a user-centered design approach. "Taking UCD to the management decision level" might be a good summary.

Jay Rothman added his expertise on conflict engagement to the workshop. This was Gary and Jay's first collaboration on this topic.

All-in-all, a good day for me - sitting with a bunch of organization development people and "peeking over the fence" back at my own profession.


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