It is time to start planning for Nexus for Change II, a conference at nearby Bowling Green State University (March 29 - April 1) about participative change methods. If you have been to a BarCamp or Unconference, you may have experienced one of these methods, Open Space Technology. The Word Cafe and Appreciative Inquiry are other change methods (buy The Change Handbook for even more).
The first two days of the conference is "Nexus U" - "U" for "university" and "you" - where you will learn the basics of whole system change principles and delve into a few of the methods. The 2nd half of the conference is about interacting with other professionals in this emerging community. And, of course, the conference has been designed by change agents to make sure you experience the methods as you share and learn about the methods.
Why would a user experience professional be interested in this conference? Many times organizational hurdles get in the way of quality user experiences. Fundamental changes in the business, processes or culture are needed in order to pull off what customers and other users need. User experience practitioners and information architects are becoming agents of change.
The Nexus for Change II conference is a way to learn about change methods and to immerse yourself in them. If we want to be change agents, we should learn from the professionals who specialize in it. Being able to better facilitate change will make you a more effective UX professional - just having the traditional user-centered design methods at your disposal are not enough.
I think user experience professionals can also contribute to the change methods toolbox. Often user research we do is a key aspect driving change (for example, when the Voice of the Customer is one of the compelling reasons for change in an IT organization). We also tend to be in tune with the impact of technology on change. If "improve the user experience or else we will go out of business" is what people are talking about within your company, then a combination of user experience and whole system change methods may be what you need.
I attended last year and will be there this year. Hope to see some of my UX friends there.
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