AIGA Toledo chapter

I just discovered that we now have an AIGA local chapter in the area, AIGA Toledo. Yeah! Amy Fidler and Jenn Stucker issued a call for participation in July and had the first organizational meeting in April. Since becoming an official chapter, the group has hosted Marian Bantjes in September and a social gathering in October (with Flickr photos from both events). Amy and Jenn have collaborated on other things, too.

Before the Toledo chapter was formed, local AIGA members had the option of driving to Detroit or Cleveland for meetings. There is also an AIGA chapter in Cincinnati.

I was an AIGA member years ago, when it had an active Experience design community of practice. I am no longer an AIGA member, but one of the hi-lites of DUX was meeting AIGA members (the "dressed in black" crowd): as we talked about user experience, the differences in our backgrounds did not really matter.

AIGA Toledo represents the first truly local chapter related to user experience. As a UXnet Local Ambassador, I hope I will be able to help them incorporate the right mix of user experience topics into their programs so they can help serve the broader UX community in Northwest Ohio.

I will still be hanging out in the Ann Arbor/Detroit, Cleveland, Dayton and Columbus areas to connect with UX professionals in the region, but it will be nice to also have a connection with colleagues closer to home through our new AIGA chapter.

Thanks to Amy and Jenn and everyone else who helped form AIGA Toledo. This is great news for the area.

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Collaboration week in Chicago

I am fortunate to be in Chicago now, where all sorts of collaborations across the various UX-related disciplines are happening. Today and tomorrow are face-to-face meetings with other User Experience Network volunteers (at the IIT Institute of Design). Then several days of the "fowl" every-two-years AIGA-SIGGRAPH-SIGCHI shindig, DUX: Designing for User Experience conference. Then on Thursday, World Usability Day Chicago: November 8th is the one day this year we can all get along.

Outside-in Software Development

IBM Press has another good book out (on the heels of Do It Wrong Quickly).

My copy is still being shipped, so I have not looked at the book in detail. From what I have heard / read, the "outside-in / stakeholder" theme merges Agile methods (stakeholder = "Agile customer") and user experience methods (stakeholder = "end user"). "Consumability" and "Outside-in design" are key parts of the IBM Software strategy. (Consumability: making products easier to install, configure, deploy and maintain.)

To learn more about the book, you can see previews on Safari and read Carl's blog Outside-in Thinking [URL update on Nov-16-2007]. And of course, Amazon.com's entry for the book (where I managed to buy a "used" copy that is new but very inexpensive, not sure how that works).

Catalyze Webcast, October 29th

Thanks for all the messages-of-support about the upcoming Catalyze webcast about UXnet. See my other blog posting for links to some of the things we will talk about. The Catalyze marketing engine is impressive, so I think there will be plenty of attendees. I will post a version of the presentation here (and other places) afterwards. See you on the webcast tomorrow.

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Succeeding through Service Innovation

I was asked to give feedback on the IBM/University of Cambridge discussion paper Succeeding through Service Innovation. Like many such requests, it was prefaced with "it should only take an hour" - I do not know how long it took me to read it, and comment on it, then to turn my feedback into something that made sense. It was much more than an hour. But at least I am done now, and it was worth it.

We shall see what, if any, aspects of my feedback appear as the "green paper" evolves into a "white paper." Most of my comments come from looking at service science and innovation through the lens of user experience (and my focus on corporate information architecture for almost a decade). Some of the things I found most interesting about the document:

  • In Section 1, I like that fact that they proposed extending the "Service Science, Management and Engineering" with a "D" for design. Adding more letters does not appeal to me - too many already - but adding in "design" (even though it is such a mooshy term) is one way to increase the focus on the human element (which I think does not come through enough in SSME literature in general).
  • Also in Section 1, I think the shift to a "try before you buy" economy helps customers focus more on the value of the end-to-end services instead of only considering the surface features of the product, like the price. The obligatory mention of "Web 2.0" was included.
  • In Section 2.2, key questions about architecture are listed, but I think they are missing one. How do we architect a service system to enable a quality experience for the people involved? (Both the customers and the front-stage staff that interact with them.) We all have a lot of stories about how hard it is to design for a quality experience when the fundamental building blocks of the system do not fit together ("lipstick on a pig"). And an even harder challenge: design an architecture for a service system that lets you build a seamless experience with a different service system.
  • In Section 3, the 4 clusters made sense to me because I see a large corporate web site as an example of something that includes all of them. It has the (1) marketing element, with (4) tons of information, requiring (2) sophisticated software engineering and metrics, and based on (3) a thorough understanding of individual and group behavior.
  • In section 4, I agree with the need for "inter" disciplinary instead of "super" or "multi" (but the "inter" diagram needs to look like a network, not a ring).
  • Also in Section 4, I like the "broad and deep" skill analogy, even though I am not sure "T-shaped people" is the right way to explain it. Nonetheless, we UX folks have been arguing about this for a while already. Examples: one Peter likes the T while another Peter thinks more holistically and suggests balanced teams should be the goal.
  • In Section 5, the recommendations were lacking an emphasis on the human element and enabling innovative experiences.

All in all, I see enough synergy between service science and user experience that I plan on seeing what other connections are useful to make. Feels like the tip of an iceberg.

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IBM Joins User Experience Race

I remember reading this back in May, but I guess I never blogged it back then. Better late than never: IBM Joins User Experience Race. Quotes from Mike Rhodin, Lotus, and their commitment to user experience. Too bad there were not quotes from the many other parts of IBM that are also racing for the UX checkered flag.

Real politics

I usually do not pay attention to real politics, instead only dealing with corporate politics in my day-to-day job. Two things are slightly changing that.

First, a friend is running for Congress so I am reading Ohio political blogs now and observing how the Ohio 5th district candidates are using the Internet.

Second, Hillary Clinton's Innovation Agenda came up at work. Notice this section on "services science" and some of the wording used (italics added by me for emphasis):

Create the Services Science Initiative. The services sector now accounts for approximately 80% of the U.S. economy. Nevertheless, innovation is rarely associated with the generation and delivery of services. Companies are increasingly carrying out service R&D, but there is no discipline that promotes innovation and productivity in the services sector in the same way that electrical engineering, for example, has led to technological advances in the development of the computer chip. Accordingly, Hillary will create a Services Science Initiative. Modeled on the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the federal government will help support R&D in services; support and encourage cross-disciplinary research that draws on fields such as computer science, management, operations, and organizational behavior; and also facilitate the dissemination of knowledge. The Services Science Initiative will help improve the competitiveness of American business, and in the process, create jobs.

Now compare this to some of the phrases IBM uses to describe Service Science, Management, and Engineering and its academic initiative, like "multi-disciplinary research and academic effort that integrates aspects of established fields such as computer science, operations research, engineering, management sciences, ...". And IBM has helped form the Service Research & Innovation Initiative with similar goals to Hillary's.

I have no idea what is going on here, just noticing common themes. It is not every day that a candidate talks about something I am dealing with at work.

The last time I think I paid this much to government policy was during the first Conference on Universal Usability in 2000 when I heard about the economic policy for digital opportunity.

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The Information Architect as Change Agent

Matthew Clarke has a new article on Boxes and Arrows about The Information Architect as Change Agent. I have not read it carefully yet (too early in the morning), but I added a comment about how I have come to many of the same conclusions through my "innovation and change" investigation.

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BA UX

I joined the International Institute of Business Analysis over the summer. I forget how I heard about them, but I had not joined a "fringe" professional association in quite a long time. I was an STC member long ago, then an AIGA member. Time to join a new group for a year or two and see what I can learn from them.

Shortly after I joined, I got an email from the Cincinnati chapter that confirmed I was onto something:

You are invited to attend the Cincinnati IIBA meeting (Tuesday - June 19,2007).

Topic: Overview of tools and techniques from the user experience community that can be applied by Business Analysts to improve the quality of their requirements.

Speaker: Challis Hodge, VP of User Experience at Bridge Worldwide here in Cincinnati. Challis is incredibly knowledgeable and an engaging speaker.

I should have known that Challis would have been a few steps ahead of me (he always is). I could not make it down to Cincy on such short notice, but here it is 4 months later and I finally tracked down his presentation.

Challis explains "experience planning" and how UX people are good at it. His next-to-last slide shows the overlap between Business Analysis and User Experience.

There is a lot more to explore: his presentation seems like only the starting point. After joining IIBA, I later learned about Catalyze which is targeted at the BA and UX crowds. I do not see this presentation listed there: I guess I will have figure out how to make my first contribution to Catalyze.

Frontiers in Service

A bunch of IBMers are at the Frontiers in Service conference in San Francisco this weekend. (Not too surprising, since IBM Research/SSME is a sponsor.) The eBrochure has an overview; the full program is a PDF. The topics being presented (and co-presented) by IBMers:

  • Measuring Information Relevance in Services
  • Meeting the Challenges of Service Science Management and Education in the New York City Area: An Inter-disciplinary Initiative
  • Information-Driven Service Systems
  • Comparative Analysis of the Russian IT Services Market. Scenarios, Tendencies and Recommendations
  • Bringing Services Theory and Methods to Online Service Applications
  • Lessons from a Service Innovation in the Consulting Industry
  • Component Business Modeling for Effective Enterprise Risk Management,
  • Virtual Service Delivery Centers
  • Service Excellence in Government: A Constituent-Centered Model
  • Servicing for the Future
  • ProACT: A solution for Automatic Customer Satisfaction Analysis and Business Intelligence in Contact Centers
  • Model-based Business Transformation for Engineering Services
  • Challenges and Models of Workforce Scheduling for Delivery Center Based IT Support Services
  • Increasing Efficiency of Call Handling Service using Cross-Border Knowledge Search
  • Estimating Value in Value Networks: A Case Study from Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Using Organizational Simulation to Support Service Business Transformation
  • Understanding Service Innovation Ecosystems
  • Designing and Building Technology Enabled Service Systems: Challenges and a Solution Framework -- Two Case Studies
  • Modeling Productivity and Performance Growth in Labor-based, Custom Services Firms
  • Towards Services Innovation in Japan
  • Leveraging your IT Investment using Business Intelligence (Panel)
  • Service Innovation and Company Profit (Panel)

Jim Spohrer invited people to attend, but I do not see anyone live-blogging from the event. I will keep my eyes open for summaries that get posted. If you spot any news from the conference, please leave a comment and a link to what you found.

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