Sunday, May 31, 2009

Process vs progress - when the process gets in the way

I loved this article on internal process. The author describes a situtation I encountered numerous times in previous positions - the use of bureaucratic processes to prevent real work from being performed.

I worked on a team of designers and researchers that did internal consulting jobs and research for a large company. The group elevated bureaucratic process for approving work requests to an art form. The owners of the approval process used this innovation-crushing process to prevent work from being performed that didn't benefit them personally, and to steer work into their own pet projects. The team lost a lot of talented people because of it.

Kudos to Harold Sirkin for highlighting an insidious practice.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Class trip to Switzerland

I'm leaving for Switzerland today on a trip sponsored by my MBA program at NC State University. Our little group will visit companies in Zurich, Geneva, and Lausanne to talk to company representatives about business process. I'll be back in 10 days with lots of updates.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Design as paint-by-numbers

Without really trying, I've recently been identifying blogs and columns that give me a fresh perspective. I read Bill Buxton irregularly, but when I do he usually has some insight that makes me smile and nod. Here's a recent article about educating engineers and others on what user experience types do. I've gotten some of the same questions that Buxton responded to. "Could you write down a list of things you do for design, maybe like a one page bulleted list or something?"

Part of the problem is that if you do design right it looks obvious and simple in retrospect. If you do it wrong then everyone notices and comments on your failure, an instantiation of the Exploding Whale phenomenon.