By Jimi Wikman
My assignment was to make a new design for the web based user area based on the graphical profile from one of ChessIT's clients. The design had to be light in terms of changes as the project had hard deadlines. I worked with the client and the developers to find a balance between the two that satisfied the requirements and respected the time constraints.
By Jimi Wikman
In an article in the Swedish newspaper DN it is proclaimed that it is difficult to find successful managers, even if we spend a lot of money on leadership training. The research looked into middle management and could not find any scientific proof of increased success. This is not surprising since there are very few correlations between managers and leaders after all.
The article is critical towards the trend of managers taking classes to become better leaders. As leadership is not something you can learn I kind of agree with that, but at the same time anyone can improve the chances of becoming a leader if they know how to. By educating yourself on what a leader is and is not, then you can take steps to move towards leadership. This however is often wasted on managers as they are to far away from the employees to actually make much of difference.
There is also nothing wrong in not being a great leader. Managers that does not lead groups of people directly often do the "boring stuff". This includes budgets, resource planning, contract negotiations, stakeholder relations and a whole lot of sales discussions. This is not something that you need leadership skills for. You need authority and organization skills. This is an extremely important role to have.
I know several managers that are the absolute best in the world that I would never let lead a development team for example. They are exceptional managers, but no leaders. Then I know of a few managers that are not great managers, but great leaders. Lastly you have the saddest bunch of them all and that is the group that are amazing leaders that are terrible at management. These are completely wasted in a management position.
I know that saying that leaders and managers are not the same is not 100% true because they share certain traits. Regardless if you are a manager or a leader you need the ability to communicate and to have a clear message (even if it is wrong). Where a leader should inspire and lead by example a manager need to communicate a vision and a direction. Managers direct the workforce towards a goal and the leader makes sure the road to get there are enjoyable and productive.
So the fact that this study did not find any proof of successful leaders among middle management is kind of normal. Increased knowledge of leadership does not make management leaders. It makes them more understanding of leadership and hopefully it means that they will work better with the leaders. That in turn would improve the working conditions for the workforce if all goes well. If a middle manager would become a great leader then by definition it get isolated as that person often have others between themselves and the workforce. Those leaders can be bad leaders so even if the middle manager inspire them to greatness, it will not reach the workforce.
We should also recognize that most managers are completely buried in work and often are forced to content switching that cause stress. That alone prevent room to actually lead as they are jumping from one area to the next with little to no pause for reflection or processing. It is very difficult to develop any form of leadership skills in such environments. This is also a cause for poor decision making that we will discuss in another article.
To become a better leader require a profound change of self. This is not something that can be done by anyone else as you do not develop compassion and respect in a classroom. That comes from within as part of growth of self. This can be triggered by education of course, but the actual transformation happen within. If you are a greedy, self centered, performance driven individual with low empathy then no matter what you do you will never be a great leader. It is as simple as that.
Does this mean that the many leadership training's that exist out there are worthless? I do not think so. Understanding what good leadership is will make more people strive towards that. The fact that we see so many articles, training classes and blog posts about leadership is forcing organizations to evolve. We no longer accept bad leadership and especially in the IT world people will leave companies with bad leadership for companies with good leadership.
This put pressure on many organizations, but it is important to understand the difference between a manager and a leader. Today I think we mix them together and many managers feel that they are bad leaders. The thing is that this is ok, as long as they are great managers and they make sure all work forces have a great leader. This leader does not have to have a title, just the trust and respect of the work force they lead. If you have that and everyone understand the dynamic in the work force then things will be great for all involved.
In theory at least 🙂
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By Kathy Tavlariou
Digital expert with extensive experience in driving online sales for well-known global consumer goods companies.
What is driving me? Understanding online users behaviour and then turning these insights into increased online sales with high ROI. I am a strong supporter of data-driven mindset and staying always abreast of industry changes. Cross-cultural work environments that are not change-resistant intrigue me the most.
Specialties: Ecommerce, AdWords, Content management and SEO, Digital Strategy, UX, Conversion Optimisation, Digital Key Performance Indicators
By Jimi Wikman
Atomic UX Research. Sounds like something amazing, doesn't it? Something that will fit right into the modular design and development processes in Atomic Design. Unfortunately it is just a fancy name for having a proper documentation strategy for UX Research made up by UX Designers who work in poorly structured workplaces.
When I first read the article "Foundations of atomic research", I had no idea what the person was talking about. Was it a process, a content strategy or maybe even how to present the findings. I looked up the Atomic UX Research further and found the article "What is Atomic UX Research?" and it seemed like it was all about how to organize the documentation of the findings.
I watched the video (added blow) where Daniel Pidcock try to explain this new, revolutionary way to organize data, and I was both amazed and a bit disturbed over the fact that the audience actually seemed to agree with this nonsense. The reason I felt that way is that there is nothing in this new made up word that have anything to do with UX. It's just common sense on how to manage documentation. Any documentation.
Anyone working with research should know that you always connect current research with relevant research that it is related to. It is also standard practice for anyone working with research to add metadata to make the research findable in different situations. Anyone working in UX research, especially towards the web, should know that data get old very fast and loose relevance very fast.
That is not how you work with any form of documentation that is supposed to be alive. If you make UX research then that data is ever-changing as you continue to learn and experiment. This does not warrant a new way of working, you just need to start working the right way. Proper documentation is always a part of research, as is traceability so you can understand where the conclusions come from and how you used it to formulate new theories to be tested.
The Atomic UX Research suggests that you should divide the research into smaller bits and then tag each type with metadata. The idea is that by doing that you can discover other data that is related to your research. If you have hundreds of theories going at once in multiple teams, or you want to bring in similar research on other systems or services then maybe that would be useful.
Then again, if you have that many experiments going, then the volume of data would be immense and you would have no way of knowing what data would be relevant. You would spend a ton of time on matching old experiments that probably will be obsolete as the design have already been updated since it was conducted.
This is the image used to illustrate the four main parts of the Atomic UX Research. Note that the structure start with the Experiment. Now it may be implied, but an experiment should be tied to a theory. What are we trying to prove and why do we think this is worth exploring should be the starting point for all research. While I think this may be implied, for me this is where this theory fails.
By having the theory as the highest level, all experiments fall under that theory. All theories are built on previous learnings so while there is no problem having the information structure dividing the content beyond experiments I think that if you ensure you have your theories in order you would not see many insights related to multiple theories at the same time.
Even if you have an additional level of information for insights you would not have multiple conclusions. The conclusion would be tied to the theory we are working with based on the result of the experiments we run to test that theory. In the event that we make findings not related to the theory we are testing, this would be marked in the conclusions as separate theories to explore at a later date.
My take on the Atomic UX Research approach is that instead of inventing new names, you should start working with research properly. UX Research follow the same basic structure as every other research field. In order for any research to have the desired effect you need to formulate theories, conduct experiments to test that theory, analyze the result and finally take what you have learned and form new theories and of course activities to improve the service or product you are doing UX on.
The result is documented in a searchable tool with metadata and connection to previous theories that support the decision to make further testing of the current theory. You do not need a new methodology for it, just follow the standard research praxis that has worked for many, many years. Doing random exploratory testing is not research. It is exploratory testing/discovery.
Atomic UX Research = UX Research.
By Jimi Wikman
This mini-series of videos on experience and UX journey mapping has been in the books for over the year! it's time to bring it to live and quickly introduce and upskill those who have not to approach UX design with a discovery mindset (and methods). Journey mapping with adequate insights capture is paramount to deeply understanding, empathizing, and eventually improving real-life user and customer journeys.
In this first video, I'll recap one of the chapters from a course I used to run to introduce junior UX designers to mapping techniques, real experience map examples, UX workshop facilitation techniques, and more.
Experience mapping templates mentioned in the video: http://blog.vaexperience.com/ux-workshop-templates/
How to use them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybfasDTvbdw