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Making sense of messy problems - Systems Thinking for multi-channel UX
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Making sense of messy problems - Systems Thinking for multi-channel UX

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I gave this talk at the IA Summit in New Orleans on March 25, 2012. Here's the talk description: ...

I gave this talk at the IA Summit in New Orleans on March 25, 2012. Here's the talk description:

It’s part of our job to talk to people to figure out complex situations. To build things people love, we have to understand not only users, but also the wider context we’re working in: people, systems, structures, business models, and more. The need to think the user experience through on several channels challenges us to envision a system that is cohesive and delivers delightful experiences.

Business analysis, computer science and psychology offer different frameworks and tools to help to make sense of a messy situation, to articulate and visualize the problem. In this talk, I will present a selection of techniques that are relevant to UX, such as Soft Systems Methodology or the Business Model Canvas.

You will walk away with:
- Knowledge about systems thinking theory
- An understanding of how systems thinking methods can be used as part of a UX process, incl. tools and techniques

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  • father of scientific management and efficiency movement
  • father of scientific management and efficiency movement
  • examples: eg hard system = thermostat, motherboard. soft system = game of poker, soccer game, meeting, healthcare.
  • Worldview is a concept for empathyConsider:- roles that people adopt in the situation (which may be formally recognised or quite informal); the norms which govern people’s behaviour; and the values they espouse.- political aspects of the situation, in other words recognition of the different interests that are represented and how these different interests are accommodated.
  • BM channels = connections
  • walk through from customers perspective, and other perspectivesWorldview, interconnections, dependenciesZoom out and consider the wider contextWhat processes are necessary to deliver value to customers?Models are dynamic, not static
  • 2 types of flows. First one is material and stock flows. Stocks change over time through the actions of flow. Stocks act as buffers or delays, and help a system to stay in balance.You can also apply this to people. Shows limits to growth if your resources aren’t endless. Key is to understand and monitor system behaviour over time. Do not focus on only individual events.The second type are information flows. While it’s hard to changephysical structure, materials, resources, changing how information isdistributed and presented in a system can have major impact. "Information holds systems together and plays a great role in determining how they operate. Most of what goes wrong in systems goes wrong because of biased, late, or missing information." (Meadows)Adding or restoring information can be a powerful intervention, usually much easier and cheaper than rebuilding physical infrastructure.
  • Reinforcing feedback loopsA positive feedback loop is self-reinforcing. The more it works, the more it gains power to work some more.Positive feedback loops drive growth, explosion, erosion, and collapse in systems. A system with an unchecked positive loop ultimately will destroy itself. Usually negative feedback loop kicks in, eg epidemic runs out of infectable people—or people take increasingly strong steps to avoid being infected.Reducing the gain around a positive loop—slowing the growth—is usually a more powerful leverage point in systems than strengthening negative loops, and much preferable to letting the positive loop run.(...) control must involve slowing down the positive feedbacks.Balancing feedback loop A negative feedback loop needs a goal and a response mechanism. Self-correct the system, often inactive = emergency mechanisms. Seem costly as inactive, removing them has little impact in the short-term, neglect the long-term impact.Here are some other examples of strengthening negative feedback controls to improve a system's self-correcting abilities: preventive medicine, exercise, and good nutrition to bolster the body's ability to fight disease, pollution taxes.The information delivered by a feedback loop - even nonphysical feedback - can only affect future behaviour; it can't deliver a signal fast enough to correct behaviour that drove the current feedback. There will always be delays in responding.The loop that dominates the system will determine the behaviour.Consider the driving factors, how they might behave, and what drives them.! Dynamic systems studies are not designed to predict what will happen, but to explore what would happen if... --> system dynamics models explore possible futures and ask 'what if' questions.
  • Focus on trends over time rather than single events. Learn if the system is approaching a goal or limit.Inventory = stock (could also be information)
  • What came before?What might happen next?
  • Talking to people, empathy, intuitionhumanise the data – tell a storyInformation flows enable other things in the system to happenConsider the feedback loopsObserve customer behavior over timeUse qualitative findings and your gut

Making sense of messy problems - Systems Thinking for multi-channel UX Making sense of messy problems - Systems Thinking for multi-channel UX Presentation Transcript

  • Making sense of messy problems Systems thinking for multi-channel UX Johanna Kollmann @johannakoll IA Summit 2012, New OrleansIllustration-by David Wicks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sansumbrella/467998944/ #IAS12 @johannakoll
  • This matters because#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first. ~Frederick Winslow Taylor (1911)#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first. This in no sense, however, implies that great men are not needed. ~Frederick Winslow Taylor (1911)#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • http://visitmix.com/work/descry/awebsitenameddesire/#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • “A system is a set of elements or parts that is coherently organized and inter- connected in a pattern or structure that produces a characteristic set of behaviors, often classified as its function or purpose.” ~ Donella Meadows#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • Human activity systems Soft Systems Methodology Peter Checkland#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • Leverage points… …places within a complex system where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything. …are often counterintuitive.#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • Systems Thinking & UX#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 2) Behavior over time#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 3) Change#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Rich Picture 1. Construction of the Humber Bridge (adapted from Stewart and Fortune, 1994) © The Open University 2. Distance Learning Situation © Wood-Harper et al, Information Systems Definition: The Multiview Approach, Blackwell Scientific#IAS12 - @johannakoll Publications 1985
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Rich Picture elements Stakeholders Worldview Connections Conflicts 2. Distance Learning Situation © Wood-Harper et al, Information Systems Definition: The Multiview Approach, Blackwell Scientific#IAS12 - @johannakoll Publications 1985
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Business Model Canvas Manage, Job seekers promote Jobs platform Candidates Recruiters Platform Manage and develop platform Job ads Marketing costs Hiring fee#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Business Model Canvas#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 2) Behavior over time#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Flows inflow outflow stock information feedback, control#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Feedback loops Project in trouble Number of remaining Time available problems per problem R2 R1 R3 Management Number of pressure to solve problems solved problems George’s ability to solve problems B1 Need to involve Paul#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Behavior over time graphs inventory days#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Behavior over time graphs inventory days#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Cohort analysis#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Cohort analysis#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Custom tools to monitor interactions by @lukew#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change#IAS12 - @johannakoll Photo by Anders Zakrisson http://www.flickr.com/photos/anders-zakrisson/4982281184/
  • 3) Change#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change Flows and loops inventory days#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • 1) Modeling 2) Behavior over time 3) Change#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • Take-aways The ‘worldviews’ that people and elements in the system hold The processes that are necessary to deliver value to customers How to gather and visualize information holistically How user-centered design and empathy help to reduce uncertainty What is the right level for the impact you are aiming for? What enables the change, where are conflicts, who can be your change agent?#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • This matters because#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • Business trends.#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • Humane systems.#IAS12 - @johannakoll
  • The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. More than anything else, this new century demands new thinking: We must change our materially based analyses of the world around us to include broader, more multidimensional perspectives. ~Albert Einstein#IAS12 - @johannakoll