Schrödinger's IA: Learning to Love Ambiguity
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Schrödinger's IA: Learning to Love Ambiguity

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I gave this talk at IA Summit in Baltimore in April 2013. ...

I gave this talk at IA Summit in Baltimore in April 2013.

At the start of a project, not only do we not know the answers yet, we don’t even truly know which questions to ask. And yet straight away we’re asked to provide project plans and timelines, to list and describe our deliverables, and to outline the exact steps we intend to take.

So, to avoid the discomfort of not having immediate answers, we map out a methodology for ourselves and apply it to every subsequent project.

But this approach doesn’t serve our clients well. We make decisions too early, and end up solving the wrong problems. We keep going through the motions even when we realise we’re heading down the wrong path, because we don’t want to be seen as inconsistent.

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  • Less dogma, more principle - I love the elegant compactness. I don't know how else to describe it.
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Schrödinger's IA: Learning to Love Ambiguity Schrödinger's IA: Learning to Love Ambiguity Presentation Transcript

  • Schrödinger’s IA Learning to love ambiguity #SchrodingersIA | @kerry_anne Kerry-Anne Gilowey | IA Summit | Baltimore | 7 April 2013
  • So what’s next?
  • Here’s what I’d LIKE to say:
  • I’m going to drive home from this meeting.
  • Then I’m going to have a little think.
  • I’m going to write things on bits on paper.
  • I’m going to have another little think.
  • I’m going to sleep on it.
  • And then it’ll be tomorrow, and we’ll see.
  • But then there’s what I actually say.
  • I’m going to...
  • Why does this happen?
  • Uncertainty is uncomfortable.
  • We feel under pressure.
  • So we map out a personal methodology.
  • And we use it over and over.
  • We choose a route.
  • And we stick to it.
  • We don’t want to be seen as inconsistent.
  • So what’s the problem?
  • We look for answers before we understand the questions.
  • We make decisions too early.
  • We ignore things we can’t make fit.
  • We keep going through the motions.
  • We end up solving the wrong problem.
  • Ambiguity tolerance
  • Dead or alive? Who knows?
  • Embrace ambiguity.
  • A positive leadership trait.
  • “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” - Francis Bacon (The Advancement of Learning)
  • In practice
  • Start fresh with every project.
  • Avoid fall-back methodologies.
  • Principle > Dogma Less dogma, more principle.
  • Nothing should be set in stone.
  • Leave room for changing direction.
  • Discovery is not a phase. X
  • Discovery is not a phase. X
  • - Leisa Reichelt (Strategic User Experience, Confab London 2013)
  • But at some point, it all comes together.
  • What about our clients?
  • Yes. That’s the tricky part.
  • They have reports to complete.
  • They have no idea what to expect.
  • They’re concerned about ROI.
  • They’re scared.
  • A few ideas 1. Be honest. 2. Be confident. 3. Communicate early and often. 4. Stay calm. It’s contagious. 5. Have a healthy fear of commitment. 6. Collaborate. 7. Commit to the work, not the deliverables.
  • “When both the client and dev team aren't hung up on getting the design locked down through an early sign-off, it gives the design a chance to evolve into something a bit more prepared to survive in the real world.” - Dennis Kardys (A More Flexible Workflow)
  • Thank you! Kerry-Anne Gilowey Independent Content Strategy Consultant @kerry_anne kerryanne@augustsun.co.za Kerry-Anne Gilowey | IA Summit | Baltimore | 7 April 2013
  • • Slide 6: Chris Campbell - http://www.flickr.com/photos/cgc/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 19: quinn.anya - http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 21: Horia Varlan - http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 22: Ian Kershaw - http://www.flickr.com/photos/moonboots/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 27: Old Shoe Woman - http://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 31: baralbion - http://www.flickr.com/photos/baralbion/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 32: Cyol Ternyan. - http://www.flickr.com/photos/cyol/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 43: Leisa Reichelt - http://www.slideshare.net/leisa/ (Used with permission) • Slide 44: RangerRick - http://www.flickr.com/photos/rangerrick/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 47: delphwynd - http://www.flickr.com/photos/delphwynd/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 50: Paolo Margari - http://www.flickr.com/photos/paolomargari/ (CC-licensed) • Slides 5, 7, 13, 16, 17, 23, 38, 39, 48, 49: http://www.capetownstockphotos.com/ (Used by permission) All other images are either personal photos, or legally purchased stock photography.