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Top 10 Tips for Making Complicated Things Simple

Are you trying to explain a technical concept to a non-technical team? Maybe you’re teaching design concepts to a demanding or distracted business unit. Or perhaps you’re pushing a picky executive to incorporate more user experience initiatives. This talk will give you ten takeaways you can use in meetings and presentations in order to be a more effective advocate and leader in your team, regardless of your role.

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10 Tips for Making
Complicated Things
Simple
Crispin Reedy
Big Design Conference 2016
#BigD2016
#makeItSimple
@crispinTX
Crispin Reedy!
crispinreedy.com!
@crispinTX!
!
Voice Interaction Designer
President of @avixd
“Simple” vs “Easy”
hammockyucatan.com
“Easy” implies “Low Effort”
hammockyucatan.com
“Simple” is not “Low Effort”
robrusher

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Top 10 Tips for Making Complicated Things Simple

  • 1. 10 Tips for Making Complicated Things Simple Crispin Reedy Big Design Conference 2016 #BigD2016 #makeItSimple @crispinTX
  • 7. wisdomtimes.com Tip 1: Recognize that the problem exists
  • 8. • Writing really long detailed emails • Blaming users / coworkers / clients • Monologues in meetings received with silence • Predominant feeling that “more complicated is good” • “We need all this stuff!” • Feeling lost in a wilderness of choices Symptoms
  • 10. wisdomtimes.com Tip 1: Recognize that the problem exists and you may be causing it
  • 11. I’ve Got The Power! Or Do I? • Changing a Complicated Thing • Add, change, remove functionality • Control over the way the thing is developed / built • Explaining a Complicated Thing • Talking about a complex technical topic to non-technical users • May not be able to add, change, remove functionality
  • 12. wisdomtimes.com Tip 1: Recognize that the problem exists and you may NOT be causing it
  • 14. Recognizing the problem is the start of solving the problem
  • 15. Digression So why make things simple? And why is it so hard to do?
  • 18. “There is no stronger persuasion than causing people to understand.” - Ioan Tenner
  • 21. So Why Is This Difficult? • Lots of reasons! Some may be: • Life tends towards complexity (Entropy?) • Familiarity with complexity / Cognitive load • Personal ego • Unclear goals
  • 22. Get the Starting Point Correct Figure It Out For Yourself Teach Others Change What You Can
  • 23. The Folding Chair Classical Theater Company Tip 2: Have a goal
  • 24. Marcus Geldud, The Folding Chair Theater Company: “Most people don't pair down to a single goal. ! They have multiple goals all alive at once, some of which are in conflict with each other: ! “I want to direct a really simple production of 'Romeo and Juliet,' but I also don't want to bore people, and I want the show to make money, and I want it to get good reviews, and I want people to think I did a really good job…””
  • 25. The Folding Chair Classical Theater Company Tip 2: Have a simple, single goal
  • 26. It’s not just about having the goal… ! it’s about communicating the goal understandinggroup.com
  • 27. Tip 2: Have a simple, single goal that can be readily shared and articulated berkley.edu
  • 28. Shared, Articulated Goal • State the goal at the beginning of the meeting • State the goal at the beginning of the document • Include the goal in working notes • Or in emails
  • 29. Jared Spool: Short Form Creative Brief • What are we working on today? • Project Objectives • Key Personas • Key Scenarios • Key Principles https://articles.uie.com/short_form_creative_brief/
  • 30. Jared Spool: Short Form Creative Brief Read aloud at the beginning of every meeting!! • Make sure everyone is working on the same project • Goals are still relevant • Establish shared understanding as team members roll on / off the project • Allows team to focus on the important stuff • Reinforces the function of goals - as a tool for decision- making https://articles.uie.com/short_form_creative_brief/
  • 31. Marcus Geldud, The Folding Chair Theater Company: “Most people don't pair down to a single goal. ! They have multiple goals all alive at once, some of which are in conflict with each other: ! “I want to direct a really simple production of 'Romeo and Juliet,' but I also don't want to bore people, and I want the show to make money, and I want it to get good reviews, and I want people to think I did a really good job…””
  • 32. Tip 3: Watch out for the ego trap pestrevenge.com
  • 33. Task goals vs. ego goals in athletics womenssportsmedicine.com
  • 34. Ego Goals • I want to win • Beat the other guy • Be the best • Show I am great Sport Information Resource Center Task Goals • Improve my skills • Get better from day to day • Learn • Accomplish a goal • Work hard
  • 35. High Ego Orientation Athletes • Are overly focused on end results • Fragility • Burnout risk • Report higher levels of anxiety and negative coping behaviors Schoolsites: Chris Harwood High Task Orientation Athletes • Show consistency • Greater long term participation • Perception of ability tied to improvement • Report enjoyment, satisfaction, intrinsic interest, and flow at higher rates than EO athletes
  • 36. So How Does This Help? • Are your ego-oriented goals making things complicated? • Getting in the way of your task-oriented goals? • Getting in the way of your flow?
  • 37. • fully immersed • energized focus • full involvement • enjoyment in the process
  • 39. Get the Starting Point Correct Figure It Out For Yourself Teach Others Change What You Can
  • 40. Tip 4: Give yourself time to think about the topic pcwallart.com
  • 42. Just think: The challenges of the disengaged mind “People seem to find any excuse they can to keep busy,” Professor Timothy Wilson, University of Virginia • Majority of participants “found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts” • For just 6 to 15 minutes! • When left alone to think 64% of men and 15% of women began self-administering electric shocks
  • 43. Time To Think • Don’t be afraid to think! • Faster doesn’t always equal better! • Block out a window in your calendar for “Work” • Recognize if you’re trapped in the Speed Trap • Do you need to do less?
  • 44. Time To Think “When I am slow and reflective, thinking about myself, who I am and where I am, I see that I need more than one speed. It’s a whole different way of thinking about success. I need slow in order to think, in order to protect my judgement.” - ‘Michael’
  • 45. Tip 5: Think about the material on more than one level blog.daycos.com
  • 46. Levels • 10,000 foot view • High level overview, “Big Picture” • Strategy, high-concepts • “Stuff in the middle” • Detailed view • Absolutely everything you need to know • Possibly so much detail it becomes difficult to find your way around
  • 47. Levels • Micro • Person, Citizen, Couple, Family, Household • Meso • Clan, Tribe, Community, City, Organization, State • Macro • Nation, Society, Civilization, International
  • 50. Stuck in the Meso with You ! • Sits between the high level view and the detailed view • Connects them • Possibly explains them both in a meaningful way • Or shows the relationship between them • Producing this level of artifact forces you to look at the material differently • Patterns will emerge
  • 51. Stuck in the Meso with You • Medium-Level Flow charts • Table of Contents • Or any kinds of tables, really • Summaries • Outlines • Visualizations • Architecture Diagrams? • Annotated Pictures
  • 52. cea-ace.ca Tip 5: Think about the material on more than one level and the “meso” stuff might be the most important
  • 54. Tip 6: Get it out of your mind
  • 55. You have to SEE it • Write it • Draw it • Diagram it • Use colors • Make it • Map it
  • 56. Tip 6: Get it out of your mind in a different way I usually…! • Write it • Draw it • Diagram it • Use colors • Make it • Map it So switch to…! • Draw it • Write it • Make it • Use black and white • Diagram it • Talk about it
  • 57. • Change the part of the brain you’re using • Get yourself out of old habits • See the problem more clearly • Different relationships may become apparent • Shake it up: Change the focus to different aspects of the problem Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
  • 58. Tip 7: Avoid jargon / Be precise
  • 60. Reveals:! Acronyms! Technical Terms! Specialized Words! Industry-Specific! ! SCSI! Webservice! Interface! ! The word has a precise meaning that is useful in certain contexts Obfuscates:! Weasel Words! Trendy! Imprecise! Abstract! ! Optimization! Paradigm! Onboarding! Recontexualize! ! The word has different meanings to different people
  • 62. Get the Starting Point Correct Figure It Out For Yourself Teach Others Change What You Can
  • 63. Tip 8: Take things out!
  • 64. The Power of Delete
  • 68. Feature Creep • User research! • Is the feature used? If not, why? • Consider the cost to maintain it • Does the feature hurt the UX? • Does the feature fit with the product strategy?
  • 69. Feature Creep • How to remove? • Inform your users • Provide alternate methods • Avoid adding it in the first place
  • 71. Tip 8: Take things out and reorganize
  • 73. Take Things Out And Reorganize • Focus on your goals • User research! • A/B testing • IAs or Card Sorts • Create a new model for a subset of users • Migrate your user base gradually
  • 74. “You can’t have everything… Where would you put it?” - Steven Wright
  • 75. Get the Starting Point Correct Figure It Out For Yourself Teach Others Change What You Can
  • 76. Tip 9: Teach someone else seeklearning.com.au
  • 77. The Role of Explanation in Discovery and Generalization: Evidence From Category Learning Joseph J. Williams, Tania Lombrozo Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
  • 78. The Role of Explanation in Discovery and Generalization: Evidence From Category Learning Joseph J. Williams, Tania Lombrozo Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley • Satisfactory explanations involve generalizations and/or underlying principles • Explaining something to someone causes us to find those “satisfying patterns.” • Describing something is more beneficial for learning item details • Explaining anomalous observations helps us revise our beliefs
  • 79. Tip 10: She Who Plans The Meeting Wins The Meeting
  • 80. “Winging It” Is For The Birds • Things distributed ahead of time! • Agenda • Materials • Think about what you will say • Establish a basic meeting etiquette • Minimize interruptions and “talk-over” • Take notes: distribute them afterwards
  • 82. But It’s Not My Meeting! So?
  • 84. Get the Starting Point Correct Figure It Out For Yourself Teach Others Change What You Can
  • 85. Get the Starting Point Correct Have clear goals Avoid ego orientation Figure It Out For Yourself Give yourself time Work at different levels Don’t forget the middle Get it out of your head Change modalities Watch your words Teach Others Teach someone else first Plan your meeting Execute! Change What You Can Delete Modularize Organize
  • 86. “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” -Thoreau
  • 87. “The devil’s in the details.”