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How to Avoid Disaster


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What UX practitioners can learn from massive failture

Published in: Technology, Business

How to Avoid Disaster

  1. 2. How to avoid disaster L earning about UX by looking at massive failures CanUX September 14, 2006 Banff, Alberta
  2. 3. Why disasters? <ul><li>Reveal real-world complexity </li></ul><ul><li>Defy our expectations about accountability and corrective action </li></ul><ul><li>Cascade of ordinary failures </li></ul><ul><li>Attract small-problem solutions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blame and shame </li></ul></ul>
  3. 4. Management 101
  4. 5. Management 101
  5. 6. Management 101
  6. 7. What is a system? <ul><li>Collection of “stuff” </li></ul><ul><li>Dynamic, complex, interdependent relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Can't be decomposed into linear processes </li></ul><ul><li>Can't be separated from the environment or context in which they occur </li></ul><ul><li>Small changes  big effects </li></ul>
  7. 8. What are systems? <ul><li>Economies </li></ul><ul><li>Ecosystems </li></ul><ul><li>Organizations </li></ul><ul><li>Markets </li></ul><ul><li>Projects </li></ul><ul><li>Social Networks </li></ul>
  8. 9. Agenda <ul><li>Talk about a few disasters </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons learned </li></ul><ul><li>Successful systems </li></ul><ul><li>Mindset </li></ul>
  9. 11. <ul><li>Rounding error </li></ul>
  10. 12. <ul><li>Rounding error </li></ul><ul><li>or </li></ul><ul><li>Programmer error? </li></ul>
  11. 13. <ul><li>Rounding error </li></ul><ul><li>or </li></ul><ul><li>Programmer error </li></ul><ul><li>or </li></ul><ul><li>System failure? </li></ul>
  12. 14. Lessons Learned <ul><li>Real-world tests </li></ul><ul><li>Complex accountability </li></ul>
  13. 17. All Dead
  14. 20. Lessons Learned <ul><li>Real-world tests </li></ul><ul><li>Complex accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Big problems have shared ownership </li></ul><ul><li>Assumed safety nets can vanish easily </li></ul><ul><li>Small changes  Big impact </li></ul>
  15. 22.
  16. 23. Eastern Flight 401
  17. 24. NASA Research (1979) <ul><li>Primary cause of most aviation accidents: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decision-making </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpersonal communication </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Led to teamwork training for flight crews </li></ul><ul><li>Reporting of near misses </li></ul>
  18. 25. Teamwork training <ul><li>“ A state medical board has fined a surgeon and an anesthesiologist $10,000 each for brawling in an operating room while their patient slept…” </li></ul><ul><li>“ A nurse monitored the patient as the doctors fought” </li></ul>
  19. 26. Successful Systems <ul><li>Transparency </li></ul><ul><li>Quality over authority </li></ul><ul><li>Shared ownership </li></ul><ul><li>No goats (and few heroes) </li></ul><ul><li>Team training </li></ul><ul><li>Real-world tests </li></ul>
  20. 27. Lessons for UX <ul><li>Understand what influences your solution </li></ul><ul><li>Consider feedback as a design parameter </li></ul><ul><li>Help clients find leverage points </li></ul><ul><li>Know when you’re at a brick wall </li></ul><ul><li>Unintended consequences </li></ul>
  21. 28. Facebook <ul><li>“… Facebook's feedback from users comes in the form of emails to its customer-service email address, which the company's product-development team reviews weekly. But the company typically doesn't solicit feedback by showing features to users before launching them .&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Wall Street Journal , September 7, 2006 </li></ul>
  22. 33. Questions? Stories? Email: [email_address] URL: