FILive: Crafting Virtuoso UX Teams

Cameron Moll from Authentic Jobs presented on putting together an effective UX team.  He started out with a discussion on effective hiring, and then continued with effective team practices.

Book recommendation: Hire With Your Head by Lou Adler

A few hiring tips:

  1. Treat hiring like any other process your team has mastered
  2. Understand that accurate interviewing is fact finding
  3. Measure job competency, not interviewing aptitude
  4. Define the job to be done and ask the interviewee: “How has your background prepared you for this job?”
  5. Require justification for “no” votes from fellow interviewers

Culture and fit are VERY important.  You are who you hire.  Here’s the rub when working for a Fortune 50 company:  Uniformity and consistency compete with creating unique or special.  Consider the following quote: “Great teams do what works best for them, and selectively embrace new thinking.”  While that probably resonates with most people, it runs contrary to the consistency big corporations often strive for.

Next Cameron talked a bit about how an effective UX team acts.  He brought up the subject of using photoshop in the course of design vs. doing things directly in the browser.  After listening to a number of speakers, this seems to be a matter of personal preference.  Prototyping should happen early, frequently, and habitually.  He mentioned Styletil.es as an approach to showing customers potential options without investing too much up front.  In terms of products, he mentioned Protoshare, InVision.

There was a little discussion on hiring people who are immediately productive.  Maybe something for me to think about is how we bring a culture where we’re attracting the quality of people that could “ship” something the first day?

Finally, a few random thoughts:

  • Ouch. Cameron blames agile for poor quality.
  • Collaboration & Isolation are important to an effective team
  • Every six weeks, two hours should be spent watching users interact
  • I found it interesting he has a particular liking for the words persecute and tolerance.

All in all, a good session.

FILive: The Culture War Myth: Startups in the Enterprise

Jeffrey Burlin @pwcinnovate  PWC consultant and leader of their internal innovation lab.

I try to mix it up in terms of the types of sessions I attended, but this one definitely fits well with my work situation in a big enterprise.  Plenty of other people attended this session also, so it must have resonated well with many.

30 years ago the difference in culture between enterprise and innovator was cut and dried.  Nowadays it’s not so clear cut.  Jeffrey shared a couple of company profiles without sharing their name and asked the audience to vote via twitter on whether it was a startup or an enterprise company.  Needless to say, the crowd was wrong.  For instance, what would you judge this example?

Twitter  – has 900+ employees, 350m in revenue, based in California.  Startup or Enterprise?

So what’s the motivation to act like a startup?  Personally, the reasons that resonate with me are the benefits to employee culture (working on stuff that matters, clear goal, small motivated team, flexibility in technology) and better products as a result.

So how are enterprises dealing with innovation?  Jeffrey sees two models for bringing a startup mentality to the enterprise:

  1. Outsourcing like Blue Cross Blue Shield’s arrangement with Sandbox in Chicago
  2. Internal Innovation Labs.  If I recall, Walmart kickstarted theirs by acquiring a small company or two they viewed as innovative.

Requirements for starting an internal innovation lab:

  • Executive Support – Introductions, funding, etc.
  • Freedom to Fail.  Not every project will succeed.  In fact many may not.
  • Single decision maker for whether the project proceeds
  • Avoid the HiPPO (Highest paid person’s opinion) and allow the single decision maker above to decide how things proceed.
  • Agility and ability to adapt to changing circumstances
  • Postpone ROI-driven decision making.  That’s not to say ignore, but postpone.

Random statistic: Walmart has ~1500 in eCommerce.  Holy crud!

Good session.  This’ll give me plenty to think about going back to work.