team spirit

3 August 2006, 10:45

Picture this:

An interaction architect is hired to lead a user centred design team on a very important project. First day on the job she discovers that some of the team are fine at UCD techniques (interviews, paper prototype testing, usability testing), but are completely missing the vital element in the middle—interaction design.

…or else…

She needs to take her team out of their comfort zone. If they don’t do the design, the business teams will do it, and we all know who we prefer to be designing interfaces…

So she posed the question if training techniques like peer critiquing could be used to get the team up to speed on interaction design.

thousand year old advice

Here is what I replied:

‘I propose that you steal from the thousand year old practice of architecture.

‘You are the principal architect. You were already contracted for that role, so no problem there. All major decisions have to be taken by you. You keep the model(s) pure and in one piece under the avalanche of input, feedback and usability test results.

‘You can multiply yourself by making whole UCD team associate architects. Either solo or in pairs you let them work on a certain sub‐system. They’ll have to do most of the legwork. In one or two meetings a week you work together with each person or pair. Here all decisions are taken and the design actually advances.

‘I don’t think you need a coordination meeting with all the associates. You coordinate in your work meetings, and if the UCD team sits together then they can cross‐pollinate there.

‘By working in this way they can learn a hell of a lot from you, and maybe one of them has got what it takes to be an interaction architect, and will float to the surface.’

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