Mathew Cropper

Linda Hill: How to manage for collective creativity

Mar 2015 {Agile, Analysis, People, Project Management, Shares}

I loved this talk, and would encourage anyone who works in teams expected to ‘innovate’ to take 18 minutes to watch it. A couple of quotes from the talk that particularly spoke to me are copied below.

Bringing consensus and group based decision making to traditionally ‘top down’ organisations or people is hard. This talk will give anyone facing such a challenge a little food for thought, I’m sure.

What we know is, at the heart of innovation is a paradox. You have to unleash the talents and passions of many people and you have to harness them into a work that is actually useful. Innovation is a journey. It’s a type of collaborative problem solving, usually among people who have different expertise and different points of view.

Leadership is the secret sauce. But it’s a different kind of leadership, not the kind many of us think about when we think about great leadership. One of the leaders I met with early on said to me, “Linda, I don’t read books on leadership. All they do is make me feel bad.” (Laughter) “In the first chapter they say I’m supposed to create a vision. But if I’m trying to do something that’s truly new, I have no answers. I don’t know what direction we’re going in and I’m not even sure I know how to figure out how to get there.” For sure, there are times when visionary leadership is exactly what is needed.

But if we want to build organizations that can innovate time and again, we must recast our understanding of what leadership is about. Leading innovation is about creating the space where people are willing and able to do the hard work of innovative problem solving.


Zendesk: Stop certain reopened tickets being assigned to an agent

Mar 2015 {Project Management, Tools}

Zendesk has a nifty piece of functionality that automatically assigns a ticket to an agent when they change its status to Solved. It deals with the issues caused by the ease of being able to forget to do that manually. It’s also a massive time saver.

There are some kinds of tickets (eg. Twitter spam) that you might not want to solve one by one, but instead solve them quickly in bulk.

The combination of these two things causes an interesting problem: if someone later replies to the Tweet, the ticket is reopened and auto-assigned to the agent. We would rather any agent pick up that ticket, because nobody really handled it in the first place. Continuity of service isn’t important in that scenario, but speed of response is.

So, here’s how to set a trigger to stop this from happening.

  1. Use a macro for when you solve tickets in bulk, and include in the macro a unique tag.
  2. Create a trigger with the following settings, editing to make it appropriate for your setup of course. Click the image to embiggen!

    Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 19.17.09

Problem solved. All these kinds of tickets are now added to the general pool when when they appear.


Aaron Swartz: The Internet’s Own Boy

Feb 2015 {People, Shares}

A must watch. The description of the documentary is copied below:

The film follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz’s help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz’s groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron’s story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.


Vernā Myers: How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them

Jan 2015 {Diversity, Shares}

What do we do about the fact that our brain automatically associates? You know, one of the things that you probably are thinking about, and you’re probably like, you know what, I’m just going to double down on my color blindness. Yes, I’m going to recommit to that. I’m going to suggest to you, no. We’ve gone about as far as we can go trying to make a difference trying to not see color. The problem was never that we saw color. It was what we did when we saw the color. It’s a false ideal. And while we’re busy pretending not to see, we are not being aware of the ways in which racial difference is changing people’s possibilities, that’s keeping them from thriving, and sometimes it’s causing them an early death.


Analysis foundations for process improvement

Dec 2014 {Analysis, Design/UX/UI}

Process improvement is all about getting from where we are now (As Is) to something better (To Be). It’s about finding out the things we can do better, and then actually doing them better.

One very easy way of making that happen is simply to have your ears to the ground and listen out for pain points. Trust me, you’ll have no shortage of things to work on as a team if you follow this approach.. BUT it is disorganised, lacks prioritisation, and panders to the loudest voices.

This post is about using some seriously powerful analysis techniques to help put structure around process improvement, create consistency, and hopefully add value to the process by using them.

The three key things, from my point of view, are the following:

  • Domain model: understand how everything hangs together
  • User journeys: the end to end experience of your users of your product or service
  • Process maps: the processes you follow in house to deliver the product or service, preferably linked back to the user journeys

ExampleMap

How do these things help?

  • To produce all three you have to have conversations about how the nitty gritty of the service works, and together they cover the most important aspects of any business; your customer experience, the processes that support that experience, and the organisation of your company/dept/domain. This knowledge is invaluable, and visualising it in these documents makes it accessible.
  • Well written user journeys and process maps highlight pain points and ‘could do betters’. For example, the user journeys we use in our team don’t just contain the end to end experience, but also mood maps and ‘what is the user thinking’ annotations (the diagram above is a crude mock up of what this looks like). A single glance at a user journey document will tell you the parts of the process that need focus.
  • The three sets of documents together show you easily whether there are downstream impacts or dependencies relating to any changes you make. It’s a super powerful group of documents!
  • Value of processes is made clear, making prioritisation simple.

The problem is, nearly everywhere I’ve worked before has lacked these. They take time and effort to produce, which means moving analysis effort away from things that have a more obvious customer value.

Trust me, the effort to do this is completely worth it.. The level of understanding you create, as well as the number of useful conversations it fosters, bring an amazing level of insight to any team. The documents themselves will become the cornerstone of your analysis work in future, your product planning, and your understanding of what value you deliver.


Beyond the UX Tipping Point

Nov 2014 {Design/UX/UI}

Read: Beyond the UX Tipping Point here

This was shared by @boheme earlier this week, and I had to re-share it here. I’m spending a lot of time at the moment thinking about user journeys, their experience across our games and services, and this article struck a chord. Have we reached the tipping point? Well worth a read, folks.


My favourite free Omnigraffle stencils

Sep 2014 {Tools}

I use Omnigraffle a lot.

I love it, and have ended up building a number of stencils of my own to make common tasks easier. That said, who really has the time to create a kick-ass iOS 7 UI elements stencil, or other really detailed designs? For that reason, I’m sharing a list of my favourite free templates, all from Graffletopia.

  1. Mobile Devices
  2. iOS 7 Wireframe Kit
  3. Facebook Applications
  4. Touch Gesture Reference
  5. Best Practice UX Forms Stencil 2.0

And, a worthy mention at just $19, the iPhone / iOS 7 Color Stencil is also superb and well worth a look.

Post your faves in the comments!